I have always been very open about my spiritual life, and if you have truly got to know me, you know that spirituality means a lot for me. This is part of the journey I have started long time, the continuous search of my inner peace through some kind of philosophy or religious believes. The spirit within me is always crying out for something more.
I have done Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age, meditation, Prayer Contemplation, Silenced retreats, worship conferences, I have read books from Pemma Chödron, Staught Lynd, Henry Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Phill Yancey, John Piper, Erwin Raphael McManus,Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, Mother Theresa, and many more. Always trying to find that energy that comes within myself to help me cope with my so difficult and tormenting inner life.
For one moment in my life I thought I found the way and the answer for this journey, and I served for almost 20 years the Christian Church, and believed passionately in the life of Jesus and the power of God. I tried to follow Him and practice my faith in love, grace, forgiveness and ultimate I became a Pastor in the United Methodist Church were I served for 9 years.
Everything was doing ok BUT, in all these years I’ve always hide one side of my life I was ashamed of it, out of my own ignorance and self-hatred. I tried to changed it, seek spiritual counselors, therapist, psychiatrist, I went to organizations that supposedly changed you so you become a “real” person, they send me to hang out with “real” men who played basketball and football so I could learn their ways, they prayed over me, delivered me from evil, anointed me with holly oil, went to the doctor to get testosterone, uff just to mention all this I get tired. Let me tell you I tried EVERYTHING available out there, and at the end nothing was changed.
The searching of my own inner peace, and the love I had for Christ took me to finally accept myself as a gay men, and receive the freedom this brings; in the Gospel of John 8:36 says: “ So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” Finally after 39 years I found my own freedom, but I also found rejection, and acceptance, love and judgment, grace and criticism, from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The people that stayed with me and gave me a helping hand and big embraced ministered my new journey, but those who gave me their backs hurt me so much.
When the Church leaders asked me to leave my pastoral position because I was not capable to minister as an openly gay man doing ministry even thought that for the first time I was being truthful to the all the areas in my life. When men decided that my God’s call to serve Him was over, my faith in Christ, the Christian Church and their leaders died with it.
I wondered for 4 years trying to find my inner peace back by visiting many Christian churches of all kind of denominations, I even consider the Jesuit priesthood but after talking to them they told me that I couldn’t join not because I was gay but because I was divorced. (I wonder why the gay was not an issue!).
One day I listened to the Call of Prayer in a Masjid I was visiting and my heart plunged down into the floor in prostration. Even though I didn’t understand anything, it reminded to the many times I hear this call when I traveled to Tunisia and Morocco and the Called to Prayer woke me up every single day. The singing prayer in Arabic started to minister to my heart in ways I couldn’t understand, and literally I couldn’t understand, haha!
So you may wonder why I was considering joining a religion who have persecuted and discriminated LGTBQ the same way Christianity has done it. Why did I leave the conservatism of Christianity to go into another religion that has not been welcoming us through out the centuries?
The answer to this is that this time I was bringing my whole self, and not hiding anything. If I am not accepted at the Masjids or even among the general Muslim community because of who I am, it is not my loss but theirs. I wont hide anymore, this is me a Queer, Mexican, Muslim, welcoming of all faiths, believes, philosophies, cultures, races, and people; an uncommon organizer that practiced vulnerability as a lifestyle, in a continuous journey to self-love who lives in a world that keeps rejecting those who do not conform to it.
You may not understand my own decisions and choices, but I am not here to convince you or make sure you understand my own journey. You may call me crazy, loco de la cabeza, weird, freak or wherever you want, but I am here to live, and get the most of the life I was given.
May Allah the most merciful or whom ever you choose to follow or unfollow be with you in your own journey as well. Inshallah!