I am 53, and I have been out since I was 17 in the 1976. Being a lesbian (and people’s homophobia) is a really fascinating topic for about 20 years—then gardening becomes way more enthralling. Now, I am utterly bored with the topic of homosexuality. I live in a part of the world where people could care less if you are gay or lesbian, so antiquated and uninformed views like Lhugpa are expressing are, honestly, pretty funny.
However, I am always concerned that gay and lesbian people who are new to the Dharma will get the impression that they will not be welcomed into the Dharma. So, I am just going to give a reality check here—not about books and ancient texts, but about what people are likely to experience in the world of the Nyingma tradition, which is what I know best.
Homosexuality was completely hidden in old Tibet, but as present as anywhere. It’s slightly better now, but still similar to how things were here in the U.S. in the 1950’s. If you have a close relationship with older Tibetans who are comfortable talking about sexuality, as I do, you can ask them about how it was when they were young. Some will tell you about the secret overtures they received from other same gender men or women. (And I don’t mean in a monastery, which is a whole different topic.)
And in current Tibet, it’s like anywhere, you can see gays and lesbians all over if you have the right eyes. Yet, perhaps their own brothers and sisters would say they have never met a gay or lesbian person, or that there are no gays and lesbians in Tibet. Here is an example of a gay man’s fun trip there recently: http://www.stickyrice.ws/?view=tg_tibet
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Probably all these hunks are in the closet to their families, and there certainly is no Gay Pride Parade (yet).
I hear that a few of the great lamas of 20th century were actually gay or bisexual. I’ve heard from western men visiting senior lamas in the exile Tibetan communities that they have been propositioned at times. Lesbians are more beneath the radar, but we have our guides as to where to find each other in all the cities of Tibet and the Tibetan diaspora.
Most of the lamas who come to live in the U.S. (and I imagine this would apply to most Western countries) generally like our ways. At least most of the Nyingma lamas I know – and I know a lot of them—like the improved status of women, and are comfortable that homosexuality is out in the open rather than closeted. They welcome gay and lesbian students with open arms, along with anyone else who will practice. Occasionally Tibetans, such as relatives or minor lamas, come to visit our center from Asia and say ridiculous things about women not being able to gain enlightenment (or other baloney like that), and our wisdom lamas just roll their eyes. Same with homosexuality.
Dzogchen masters in particular, seem to be very comfortable with gays and lesbians, and every other conceivable kind of human, even when they are just flown in from the back roads of rural Tibet for the first time.
A serious practitioner of any Buddhist path comes to a point where every moment of day and night needs to be integrated with practice. The strength of the Vajrayana is it’s wide assortment of techniques for every possible occasion, from sleeping and dreaming, to having a bowel movement, to exercising, to having sex, etc… These are instructions one receives from one’s lama, and there is something for everyone. These instructions are personal, in my opinion it is not appropriate to mouth off about them with pride on internet forums. Especially practices one has no personal experience of.
So, LGBT folks, PM me if you are trying to find a home in the Dharma here in the U.S., I’ll send you some place loving and supportive. Of course, most Zen and Vipassana centers run by Westerners are good, too.