Homosexuality in the World’s Religions

This is a compilation of resources on homosexuality in the world’s religions, organized by religious tradition, focusing on the American context. Included are web resources for gay people coming together as minority groups within religious traditions, links to religious activist groups for and against homosexual rights, resources being created by gay people dealing with their religion and their homosexuality, and resources being created by religious activists who oppose homosexuality. The anthology Gay Religion, edited by Scott Thumma and Edward R. Gray, has been the top resource for this compilation. It aims to “give a straightforward presentation of the spiritual lives, practices and expressions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons.” It explores LGBT involvement as members and leaders of many diverse religious communities, including sections on popular, denominational, and subaltern/sectarian expressions of faith. The Gay Religion website includes an impressive selection of weblinks, including a set of helpful links and reviews, sample chapters, and a multifaith listing of LGBT support group resources.

Baha’i

The Wikipedia article “Homosexuality and Baha’i Faith” gives an overview of the position of the Baha’i faith towards homosexuality and also lists references and external links to several statements published by the Universal House of Justice, the ruling body for the Baha’i faith.

Buddhist

Gay Buddhist Fellowship (GBF) is “a forum that brings together the diverse Buddhist traditions to address the spiritual concerns of gay men in the San Francisco Bay Area, the United States, and the world.” The fellowship offers yearly retreats every September to the Vajrapani institute in Boulder Creek, California, and their website includes digital audio files of talks given at GBF as well as an archive of GBF newsletters. Retrieved from http://www.gaybuddhist.org. Gay Men’s Buddhist Sangha is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and “brings gay men together to practice Buddhism, study the teachings, learn from each other’s experiences, and find ways to serve the gay community.” Their website includes links to gay Buddhist groups, both local and international. Retrieved from http://www.gaysangha.org. QueerDharma is a non-sectarian Buddhist organization specifically designed for LGBT members. They meet to discuss each other’s Buddhist practices and spiritual growth, and hold monthly retreats and other activities. They are based in New York City. Retrieved from http://www.queerdharma.org/. The Wikipedia article “Homosexuality and Buddhism” gives an overview of various Buddhist positions towards homosexuality. It also gives a list of references and external links to books, articles, and organizations about homosexuality and Buddhism.

Christian

The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists is an organization of churches, organizations and individuals committed to the support and inclusion of LGBT members in the full life of American Baptist churches. Retrieved from http://wabaptists.org/.

Dignity USA is a Catholic organization that believes it is the “right, privilege, and duty” of LGBT Christians to live the sacramental life of the Church. Dignity maintains local chapters throughout the country, and their website includes a resource page with both general and Catholic specific links. Retrieved from http://www.dignityusa.org/.

Integrity is a Episcopalian nonprofit organization of LGBT Christians who act “as a witness of God’s inclusive love to the Episcopal Church” at the national level and in local chapters by promoting “worship, fellowship, education, communication, outreach, and service to the church.” Retrieved from http://www.integrityusa.org/.

Other Sheep: Multicultural Ministries With Sexual Minorities is a “worldwide ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to empowering sexual minorities throughout the world with the Good News of God’s unconditional love for all and salvation through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.” Other Sheep is especially focused on serving in “geographical areas where information and organizations are still relatively scarce,” and their website includes an annotated bibliography and a number over 30 important links for sexual minorities. Retrieved from http://www.othersheep.org/.

Evangelicals Concerned believe that “the love and Grace of God is available to all persons through Jesus Christ,” regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. The group “organize[s] small groups, bible studies, social activities and other events in many North American cities,” and they also host “national and regional conferences every year.” Retrieved from http://www.ecinc.org/.

Reconciling Works is an organization of the Evangelical Lutheran church of America. Their mission statement reads, “Working at the intersection of oppressions, ReconcilingWorks embodies, inspires, advocates and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners.” Retrieved from http://www.reconcilingworks.org/.

GayChurch.org is “a web site dedicated to ministering to the gay and lesbian Christian community,” and it features “one of the largest gay and lesbian welcoming Christian church directories and bulletin boards in the world,” including over 3,400 entries for the United States. Retrieved from http://www.gaychurch.org.

The Gay Christian Network is “a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the spiritual lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians of every denomination.” Their website includes “an internet radio show, a message board, and numerous articles and resources.” Retrieved from http://www.gaychristian.net.

ChristianGays.com provides resources for LGBT Christians under the belief “that God loves us all just as we were created, including our orientation.” Moreover, the website encourages gay Christians to connect with one another through their “Newsletter, List Serve, Chat Rooms, Bulletin Boards and Personal Ads.” Retrieved from http://www.christiangays.com.

ChristianLesbians.com offers “information and resources for women presently struggling to reconcile their faith and sexuality” and “creates fellowship and support for Christian Lesbians” under the motto: “It’s not a contradiction. Neither are you.” Retrieved from http://www.christianlesbians.com.

Whosoever is an online magazine that “strives to show God constantly at work in the daily lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people” through “biblical scholarship, personal testimonies and prayerful commentary on timely topics.” Retrieved from http://www.whosoever.org.

An essay on “The Bible and Love Between Women” by Bernadette Brooten, Director of the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project discusses the place of LGBT persons in Christian theology. Retrieved from http://www.brandeis.edu/projects/fse/christianity/chris-essays/chris-ess-index.html.

Queer Asian Spirit is “an organization dedicated to affirming and supporting the spiritual lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people of Asian descent everywhere.” Their website includes collections of spiritual writings, sermons, interfaith resources, and links for LGBT people of Asian decent that focus primarily on the Christian faith. Retrieved from http://www.queerasianspirit.org.

Reconciling Ministries Network is a “national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice.” Retrieved at http://rmnetwork.org/.

Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons is an organization which includes active members of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, former members and non-members of all sexual and gender orientations, and their supportive friends and family. Retrieved from http://www.affirmation.org/

A Common Bond is support network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people who have been, or are now, associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The mission of A Common Bond is to provide support and comfort to individuals whose sexual orientation is in direct conflict with Jehovah’s Witnesses anti-gay teachings.” Retrieved from http://www.gayxjw.org/.

TransFaith On-line “seeks to be inclusive of Transexuals, Intersexuals, Crossdressers, Transvestites, and all other Transgendered individuals however they may be defined,” and to be inclusive, “of all spiritual traditions and orientation — while placing a particular emphasis on support and education within the Christian tradition and Christian communities.” Retrieved from http://www.angelfire.com/on/otherwise/transfaith.html.

The UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns provides support for LGBT members, their families, and friends and, “advocates for their full inclusion in church and society; and brings Christ’s affirming message of love and justice for all people.” The Coalition is officially recognized by the United Church of Christ as a related, self-created organization. Retreived at http://ucccoalition.org/.

Because of the immense diversity of Christian denominations, there are many more Christian organizations dedicated to LGBT concerns than the ones listed above. More comprehensive listings of groups organized by denomination can be found at The Interfaith Working Group Online and at the website for the book Gay Religion. These resources include more groups for denominations such as American Baptist, United Methodist, Society of Friends, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, and Eastern Orthodox.

Christian – Oppositional

Exodus International is “a worldwide interdenominational, Christian organization called to encourage, strengthen, unify and equip Christians to minister the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those affected by homosexuality.” They direct over 150 ministries in 17 countries. Retrieved from http://exodus.to/default2.asp. Focus on the Family sponsors a number of recurring conferences called “Love Won Out” that are designed for “those looking for answers” about homosexuality. Conferences feature a number of speakers who offer suggestions about “how to minister to a loved one who’s dealing with homosexuality, respond to misinformation in our culture, defend biblical beliefs and prevent…[children] from embracing this destructive way of life.” Retrieved from http://www.lovewonout.com.

Christian Scientist

Emergence International is “a world-wide community of Christian Scientists, their families and friends, that provides spiritual and educational support for lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgendered people, as they deal with homophobia and heterosexism.” They hold an annual conference and publish a bi-monthly newsletter. Retrieved from http://www.emergence-international.org.

Hindu

The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) is an international organization committed to educating “Vaishnavas, Hindus and the public in general” about “the teachings of Lord Caitanya, the importance of all-inclusiveness within His mission, and the Vedic concept of a natural third gender” in the hopes that “this knowledge will help to correct many of the common misconceptions that people hold today concerning third-gender people (gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, the intersexed, etc.).” Retrieved from http://www.galva108.org/index.html. An article in the April 2004 edition of the Little India magazine entitled “Here Comes the Bride…and the Bride” recounts the stories of a number of homosexual Indian partners, while examining their opinions on same-sex marriage. Retrieved from http://littleindia.com/april2004/Here%20Comes%20the%20Bride.htm.

Interfaith

Soulforce promotes “freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.” Their website includes a listing of local Soulforce groups across the United States and a variety of resources, including the original 17 step “Journey into Soulforce” based on the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Retrieved from http://www.soulforce.org.

The Interfaith Working Group includes articles, online magazines and lists of support groups by religious tradition. Retrieved from http://www.iwgonline.org.

People of Faith for Gay Civil Rights is “an interfaith and ecumenical movement of clergy, vowed religious, and lay people of all sexual orientations and gender identities” who “espouse prayer, consciousness-raising and nonviolent resistance to achieve equality for sexual minorities in society and religious denominations.” Retrieved from http://www.pfgcr.org.

The Rainbow Interfaith Community is “a group of Tucson [Arizona] interfaith communities united in reaching out to and affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.” The Rainbow Interfaith Community includes Buddhists, Catholics, Mennonites, Protestants, Quakers, and Unitarian Universalists. Retrieved from http://www.dakotacom.net/~rholmes/ric/.

The Interfaith Gay/Straight Alliance is centered in Charlottesville, Virginia and “is a faith-based group whose broad mission is to win full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons and their families.” Retrieved from http://avenue.org/igsa/index.html.

Q-Spirit is “dedicated to catalyzing the necessary conditions for queer people to fully claim…spiritual roles of service, leadership and community enrichment in the world” by empowering queer people to “fully claim and integrate [their] spiritual natures.” Retrieved from http://www.revolutionarywisdom.us/programs/qspirit/.

Jewish

The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews, also called Keshet Ga’avah, “consists of around 50 member organizations all over the world,” including “member organisations in: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.” Retrieved from http://www.glbtjews.org.

GayJews.org is a website “committed to providing up to date, accurate information for Orthodox Jews who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered” and which lists over 30 links and Jewish LGBT resources. Retrieved from http://members.tripod.com/~djs28/.

Twice Blessed is a website that collects and catalogues Jewish GLBT-related material. “The collection includes material from a wide range of sources: print, film, video, audio, events & ceremonies, music, performances, ephemera, etc.” Retrieved from http://www.usc.edu/isd/archives/oneigla/tb/.

The Feminist Sexual Ethics Project provides research on Jewish sexual ethics that examines “ancient rabbinic texts on which many Jews base their lives today through essays on: rabbinic laws that regulate gender segregation, rabbinic thinking on female homoeroticism, and rabbinic thinking on same-sex marriage.” Retrieved from http://www.brandeis.edu/projects/fse/judaism/juda-index.html.

“Trembling Before G-d” is a groundbreaking documentary about faith, sexuality and religious fundamentalism. It centers on personal stories of Hasidic or Orthodox Jews who are also gay or lesbian, as they, “face a profound dilemma – how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.” The film was nominated and has won several film awards. The website also offers an excellent list of resources related to Judaism and homosexuality.

Muslim

Al-Fatiha “promotes the progressive Islamic notions of peace, equality and justice” and has eight chapters in United States’ cities. Al-Fatiha also organized the First International Retreat for GLBT Muslims that was held in Boston during October 1998. Retrieved from http://www.al-fatiha.org.

Information about same-sex sexual activity and Muslim sexual ethics is provided by the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project who contend that “same-sex sexual expression has been a more or less recognized aspect of Muslim societies for many centuries, as can be seen through literature, history, and law.” Retrieved from http://www.brandeis.edu/projects/fse/muslim/mus-essays/mus-ess-homosex.html.

Native Peoples

2SPR- Two Spirit Press Room “is a Media and Cultural Literacy Project that focuses on the cultural and spiritual inheritances and rights of Native GLBT and Two Spirit People. Its work is centered in cultivating accurate portrayals of Native GLBT people in the press, community-building; and leadership of Native women.” Retrieved from http://home.earthlink.net/~lafor002//.

Bay Area American Indians Two-Spirits (BAAITS) is based in San Francisco and “exists to restore and recover the role of Two-Spirit people within the American Indian/First Nations community by creating forums for the spiritual, cultural and artistic expression of Two-Spirit people…Two-Spirit refers to the commonly shared notion among many Native American tribes that some individuals naturally possessed and manifested both a masculine and feminine spiritual qualities. American society commonly identifies Two-Spirit People as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender.” Retrieved from http://www.baaits.org.

Stephe Feldman has collected numerous resources about the two-spirit tradition, including links to pertinent articles, books, and movies. Retrieved from http://androgyne.0catch.com/2spiritx.htm.

In 2002, Beatrice Medicine wrote an article entitled “Directions in Gender Research in American Indian Societies: Two Spirits and Other Categories” that has been published online by the Center for Cross-Cultural Research at Western Washington University. The article discusses the debate among Native gay males and lesbians over the term “Two Spirits.” Retrieved from http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~culture/medicine.htm.

Pagan

The Witches’ Voice hosts a webpage entitled Gay Paganism: A Celebration which includes over 25 essays that celebrate the magick of gay and lesbian witchcraft and paganism. Retrieved from http://www.witchvox.com/_x.html?c=gay.

An article from Wikipedia discusses Neopagan views of homosexuality. Retrieved from http://www.fact-index.com/n/ne/neopagan_views_of_homosexuality.html.

Gay Spirituality

White Crane Journal is dedicated to “explore the variety of the manifestations of the spiritual search among contemporary gay men.”

Sikh

An essay entitled “Homosexuality and Sikhism” was written by Jasbir Singh for Sikhe.com and addresses a lack of resources for gay Sikhs. Retrieved from http://www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion.nsf/by+topic/96A591617142464C87256F9E00588844!OpenDocument.

Unitarian Universalist

Interweave is an organization working to end oppression based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Interweave is an affiliate organization of the Unitarian Universalist Association and is guided by the UU principles.

Additional Resources

Religious Tolerance.Org provides a variety of articles concerning “Homosexuality and Religion: Policies of Non-Judeo-Christian Religions.” The traditions covered include the Baha’i World Faith, Buddhism, Islam, Scientology, Theosophy, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Zoroastrianism, as well as traditional Native American and Neopagan groups. Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_chur3.htm#other.

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry is based in Berkeley, California and seeks to bring together the academic study of religion, faith communities, and LGBT persons. Retrieved from http://www.clgs.org/.

The Gay and Lesbian Religious Archives Network is a virtual archive of resources for the historical study of LGBT religious movements, organizations, and leaders. Retrieved from http://www.lgbtran.org/.