A queer person’s view on spirituality, gender and sexual orientation
I tend to enjoy spiritual authors who keep their arguments and ideas close to what science has to say or just talk about their own path. I read some posts by Jim Tolles and enjoyed this exact mix but then he wrote an article called Losing your gender and sexual identities where he said:
A sexual identity is the ego built around your sexual preference. For instance, a heterosexual man acts a certain way and prefers women.
A gender identity is the ego built around how someone genders themselves. Some gender themselves masculine, some feminine, and some in other ways.
These two identities define most if not all of someone’s relationships. Breaking them down means there is likely to be radical changes for most people, but if you truly want spiritual freedom, it’s time to be honest, courageous, and dedicated in understanding and releasing these two ego identities.
What this suggests is that sexual orientation and gender are part of the ego. This is nonsense. To explain why, let me give two views on this subject, one from a naturalistic view and the other from a more culture oriented view. You can then mix and match depending on your own beliefs or scientific knowledge.
If sexual orientation and gender are a given natural fact for a person (as it seems to be the case in the animal kingdom), the above argument is like saying to a disabled person that she should “let go of her disability” or saying to a tall person that she should “let go of her height”. It does not make any sense. Everyone has to live from where they stand, with what nature gave them. And if this is being queer, we have to embrace it as our unique gift.
How many times do we have to tell cis-heterosexual (men) that being queer is not a phase we can outgrow through conversion therapy or spiritual awakening ?
The ego issue here is with the struggle. So I think that what we truly need is to find peace and this means embracing our realities, starting with our own bodies.
If sexual orientation and gender are cultural elements of a person’s life, then it has to be deep and powerful and we can compare this to someone loving the violin so much that this person spends all her time learning to play this instrument. In this case, her “spiritual awakening” will only make her love for violin stronger. The deep calls that the soul makes, be it playing an instrument or embracing gender or sexual orientation are not to be confused with what our ego builds to protect itself from fear !
No spiritual teacher with a sane mind would tell a talented violinist to let go of this attachment and… become what ? A monk ? A spiritual teacher 😂 ?
Being queer often means choosing immense amounts of self-love and understanding over fear and rejection, over hate and conflict. This is the exact definition of a spiritual path.
The ego issue here is also with the struggle. What we need to find peace is embracing our deepest longings and things we love.
The spiritual clone
So why do so many, otherwise well advised spiritual teachers fail us miserably and keep wanting to clone us into the average person ?
Maybe this has to do with the fact that they don’t have enough personal understanding of the facts (like many cis-heterosexual people) and also that most teachings that they have received have been altered by generations and generations of (male and mostly asexual) spiritual teachers somewhat blind to spiritual diversity or simply not accepting that some things are out of their reach (like knowing what it means and feels to be queer, a parent or to be a woman).
Unfortunately, this biais tends to transform many spiritual teachers into clone makers who invalidate people’s diversity: instead of helping people embrace their unique views and talents, they seem to work on pulling people on their own path (at least on matters of sexuality and nutrition), which is sad.
I am not saying that these teachers are not sincere in what they feel and go through but it can be that for them, as they embrace their own self, these aspects dissolved and they thought that these things were just aspects of their ego (which might be true for them) but it oversimplifies a complex issue.
The same goes for sexual activity. There are paths where this activity lessens and paths where it flourishes even leading to new callings (sex work as a spiritual path exists).
We should therefore not assume that what we experience is universal or has the same meaning for everyone and be especially wary of things that happen to people way out of our own life experience.
If you are a spiritual teacher and you are not queer, please don’t talk about gender or sexual orientation without checking for facts with people who have a first-hand experience of these matters (or at least checking with current research). Otherwise you will probably say things that only reflect a lack of understanding and the stigmas and stereotypes that most religious traditions and societies have been pushing onto us.
Gender identity, sexual orientation and anything that brings uniqueness to someone’s life (disability, mental weirdness, life experiences, talents, loves, longings, hopes, joys, etc) are echoes and reflections of the goddesses and gods that are touching life through this person.
Please don’t insult the gods 🙏🏼
Final note to transgender people
As a transgender women called to transition as part of my own spiritual path, I would like to say that any arrangement you make in your life out of love for yourself and others is valid. Do not let ideas about nature, acceptance or anything else tell you what you should do to find peace.
Again, let me use an analogy: there is this spiritual teacher who… eats 😵 !? Yes, this person eats real food because otherwise their body does not function properly and they cannot move forward with their life. Nobody would tell this person to live out of thin air for the sake of “embracing nature” or “being natural”.
As a transgender person, you may need cross-hormone therapy, surgery, body hair removal, binders, coloured hair, tattoos or any other thing that brings you closer to peace and self-love. This is as valid as your teacher eating.