Thursday, November 16, 2017

Via Jake Sasseville‎ / The Largest Baha'i Facebook Group Ever: OPENLY BAHA’I, OPENLY GAY, OPENLY PROUD.


im editing this poem-essay
at the end of my second pilgrimage
at the Tel Aviv airport
in Israel.

i dedicate it
for my Atlanta friend,
a Baha’i recently back from pilgrimage
who shared it may be his last
because he’s gay
and doesn’t know
how much longer
he’ll be accepted
as an out, gay Baha’i.
he’s 26.

i write this poem-essay
for my Baha’i friend from Colorado
who I met in israel
who’s best friend serves the Faith
endlessly, with a pure and radiant heart—
all activities —
but doesn’t call himself Baha’i,
and won’t,
because he’s gay.

i write this poem-essay
for my dear friends fiancée in Europe
who wants to support her man
and his journey with Bahá’u’lláh
but texts me torn,
unable to reconcile why she’d ever
support a Religion
where she perceives gays
as unequal.

i write this poem-essay
for my friend in Germany,
who I met in israel,
who doesn’t understand
why her lesbian friends
can’t love Bahá’u’lláh
and be married, too.

the stories flowed
dozens, everywhere i go.
there are probably hundreds more.

it’s the conversation
beneath the conversation.
the whispers
beneath the deep love
for the Baha’i Faith.

this is for you
this is an invitation.

doesn’t matter
that you may not be
being gay and open
and — God forbid, proud —
without needing to be
flamboyant about it,
is rare in any organized Religion—
including the Baha’i Faith.

the teachings of the Baha’i Faith
include preserving unity at all costs,
independent investigation of truth,
the oneness of God, Humanity & Religion
and bringing oneself to account each day—
it’s all between You and God,
no one else.

it was hard as hell coming out
as an openly gay guy
who was also a Baha’i —
when almost no gays
are out, or comfortable taking.
and it’s taken almost a decade since
to become really proud of it.

there aren’t many openly gay Baha’is
that don’t feel shunned
or judged
or as if their beloved community
believes they’re wrong,
or sick,
or have some sort of illness.

i have heard the stories —
was invited to the secret
underground Facebook groups
and saw a fragmented group
of incredible humans,
doing God’s work,
who have allowed
a worldwide community’s
misunderstanding of gay
to dim their own light.

we need openly gay Bahai’s
and we need you now.

ive seen friends not know
how to talk about the gay thing
at feasts or devotionals,
or when sharing the Faith with others,
or who don’t know how to share
Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings on marriage
without appearing homophobic.

we can do better.

the world needs gay Bahai’s
who come on pilgrimage
who hold devotionals
who raise children
and help us continue to build
beautiful communities.

the world needs gay Baha’is
who talk as openly
as this.

this is an invitation.

come out of the closet
and be your best version of you,
serve humanity,
be kind
and know that your love
for Bahá’u’lláh
is more important
than anything else
in the world.

when I wrote my book in 2012
i talked very little about being gay
and very little about being Baha’i.

i was ashamed
and didn’t want to feel
or be told I was wrong.
or worse: be whispered about.

and i got emails
got called out big time —
from South America to Illinois
repressed or shamed bahais
or those serving on LSAs
that were critical of half-out gays
in their communities —

they were all asking me:
“How did you reconcile
being an openly gay Baha’i?”

like I somehow have the answer...

and it threw me into a tizzy
because I realized I had reconciled
and I don’t really even have the answer.

i was openly gay
and love Bahá’u’lláh,
but I had buried dealing with this
as far in the closet as I once was
for 24 years.

i was angry
and lashing out
the world was against me
and no one else was openly gay
and Baha’i
and proud.

ive dealt with it
by talking about it
by living my life,
and not hiding.
by laughing
and consulting.
and not acting
like a victim
but as a strong
human being.

these days
i live lightly,
don’t understand everything,
question way too much,
laugh way too loud,
date publicly,
and always turn my will
and my life
over to the care
of God.

that’s what being
an openly gay Baha’i
is like.

one cannot be shamed
unless one holds that shame already
(and if you hold it,
you can let it go).

one cannot hide
unless you feel
there is something
to hide
(being seen is healthy).

this is an invitation.

for the closeted gay Baha’is
know that you’re not alone
and I have been loved
since the first day
I said ‘I’m gay.’

id even say
being gay
has brought
a love
and a light
and an understanding
to the communities
ive been lucky enough
to be apart of.

you can be a beacon, too.
you’ll deal with some crap,
but all that crap,
it’s the pain of the Other —
or the Community —
the Others inability,
or the Community’s inability
to accept
who they really are,
in the face of you accepting
who you really are.

by the way,
if gays weren’t a natural occurrence
natural selection
would’ve ended it generations ago.

think about it.

1 in 12 in the animal kingdom
and humanity
gay gay gay.

whether or not they’ve been out,
gays have been bringing about
a more conscious,

there are too few gays
in the beautiful Baha’i Faith.

there are new studies
showing that after 3 boys
are in any one woman’s womb,
every boy after
has a 33% higher chance
of being gay.

science is starting
to catch up.

it’s a natural occurrence,
we are nature’s design
nature’s beauty,
community builders,
artistic expressers,
kindhearted listening ears,
and a whole bunch of beauty —
and while this might trigger some,
the science is emerging.

James O’Keefe’s Ted Talk
It’s about survival not sex”
is a radical shift
in scientific explanation
and it will move you.

it’s time to get on with it
to come out the closet,
and for communities to make it
a safe celebration
when folks do come out.

it’s not enough to accept
communities must celebrate.

it’s hard to do any work —
especially bringing the world together —
like Bahai’s so earnestly are doing —
and I’ll let you in on a secret:
it’s about 10x harder
if you’re repressed
or the ones that are doing
the repressing.

let it go.
celebrate the gay bahais
that come out,
or those investigating
the Writings is Bahá’u’lláh.

celebrate them you people,
we haven’t done a good enough job
making it safe
for all types
to walk on through.

there are those
who will love Bahá’u’lláh
but who won’t conform,
where abidance will be an issue
and we need to show folks
they are welcomed
and they are welcomed now!

7 years since my last pilgrimage
praying at the most Holy Thresholds
in the most beautiful place on earth,
in gardens that are perfect,
that cause emotion from the deepest parts...
a once in a lifetime opportunity
twice in my 32 years.
blessed beyond measure.

here’s to living,
loving and accepting

the time is now.
this is an invitation.

J. Sasseville.
Haifa, Israel.
November 5, 2017.

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