It seems as if the word of 2009 so far is “spirituality.” Even deep in my recent isolation it is popping up everywhere I’m not even looking. Having bagged my sexuality I am struggling again to find answers to the three most classic philosophical questions of all time: Who am I, why am I here and did God actually make me funky?
I have been looking for decades, of which I have nearly three under my belt, for a spirituality that will externally affirm my sexuality. Which means, of course, that I have been looking for a religion, not a spirituality. I think this is where I’ve been going wrong.
I have a feeling that people who are raised Catholic always feel like they need a religion. There are definitely roots in my childhood that have dictated what I believe I need to be happy in my adult life. Going meat-free makes me super-depressed. So does living in a messy house, living 365 days a year away from a lake, eating margarine. You’d figure because so may queer people are ex-religious that there would be a religion, like those of other oppressed groups, made specifically to affirm queer people’s lives.
Well, I guess there is. Cue the Metropolitan Community Church, “the world’s first church group with a primary, positive ministry to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons.” Their website sounds lovely, boasting nearly 43,000 members worldwide.
There is a Jesus Metropolitan Community Church in Indiana founded by 18 gay devout Christians. For interest’s sake I encourage you to go and read the notes in the history section. Apparently Jesus healed some guy’s same-sex partner back in the day. Why is it that in all this time searching for a religion I’ve never looked them up till researching for this article? There are three possible reasons I can put my finger on right now: One, because I am still mad at God; two, because I have grown to mistrust organized religion so profoundly that I believe there will be something in the fine print to exclude me and three, because I still believe somewhere inside me that I deserve to be excluded.
I have always been attracted to Buddhism, on the other hand — where nothing is about me or my sexuality — to the beautiful possibilities of nondoing, to the peace of unattachment, no moment but this moment. Seems to me like the obvious response to loss is to learn how not to want, not to expect, to live outside it. It definitely takes the surprise out of things. I would much rather just notice should the love of my life decide to leave me, just say, “Hmmm, today you are here, today you are gone. Hmmm.” Just notice it. Nothing is permanent, attachment equals suffering. Are all faithful Buddhists single and celibate?
The queer community itself looked like its own little religion to a teenage girl who grew up Catholic, repressed and betrayed by God. Symbolic jewellery, official holidays, dress/conduct protocols, exclusive meeting spots, hymns/chants and dance anthems, real and perceived enemies, check, check, check. Music is my boyfriend, queer is my religion. The only evident void pertains to spiritual leaders, mostly because we just can’t all agree on what is cool. Lots of missionaries though, spreading the good news, one orgasm at a time.
It worked for a while, for me. It gave me a cause. Led to my worship of the female body, my kryptonite. The devil made me do it. Sins of the flesh taste so sweet.
I remember a time years ago when I was walking down Eglinton and this man started hitting on me. “I don’t date men,” I said, thinking that would be the end of it. When he asked why I said, “I’m a lesbian,” which is the word I was using at the time. “What?” “A lesbian.” “Oh, okay.” Pause. “Is that a religion or something?” That was really funny.
I have felt so disconnected from queer community lately and not just because my depression has isolated me. I have expected queer community to embrace me, help me to love myself, help me to fear less and never feel alone. The relationship is impractical, especially among those as fickle, impermanent and prone to suffering as we are. I am not on this earth to fight oppression, nor to be oppressed, nor to commiserate. I am not here to be a lover, a sister, a mother, a writer, an artist, a social worker. So why am I here?
I think I was hoping queer community would answer that for me if I spent enough time on Church St, if I wore the right thing, made friends with the right people. Now I am finding more substance in the lyrics to Alanis Morissette’s “Joining You” and “If I Would Be Good.” Look them up while you’re reading about Jesus’ gay healing, they’re amazing. If not my fuckups, if not my triumphs, then who am I? Perhaps I am here as a shining example of clinical depression? Bad dancing? OCD?
Maybe I should go to a Metropolitan service this month. And a Zen meditation session. And Slack’s next Saturday night. The question “Why am I here?” is bound to come up in all three.