In this episode of the Queer Spirituality Podcast, I get a little more person and talk about my own story and spiritual journey. I've been on my current spiritual path for over 34 years now. Not only has it contributed to my life and my fulfillment but it's given me many opportunities to step into leadership roles and teach spiritual workshops. But the journey towards this path had some twists.
While I certainly suffered some spiritual wounds before finding my place, spiritually, I recognize how lucky I have been. I found my path relatively early, and I know that for a lot of queer people, religious trauma shuts down their desire to explore spirituality. It's my hope that by sharing my own story, it may inspire others to take another look for a spiritual path that feels rewarding and fulfilling.
My mother's spiritual influence
I grew up in a household that wasn't religious at all. My grandmother on my mother's side was very religious. She had strong fundamentalist Christian and evangelical beliefs. My mother married at 16 to escape that. As a result, we never went to church growing up.
When I was in grade school, I was very interested in wildlife and in gardening. I was mesmerized by the seeming miracle of putting seeds into the ground and having flowers sometime later. My mother encouraged this and often told me that god was in all of nature. If you wanted to see god, just look around the outdoors.
My mother was also a fierce champion for her kids. She supported whatever interests we had. I remember her telling me that you could never achieve big if you didn't first dare to dream big. I enjoyed a close relationship with my mother growing up and until her death in 2013.
My strained relationship with my father
My relationship with my father, on the other hand, had always been strained. I was a very emotional and sensitive boy which my father hated. He felt that I was too irrational like my mother (his words). My father was also very racist and very homophobic. Even before I knew that I was gay, I knew that my father hated queer people.
Fortunately, as a I got older, my father had become a workaholic with his business. He traveled a lot and was rarely home. But when we was home, we argued incessantly. About 5 years ago, I finally made the decision to go "no contact" with my father.
Spiritual wounds inflicted in my late teens
During my senior year of high school, my father decided that we needed to go to church. This had more to do with appearances and how he felt church made him appear as a business owner than any actual spiritual reason. My parents chose an evangelical mega-church because my father liked being a big donor that lots of people would notice. He insisted that my sisters and I go every Sunday.
I hated it. First of all, trying to conceive of a loving father god when my own father wasn't loving was too difficult for me. My relationship with him was so broken that I couldn't imagine a relationship with a heavenly father either.
Then there was my slowly blooming gayness, LOL. One day I was pulled aside by the youth minister who said a lot of terrible things to me about how I was possessed by a demon of homosexuality and that I wasn't welcome at the church. He also told my parents. I wasn't out yet. In fact, I wasn't even sure of my own identity yet. I outright refused to go to church any more.
Finding fulfillment in Goddess Spirituality
At school I was hanging out with the "edgy" kids, the punks and the new wavers. This led me to explore art and even to pursue art at the University of New Mexico. It was also through some of my friends that I was introduced to witchcraft. A friend lent me a book called Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. Even with my earlier spiritual wounds, I read it cover to cover.
In his book, Scott Cunningham (who I later learned was also gay), spoke poetically about the God and Goddess and how they were present in all of nature. He emphasized the Goddess and that really spoke to me. My relationship with my mother and her love for her kids allowed me to see Goddess as a higher power that was both loving and gentle. But the Goddess wasn't singularly good or evil. Just like nature, she could be creative and destructive. She gave birth to us and ushered us into the afterlife. To me, the Goddess felt more real as a result.
Ever since, I've followed Goddess spirituality as my path. I tell this story, because I believe that the effort to overcome your spiritual wounds and find a path that not only accepts but celebrates all of you including your queerness is a worthwhile effort. I think queer people can greatly benefit from spirituality and I believe that in many ways, it is our purpose to evolve it.
My spiritual path helped me find peace as a queer man. Today I’ll be discussing how growing up with a homophobic father, dealing with labels such as “demon of homosexuality”, and my mother's earth-centered beliefs allowed me to connect with spirituality on a deeper level and ultimately find fulfillment. Religious trauma is not uncommon among queer communities however this shouldn’t stop us from exploring deep connection with a higher power and finding a spiritual home should we seek it.
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