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Queer gods, can gay men have faith in a higher being?

By Yafeu-Khamisi Rodway-Brown

A little while back, when asked on my stance in a sudden, inspired discussion amongst the gay boys regarding a potential scavenge for scene action on a Sunday, I quip, “That’s Church day for me, boys.”

A stiller silence couldn’t have descended upon the gathered if I’d shot a round of Neuroleptic tranquilizer darts into their sides. They freeze in motion – minus the discordant set of fits their facial expressions seem to flip between – hands steadying one another against the further shock of any follow-up sentences.

“I’m joking,” I intone. It’s all over in seconds; a fevered laughter breaks out (spurred on by a skittering of jokes about ‘the Sabbath’), dies, and the date is set for the scene excursion.

Later, I think to myself how bizarre such a profound reaction seemed to be, and just how much it seemed to evoke in regard to the similar mentality of many gay men I’ve encountered in my life. High-spirited, vibrant, intelligent and opinionated guys who seem to clam up or go stone cold at the expression of any dedicated religious conviction from one of their homosexual counterparts – and that’s not saying anything for the scornful snorts that often amass at the mere mention of the word ‘spiritual’.

Spiritual is, however, a word I can comfortably use in reference to myself. While I had joked by-and-large at when I previously joked about my personal take on the subject, the experience left me with the uncomfortable notion that I’d written off something true to me almost entirely for the instant gratification of the group. Honestly, while far from an avid church goer, and hardly definable as a Christian, I do believe in ‘God’ – or, all title’s aside, a higher power. I also believe, ultimately, in the importance of some kind of faith and a deeper personal consciousness.

“Being written off as heathen, or an ‘abomination’ because we prefer Harry in bed to Hannah, despite the majority of us actually being decent, kind-spirited men is simply, ludicrously nonsensical.”

So, why does it feel like I’m one of a small few (from what I’ve encountered, at least) in the gay community?

It’s no secret that many of us feel shunned by the rigid, alarmingly homophobic sentiments that it seems the world’s most widespread religions, Christianity and Islam, uphold. Many of us are unable to see the sense or depth in ‘teachings’ that champion and call upon the good, gratuitous and giving nature in man – while condemning another solely on the grounds of his sexual orientation. Being written off as heathen, or an ‘abomination’ because we prefer Harry in bed to Hannah, despite the majority of us actually being decent, kind-spirited men is simply, ludicrously nonsensical.

Perhaps many gay men forsake all forms of belief – be they spiritual or religious – rather than constantly being compelled to fight against the notion that we can’t be fully ourselves and be gay men of some form of faith. Perhaps it seems too shallow to forage for the parts and pieces of religion that we can apply to ourselves, and reject all those that don’t recognise us.

Irrespective, religion and spirituality are two different things – one is, you could say, a text-book way to be, with all the answers for those who pass the test. Another is, arguably, an open-ended experience of no single form, entirely unique and where the focus is on ongoing personal development, investing in a more multi-dimensional sense of self and the energy around you. The ‘exclusivity’ doesn’t apply, its uncharted territory anyone can explore…

And why not?

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