Religious and Queer
Now since its Pride month and it becomes imperative for us to re-think on the beliefs and ideologies of people about homosexuality and about people who belong to the LGBTQ community. However, here today, we shall look into the religious aspect of the same and let’s understand how layers of struggle wrap around a person if they belong to a certain religious group/minority along with being homosexual.
Struggling to come to terms with the society after being gay as a child is unique to the experiences of those who grow up in religious families. If you happen to be born in any religious groups and are a part of the LGBTQ community, you are presented with an obstacle on your path in life. It’s not just the friends, family, peers or the society who add trouble; you also have the added complication of God, who traditionally don’t ally with the queer. “I grew up thinking God was in a specific place, and gay people were outside that place,” Britanny Baron expressed in an article.
The Queer from Minority Religion
“The basic duty of any religion is to harmonize people, and not to create a divide. The interpretation of religion has been done in various destructive ways. No one knows if Jesus, Allah or Krishna knew of homosexuality, but the interpretation here makes a lot of difference. As a matter of fact, section 377 is very Biblical, to justify the law”,
says Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist who fights for the cause of the LGBTQ community.
How can we expect God, be it of any religion, to be partial with the people who want to love someone of the same sex? The irony of the entire debate is that while fighting for the rights to love, we have to fight for the very concept on the basis of which all the religions were founded: love.
In Sikhism, the marriage ceremony comprises of a hymn known as ‘The Lavaan’. The four verses of ‘the Lavaan’ are non-gender specific. The only references made about gender are of the two human souls entering the marriage as being the bride and God being the bridegroom. The mention of gender within Lavaan is metaphorical. Same-sex marriage is therefore very much possible in Sikhism. This is where we understand how the interpretation of religion by the followers make it destructive and thereby losing people’s identities.
What Guru Nanak Dev always propagated was the power of Oneness and inclusivity. He didn’t mean lining out the particular community ever. He states: Jaano Jot na Puucho,Jaati Agai Jaat Na Hai. Which means, recognize the divine light within all, and do not consider social class and status; there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter.
Let us look at the story of a Kes Dhaari Sikh man (a Sikh who keeps his hair uncut under the Sikh code of conduct, and wears a turban) of Canada who enters a salon to get his haircut, but to cut them down so as to hide his religious identity in order to come out with his sexual identity. He needed to turn his back on his heritage just to come out openly as a gay man. This showed that diversity isn’t always welcomed in Western society. It is not about him being gay, it is more about how he had to face a double fold struggle of being gay plus belonging from a religious minority community.
“Well, religion is the main reason why it took that much time and struggle for me to be open about my sexuality. Religion has done so much damage to my life. My family is very religious.”
Absaar, a Muslim gay expressed while talking to Qweed Media.
“I had no knowledge that being gay is a sin because I used to love Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and their work. The storm came when I found out that all the religions hate homosexuality. I tried to defend it and tried to make people understand that being gay is normal but I saw so much hate on social media, that it was difficult to process,” he added.
Activist Harish Iyer emphasized the struggles queer people from the minority religion go through,
“While the community in itself is a minority, the minority status gets accentuated. A Dalit, Muslim, queer man would face more challenge than a queer Muslim man. And a queer Hindu man will face fewer challenges than a queer Muslim man. The more layers of intersections that will fall into place more are the challenges. Because you are not battling one minority identity, you’re battling a lot of them.”
“It is rather un-Hindu for us to stand against homosexuality. Religion can always be used to unite people, but the interpretation can also be used to imprison and kill people,” he explained.
How Can It Impact Society and Community in Conversation?
The imposition of ideologies in the name of religion can sometimes lead people to lift their faith from God and religion or might result in re-considering the beliefs by some of the religious groups.
“I had to debate with religious people every day because I couldn’t understand their opinions. Later when I found out and researched about atheism and joined an atheist group on FaceBook. I am therefore an atheist now, and happy that I no longer follow beliefs which make humans hate each other. I no longer care if someone hates me for my sexuality.” Absaar expressed his opinions.
However, there are certain Christian countries who have legalized same-sex marriages; they’ve turned around and understood where they have re-visited the rules they once followed. It can be incorrect to say that religion has resulted in the hatred for the LGBTQ community, it is rather the interpretation of the religion which has done what it has done.