Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gay spirituality vs. everybody spirituality: A new closet?


“After the Rainbow Ceremony” by Peter Grahame

Gay spirituality may be replaced by “everybody spirituality. ” That’s an important idea that emerged during a recent gay spirituality weekend in New Mexico. Guest speakers included gay author Toby Johnson and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr.

One of the organizers was gay artist Peter Grahame, who sends this report:

The Spirituality weekend here in Albuquerque at the end of April '08 went well. We had 30 or so for the dialogue Friday evening between Toby and Richard; the audience participated and it was quite a discussion. The retreat on Saturday and half of Sunday was attended by 18 people or so, and it was very good; Toby offered much information that many found really very helpful and inspiring.

But as it turns out, we learned from this whole thing that the trend seems to be away from 'Gay Spirituality' to 'Everybody Spirituality.' Apparently, there may be many GLBT people these days, especially among the young, who don't seem to want to be labeled anything. Of course we're all equal. And nobody is trying to say we should be 'separate' or that we're 'better' at all. But many, especially the young GLBT people, don't seem to want to recognize their unique gifts – especially their unique spiritual gifts; a unique spiritual point of view that I believe comes with being GLBT. Again, these unique gifts don't make us 'special' or 'superior,' but they are unique, different, and these gifts are much needed.

Maybe some Straight people have gifts like these, too, but to me, not in quite the same way. I agree with Toby that by just wanting to be, or appear to be, just like everybody else... to want to assimilate... well, it seems like a subtle way of just going back in the closet. There are GLBT folks who say, 'We're just like everybody else except for what we do in bed,' but even causal observation shows that just isn't true. And yet, oddly, at the same time, these GLBT folks can still be very much involved in highly visible Gay Pride activities. Go figure.

In the end, the real point is, as I think Toby keeps saying, that GLBT people do have particular spiritual gifts to offer the development of religion as we head further into the 21st century. Well, anyway, that's not the end of the discussion, I've only touched on a few ideas here, and I applaud you, Kitt, for wanting to open it up for more. Thanks.

Peter has just launched a gorgeous new website, Ironic-Horse.com, which highlights his book Contemplations of the Heart: A Book of Male Spirit.

I found it especially helpful to hear about the trend from gay spirituality to everybody spirituality. My partner and I have experienced this attitude with younger GLBT people and been puzzled and saddened by it. Now I see that, like it or not, it’s part of a larger social context. Maybe it’s even a sign that the GLBT rights movement has succeeded.

Has anybody else run into this attitude of “inclusiveness” that threatens to water down or gloss over the unique characteristics of gay and lesbian spirituality? Or if you think it’s time to move beyond the “gay” label, can you explain why?

30 comments:

Riverwolf said...

Thanks for the post and links (beautiful photo!).

I seem to be coming at this backwards. When I first came out years ago, I bought the line "we're all the same." I was out to prove gays were no different, really, except in the bedroom. Of course, it was all part of finally accepting myself.

Now that I'm past all that, I see there are real differences, and that's a good thing. Now I want to embrace those unique qualities and dig even deeper. I think gays have perspectives that "everybody" can benefit from. I find myself seeking out more gay-specific spiritual groups and other situations in which to explore all this. Again, I think this reflects where I am personally.

Younger GLBTs are most likely to see themselves more as a part of society since they've come of age in a more open, accepting timeframe. But because they're young, they may not have had the same spiritual experiences and simply don't understand the spiritual gifts and resources they possess. That only appears with time.

I'm still caught in the middle, both wanting to go beyond "gay" and also clinging to it.

MadPriest said...

In a situation where gay spirituality is deliberately excluded from everybody spirituality, gay people have to form a separatist spiritual identity for their own spiritual welfare and to inform the straight world of the existence of their spirituality. One hopes and prays that eventually gay spirituality will become just part of everybody spirituality where it will bring its own unique contribution to the whole, in the same way as all the other unique spiritualities do. At this point the boundaries between spiritualities should become blurred with all sharing each other's experiences without fear of censure.

Obviously we have not reached this point yet but I believe we have reached a point where those not scared of the ambiguities of life are beginning to experience each other's spiritual zones in an organic way rather than as spiritual tourists.

It is the same with art. When I look at one of Doug Blanchard's paintings, the fact that he is gay informs my understanding of his art, in the same way that knowing that a woman or a black person painted a particular artwork would. But the fact that Doug is gay should not define the painting. That would lessen both the humanity in the painting and the painting's message. And if part of the message is that the artist is fully human then building any wall around it is going to emphasise difference and detract from the message.

Toby Johnson said...

People who grow up "gay" (or whatever other term you'd want to use to refer to having sexual feelings that aren't like the mainstream of feelings between men and women) tend to share certain talents and skills. Such "gay" people often are good at the arts--at doing women's hair, designing clothing, decorating windows, arranging flowers, being compassionate nurses and caregivers, generous teachers, etc. etc.

These are "stereotypes," of course, and not true of everybody or of all gay men/lesbians.

But there is still something instructive about the observation that having a different kind of consciousness of sexual attraction and living differently from the "norm" encourages certain talents and skills.

One of those skills is the ability to see through the assumptions of conventional society. This shows up in "camp" humor and irony. Gay people tend to be able to step outside what everybody else takes for granted and see through it. That can aalso be understood as seeing from a broader perspective, i.e., seeing the "bigger picture."

Understanding religion and myth from a broader perspective (that is, one that is inclusive of all the various traditions) points to a greater "truth" that includes all religions and all traditions.

(N.B. for all religions to be true, they also all have to be false, that is, they are all myths and metaphors for something bigger.)

This kind of vision of religion from over and above any particular tradition is what is being forced upon us by modern, global consciousness and worldwide intercommunication.

Gay people are likely to be skilled at this "higher" perspective just because we're good at seeing from the outsider's POV.

What I think "gay spirituality" means is bringing our "gay talents" to the area of religion.

It is instructive to see how many quote marks I have to keep using. (Do you notice that that means I'm trying to rise above my own meaning and be more inclusive?)

"Everybody spirituality" ought to be trying to be as inclusive as possible and to rise to a higher perspective. In that sense, there's no great difference between "gay spirituality" and "everybody spirituality."

But the reality is that "everybody" is NOT trying to rise above their religions. Most people (including many gay men and lesbians) don't want to see through their religious beliefs; in fact, when you look at American society, at least, it looks like most people really want to convince other people of the rightness of their beliefs, even to impose those beliefs by law.

It is a great skill--one pleasing to "God," I think--to be able to rise above your religious opinions and see through to something higher and more subtle (this is what the Buddhists call Enlightenment). It is a "gift from God" that gay people get to be skilled at this.

An example of rising above is being able to see how BOTH the Bible myth of Creation in 7 days AND the Darwinian evolution of species over millions of years are not contradictory.

(Traditional religionists, of course, tend to not see it this way.)

toby johnson

Jendi said...

A good question with no easy answer! For years I resisted the concepts of "female spirituality" or the "women's perspective" on religious and ethical questions, because I wanted to be a person first and a woman second. Now that I'm more aware of how my gender has shaped my life experiences, and how those in turn affect my belief system, I can't totally buy that transcendental perspective anymore, but neither do I want to subordinate spiritual truths to political ones. I'd like to believe that God breaks through all our differences -- meeting us where we are, and treasuring our unique gifts as women, gays, people of color, etc. -- but not necessarily tailoring God's revelation to our human categories. Maybe the "spirituality versus spiritualities" question depends on whether you believe there is one religious truth that we all seek to know in imperfect ways, or instead believe that your choice of religion is more about what works for you personally. I'm in the first camp, still, I suppose.

MadPriest said...

That's probably because that's what works for you personally, Jendi ;-)

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent report on the state of lesbian and gay spirituality. It is tempting for people to want to "assimilate." Young people might like Everyone spirituality as a new kind of don't ask don't tell.

If you can't be completely honest about who you are in a spiritual context, then this closeted life will not be authentic.

As for me, I really don't want to assimilate to male sexist norms that control all churches and malestream religions. I want a lesbian feminist religion that is powerful, warrior-like and uncompromising.

Kali the Hindu goddess with her spear stabbing the heart of the patriarch is a favorite image of mine. Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes is another favorite image; the revenge of the sexually used woman.

I can't really identify with mixed groups, and wish we had more lesbian and women's spirituality groups and conferences. No, there is no way in hell that I am anything like men or straight people. I believe that for lesbians to be fully powerful, we have to overthrow that tyranny known as patriarchy.

To me, everybody spirituality is just another excuse to pretend that it is "humanism" and not feminism that is needed world wide. It's another excuse to erase women from the equation. If it isn't LESBIAN in the title, it's patriarchy sneaking through the door yet again. Kali, bring out your spear and drive the everybody back to where it belongs, Feminism 101!

ned said...

Ego was the helper, ego is the bar.
-- Sri Aurobindo

I got the link to this post from the Gay Spirituality blog. I have blogged about this topic myself, but to quickly re-state my perspective here:

'Or if you think it’s time to move beyond the “gay” label, can you explain why?'

I think this is a decision that each person has to make for themselves. There can't be any one-size fits all rule for everyone.

As a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I personally feel ready to start moving beyond labels. And I feel that once you get closer to that Nameless Mystery within, every label starts to look, at best, as just a metaphor. Who I truly am is always going to be a Mystery, something constantly unfolding within me.

However, I do understand that given the extent of the emotional wounds we endure as queer people -- and I grew up in Pakistan so I'm well-aware of how traumatic they can be -- it is sometimes necessary to create a queer or gay identity. I don't think this is "wrong" -- it's a necessity in our evolution.

But I think at the summit of self-transformation, when you finally face that you are alone with the Alone, no labels will suffice. At that point, you just *are*.

KittKatt said...

I am impressed by the many thorough and thoughtful comments posted here. I cross-posted this at the Gay Spirituality Blog, and another lively set of great comments is online there.

Every time I was about to formulate a detailed comment of my own, another comment came in to shed a different light on the issue of “gay spirituality” vs. “everybody spirituality.” I find myself agreeing with at least part of every comment.

It’s interesting to realize that this whole debate fits into the “one” versus “many” struggle in all human communities.

MadPriest said...

I am not convinced that straight gay men have a distinct spirituality. But even if they do they are only one colour in the rainbow. If you just take LGBT you immediately have four personality types (in a broad sense) and there ain't no way a straight lesbian's spirituality is going to be identical to a straight gay man's. But then if you isolate "T" you end up with a whole load more "types" as the "T" group includes all sorts of sexualities. But then this is why transgender people are so often kept at arms length by the straight gay community. Their ambiguity contradicts the certainty of sexuality that straight gay people crave because they think this will make them acceptable to straight straight people. Me, I say embrace the difference and keep them guessing.

ned said...

To elaborate on my own view, I think both the "gay spirituality" and the "everybody spirituality" labels are misleading.

The truth is that each soul is unique. The Divine is both One and Infinite, and contains both unity and infinite diversity. This is a mental paradox which the human mind simply cannot grasp. It can only be seen through a spiritual experience.

The message of the mystics is that we are potentially *creators* -- creators liberated from the past, and free to create the future. That is the potential sleeping inside each individual soul.

It's not that we are all the same. We are all different and unique, and that is the whole point -- to be our UNIQUE selves, free from external labels, free of the external circumstances.

What we are will always be a mystery in an ultimate sense. And I think that holding on to labels like man, woman, gay, straight, Pakistani, or whatever, is precisely what prevents us from truly actualizing our uniqueness. Because deep down we are afraid of that very uniqueness and that power to create something new.

"Your true individuality is realized in the One."
-- Jungian Sufi Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

David Miller said...

That's an amazing photgraph. Love will lead us together. If we remember our common bonds, we will never be broken.

Jason said...

Well, I would say I value spirituality in a metaphorical sense, but obviously not in the mystical, otherworldly sense. I don't use the word most of the time because I do not want people to think I believe in a God, and the word "spiritual" typically has that connotation attached to it.

As an individualist, I do not segregate people's personal views by reference to a group. We are all individual human beings first and our associations with others come second. It's why the fact that I'm gay has no bearing on my social or political views.

Indeed, I have long held the view that gays could actually be BETTER at selling individualism BECAUSE gays have for so long been the observers, the "others," so to speak. Clinging to a group as the basis for one's outlook on life is a problem.

All this to say there should be no such thing as gay spirituality, just as there shouldn't be gay literature as such, or gay music. I am not suggesting that gays shouldn't associate and form their own voluntary associations. I'm saying the gayness itself is not and should not be the primary motivation.

Call me the next generation gay - the one that threw off the collectivist notions of the 60s generation utterly and completely.

Yvonne said...

I would say there is a distinct queer spirituality, not necessarily for any essentialist reasons, but because the queer spirituality that I have observed transcends more boundaries, includes more imagery that others can't handle, and GLBTQ people have carved out a niche for ourselves self in traditions that sought to exclude us or ignore us.

Scott Hankins said...

Thank you so very much for this discussion and site.

I'm linking it to my blog.

Joy!

Anonymous said...

And Jason said that he'd thrown off the work of the collectivist 60s entirely. What does that mean? that you think your life was created in a vacuum? That all the major civil rights legislation of that era had no effect on your life today, or that you want to opt out of the fight for freedom altogether to pursue a corporate and comfortable lifestyle? Or does it mean you simply don't know much about the gay and lesbian past at all. Just ask most young gays today about major figures in that movement and see the blank looks on their faces. Trouble is, it was that generation that created the movements that got the freedom gays and lesbians now enjoy today. Somebody paid a price for this, someone took the risks, someone took to the streets, someone invented the gay and lesbian presses to publish the poetry and novels and literature that won Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and helped reach out to isolated gays and lesbians all over the world. Jason, you may think you are above this work, or that it has nothing to do with you. But it is work that has already been done, and you've already benefited from it, you just don't have the humility to thank the people who did this work.
At least the black community in America honors its heros and heroines, our community disses and dismisses them, and that is all about self-hatred and shame for being gay underneath all the individualistic rhetoric.

It is this weird historical disconnect with the people who put their lives on the line in the streets, and the complete lack of knowledge of the huge movement that was lesbian and gay literary achievement that is a bit mystifying.

If blacks and Asian-Americans have a significant history and heritage, so do lesbians and gays.

How the world treated various groups is intimately connected to their identity as human beings. Lived in the closet for long periods of time, you're not an average straight person, you have been effectively controlled by an oppressive social environment.

I believe the Everyone spirituality is a bit premature. Last I heard, most major churches do not accept gay people or culture. Last I heard, major right wing political groups want us silent, closeted and with no significant civil rights.

Slavery formed the African-American experience, just as the closet and homophobia formed the life experience of gays and lesbians worldwide.

To not know this history is to remain closeted to yourself, and it is a profound disrespect to the men and women who risked everything for freedom, so that you could enjoy your life today. Other groups seem to get this, and I don't know why gays disconnect from all the significant generations that have gone before them, and continue to change the world today.

I think this "Everyone" spirituality is just covering-- covering up that you are gay, covering up that there is a significant difference between gay identity and straight identity, and that it took over a half a century to get this freedom today in America.

Now American gays are sharing this strategy with the world, in places like the Middle East where gays are executed, for example. But hey, that's a story the young don't know, haven't read about, and are uninterested in. They'd rather have their fashionable clothes, bars and drag queen nights, but they don't know about the "collectivist history" to begin with, and that's the problem with all groups that fight against self-hatred and the legacy of the closet.

Jason Lockwood said...

I find it psychologically revealing that in my stated views - that I am an individual first and a member of a group secondarily - that the reaction is that I am "self-loathing." Frankly, I have no idea what that means. If anything, as an individualist I value myself FIRST because my life is my own to live. Others can and do have an influence on me, but I have the final say as to what I believe. I believe that people forge their own identities irrespective of the groups with which they associate.

Has progress been made in how people view and treat gays? Certainly. Education has much to do with this, and I credit those tireless people with fire in their bellies who used persuasion to get people thinking about these issues.

I hold to my statement that I am a man first. Yes I'm gay and happy about it. I have no reason to hate myself or others.

Finally I choose to live in a place - Sydney - that is open to the gay experience, rather than an anonymous small town in a southern US state. I made that choice of my own free will, based on my personal observations about Sydney and Australia in general.

Hiram said...

I perceive a movement away from identity politics as a defining aspect of 'gay spirituality', or 'spirituality', among many LGBT activists and religious thinkers, and it's kind of liberating, actually.

There is a lot of cultural baggage behind being gay that we have to figure out our way through, and we're fed a lot of homophobia that we need to heal, but there comes a point where we transcend it and our level of maturity requires that we look at other things.

In shamanics, oftentimes the wound becomes the healing balm or the thing that triggers healing, and we become wounded healers, and this is good: we get in-Spired and transmute negative energy through this work of being wounded healers ... and so the idea of peculiar gay spiritual gifts, whether they arise out of our nature or out of the experience of marginalization, is a legitimate notion.

Yet even this we have to transcend because our history is not our destiny. We always have new things to learn and if we look only to the past, we become stale, we become petrified, we turn to stone. There is no creativity and progress there.

And so there is a place for so called 'queer spirituality' whatever that means (it can mean many things) and there is also a place for plain Spirit.

However we have to concede that ultimately, spirituality is not 'gay': gay is something that is experienced in this body in our planet. Spirit transcends bodily identifications and experiences, it has no skin, it is asexual.

Thanks for this interesting article.

Riverwolf said...

Hiram: I like what you had to say about shamanics (In shamanics, oftentimes the wound becomes the healing balm or the thing that triggers healing, and we become wounded healers, and this is good: we get in-Spired and transmute negative energy through this work of being wounded healers ...).

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call lesbian feminism identity politics or the lesbian spiritual tradition identity politics. We sought to create something new, and we knew that the old world of patriarchy had absolutely nothing to do with the liberation of women.

I actually think identity politics is a label detractors use against people organizing for their own freedom, because we certainly wouldn't say that male supremacy and all male ruling classes were "identity politics" we'd say they were the "western tradition."

The dominator class likes to believe it's the norm. So I believe each group with it's own inner desire for no compromise freedom is about creating its own spiritual tradition. Or it's about recovering a tradition that was actively suppressed by dominators the world over--think about christian witch burnings across Europe as the ethnic cleansing of independent women, for example. Think of the tyranny of male clergy destroying female power.

Or when was the last time you saw thousands of men marching in the streets anywhere in the world in outrage over the rape and torture of women? Never happens right?

It's why every time I here "all our welcome" I get suspicious. Knowing the past, I believe the most powerful thing is to unite with like minded people to create power space and a power spirituality. It's not about compromsing or placating oppressors, it's about throwing your mind as far as it would go-- to paraphrase that great radical philosopher Mary Daly.

Or to flush out the phoniness of this just compare international outrage over apartheit in South Africa and the enduring silence about gender apartheid in the middle east. Should be the same thing right? With men it's freedom, but oppressing women is "culture." Until women have their absolute freedom on their own terms, and their own powerful communities, I'm leaving the "everyone fits in and add women and stirr ideas behind!" And that's why I think that as lesbians we need to continue to develop our own culture away from the contaminating forces of the male dominator models that are so deeply engrained in the fabric of life as to be literally invisible to most women and almost all men out there. No integration for me thank you very much.

Wounded healer... I believe a closeted gay man invented that term. Not my cup of tea. How about a fully empowered healer, or rather to my taste a fully armed amazon warrior!

fokion said...

sorry if i'm skipping around a bit... that's how i tend to write.

first off, i wanted to point out that most of these posts have ignored the "T" part of "GLBT." gay people always tokenize trans people and it's important to recognize that the experiences of cisgender gay people do not define the experiences of all queer people.

as for the question of difference... this is a common question in identity politics. the fact is that speaking about difference inevitably reifies that difference to a certain extent. the problem with feminist separatism, for instance, is that it reifies the gender binary that oppresses genderqueer and trans people. (consider Camp Trans and the transphobic Michigan Womyns Music Festival.) but on the other hand it is essential to speak to the experience of women.

part of the problem with straight spirituality, and gay spirituality as well, that i have had is the rampant gender essentialism that i find in most spiritual paths. for people who identify as third gender, most spirituality is really alienating. as someone who identifies with earth-based spirituality, every time i hear some hippy-dippy crap about the earth goddess and father sky i want to flip my shit. as a third-gender identified trans person, it is really frustrating and alienating.

furthermore, trans people, generally, face specific spiritual issues that most cisgender people couldn't understand- such as the unique and difficult relationships that many trans people have with their own bodies.

as for the idea that queer people tend to see the world differently- queerness is a cultural group. in fact it is many cultures. queer people are fragmented and plural- there is just as much racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, ageism, and other forms of oppression within queer communities as there is in the larger straight world, and queer communities are just as segregated as the larger world. with that said, there are ways of being and thinking that are culturally queer, and queer people should not be afraid to claim our identity as a cultural group.

that's about it for now.

i'm planning to write more about queer and third gender spirituality in my blog.

<3
~f

MadPriest said...

I made a similar point to yours earlier on the thread, Fokion, and there was no response to it. I think that straight gay folk fear sexual ambiguity because what they really crave is exact definition so that they can have their own defined spirituality etc. T can be such an embarrassing letter.

Riverwolf said...

Thanks to Fokion for pointing out the transgender perspective. Even though I don't identify as such, I too cringe when I hear things like "Father Sky" and "Mother Earth." I get it, however. I doubt these folks are trying to be exclusive--they're simply using familiar language that makes sense to them. However, language is just a representation for something, yet one more way to define and categorize. The sky and the earth have no gender; they simply are. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

fokion said...

re- madpriest. yeah, i saw your post. i guess i'm a little confused by what you mean though. could you elaborate? what do you mean by "straight gay people"? (it's a great expression!)

re- riverwolf. i only recently started identifying as trans, but i have identified as genderqueer for quite a while. i have to specify, though, that there is no one thing as *the* trans perspective. in particular, some trans people identify as genderfluid (such as myself and many of my friends) while some identify strongly within the gender binary. and it is important for us to respect all of these paths.

it is important for cisgender gay and lesbian people to recognize the experiences of trans people, because we are part of the gay community. ... this happens all the time, where an oppressed group gets defined by the people within that group who have the most privilege. for instance, gayness is often seen as a white thing, since gay scenes are so often predominantly white. and it is important for white queers to be proactively anti-racist and aware of our white privilege in defining what queer is.

similarly, cisgender people need to be aware of their cisgender privilege. this goes especially in gay scenes, where trans people face incredible oppression. gay identified trans men often face an enormous degree of oppression in sexual situations with non-trans (cisgender) gay men. this is particuarly significant given the amount of emphasis that dominant portrails of gay male sexuality place on the penis.

anyway, i've sort of strayed from the original point, which was spirituality. but basically, i think it's important for queer people not to be afraid to proclaim their difference, while remaining aware of who may be silenced in the ways that we proclaim that difference.

much love
<3
~f

MadPriest said...

"Straight gay" is a personal phrase of mine I use, without malice, to describe gay men who have no sexual ambiguity in their personhood or are not willing to acknowledge it. Many of them really want it to be scientifically proved beyond doubt that their sexuality is 100% genetic. Many of them are far more likely than lesbians and straight people to ditch the T from LBGT, whatever they may have said before, if the political climate starts to favour gay inclusion but not transgender inclusion (this has been demonstrated in the U.S. recently). By no means are all gay men this shallow or this lacking in selfconfidence.

fokion said...

while i personally think it's shallow, i don't think it's really a lack of self-confidence.

for me, i see my sexual and gender identity as inherently political. but it's often difficult to understand that for many queer people, (especially those who wouldn't use the term "queer"), they don't see their identities as political. this is true of trans people, LGB people, drag kings and queens... many people don't see their identities as political statements and aren't interested in being aware of the racial, sexual, gender dynamics of the spaces they create.

i think it's important to build solidarity between queer people in order to face the common challenges we face, and to build a stronger community. part of building that community involves facing oppressions that some might consider a "separate issue", such as racism within queer spaces.

in order to build a really meaningful queer community, it is necessary, for instance, to challenge racism and recognize that racism and heterosexism and transphobia- both within queer spaces and straight spaces- are all connected. there are queer people in iraq, too. imperialism and heterosexism are connected. in fact, it is often similar mechanisms of exclusion and violence that are use against queer people as that are used against women, people of color, and the colonized.

anyway, i'm going off in circles again.

much love
~f

Riverwolf said...

Fokion, thanks again for your perspective. Overall, I'd say that I've been comfortable with my sexual and gender identity, however, I have experienced moments when even those categories didn't fit. Of course, that all gets pushed aside in the interest of getting on with the day. But you've caused me to pause, remember and consider what aspects of my identity lie forgotten and unexplored. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to speak to the idea of the Michigan Women's Music Festival as a little bit more than
feminist separatism. Michigan is a long standing music festival where women support women. There has been a very long standing fight against keeping Michigan a woman only space.

I believe that the lives of women matter, and that an attack on Michigan by trans activists is disengenious.

Lesbian space and women's space is sacred, and I don't think that people who were once actually raised as men understand this.

For the women who have suffered rape, sexual abuse by men and a lifetime of sexism, it is vitally important that women carve out their own separate spaces. Lesbian feminists who have performed at Michigan have actually been banned at gay and lesbian pride celebrations because trans activists didn't like the fact that lesbians had the nerve to sing at Michigan, for example.

Aparently, lesbian spaces, already so rare as to be non-existent in "gay" venues can't cultivate and elevate their own performers.

I have always questioned the honesty and integrity of trans activists who malign both feminism and lesbian feminism. It is a male tactic to invade and degrade, and when you have MTFs coming into women's showers fully displaying the private parts of men, I think you'll find this a tactic of rapist intimidation. That event actually happened at Michigan several years ago.

Radical separatism is about a male free space, and I believe women are entitled to this space.

We have plenty of LGBT spaces but hardly any lesbian or women only spaces anymore. I've noticed that a movement will do anything to elimiate women from the equation, and I've experienced more sexism in spaces where LGBT turns women into a letter in the alphabet. Lesbian feminism is sacred, and radical lesbian feminism is our movement. We will not share it with anyone outside this power group, and women deserve the right to find their own way free of all male contamination. To guard the integrity of lesbian performers should be something all people in so-called social justice movements do.

I should have the right to question what MTFs are really doing in lesbian spaces to begin with. And I think people raised as men with male privilege are merely revealing yet another tactic in intimidating women and marginalizing lesbians.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Separatism is a valid spiritual path. We are not all the same, and many of us really do want our separate spaces. To say this is anti-trans is beside the point. We are pro-women, and support separatism as a valid choice for women. Men invade, degrade and rape women. Women have a perfect right to a place where this doesn't occur ever.

In an LGBT context, sexism against women actually increases.

I kept count the number of times GAY men called Hillary Clinton a bitch, for example. When the number reached 100, I started to do something about it. Gay men are increasing their abuse of women as they gain more power in government, and that's another reason why I think LGBT doesn't really serve the needs of lesbians.

Kind of like AIDS bike-a-thons. How many lesbians get AIDS?

KittKatt said...

Here's the direct link to a parallel debste on this post at the Gay Spirituality Blog:

Jesus In Love Blog

http://gayspirituality.typepad.com/blog/2008/07/gay-spiritualit.html#comments

Anonymous said...

Not one to ever post on a blog, I'll weigh in on this discussion since I'm a participant in Peter Grahame's book Contemplations of the Heart: A Book of Male Spirit. I also facilitated the discussion at his gay spirit retreat April 08. Here's my contribution: There is no "everybody spirituality," there is only each person's unique spirituality. There is no one-fits-all spirituality: that's the realm of religion with its rules and proscriptions. That said, there is, in my view, a unique "gay spirituality" that informs a gay person's unique apirituality. I would even add that there is a unique lesbian spirituality and a uinque gay male spirituality that stems from the unique make up of gay and lesbian people. We are different from straight people, a difference that comes from nature and nurture. The natural difference is genetic and energetic. We are blessed with a unique "gay gene" that gives us a unique lens with which we view the world. And our experiences growing up with this unique lens contribute to a way of viewing the world that cannot be replicated by a non-gay person. I don't mean to say we gay poeople are superior, just different. The rainbow of diversity in humans is what makes us so spectacularly beautiful. The repression of that diversity by the culture of sameness has deprived the world of the unique contributions of many of us. Others have let their light shine through the prism of their being without needing to be catergorized as "gay," even before such labels were invented. At the same time, the cultural repression of our gifts has created a wound that, when healed, becomes our greatest strength. Only when we acknowledge and love ourselves in our woundedness can we be the most powerful people we were meant to be. We are all evolving into our shining selves.... Julian Spalding, Albuquerque