Throughout history many people have been hurt in the name of religion. Of course this also includes many queer people. While I make no excuses for the hurt and pain inflicted on people in the name of religion, I also feel that we can all too easily dismiss the benefits of a spiritual path because of the pain inflicted by people in the name of religion.
The words religion and spirituality are often used interchangeably; however, I believe that these are two very different concepts. Religion is a belief structure with a hierarchy that is controlled by those in power. Although religion came from spiritual teachings, it often morphs into a control structure that focuses more on keeping power and control rather than the original spiritual teaching. Many religions also have strong desires to increase their followers by conversion and often teach that their is the ‘correct’ or true belief and all others are less than the true. In other words – I’m right and you’re wrong.
On the other hand spirituality has no concept of right and wrong. Spirituality, by definition is a very personal belief. People may share their spiritual beliefs but few would try to convince someone that their belief is the true and correct belief. More often than not you’ll hear “whatever works for you.”
I’ve found that a spiritual practice has been very helpful for me. My spiritual practice embraces my identity as a queer man, it upholds the joy and the mystery of sexuality, it helps me find order in things that have no order and it connects me to the wonder of it all. My spiritual practice has elements of my Catholic upbringing, but also has elements of many other practices – some Western, some Eastern and some Pagan. It’s highly personal and is a reflection of who I am.
My spiritual beliefs are evolving and a result of years of exploration. Some of that exploration was learning from going down dead ends. These dead ends weren’t failures; rather, they helped my path to learn what is best for me.
Be an explorer!