We have made some great leaps over the last few years in the name of Diversity. Accepting the belief systems of the individuals and communities, which make up the company within which we live in order to present and perform as a united public.
We endeavour to behave by a generally accepted rule of what is right and wrong towards people in the name of humanity and to the virtue of the individual regardless of their cultural status. To this merit; Society, in the broadest terms, aims to aid in the progression of law and ethics in order to establish a fairer less segregated union by acknowledging what is “Different” to the considered “Norm”, and then accepting that it is these very diversities which are the mainstream of Society and not the minority. We are, none of us, the same as any other.
With this slightly hippified version of life and all its wonderful nuances in mind, I set about exploring, in a somewhat naive way, what it actually means to ‘Accept’ within the parameters of the anticipated Ideal of a community. And the community I decided to explore? Well, I couldn’t have given myself a larger more diverse group if I had tried; I choose Religion, what with the festive season approaching and all and not just one but all of them; no stone unturned, and why? Because the religious community is one built on love, and togetherness and belonging and acceptance without rule, isn’t it? Well yes, of course, only with some slight deviations along the way
It may be relevant to point out that I am not personally religious. I come from a religious family, I have studied the major texts of several religions and I have friends from across the religious community but when it comes to ticking that little box on the diversity monitoring form, I sit quite happily in the “no religion” category. I do however; have the upmost respect for the beliefs of the individual and their personal right to live freely by their own judgements.
So anyway, here I am; curiosity to boot, with my slightly ‘Peace and Love’ attitude in tow and I start contacting people to ask them about Love, and if I stopped there then everything would be just fine. In fact, lets try that shall we…
I would like to ask you about Love
Answers below please…
I imagine we would be hard pushed to find anyone that would not agree that the love of one individual to another, or of several individuals, is anything but a good thing. Unless of course you’re reading this after you’ve had another blazing row about who left the milk out all night, because when we look at this rationally, it couldn’t have been me because I don’t make the porridge and if it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t you, then we have far bigger things to worry about than some slightly luke warm milk.
But Love is something which resonates without exception; we all know it in some shape or form, we all need it, in others; we’re all afraid of it in ways that make us shy away from our own hearts in order to protect ourselves from the joys and hurts we may not even know yet. Love is hard and Love is beautiful and Love is ours; whoever and whatever you may be. So that question of Love is a question that is universal, for apart from anything else, how could we, anyone, presume to take precedents enough over it to deny someone of it? What great audacity gives us that right?
So when I went to the Priests and the Rabbi’s and the Vicars and the Imam’s and the congregations that make up their communities, with this question of Sexuality and Identity, I was only left disheartened by the lack of Love that appeared both in its acceptance and understanding, and I was furthermore saddened by the hostility and disregard of the individual and their right to live freely, because of it.
And then I got angry. And I have pondered over how better to put this than: grr, but the ridiculousness of it, the hypocrisy, the stupidity that places such effect and importance on something so…so natural as to love; the pomposity of it, it just makes me grrr and then, following that, begin along the lines of some angry feminist rant.
Without wanting to go on too much of a nit-picking ramble around different religious texts, I will make reference to just one, here, as it is rather at the cornerstone of our beliefs of the heterosexual union.
The same Hebrew Word, as used in Genesis to describe the love between Adam and Eve is used to describe the love between Ruth and Naomi in The Book of Ruth. Furthermore this vow, made from one woman to another, is often used in marriage ceremonies to illustrate the nature of the covenant of the union. And well, isn’t that ironic? This idealised heterosexual union of love is blessed by, and based on, a homosexual union. Just saying…
To say I struggled to engage people in this conversation, would be putting it lightly. It seems that everyone has an opinion but nobody wants to talk about it but I was lucky enough to speak and meet with some wonderful people who were able to share their stories with me and leave me, surprisingly actually, feeling much better about the whole damn thing in the end.
It is a story of struggle. Of fighting through adversity. Of strength and, at the end of all of that; love (though one would really hope that came somewhere closer to the beginning).
I spoke with people who had been completely vilified and run out of their communities, people who had been forced to try and “change” or hide themselves, people who had been completely abandoned, abused and neglected, people who were left scared and ashamed and alone and fearful of ever trying to integrate with a community again. And why? because they had fallen in love. And there is no way of explaining that because no belief, surely, results in the belief of the mistreatment of another person.
But what I find most astonishing at the end of all of this is that Faith and the Love of Faith holds strong. When everything around you in the name of religion is against you, somehow it is your faith and your God that gives you the strength to continue.
And I gotta say this didn’t make a lot of sense to me, how could you hold on to Faith when it is that very thing that has turned its back on you?
But then someone said to me “its all struggle; Jesus struggled, Ruth struggled, Mary struggled…they all fought against someone for the right to be free in themselves; they all struggled, but they never had to fight God; he loved them always, whatever struggle life had given them, he loved them always and he loves me” and I think that is a message for anyone to keep in their hearts that it is your strength and your belief and your faith in something, whatever that may be, that keeps you going and that Love, whatever shape, whatever form it may come in, will never die.
So having navigated my way through some verbal abuse and some outrageous ignorance and some damn right rudeness, I settled on something rather wonderful; a universal truth of love: you are never alone. For every one struggling there is someone who cares, for everywhere you are not welcome there is a place you always are, for every person that doesn’t understand there is someone that does and when you finally find that you can walk through a door into a room full of strangers and belong, and be loved, there is beauty in that struggle too, and that’s the message; that no matter what, you are loved.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.