Gay spirituality may be replaced by “everybody spirituality.” That’s an important idea that emerged during a recent gay spirituality weekend in New Mexico. Guest speakers included gay author Toby Johnson and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr.
One of the organizers was gay artist Peter Grahame, who sends this report:
“The Spirituality weekend here in Albuquerque at the end of April '08 went well. We had 30 or so for the dialogue Friday evening between Toby and Richard; the audience participated and it was quite a discussion. The retreat on Saturday and half of Sunday was attended by 18 people or so, and it was very good; Toby offered much information that many found really very helpful and inspiring.
“But as it turns out, we learned from this whole thing that the trend seems to be away from 'Gay Spirituality' to 'Everybody Spirituality.' Apparently, there may be many GLBT people these days, especially among the young, who don't seem to want to be labeled anything. Of course we're all equal. And nobody is trying to say we should be 'separate' or that we're 'better' at all. But many, especially the young GLBT people, don't seem to want to recognize their unique gifts – especially their unique spiritual gifts; a unique spiritual point of view that I believe comes with being GLBT. Again, these unique gifts don't make us 'special' or 'superior,' but they are unique, different, and these gifts are much needed.
“Maybe some Straight people have gifts like these, too, but to me, not in quite the same way. I agree with Toby that by just wanting to be, or appear to be, just like everybody else... to want to assimilate... well, it seems like a subtle way of just going back in the closet. There are GLBT folks who say, 'We're just like everybody else except for what we do in bed,' but even causal observation shows that just isn't true. And yet, oddly, at the same time, these GLBT folks can still be very much involved in highly visible Gay Pride activities. Go figure.
“In the end, the real point is, as I think Toby keeps saying, that GLBT people do have particular spiritual gifts to offer the development of religion as we head further into the 21st century. Well, anyway, that's not the end of the discussion, I've only touched on a few ideas here, and I applaud you, Kitt, for wanting to open it up for more. Thanks.”
Peter has just launched a gorgeous new website, Ironic-Horse.com, which highlights his book Contemplations of the Heart: A Book of Male Spirit.
I found it especially helpful to hear about the trend from gay spirituality to everybody spirituality. My partner and I have experienced this attitude with younger GLBT people and been puzzled and saddened by it. Now I see that, like it or not, it’s part of a larger social context. Maybe it’s even a sign that the GLBT rights movement has succeeded.
Has anybody else run into this attitude of “inclusiveness” that threatens to water down or gloss over the unique characteristics of gay and lesbian spirituality? Or if you think it’s time to move beyond the “gay” label, can you explain why?
Image credit: “After the Rainbow Ceremony” by Peter Grahame
Cross-posted at the Jesus in Love Blog. Kittredge Cherry blogs at the Jesus in Love Blog and edits the Jesus in Love Newsletter on queer spirituality and the arts. She offers GLBT and progressive spiritual resources at JesusInLove.org.