Inquiries in Sexuality and Spirituality
Yesterday, I was doing some research on gay spirituality to supplement my writing. As a married gay man long-retired from the active ministry, the subject holds more than a passing interest for me. I was looking for a photo (yes, only one) of two guys together pursuing any kind of identifiable spiritual activity like prayer or worship. I must have scrolled through much more than five thousand photos across five or six different sites. The further I went, the more I realized how our culture has cancelled the concept of gay spirituality—of any sort, and it’s been going on for many, many generations.
Here’s what I found when I searched on such topics as “men praying:” Moslem men at prayer alone or in groups, Buddhist monks, fathers and sons, guys getting prayed over (with and without laying-on of hands), guys being preached to, gay couples hugging and kissing, and a lot of single guys in a variety of prayerful positions. Out of literally thousands of photos, I found exactly one that might serve my purpose (it’s the one accompanying this article).
Why? It’s not like photos of couples at prayer are rare. I found lots of male-female couples in reflective, prayerful attitudes both in and out of places of worship. Perhaps the reason is that mainstream religions have marginalized LGBTQ+ people in general, and gay couples in particular. You won’t find a photo anywhere of a gay couple holding hands in a church or synagogue. Or, keeping in mind that these photos have been produced for commercial consumption, it’s highly likely that there’s just no market for and no interest in gay spirituality. Or, perhaps, despite our history across cultural lines as spiritual pioneers and leaders, we’ve allowed our resentments against bigoted “religious” institutions to alienate us from our traditional roles.
Whatever the reason, whether or not gay spirituality has been cancelled or not has no effect on my life. I’m one of those rare birds: a gay spiritual practitioner. But what about those LGBTQ+ people for whom spirituality is either something shameful or not at all a viable option? We can tell from the photos that gay spirituality is invisible. Gay sex is now long out of the closet. It’s a sobering thought that, perhaps, it’s been replaced by gay spirituality.