In this chat I want to talk a little about our position as Gaudiya Vaisnavas regarding homosexuality. As we are favorable to the monastic way of life, as an alternative to living a conditioned life, we are confronted with this issue frequently. Since Srila Prabhupadaís time, in some way or another, we have had the proper way of dealing with people who donít want to or canít follow the brahminical standard of religious life strictly. Of course, working with souls in this material conditions and contaminationís means that you go into a hard fight. There will be people in the temple and amongst the visitors that have mental problems, strong attachments, possible falls and questions about these things. Not only related to homosexuality, but also to drugs and all the other possible attachments in this world. But the homosexuality topic is specifically complex, because it deals with a condition that may be the result of several previous lives, it can come as a mental problem, hormones or even a physical problem. It is a phenomenon thatís been present in human culture from the time of the old Vedic scriptures. How it is approached in Indian society is nevertheless very different from how it is approached in the western countries.
The ideal would be that monastic communities wouldnít be perturbed by sexual problems. Thatís why the members of such a community promise to withhold from sexual intercourse. People that live in a Vaisnava monastery have to strictly live according to this promise of celibacy. Married devotees outside of the monastery have their own instructions according to this issue. It could be said that people who canít practice this celibate life strictly, but at the same time want to make spiritual progress, should live a more private life in stead of a monastic one. But the mercy doors shouldnít be closed to anyone who is determined to take control over his or her senses, his or her activities and his or her sexual preferences (Karma not considered). Srila Prabhupada said that he had opened a school for Brahmins, where they should live an exemplary life. But that doesnít mean that these Brahmins donít suffer the reactions for everything they do. The brahminical schools that are still existing frequently manifest some problems.
Srila Prabhupada showed that he was very merciful, even in very serious cases. He had to take care of a great family with many projects. He knew that his disciples were suffering because of their lack of realization and sometimes they couldnít follow the standard. Nevertheless he took the risk and gave us temples, deities, Harinama diksa, sannyasa, his association and much more. Even people who had a public fall down, received his mercy again if they promised they would follow the monastic life precepts. This great mercy of him created this Krishna Consciousness movement. Who are we to deny people that carry this homosexual tendency.
Today we are confronted with a different point of view, that is caused by the confession of senior devotees that admit that they have homosexually abused children (Gurukula). On top of this we have to consider the anger people feel in seeing what is happening in the catholic church. People of week faith are blaming the monastic way of life as being the cause of this kind of deviation. Any kind of sex thatís causing others to suffer is disgusting. Or depending on the case, itís criminal. We have to protect the image and the purity of our Ashrams and the message of our spiritual masters. At the same time we don't have to leave aside the generosity towards those who face this physical or mental kind of problem. To manage this in real life is not easy. Itís difficult to satisfy the people that are feeling afraid of homosexuality because they fear to see their children involved in it. When in western countries people talk about marrying homosexual couples in the Catholic church, the doubt about how to deal with this phenomena, just grows. In the Vedic culture we don't see any example of homosexual people marrying in a fire ceremony. But, at the same time, we do see that there are some communities in Indian society in which homosexuals have a specific role, for example in dancing at a wedding or when a child is born, for which they receive some donation.
I myself had to face the situation in which a man who had undergone a surgery to change his sex, wanted to live in the temple as a serious monk. To tell you the truth to locate this person in the community was a hard task for me at that moment. In many instances, devotees revealed their homosexual tendencies and some even tried to Ďinviteí others to this way of living. Sometimes these people where very respected persons in the community that had important services. I can say that devotees tend to deal with these situations with the same generosity as Srila Prabhupada did. Yet, insecurity and prejudices in us tend to make the dealing of these cases a little Ďfunnyí. That doesnít help at all, considering the Ďvictimsí of these dealings are our own dear brothers and sisters who we have known for years. And we must not forget that these homosexual people have their own parents that love them, in the same way your father and mother love you. Also realize the possibility that you can get a baby that faces the same kind of situation.
To summarize, we should understand that the ones that have problems with drugs, material attachments, homosexuality and so on, can solve their problems by coming in touch with the all merciful Maha mantra; Hare Krishna, and by the association of the devotees. For this reason we open temples all over the world; to help people. Not to take Brahmins that have fallen from the sky as a miracle. The specific personal problem is not so important. The important point is what each person wants to do to face this problem without disturbing others. We should always help them to find space for that and encourage them to do it. I feel a great sorrow inside of me when I hear about homosexual people that are rejected by the devotees and asked to leave the temple, despite their effort to fight their own nature. A few days ago we visited a house for people that where suffering the results of aids, and who donít have any other place to go, to bring them some Prasadam. One person noticed us and immediately left the room without taking Prasadam. The principal of the house told us that this person had lived in a temple and was very ashamed to see the devotees. And of course with this aids topic people's fear of homosexuality increases a lot. No doubt the age of Kali is striking hard. As a matter of fact, in these 30 years of Krishna consciousness, I have regularly heard about some devotee dying because of aids. So, my message to all the preaching devotees is to be very compassionate to those who still canít follow the Vedic standard of life very strictly, even though this can risk the purity of our Ashrams. Just by writing this I remember a lot of people that donít have the mercy of the devotees anymore. This makes me feel very bad and sad. I want to do all within my reach for everybody to be happy in this Vaisnava family. The imperfections that appear may be the stairways to go one step higher towards Krishna. Every bad situation comes to a happy end. There is no Karma that canít become a blessing. So, the homosexual issue is not going to defeat our journey. Because the ones that really suffer from this, have to overcome it through spiritual help, while the ones that donít face anything similar can learn how to enlarge their hearts and give an ideal example of how to fight against Maya.