It was with some interest that I noted a rather long and protracted exchange between devotees on the inclusion or exclusion of Gays within ISKCON and over all approach when preaching to those who are inclined towards homosexual acts.
For some reason it brings in much emotions with the usual divisions reflected in the wider society; one question posed was that of preaching and what we say and the karmic reactions of engaging in Gay Sex.
Two things appeared to be of issue the way we preach and if as ISKCON we recognize and embrace individuals with such feelings and how best to deal with both.
Myself I donít get it but I point out when questioned on this subject that the biggest hinderance to any devotional life is that of sex life in all itís guises, and that as devotees it can be the biggest struggle.
We see this in many of the morning walks recorded with Srila Prabhupada that the conversations covered such matters regarding sex life and sexual desire; time and time again he stresses that the material body throws up such feelings but that we need to learn to tolerate which for all but a few is a hard task and will be a lifetimes struggle.
As devotees we promote celibacy in all walks of life the only exception is when there is a need or desire for children, and then only if we are sure that we can bring them us in a Krishna Conscious manor and not as is the case a fashion accessory or a mistake that happened. I am told that within marriage this can be difficult due to the natural desire to be intimate.
What I have noticed in my many conversations is that those who are addicted to sex life and gay sex life is that there is an awareness of there spiritual side; but due to there lifestyle choice they feel rejected or excluded from any spiritual community which can cause anxiety and then animosity towards those who are connected to such groups.
Made especially harder when the accusation of you are going to hell, or returning in the next life as stool or hog which I feel although is a statement of fact will do little to attract anyone to devotional life or the glories of chanting the holy name of Krishna which should be our overall aim in all dealings with all fallen conditioned souls.
After all we are conditioned to fulfill our own senses and desires first always and that we should be free to explore and express ourselves in any way we wish.
Do we deny our feelings are acknowledge them, acknowledgement does not mean we act on them but that we learn to tolerate and train the mind giving a more positive reward than gross sense gratification.
But we also need to adjust our preaching, I recall being told about the first ever initiationís that Srila Prabhupada did he initially didnít even mention the four regulative principles and I often wonder how the first devotees felt once they found out what they were especially as this was 60ís America with free love and experimentation with drugs.
For some though it remained difficult and again I recall a class and the devotee was explaining how they had received a letter for Srila Prabhupada and it was at a time when he dealt with all letters personally; in it there was an explanation of there situation that although they were happily married they found refraining from sex life very hard and engaged in wife swapping, bondage and other things.
There was a worry about how Srila Prabhupada would react and so the devotees didnít want Prabhupada to see it but as always he was aware of what was going on and asked to see the letter; they waited with abated breath but to there surprise Srila Prabhupada said ďthis is glorious gloriousĒ the devotees were confused.
But then the explanation it was not the act that was glorious in fact from a vedic cultural point of view it was a disaster, but that they realized there situation and the problems it causes in spiritual life and instead of hiding it asked for help and advice. They recognized the need to break away from the conditioning as enjoyers of sex life to that of enjoyers of spiritual life.
If we immediately condemn then there is no gain, and we can cause a stumbling block and as devotees this should never be our intentions either knowing or unknowing, instead we promote the need for celibacy and by giving an alternative lifestyle presented in a way that any one can become free from the bondage of sex life.
We do not discriminate or state one form of illicit sex is worse than another, or condemn anyone but try as far as possible to help then progress in a Krishna Conscious and health manor.
Ow and for anyone of my age will remember the artist Boy George who is gay and has had many personal problems but has helped spread the holy name of Krishna; we could look at the faults and lifestyle choices but then do we see the good.
Best start with the basics the joy of chanting the holy name of Krishna and over time help develop the other essentials to devotional life, and for some there will be a continual fall down and struggle and most notably it will generally be in the area of sex life.
Ow and for anyone interested heres a video of one of his many TV appearances made by Boy George singing Bow down mister Hare Rama Hare Krishna http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUDvinEBdsk