The LGBTQ Community & the Bahá’í Faith

Alláh’u’Abhá Friends,
On Being LGBTQ & Bahá’í
I was a female-bodied, gender-noncomforming Bahá’í person and married to my husband for eight years before I decided to medically transition from female to male to affirm my true gender identity as a man. Though my biological sex is now largely non-binary, in respect of my true gender, I am now a man married to a man. At first, this highly distressed me because of Shoghi Effendi's statements to a fellow Bahá’í in a letter written on his behalf, "No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature." (Bahá’í Library). The Guardian, God bless his soul, goes on to compare homosexuality to a disability to be overcome via conversion therapy, and to suggest that being a married, sexually active, homosexual person and being an active member of the Bahá’í Faith should be regarded as mutually exclusive. The Universal House of Justice has even used this stance on homosexuality to remove from the membership of the faith an individual who marries a person of the same sex, including Daniel Orey who published the expulsion letter to his blog.
 
The Start of My LGBTQ Bahá’í Research
I considered the Guardian's statements for a long time, accepting (to my gravest distress) that the expressions of love by myself and my queer fellows are "wrong" in God's eyes, that we are in need of somehow changing our own born, God-given, naturally occurring, and unchangeable nature, or living long, depressing lives as chaste individuals, or else pretending to be heterosexual and marrying very unfortunate partners to fulfill the illusion. As a person both born disabled and also made disabled, I especially chewed over the comparison of my own disabilities to my queer identity. But while there are pills that can help reduce the pain of my scoliosis, and exercises and supplements I can, and do, utilize to moderate my pain, my conditions are not something I can "overcome" because no pill will straighten my spine or make the blood vessels in my left foot start functioning. Neither is there a medical procedure that can successfully make a strictly heterosexual person capable of homosexual love, and vice versa, or make a pansexual or bisexual person strictly heterosexual, as the overwhelmingly high failure rates and suicide rates of individuals enduring gay conversion therapy can readily attest to. Surgery could reduce some of the twist in my spine, but I would suffer greater injury, lose height, flexibility, and agility, and actually find myself in noticeably poorer health. There is also no surgery, pill, or physical therapy for damaged blood vessels in the foot. While there are ways to reduce my muscle spasms, I can never be able-bodied. I can push my boundaries only with great caution and sometimes with the result of injuring myself and potentially permanently worsening my condition. I was not born to stand straight. This is simply the nature of my body. 
 
I respect my own limitations and I work within them. I cannot pretend to have a straight spine; it is clear no matter my pose that I simply do not possess that privilege. With loose clothing, I can hide it; but I don't believe in being ashamed of my luck with the genetic lottery. I'm strong and independent, yet I have no choice but to live the life of someone who is disabled, to work within unique limitations. I am disabled. My body looks different from others, behaves differently from others, and always will. And I love my body no less for it. There is nothing "wrong" with being disabled and nothing "against nature" in doing only what I am capable of—if God truly wanted me to only stand straight, He would have at least made it physically possible. But He did not. He gave me a body that is only capable of being crooked or, if I really strain, slightly less crooked for a minute (until my muscles tremblingly give out). If I was born exactly the way He wanted me to be, then clearly I was intended to spend my life standing crookedly, for what other choice was I ever given? Overcoming my disability does not mean standing straight like an abled-bodied person, it means standing the way that is best for me, and doing the best I can to holistically, comprehensively, and proactively care for my body and manage my pain so I can live the fullest life in the healthiest way I can. It does not mean doing what I am physically not capable of.
 
Being born with a sexual orientation that differs from what the privileged majority possesses is an unchangeable fact. A truly homosexual person can pretend to romantically love someone of the opposite sex, but is not capable of genuine romantic love, and (if male) is generally not even capable of heterosexual intercourse. According to my conversations with gay men, no matter how much Viagra a gay man may take and no matter the physical attractiveness of the woman or how much he cherishes her in his own way, he is not able to achieve or maintain erection for the woman because it is against his nature. Physical and emotional attraction for someone of the same sex is not "ideal" for a gay man, it is the only kind God made him capable of. Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is not something that can be "overcome." Heterosexuality and homosexuality are the limitations people are born with, and not only does God make no mistakes, but it is not even for us to question Him of His doings. "My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof." (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Part One, From the Arabic, #12).
 
Another troubling aspect of Shoghi Effendi's statement was that he provided no basis for his claim of Bahá’u’lláh's position on homosexuality. Without a single relevant writing to verify his statement, his statement cannot be an interpretation, but a mere opinion, and the last time I read Bahá’u’lláh's writings, I had received the impression only interpretations could be binding on Bahá’ís. Not only that, but while the Guardian may be "divinely inspired" I have yet to read a statement claiming interpreters of the faith are infallible. In fact, consider Bahá’u’lláh's below statement, which potentially removes the possibility of even his own Most Mighty Branch (ʻAbdu'l-Bahá) being infallible.
Know thou that the term “Infallibility” hath numerous meanings and diverse stations. In one sense it is applicable to the One Whom God hath made immune from error. Similarly it is applied to every soul whom God hath guarded against sin, transgression, rebellion, impiety, disbelief and the like. However, the Most Great Infallibility is confined to the One Whose station is immeasurably exalted beyond ordinances or prohibitions and is sanctified from errors and omissions. Indeed He is a Light which is not followed by darkness and a Truth not overtaken by error...'Verily He shall not be asked of His doings but all others shall be asked of their doings.'" (Ishráqát)
The Research
 
"He that riseth to serve My Cause should manifest My wisdom, and bend every effort to banish ignorance from the earth." (Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat).
To uncover the truth, I began reading everything the prophet, exalted be his name, has written, specifically looking for any and all phrases that are explicitly, or even possibly, alluding to human sexuality or gender variance. My research is slow-going due only to my own numerous personal commitments, full time employment, and volunteer positions.
 
Though my research at this moment is unfinished, due to numerous inquiries on the matter, I will be posting in the section below my findings as I uncover them. 
 
This research project is not intended to suggest that Shoghi Effendi or any of his other opinions and interpretations of the Faith are to be disregarded or rejected.
My hope is that this page will provide information, spark new ideas or conversations, and foster the sharing of honest opinions, various interpretations, and truth. "In this Day whatsoever serveth to reduce blindness and to increase vision is worthy of consideration." (Bahá’u’lláh, Ṭarázát, The first Ṭaráz).
Bahá’u’lláh's Statements Supporting Homosexuality or Gender Variance
 
 
"70    Likewise, reflect upon the perfection of man’s creation, and that all these planes and states are folded up and hidden away within him." (The Seven Valleys)
We were intended to be complex, and we are created perfectly exactly as we are.
"4. O Son of Man! 
I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life." (Hidden Words, Part One, From the Arabic)
God loves making all of us, and that's why he created us, even we who are LGBTQ.
"12. O Son of Being!
With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof." (Hidden Words, Part One, From the Arabic)
God made us perfect exactly as we are. We are only wrong to question or doubt this. Therefore, it is arguably even more wrong to try to force ourselves to live in a way that is against our God-given nature.
"68. O Children of Men! 
Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
" (Hidden Words, Part One, From the Arabic)
We are all created equal, whether we are born heterosexual or not.
The Fifth Ṭaráz: ...By the life of God! The word “Equity” shineth bright and resplendent even as the sun. We pray God to graciously shed its radiance upon everyone." (Ṭarázát)
Notice the lack of limitation on who deserves equity; this statement, therefore, includes LGBTQ people as much as cisgender, heterosexual people. It does not support or reject the acceptance by God of people who are LGBTQ, however, only that they should be treated equitably.
"Sixth Leaf: of the Most Exalted Paradise is the following: The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men." (Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih)
So long as LGBTQ people are discriminated and oppressed, justice and the appearance of unity can never be attained. This does not support or reject LGBTQ identity as acceptable by God, only that LGBTQ people and cisgender, heterosexual people should be treated justly so as to give the appearance of unity.
"Seventh Leaf: of the Most Exalted Paradise is this: O ye men of wisdom among nations! Shut your eyes to estrangement, then fix your gaze upon unity. Cleave tenaciously unto that which will lead to the well-being and tranquility of all mankind. This span of earth is but one homeland and one habitation. It behooveth you to abandon vainglory which causeth alienation and to set your hearts on whatever will ensure harmony. In the estimation of the people of Bahá man’s glory lieth in his knowledge, his upright conduct, his praiseworthy character, his wisdom, and not in his nationality or rank. O people of the earth! Appreciate the value of this heavenly word. Indeed it may be likened unto a ship for the ocean of knowledge and a shining luminary for the realm of perception." (Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih)
So long as LGBTQ people are discriminated against, such personal and societal goals can never be attained. This does not support or reject LGBTQ identity as acceptable by God, only that LGBTQ people and cisgender, heterosexual people should be treated fairly and behave respectably.
"Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of being, no one should question this assertion." (Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat)
Since LGBTQ people are naturally occurring within the human population and always have been to varying degrees of being "out" to themselves and to society (currently comprising 24% of Generation Z) and to engage in homosexual acts is against the nature of a heterosexual person and vice versa, this statement seems to strongly support LGBTQ individuals and their identities as manifested by God, and to affirm that they are not to be questioned because the All-Wise is not to be questioned in His doings.
Bahá’u’lláh's Statements Possibly Supporting Homosexuality or Gender Variance
"Through His Law, Bahá’u’lláh gradually unveils the significance of the new levels of knowledge and behavior to which the peoples of the world are being called. He embeds His precepts in a setting of spiritual commentary, keeping ever before the mind of the reader the principle that these laws, no matter the subject with which they deal, serve the manifold purposes of bringing tranquillity to human society, raising the standard of human behavior, increasing the range of human understanding, and spiritualizing the life of each and all." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
Being open-minded and accepting of diversity of gender and sexuality may be part of what he is referring to when he calls for higher standards of human behavior, understanding, and spiritualization.
"The Eleventh Leaf: ...In short, sometimes in explicit language, at other times by allusion, We said whatever had to be said." (Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih)
Though this statement is used in a context specifically discussing matters in Persia at the time of its writing, if it can be said to be applicable today or to be broadly applicable, and I continue to fail to find any text explicitly stating Bahá’u’lláh's/God's stance on homosexuality, then perhaps there is a reason God has not clarified His stance on the matter, or perhaps the allusions in support of LGBTQ people, and the lack thereof in rejection of them, is all God felt needed saying.
"Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded. The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. If any man were to meditate on that which the Scriptures, sent down from the heaven of God’s holy Will, have revealed, he would readily recognize that their purpose is that all men shall be regarded as one soul, so that the seal bearing the words “The Kingdom shall be God’s” may be stamped on every heart, and the light of Divine bounty, of grace, and mercy may envelop all mankind." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
Because education of the existence of LGBTQ identities is where many LGBTQ people, especially gender variant people, discover their true identity and realize why they have never been able to be like their non-LGBTQ peers, there might be more meaning hidden within the second sentence of this passage than many people may realize, and which might possibly suggest God's acceptance of LGBTQ identity. The end of this passage clearly calls for unity and tolerance of others who are different from ourselves.
"Such exhortations to union and concord as are inscribed in the Books of the Prophets by the Pen of the Most High bear reference unto specific matters; not a union that would lead to disunity or a concord which would create discord. This is the station where measures are set unto everything, a station where every deserving soul shall be given his due. Well is it with them that appreciate the meaning and grasp the intent of these words, and woe betide the heedless. Unto this all the evidences of nature, in their very essences, bear ample testimony. Every discerning man of wisdom is well acquainted with that which We have mentioned, but not those who have strayed far from the living fountain of fairmindedness and are roving distraught in the wilderness of ignorance and blind fanaticism.
The Great Being saith: O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation. Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure. Our hope is that the world’s religious leaders and the rulers thereof will unitedly arise for the reformation of this age and the rehabilitation of its fortunes. Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely afflicted world the remedy it requireth.
" (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
The end of this passage seems to clearly call for unity and acceptance of those who are different from ourselves.
"O My handmaiden, O My leaf! Render thou thanks unto the Best-Beloved of the world for having attained this boundless grace at a time when the world’s learned and most distinguished men have remained deprived thereof. We have designated thee 'a leaf' that thou mayest, like unto leaves, be stirred by the gentle wind of the Will of God—exalted be His glory—even as the leaves of the trees are stirred by onrushing winds. Yield thou thanks unto thy Lord by virtue of this brilliant utterance. Wert thou to perceive the sweetness of the title 'O My handmaiden' thou wouldst find thyself detached from all mankind, devoutly engaged day and night in communion with Him Who is the sole Desire of the world.
In words of incomparable beauty We have made fitting mention of such leaves and handmaidens as have quaffed from the living waters of heavenly grace and have kept their eyes directed towards God. Happy and blessed are they indeed. Ere long shall God reveal their station whose loftiness no word can befittingly express nor any description adequately describe.
" (Excerpts from Other Tablets)
Though Bahá’u’lláh explains the meaning of the term "leaf" I could not ignore that, unlike "handmaiden," this term is genderless, which seems deliberate, since nothing the Prophet says is without care, and as he says multiple times within his many writings, there is more meaning to every word than we will ever comprehend. I saw this passage as a call deliberately to women and non-binary folks.
Bahá’u’lláh's Statements Supporting Equitable Treatment of the LGBTQ Community
"The Fourth Glad-Tidings: Should any of the kings—may God aid them—arise to protect and help this oppressed people, all must vie with one another in loving and in serving him. This matter is incumbent upon everyone. Well is it with them that act accordingly." (Bishárát)
Due to the oppression of the LGBTQ community, this is a phrase I thought possibly worthy of including here.
"The unbelievers and the faithless have set their minds on four things: first, the shedding of blood; second, the burning of books; third, the shunning of the followers of other religions; fourth, the extermination of other communities and groups." (Lawḥ-i-Dunyá)
Though this statement is used in a context specifically discussing matters in Persia at the time of its writing, if it can be said to be applicable today or to be broadly applicable, then it could arguably be in support of equitable treatment of the LGBTQ community.
"O people of God! Give ear unto that which, if heeded, will ensure the freedom, well-being, tranquility, exaltation and advancement of all men." (Lawḥ-i-Dunyá)
Though this statement is used in a context specifically discussing matters in Persia at the time of its writing, if it can be said to be applicable today or to be broadly applicable, then it could arguably be in support of equitable treatment of the LGBTQ community.
"O ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God’s holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men, and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes." (Lawḥ-i-Dunyá)
This statement seems to clearly support the equitable treatment of the LGBTQ community.
"We have forbidden you dissension and conflict in My Books, and My Scriptures, and My Scrolls, and My Tablets, and have wished thereby naught else save your exaltation and advancement. Unto this testify the heavens and the stars thereof, and the sun and the radiance thereof, and the trees and the leaves thereof, and the seas and the waves thereof, and the earth and the treasures thereof. We pray God to assist His loved ones, and aid them in that which beseemeth them in this blest, this mighty, and wondrous station. Moreover We beseech Him to graciously enable those who surround Me to observe that which My Pen of Glory hath enjoined upon them." (Ishráqát)
This statement seems to clearly support the equitable treatment of the LGBTQ community.
"7.  ...Of one tree are all ye the fruit, and of one bough the leaves. Let not man glory in this that he loveth his country, let him rather glory in this that he loveth his kind. Concerning this We have previously revealed that which is the means of the reconstruction of the world and the unity of nations. Blessed are they that attain thereunto. Blessed are they that act accordingly." (Ishráqát)
If rejection of homosexuality and discriminatory treatment of the LGBTQ community were means of reconstructing the world and unifying the nations, such would have been mentioned.
"7.  ...He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My Loving-Kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world." (Ishráqát)
Adoptionthe primary means by couples within the LGBTQ community of starting a familyis stated clearly here as not only acceptable, but also beloved.
"9.  ...The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquility of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God." (Ishráqát)
Discriminatory treatment of the LGBTQ community clearly runs counter to the purpose of the Faith.
"9.  ...It is incumbent upon everyone to firmly adhere to and observe that which hath streamed forth from Our Most Exalted Pen. God, the True One, beareth Me witness, and every atom in existence is moved to testify that such means as lead to the elevation, the advancement, the education, the protection and the regeneration of the peoples of the earth have been clearly set forth by Us and are revealed in the Holy Books and Tablets by the Pen of Glory.
We entreat God to graciously aid His servants. What this Wronged One doth expect from everyone is justice and fairness. Let no one be content with mere hearing; rather doth it behoove everyone to ponder that which this Wronged One hath revealed." (Ishráqát)
Discriminatory treatment of the LGBTQ community clearly runs counter to the purpose of the Faith.
"That which is conducive to the regeneration of the world and the salvation of the peoples and kindreds of the earth hath been sent down from the heaven of the utterance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. Give ye a hearing ear to the counsels of the Pen of Glory. Better is this for you than all that is on the earth. Unto this beareth witness My glorious and wondrous Book." (Kitáb-i-‘Ahd)
Acceptance of all people, despite their differences, has been made clear, as well as the fact that God makes no mistakes when he creates and assigns our bodies, selves, and souls. Therefore, this seems to be a call for acceptance of LGBTQ people in order to achieve unity of all people. 
Bahá’u’lláh's Statements Rejecting Homosexuality or Gender Variance
Bahá’u’lláh's Statements Possibly Rejecting Homosexuality or Gender Variance
"107.  It is forbidden you to wed your fathers’ wives. We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
This statement was used by Shoghi Effendi to indicate that homosexuality might be forbidden by God. However, note the deliberate use of the age-specific term, "boys," clearly indicative that this prohibition was intended to forbid only child sexual abuse.
"Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance." (Excerpts from Other Tablets)
Some people will interpret the fruitless tree to be also a reference to people who do not procreate, but inability, or unwillingness, to procreate affects couples both inside and outside of the LGBTQ community.
Bahá’u’lláh's Statements Rejecting Equitable Treatment of the LGBTQ Community
Bahá’u’lláh's Ambiguous Statements Possibly Applicable to Homosexuality, Gender Variance, or Treatment of the LGBTQ Community
"20   Love setteth a world aflame at every turn and layeth waste every land wherein it raiseth its banner. Being hath no existence in its kingdom; the wise wield no command within its realm." (The Seven Valleys)
If the wise know better than to think love can be commanded, then it is arguable that conversion therapy is actually against the spirit of the faith, for its foundation is the goal of teaching homosexual persons how to command their own nature of love to adhere strictly to the boundaries of heterosexuality.
"37    In like manner, colours become visible in each object according to its nature. For instance, in a yellow glass the rays shine yellow; in a white glass they are white; and in a red glass red rays are visible. These variations proceed from the object itself, not from the light. And if a place be shut away from the light, as by walls and a roof, it will be entirely bereft of the light of the sun and deprived of its rays.
"38    Thus it is that certain feeble souls have confined the wide expanse of knowledge within the walls of self and passion, and beneath the cloak of ignorance and blindness, and have thereby veiled themselves from the light of the mystic Sun and the mysteries of the eternal Beloved. They have strayed far from the gem-like wisdom of the resplendent Faith of the Lord of the Messengers, have been shut out of the inner court of the All-Beauteous, and have been banished from the Kaaba of glory. Such is the worth of the people of this age!
"39    And if a nightingale soar beyond the clay of self and dwell in the rose bower of the heart, and in Arabian melodies and sweet Persian tones recount the mysteries of God—a single word whereof quickeneth anew every lifeless form and bestoweth the spirit of holiness upon every mouldering bone—thou wilt behold a thousand claws of envy and a myriad talons of hatred hunting after Him and striving with all their power to encompass His death.
"40    Yea, to the beetle a sweet fragrance seemeth foul, and to the man sick of a rheum a pleasant perfume availeth naught. Wherefore hath it been said for the guidance of the ignorant:

"Cleanse thou the rheum from out thine head
"And breathe the breath of God instead.

"41    In sum, the differences among objects have now been made plain. Thus when the wayfarer gazeth only upon the place of appearance—that is, when he considereth only the glass—he seeth yellow and red and white. And so it is that conflict hath prevailed amongst men, and a darksome dust from limited souls hath settled over the world. Others gaze upon the effulgence of the light, while yet others have drunk of the wine of oneness and see naught but the sun itself." (The Seven Valleys)
My interpretation of this passage is as follows: We are all different in appearance and restricted to the boundaries of our nature, but the wise see the ways in which we are all of God, full of potential, and equal.
"20   Love setteth a world aflame at every turn and layeth waste every land wherein it raiseth its banner. Being hath no existence in its kingdom; the wise wield no command within its realm." (The Seven Valleys)
If the wise know better than to think love can be commanded, then it is arguable that conversion therapy is actually against the spirit of the faith, for its foundation is the goal of teaching homosexual persons how to command their own nature of love to adhere strictly to the boundaries of heterosexuality.
"50. O Son of Man!
If adversity befall thee not in My path, how canst thou walk in the ways of them that are content with My pleasure? If trials afflict thee not in thy longing to meet Me, how wilt thou attain the light in thy love for My beauty?" (Hidden Words, Part One, From the Arabic)
No marginalized community has been so severely and pervasively oppressed, even still today, than the LGBTQ community. This passage would suggest such oppression serves only to benefit us, for it is during times of adversity that we get to prove ourselves as good human beings and worthy of God's grace.
"58. Beware lest the desires of the flesh and of a corrupt inclination provoke divisions among you. Be ye as the fingers of one hand, the members of one body. Thus counseleth you the Pen of Revelation, if ye be of them that believe." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
One could argue this section may, among other things, be alluding to homosexual acts and support of the LGBTQ community. One could, however, at least as easily argue that this statement is referring to clearly moral acts, such as sexual assault, gang rape, child sexual assault, drug/alcohol use, sexual acts outside of marriage, adultery, prostitution, etc., and the influence on society by those who promote and utilize such practices.
"63. God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two. Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity. And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety. Such is the ordinance which, in truth and justice, hath been recorded by the Pen of Revelation. Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
Some people see the use of oppositely gendered pronouns and assume heterosexuality is the only kind of matrimony encouraged by this phrase. One cannot ignore, however, the deliberate use of the gender-neutral term "partner" in reference to the spouse for the male in place of any gender-specific term. Also, "prescribed" does not mean marriage is required; it is therefore, permissible to be asexual/aromantic so long as one remains celibate while unmarried.
"64. Follow not the promptings of the self, for it summoneth insistently to wickedness and lust; follow, rather, Him Who is the Possessor of all created things, Who biddeth you to show forth piety, and manifest the fear of God. He, verily, is independent of all His creatures. Take heed not to stir up mischief in the land after it hath been set in order." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
One could argue that this phrase is warning against homosexual urges and against asking society to accept the LGBTQ community or treat such individuals with equity. One could also at leas as easily argue this phrase is in reference to selfish urges and immoral acts such as promiscuity, adultery, sexual assault, dishonesty, greed, exploitation, etc, and the warning against mischief could be simply asking Bahá’ís not to disobey laws, cause violence, utilize/promote immoral acts or business, etc.
"71. Take heed lest the world beguile you as it beguiled the people who went before you! Observe ye the statutes and precepts of your Lord, and walk ye in this Way which hath been laid out before you in righteousness and truth. They who eschew iniquity and error, who adhere to virtue, are, in the sight of the one true God, among the choicest of His creatures; their names are extolled by the Concourse of the realms above, and by those who dwell in this Tabernacle which hath been raised in the name of God." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
Regardless the stance on homosexuality, the equitable treatment of the LGBTQ community is clearly beloved of God.
"184. Say: O source of perversion! Abandon thy willful blindness, and speak forth the truth amidst the people. I swear by God that I have wept for thee to see thee following thy selfish passions and renouncing Him Who fashioned thee and brought thee into being. Call to mind the tender mercy of thy Lord, and remember how We nurtured thee by day and by night for service to the Cause. Fear God, and be thou of the truly repentant. Granted that the people were confused about thy station, is it conceivable that thou thyself art similarly confused? Tremble before thy Lord and recall the days when thou didst stand before Our throne, and didst write down the verses that We dictated unto thee—verses sent down by God, the Omnipotent Protector, the Lord of might and power. Beware lest the fire of thy presumptuousness debar thee from attaining to God’s Holy Court. Turn unto Him, and fear not because of thy deeds. He, in truth, forgiveth whomsoever He desireth as a bounty on His part; no God is there but Him, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bounteous. We admonish thee solely for the sake of God. Shouldst thou accept this counsel, thou wilt have acted to thine own behoof; and shouldst thou reject it, thy Lord, verily, can well dispense with thee, and with all those who, in manifest delusion, have followed thee. Behold! God hath laid hold on him who led thee astray. Return unto God, humble, submissive and lowly; verily, He will put away from thee thy sins, for thy Lord, of a certainty, is the Forgiving, the Mighty, the All-Merciful." (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
This statement could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"The first Tajallí: ...They that immerse themselves in the ocean of His utterances should at all times have the utmost regard for the divinely-revealed ordinances and prohibitions. Indeed His ordinances constitute the mightiest stronghold for the protection of the world and the safeguarding of its peoples—a light upon those who acknowledge and recognize the truth, and a fire unto such as turn away and deny." (Tajallíyát)
Again, this statement could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"The second Tajallí: ...O ‘Alí-Akbar! Consider how abject is the state of the disbelievers. They all give utterance to the words: “Verily He is to be praised in His deeds and is to be obeyed in His behest.” Nevertheless if We reveal aught which, even to the extent of a needle’s eye, runneth counter to their selfish ways and desires, they will disdainfully reject it." (Tajallíyát)
Yet again, this statement could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"The Eleventh Leaf: of the Most Exalted Paradise is this: We enjoin upon them that are the emblems of His names and attributes to firmly adhere henceforth unto that which hath been set forth in this Most Great Revelation, not to allow themselves to become the cause of strife, and, until the end that knoweth no end, to keep their eyes directed towards the dayspring of these resplendent words which have been recorded in this Tablet. Strife leads to bloodshed and provokes commotion amongst people. Hearken ye unto the Voice of this Wronged One and deviate not therefrom." (Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih)
Yet again, this statement could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"Justice is, in this day, bewailing its plight, and Equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression. The thick clouds of tyranny have darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its peoples. Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency...
"Strife and conflict befit the beasts of the wild...Say, O ye loved ones! Do not forsake prudence. Incline your hearts to the counsels given by the Most Exalted Pen and beware lest your hands or tongues cause harm unto anyone among mankind.
"Referring to the land of Tá [Ṭihrán] We have revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas that which will admonish mankind. They that perpetrate tyranny in the world have usurped the rights of the peoples and kindreds of the earth and are sedulously pursuing their selfish inclinations. The tyrant2 of the land of Yá [Yazd], committed that which hath caused the Concourse on High to shed tears of blood.
"...Well is it with them who judge His Cause with fairness, and woe betide the unjust.
"Every man of insight will, in this day, readily admit that the counsels which the Pen of this Wronged One hath revealed constitute the supreme animating power for the advancement of the world and the exaltation of its peoples.
"...Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self.
"...Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished. From the heaven of God’s Will, and for the purpose of ennobling the world of being and of elevating the minds and souls of men, hath been sent down that which is the most effective instrument for the education of the whole human race." (Lawḥ-i-Dunyá)
If these statements are applicable to broader matters or periods of time, they could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"Let them that bear allegiance to this Wronged One be even as a raining cloud in moments of charity and benevolence and as a blazing fire in restraining their base and appetitive natures." (Lawḥ-i-Dunyá)
Yet again, this statement could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"7.  ...O people of God! That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world. Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice that the members thereof may act according to the needs and requirements of the time. They that, for the sake of God, arise to serve His Cause, are the recipients of divine inspiration from the unseen Kingdom. It is incumbent upon all to be obedient unto them. All matters of State should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book." (Ishráqát)
Yet again, this statement could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"Teach thou the Cause of God with an utterance which will cause the bushes to be enkindled, and the call 'Verily, there is no God but Me, the Almighty, the Unconstrained' to be raised therefrom. Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets. Meditate upon that which hath streamed forth from the heaven of the Will of thy Lord, He Who is the Source of all grace, that thou mayest grasp the intended meaning which is enshrined in the sacred depths of the Holy Writings.
Those who have rejected God and firmly cling to Nature as it is in itself are, verily, bereft of knowledge and wisdom. They are truly of them that are far astray. They have failed to attain the lofty summit and have fallen short of the ultimate purpose; therefore their eyes were shut and their thoughts differed, while the leaders among them have believed in God and in His invincible sovereignty. Unto this beareth witness thy Lord, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting." (Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat)
The homophobia-biased observer will quickly interpret this passage as implying that those calling for acceptance of the LGBTQ community and respect of LGBTQ identities, and suggesting that God may approve of non-heternormative love and identity, may be the influence in need of refinement, that LGBTQ identities are in need of conversion into heteronormative equivalents and thus, systematic eradication of the LGBTQ community. Such individuals might also interpret "those who...firmly cling to Nature as it is in itself" as referring to LGBTQ individuals who firmly believe in a mutual exclusivity of being LGBTQ and accepting of God, and who thus choose accepting themselves and living as their authentic selves over obedience to God's laws, and have even rejected God or God's truth.
The LGBTQ/ally-biased observer, however, will note another possible interpretation: that this passage is implicative of LGBTQ-phobia and sexual supremacy as the influence that is in need of moderation. This observer might also interpret "those who...firmly cling to Nature as it is in itself" as referring to transphobic and heterosexist individuals who believe that homosexuality is somehow unnatural (usually on the basis that it is generally not procreative, as though procreation is the only standard by which "nature" can be judged and determined), and who support only procreative sexual intercourse between differently-sexed individuals as appropriate and acceptable by God. This observer sees how such individuals who cling firmly to such beliefs, despite the overwhelmingly contrary messages of Bahá’u’lláh, as the ones who are rejecting God's laws and straying far from His path, and have even rejected God or God's truth.
Among both communities, the LGBTQ-phobic and the LGBTQ/ally, are leaders who can be found who firmly believe in God and in His invincible sovereignty.
"Say: The beginning of Wisdom and the origin thereof is to acknowledge whatsoever God hath clearly set forth, for through its potency the foundation of statesmanship, which is a shield for the preservation of the body of mankind, hath been firmly established. Ponder a while that ye may perceive what My most exalted Pen hath proclaimed in this wondrous Tablet. Say, every matter related to state affairs which ye raise for discussion falls under the shadow of one of the words sent down from the heaven of His glorious and exalted utterance. Thus have We recounted unto thee that which will exhilarate thy heart, will bring solace to thine eyes and will enable thee to arise for the promotion of His Cause amidst all peoples." (Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat)
This passage seems to suggest that if rejection of LGBTQ identity and use of conversion to heteronormative equivalency is desired by God, such would have been stated or at least suggested in the scripture. Since I have yet to find such a suggestion that the love between two same-sex adults, or the outward expression of one's inward gender variance, is unacceptable by God, and have found only statements that suggest such natures are beloved of God and are not to be questioned, my own personal interpretation of this statement is that it indirectly supports LGBTQ identity as acceptable by God. It also proclaims that God's truths as have been revealed to us, will ultimately be the cause of exhilaration of the heart, solace of the eyes, and enable promotion of His Cause (which has been described throughout every tablet as unity, tolerance, peace, and amity). I am LGBTQ-biased, but I cannot envision a way in which homophobia and heterosexism could result in any of these outcomes, but I can easily see how allied acceptance and respect certainly can. However, this statement is arguably too ambiguous to include under the areas of research devoted to clear support, so I am including this passage here.
"Consider for instance such things as liberty, civilization and the like. However much men of understanding may favorably regard them, they will, if carried to excess, exercise a pernicious influence upon men." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
This could just as easily be interpreted as a warning against being too accepting of the LGBTQ community as a warning against being too accepting of heterosexism and LGBTQ-phobia.
"The heaven of true understanding shineth resplendent with the light of two luminaries: tolerance and righteousness.
O my friend! Vast oceans lie enshrined within this brief saying. Blessed are they who appreciate its value, drink deep therefrom and grasp its meaning, and woe betide the heedless. This lowly one entreateth the people of the world to observe fairness, that their tender, their delicate and precious hearing which hath been created to hearken unto the words of wisdom may be freed from impediments and from such allusions, idle fancies or vain imaginings as 'cannot fatten nor appease the hunger,' so that the true Counselor may be graciously inclined to set forth that which is the source of blessing for mankind and of the highest good for all nations." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
Discriminatory treatment of the LGBTQ community seems to run counter to the purpose of the Faith.
"Be ye warned, O men of understanding. It ill beseemeth the station of man to commit tyranny; rather it behooveth him to observe equity and be attired with the raiment of justice under all conditions. Beseech ye the One true God that He may, through the power of the hand of loving-kindness and spiritual education, purge and purify certain souls from the defilement of evil passions and corrupt desires, that they may arise and unloose their tongues for the sake of God, that perchance the evidences of injustice may be blotted out and the splendor of the light of justice may shed its radiance upon the whole world. The people are ignorant, and they stand in need of those who will expound the truth.
The Great Being saith: The man of consummate learning and the sage endowed with penetrating wisdom are the two eyes to the body of mankind. God willing, the earth shall never be deprived of these two greatest gifts. That which hath been set forth and will be revealed in the future is but a token of this Servant’s ardent desire to dedicate Himself to the service of all the kindreds of the earth.
O my friend! In all circumstances one should seize upon every means which will promote security and tranquility among the peoples of the world. The Great Being saith: In this glorious Day whatever will purge you from corruption and will lead you towards peace and composure, is indeed the Straight Path.
Please God, the peoples of the world may be led, as the result of the high endeavors exerted by their rulers and the wise and learned amongst men, to recognize their best interests. How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men? How long will discord agitate the face of society?
This humble servant is filled with wonder, inasmuch as all men are endowed with the capacity to see and hear, yet we find them deprived of the privilege of using these faculties." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
These statements could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"Methinks people’s sense of taste hath, alas, been sorely affected by the fever of negligence and folly, for they are found to be wholly unconscious and deprived of the sweetness of His utterance. How regrettable indeed that man should debar himself from the fruits of the tree of wisdom while his days and hours pass swiftly away. Please God, the hand of divine power may safeguard all mankind and direct their steps towards the horizon of true understanding." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
These statements could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"For were men to abide by and observe the divine teachings, every trace of evil would be banished from the face of the earth. However, the widespread differences that exist among mankind and the prevalence of sedition, contention, conflict and the like are the primary factors which provoke the appearance of the satanic spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit hath ever shunned such matters. A world in which naught can be perceived save strife, quarrels and corruption is bound to become the seat of the throne, the very metropolis, of Satan." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
These statements could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against heterosexism and LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community). After all, so long as the LGBTQ community is discriminated against and not accepted, strife and quarrels can only persist.
"O servant! Warn thou the servants of God not to reject that which they do not comprehend. Say, implore God to open to your hearts the portals of true understanding that ye may be apprised of that of which no one is apprised. Verily, He is the Giver, the Forgiving, the Compassionate.
Thou hast moreover asked Me concerning the ordinances of God. Know thou of a truth that whatsoever hath been prescribed in the Book is indeed the truth, no doubt is there about it, and it is incumbent upon everyone to observe that which hath been sent down by Him Who is the Revealer, the All-Knowing. Were a man to put them away despite his being aware thereof, God would truly be clear of such a one and We too would be clear of him, inasmuch as His ordinances constitute the fruits of the divine Tree and none other than the heedless and the wayward will deviate therefrom." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
These statements could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against heterosexism and LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"Exhort thou the servants of God unto that whereunto We have exhorted thee that they may abstain from whatsoever is forbidden them in the Mother Book. Those who perpetrate deeds that would create turmoil among the people have indeed strayed far from helping God and His Cause and are numbered with the mischief-makers in the Tablet which God hath designated to be the dawning-place of all Tablets... Fear ye God and commit not such deeds as would cause My loved ones on earth to lament. Thus biddeth you this Pen which hath set the Pen of Glory in motion within the arena of wisdom and true understanding." (Lawḥ-i-Síyyid-i-Mihdíy-i-Dahají)
These statements could just as easily be interpreted against the LGBTQ community as against heterosexism and LGBTQ-phobia (in support of the LGBTQ community).
"O ye that dwell on earth! The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity or dissension. In the eyes of men of insight and the beholders of the Most Sublime Vision, whatsoever are the effective means for safeguarding and promoting the happiness and welfare of the children of men have already been revealed by the Pen of Glory. But the foolish ones of the earth, being nurtured in evil passions and desires, have remained heedless of the consummate wisdom of Him Who is, in truth, the All-Wise, while their words and deeds are prompted by idle fancies and vain imaginings." (Kitáb-i-‘Ahd)
These statements could just as easily be a call for acceptance of the LGBTQ community as of heterosexism and LGBTQ-phobia, however there will always be dissension wherever heterosexism is imposed, and if LGBTQ identity was an evil passion or desire, this passage states such would have been made clear. However, only acceptance of people, despite their differences, has been made clear.
"Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book." (Kitáb-i-‘Ahd)
These statements could just as easily be a call for acceptance of the LGBTQ community as of heterosexism and LGBTQ-phobia, however there will always be conflict and contention wherever heterosexism is imposed.
"Being overcome by the drunkenness of corrupt inclinations, the people of the earth find themselves in a state of stupor. They are, therefore, debarred from the wondrous signs of God, are prevented from attaining the ultimate goal and are deprived of the liberal effusions of divine grace." (Excerpts from other tablets)
While many will claim that this is a warning against acceptance of the LGBTQ community, but I read it also as a warning against those steadfastly set in the heterosexism mindset.
"Cast away the things that keep you back from God and persevere on this far-stretching Way. We desire naught for you but that which profiteth you as hath been recorded in His Preserved Tablet." (Excerpts from other tablets)
While many will see this as a call to somehow abandon one's LGBTQ identity, I saw this as a call to abandon one's heterosexism mindset in order to embrace the tolerance and unity the Prophet so often speaks of.
How the Bible Never Condemned Homosexuality or Gender Variance
Web article: "Has homosexuality always been in the Bible?"
Web article: "How the Bible Became Anti-Gay: Forging a Sacred Weapon"
Web article: "Arsenokoitai"
Web article: "Modern Translations From Ideology — Malakoi & Arsenokoitai"
Video: "What is the Biblical Meaning of Arsenokoitai? | 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Explained"
How the Qur'an Never Condemned Homosexuality or Gender Variance
Web article: "Battling for Gay Rights, in Allah's Name"
On the Treatment of LGBTQ Bahá’ís
On the matter of the Universal House of Justice, exalted is their cause, revoking voting rights and membership status from same-sex marital couples, I personally believe that regardless of the Faith's stance on homosexuality, this practice is unjust on the basis that it is discriminatory, perpetuating additional acts of oppression against an already highly oppressed and marginalized community. Revoking membership from friends for the alleged-sin of assumed homosexual intercourse disproportionately excludes LGBTQ individuals from having full rights and ability to participate in the Faith. Such discrimination is, in my opinion, against the unifying nature of the Faith, as my above research findings strongly seem to support.
 
Revoking membership from friends who enter into legal unions such as marriage with persons of the same sex has also only ever had the consequence of driving these and other LGBTQ individuals out of the Faith, causing them to lose their faith and turn away from God. "Know thou of a truth: He that biddeth men be just and himself committeth iniquity is not of Me, even though he bear My name." (Hidden Words, Part One, From the Arabic, #28). Any person considered to be so severe a sinner that they should deserve the House of Justice's individual attention should instead be guided all the more fervently toward God, the All-Forgiving, the Most Beloved. Such results clearly suggest a need for improvement on the matter of how punishment is issued and when it should be pursued at all. If I, as a college professional, in my disciplining of an unruly student, cause the student to believe they are simply unfit for college, and the student drops out, never attaining higher education and spending their life wasting their potential on menial work, it is not the student who has failed; the student did not know any better and the discipline clearly did not achieve a desirable result. It would be me who has failed, for as the improvement specialist Arthur Jones once said to W. Edwards Deming, "Every system is designed to achieve perfectly only the results it gets." Causing strife and division among our own Faith community, and the intersecting communities (gender, sexuality, race, ability, size, immigrant status, etc) within our community, and committing acts that are discriminatory by nature because they disproportionately impact a single community intersection, should never be the desired or actual results of the justice pursued in the name of the Bahá’í Faith.
"It behooveth every ruler to weigh his own being every day in the balance of equity and justice and then to judge between men and counsel them to do that which would direct their steps unto the path of wisdom and understanding. This is the cornerstone of statesmanship and the essence thereof. From these words every enlightened man of wisdom will readily perceive that which will foster such aims as the welfare, security and protection of mankind and the safety of human lives. Were men of insight to quaff their fill from the ocean of inner meanings which lie enshrined in these words and become acquainted therewith, they would bear witness to the sublimity and the excellence of this utterance." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
 
Even if, at the conclusion of my research, it turns out that homosexuality and/or its sexual expression between married partners is indeed considered unacceptable by God, the All-Loving, the Most Merciful, I would strongly suggest that there is no basis for excluding people from active membership and full rights in the Faith on the basis of this, and only this, particular (hypothetical) sin. Keep in mind, also, that not all gay male couples engage in penetrative intercourse, just as not all lesbian couples perform penetrative intercourse of any kind. An even more important truth to consider is that even the most devout Bahá’ís I have ever known, whom have devoted decades of their lives to the service of the Cause (serving on assemblies, for instance) have committed numerous sins throughout their lives and are knowingly committing more every year (back-biting, sexual expression outside of marriage, conceiving children outside of marriage, alcohol and opiate-dependence, shaving the head, wearing hair past the ears, concerning themselves with the faults and sins of others, lying, lying by omission, not paying Ḥuqúqu'lláh, being the cause of violence or strife, adultery, and so on). Of all the sins, that the devoted, life-long love of between two human beings could be considered in need of such severe discriminatory treatment is, in my own opinion, far from what the Prophet ever intended, Blessed is His Name. I have also yet to find a passage where Bahá’u’lláh has said the committing of any particular sin should automatically and instantly cause the person to be worthy of discriminatory treatment or expulsion from the Faith. Perhaps the matter should reside strictly between the individual themself and God, as Bahá’u’lláh quoted in section 42 of the Seven Valleys, "If God should chastise men for their perverse doings, He would not leave upon the earth a moving thing! But to an appointed time doth He respite them.” (Qur'an 16:61). If the committing of any single sin is worthy of immediate expulsion from the Faith, then who among us could possibly be left to claim that they are, in truth, a Bahá’í? "The gates that open on the Placeless stand wide and the habitation of the loved one is adorned with the lovers’ blood, yet all but a few remain bereft of this celestial city, and even of these few, none but the smallest handful hath been found with a pure heart and sanctified spirit." (Hidden Words, Part Two, From the Persian, #17). We are all imperfect. We are all sinners. But we deserve the chance to be better, to spend our lives improving ourselves and growing closer to God, and no one should be exempt from that.
"In these days the tabernacle of justice hath fallen into the clutches of tyranny and oppression. Beseech ye the One true God—exalted be His glory—not to deprive mankind of the ocean of true understanding, for were men but to take heed they would readily appreciate that whatever hath streamed from and is set down by the Pen of Glory is even as the sun for the whole world and that therein lie the welfare, security and true interests of all men; otherwise the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out." (Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd)
Advice to My Fellow, or Potential, LGBTQ/Ally Bahá’ís 
If Shoghi Effendi's position against homosexuality has you concerned about God's position on LGBTQ identity and the LGBTQ community, I recommend reading Bahá’u’lláh's writings (starting with The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, 3rd Edition, specifically) and letting them inform your own opinion. "For man’s knowledge of God cannot develop fully and adequately save by observing whatsoever hath been ordained by Him and is set forth in His heavenly Book" (Excerpts from Other Tablets). I am always willing to consider other people's interpretations, such as Shoghi Effendi's, but I put the prophet's writings above everyone and everything, and keep an open mind at all times to the possibility that I may not, and may never, understand the true meanings, and certainly not all the meanings, contained within any single word of the most sacred book. "Say, implore God to open to your hearts the portals of true understanding that ye may be apprised of that of which no one is apprised" because "It behooveth thee to look with divine insight upon the things We have revealed and sent unto thee and not towards the people and that which is current amongst them" (Excerpts from Other Tablets). I personally feel, based on my understanding of the writings, that God is inclusive, all-loving, and all-accepting. I believe, therefore, in the possibility that God approves of LGBTQ identities and same-sex and same-gender love, and I believe that God wishes the unity of all people, including those who are LGBTQ, and those who are homophobic and heterosexist.
It is natural to feel upset when one experiences discrimination from the House of Justice or others within the Bahá’í community, or finds that an LGBTQ loved one, or the LGBTQ community at large, is being discriminated against. It is easy, also, to blame the Faith for serving as a reason behind such discriminatory behavior. However, as difficult as it is to do, I recommend letting go of hostile feelings and thoughts, and I urge the LGBTQ and ally community to resist blaming God, Bahá’u’lláh, or the Bahá’í Faith for what people believe and do in Their names. I believe any diligent reader will see and feel the love, unity, and tolerance Bahá’u’lláh explicitly calls for, and will take comfort in the lack of any clear rejection of homosexuality and the repeated, clear statements of acceptance of all people, regardless of the identity they were born with. Though I am no stranger to frustration, I refuse to feel negative or strong emotions for the discrimination I and my LGBTQ fellows receive from others, not only because it is useless, unhealthy, and interferes with my ability to experience spiritual closeness to God, but also because Bahá’u’lláh, the Most Wise, strongly warns against it. Instead, if anything, I pity my fellow friends of the Faith, for their possibly lacking understanding of God's Truth, their inability or unwillingness to accept God's messages of inclusivity and unity, and for perpetuating discrimination in the name of a Prophet who calls so urgently for tolerance and complete unity among the many differing peoples of the world. "The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity or dissension" (Excerpts from Other Tablets). Therefore, I pray that someday they come to see and at least consider what I see in the texts, and in the event that God indeed disapproves of LGBTQ discrimination, I pray also for the forgiveness of their souls. As my favorite proverb goes, "Forgiveness is the best revenge," and as author Cynthia Ocelli adds, "Who suffers most from the anger, pain, or resentment you feel? You, always you. Forgiveness benefits the forgiver and has little to do with the one forgiven."
So how do we proceed when we know that many members of the Faith community, especially the leadership, are demonstrated proponents or even enforcers of LGBTQ discrimination? I, personally don't need a Bahá’í membership card or anyone's approval to be a faithful Bahá’í. While we may be excluded from conferences and other social or educational opportunities, no one can take the Faith itself from us. I encourage everyone to read the words of God, to trust in God, the All-Loving, the Most Merciful, and to follow His precepts and guidance. We need no one's permission to perform obligatory prayers and ablutions, read prayers on Feast days, to observe holidays, and to read and meditate on the words of God. My fellow LGBTQ/ally Bahá’ís can also find a supportive community through online groups such as the Facebook groups LGBT Bahá'ís & Friends and LGBTQ+ BAHÁ'Í Positivity, Support and Community. I also find that there are many Bahá’ís who are accepting, or at least tolerant, of diversity, including sexual and gender diversity, and you currently find about 2,000 of them through the Facebook group Baha'is United in Diversity. My own response to discrimination and microagressions within the Bahá’í community is to spend the rest of my life trying to be the best human being and Bahá’í I can be, and to leave to themselves those who fear or despise, rather than love and celebrate, our human differences. I hope for true inclusivity and unity within the Bahá’í community someday, I really do, but if I never see it in this world, I like to believe I will see it in the next one.
In faith and unity,
Arien Reed, CPA, MFA
my pronouns: he, him, his
August 22, 2020
Comments Rules
If you have any comments or questions, please feel welcome to leave them below, but be sure to avoid offensive, derogatory, transphobic, homophobic, biphobic, or triggering language. As someone belonging to a highly oppressed and marginalized identity group, I do not want to silence any voices. However, deliberate attacks stemming from a place of hatred or malice instead of love and education, or intended to trigger, degrade, or otherwise attack persons of any community or identity, will not be tolerated and will be promptly removed before they can cause psychological harm to those viewing this page. "Blessed are such as hold fast to the cord of kindliness and tender mercy and are free from animosity and hatred." (Bahá’u’lláh, Ṭarázát, The second Ṭaráz). 
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Arien Reed    All Rights Reserved