Paul PelleritoNovember 1996
I've written about a lot of subjects in these columns, but the one issue I've never tackled is that of religion. The major reason is because I've never really considered my homosexuality to have anything to do with my religion. Since I believe a certain kind of faith is important to have, I should explain that first.
My beliefs come from a variety of sources: Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, and even some Native American beliefs have all found there way into my credo.
But what I believe in the most foregoes any sort of religion; the fact that we each have the power within us to change things. I feel that it's most important to actively participate in the lives of others. Most people do this by simply having friends. Others do more by volunteering or donating to charities. What it is doesn't really matter, but I really believe that we are put here to do something to help others.
I think it's really important to have a faith that things will get better. They usually do. The story of almost any gay man's life shows really bad teenage years but a relatively happy ending. While we may never get to date in high school, go to the prom or have that romantic first kiss like most straight people, we will have the chance to dance with someone we love, go out and have fun with the same sex, and spend a lifetime with a special someone.
An afterlife isn't something I'm really focused on because it's so difficult to be absolutely sure that we go anywhere after we die. Regardless of what happens after we die, we're all stuck here on earth first, so it makes sense to do something decent while we're here and not really worry about where we'll all end up.
So where does homosexuality come into all of this? Nowhere. The main teaching of any religion should be tolerance and respect, unfortunately it isn't always that. There's not much the gay youth of the world can do to right the wrong that organized religion has done to us, except respect others' beliefs and work to change their perceptions of homosexuality.
The Old Testament, where most of the anti-gay stuff is, was written thousands of years ago. Some of it still hold true, but a lot of it has been dismissed as silly. Christians don't have to keep kosher (something most Jews I know don't have much a concern about anymore), people wear poly-cotton blend clothes all the time (Leviticus mandates this as sinful) and sex with women during their period is not forbidden by law anywhere, to my knowledge.
The condemnations against homosexuality came from an uneducated time, when people didn't know that all the facts point to an orientation more than a preference. The Bible talks mostly about sex for heterosexuals, with just a few things here and there against us. In Biblical times, the worst effect of homosexuality was the fact that people wouldn't be reproducing; the Hebrew race (viewed to be God's chosen) would not grow. Nowadays, we can grow kids in test tubes, so sex to reproduce isn't all that necessary. Being gay isn't about sex anyway, it's about who we love.
Love was Jesus' biggest message, and that's what most churches I've been to say they're all about. Unfortunately, they still don't like gays and their kind of love. It's amazing what a few sentences in a two thousand year old book can do.
Something that Ghandi once said comes to mind: "Let your only god be truth." I think that's what we're all looking for anyway. The truth and a little love along the way.
So what can you do? Everything starts with respect. We all should have some respect for the Christian Right, even if they don't have any for us. Once we lose our respect for them and begin to hate them, we've become just as bad as them. The biggest thing you can do for yourself if tell your friends the truth. If they don't have a clue about homosexuality, tell them the facts. You don't have to come out to them to explain the basics, you just have to have that courage to be able to set them straight (no pun intended) and get them to change their mind. It's a tough thing to do, I know, but it always starts with one person standing up for what they believe in.
As always, the future lies in our hands.