Where does one’s sexuality fit within the spiritual? Does it matter if I’m gay or lesbian? Does it matter if I’m transsexual? I am not a virgin, is that okay? I’m a virgin, what about me? Can I practice Tantra? Can I reach enlightenment even though I’m gay? It does not matter where you stand in the vast spectrum of human sexuality. Spirituality is something everyone can experience. Why? Why can everyone experience spirituality? Because, everyone has a spirit. Everyone has a soul. Unfortunately, there are those that say and teach that homosexuals cannot experience enlightenment, cannot elevate their souls, cannot find their soul mate, and much more. I disagree. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
When it comes to Tantra it does not matter if you are a virgin or homosexual. Firstly, it does not matter if you have had sex because Tantra is not just about sex. Tantra refers to a collective study, a system of beliefs and practices pertinent to the Hindus or the Hindu Gods. And this system requires many things from its practitioners. Books need to be studied, certain exercises that are unrelated to sex need to be practiced and even mastered, beliefs and ideologies need to be studied and explored, and so on. Virginity is the least important aspect of Tantra; however, certain Tantric traditions claim virginity to be the best way to begin the practice. There are many different Tantric traditions and each one has different standards, different ways of practicing, and so on. (When considering what path you want to take, I recommend starting on your own and getting as informed as possible. Establish your core beliefs and build upon them.)
When it comes to homosexuality and Tantra, it depends what you read and who you believe. Again, even in Hindu practices there are those that deny homosexuals. However, remember the temples of ancient India and the sexual acts depicted between men and men and women and women. Remember the Kama Sutra and its directions for homosexual couples. India changed drastically when the English invaded its lands. The people of India, although they preserved their Gods, had their beliefs affected by Christianity. Books that were once sacred were burned, temples were abandoned if not destroyed. Much spiritual knowledge was lost and the interpretations of the ancient texts morphed.
Tantra is not only about sexual pleasure. Tantra is about achieving balance within yourself. It is about achieving balance between the male and female energies within you. That is why homosexuality is not an issue when practicing Tantra or any other type of spirituality, whether tied to sex or not, because regardless of sexual orientation, we all have both male and female energies. Whether it is Tantra or sacred sex, sexual orientation and virginity are not important. What matters is how you practice, how you implement your gained knowledge in your every day life. Your intentions when practicing, even when not, affect your world and who you are. Spirituality, in general, is more focused on exploring the world within than applying external rules to that inner existence; that which is known as the soul. Books are helpful, but not necessary to gain wisdom and knowledge. There is always a beginning, always a point of departure. There is always fear when starting something new. Doubt is part of the process. Whether it is Wicca, Paganism, Hinduism, Tantra, whatever, you always start your journey somewhere.
Some begin their journeys when love touches their hearts, when they meet a special person that opens them up to another aspect of life and the universe. Soul mates, depending on how close your energies are, bring lessons with them and new knowledge. Soul mates can be gay, lesbian , and everything in between. Again, sexual orientation is not a hindrance to finding a soul mate. The process for attracting a soul mate is the same for a gay couple as it is for a heterosexual couple. What keeps gay or lesbian soul mates apart are societal restrictions, personal preconceived notions, beliefs, and their view and understanding of love. But homosexuality does not matter, not really; love is love.
Sexuality, why is it relevant to a spiritual practice? Depending on which path you choose, you can be chaste and have zero sex, or you can have sex (Christianity looks down upon sex before marriage, for example. Wicca and Tantra don’t condemn sex outside of marriage). Denying your sexuality is not the same as not having sex. When you deny your sexuality, whether heterosexual or gay, that is when you lose a part of yourself. Being open and whole with your sexuality does not necessarily mean having sex with a partner or anybody else who is really good in bed. Instead, it is best to first know your own body. It is best to first be at peace with yourself, to understand yourself, or at least, explore yourself. Furthermore, being open about your sexuality does not necessarily mean telling everyone about your sexual preferences; it means being aware within yourself. When you deny your sexuality, and you deny sex, and you become chaste, you are closing off a part of yourself. Forget the pleasure sex causes in the body, this closing off a part of yourself keeps a part of you hidden and you will never know yourself completely. To clarify, I do not mean that you should always have a sexual partner, what I mean is that you should always be comfortable with your sexuality. Once you are comfortable with this aspect of yourself, you are more solid, you are more comfortable, more stable, and capable of exploring further.
It is not necessary to have a sexual partner to use tantric technique or to practice sacred sex. Masturbation is key when exploring your own body and it can open new doors. Generally, spiritual practices, especially the newer forms, do not look down upon masturbation. Often, when practicing either sacred sex or Tantra, sexual energy is considered. Some practices do not allow its practionners to reach orgasm because it is believed that the vital kundalini is lost (Tantra). Other practices teach techniques that allow the person to orgasm and harness that energy. Here is one way masturbation is useful; to develop self-control, to learn techniques, to come in touch with deeper parts of yourself. It is less about physical pleasure and more about knowing yourself.
Whatever your practice is, sex is unavoidable. Sexuality is unavoidable. Because spirituality is about exploration, questions arise, and sex is part of the big questions. There are questions about reproduction that are inevitably asked. Were you born of sin? What does that mean? Why? What is sin? Is sex bad? Should I avoid pleasure? Is pleasure a sin? What is sin? These are questions that depending on the person and the practice are either asked early on or later on, or even avoided. So, who has the answers to these questions? You.
Photo Credit: Melissa Portan