When I was volunteering in a Buddhist organization, some of my associates discussed and asked what I believe is the Buddhist perspective towards gay people.
Here’s what I think.
- Buddha will not be phobic towards gay people or anyone that “normal” people find queer. This is because the Buddha is beyond fear and discrimination.
- Why are gay people gay?
I think human beings are very complex and we have countless past lives. Sometimes past habits and desires are so strong that they carry over to our present lives. Suppose somebody had been a female in his numerous past lifes and in the current lifetime he is born a man. The innate desire of a woman in his previous lifetimes may carry over to the current one. Although born with a male body, the mind may still be habitually attracted to a male. This is just one way we can look at it. It is not the only explanation. This hypothesis is just as it is. The message behind this hypothesis is that, we should open our mind to countless possibilities that can be present in the cycle of rebirth. Cause and effect is very complicated. We have no right to discriminate against others just because they are different from the majority. In an unique documented investigation, a Japanese male officer was reborn as a poor village girl. Strangely, that girl remembered her previous life and have no love interest towards man in her current one. Prefering to dress like a man and behaved like a man throughout her life. Imagine the discrimination she had to deal with in a conservative asian village.
- Will Buddha answer my prayers if I am gay?
Buddha is unlike the gods in most religion. Buddha is not a god that fulfills our wishes or prayer. BUDDHA taught that situations in our life is the result of our past actions (karma). Past actions include actions from our previous lifes. If we wish to see improvement in our present and future, then we need to do good deeds to accumulate merits for favourable results. In short, praying for a miracle without right action and effort is futile. Better to be proactive and create your happiness in the right way. The greatest miracle is a transformation of our mind consciousness from a state of ignorance to a state of awaken enlightenment.
Gods who had converted to Buddhism will protect and support fellow Buddhist. There is no record that Buddha ever condemned or discriminate against anyone. Neither did he specifically forbade gay sex.
- Can gay people become Buddhist?
BUDDHA will accept and teach gay people how to gain enlightenment too. BUDDHA guided a serial killer (Angulimala) who murdered hundreds of people. Gay people are not that bad in comparison right?
- Can gay people gain enlightenment?
In the previous point, the serial killer Angulimala managed to become enlightened…..
The issue is not about sex (which always takes the focal point when people talk about LGBT+) The key to enlightenment is whether one can let go of desire and craving. Yes, that include sexual desire and sexual craving (regardless of how one does it)
- Is gay sex acceptable in Buddhism?
Yes, if you are not a monk or nun. Monks and nuns cannot have any sex.
However, the Buddha recognised that not everyone can be celibate. He did not forbade his lay disciples from sex. As mentioned before, it is not a big deal how you choose to satisfy your carnal desire, as long as you do not harm yourselves or others in the process. The issue for layman is not about how they have sex. The cause of unhappiness or suffering is desire and craving. Therefore the Buddha taught us how to lessen and gradually eliminate our desire and craving. In short, the ultimate aim is to be freed from all craving. (Yes, that includes carnal desire)
- How do we deal with Buddhist who are homophobic?
If someone causes you anxiety and mental anguish because they discriminate against you, then they obviously did not understand the Buddha’s teaching very well. So are you sure they are Buddhist in the first place? Therefore, it becomes perfectly clear that you need not gain the approval of these people or their opinion to be a good Buddhist. Absolutely no need to feel bad about yourselves in anyway. Try to have compassion for them though.
- How can gay people be good Buddhist?
Absolutely no difference from straight or celibate people. Avoid doing, speaking and thinking evil. Constantly, do, speak and think good. Practice mind training to gain enlightenment. That means to lessen and ultimately eliminate craving, aversion and ignorance TOTALLY.
In summary, sexual preference should not be the main focus in regards to lay people who still want to have sex. If one truly wish to experience Nirvana, then training to be freed from the chain of craving is an absolute requirement.
The Buddha advised his lay followers to live a rightful way of life. That means to observe the 5 precepts and to follow the noble eightfold path as best as we can.