Towards a Queer ethos

Queer Sikhs are largely invisibilized in the greater Sikh community, although some are present within the U.S./Canada diaspora. Last month, the debate over the Sikh-perspective on GLBT unions bubbled up in Canada when a leader in the Vancouver community denounced homosexuality [link]:

“I hate homosexuality. Most Sikhs believe homosexuality is unnatural and you can’t produce kids through it. And, secondarily, no major religion allows it.”

This comment echoed an edict issued two years ago by Jathedar Akal Takht that Sikh [Canadian] MPs ought vote against a bill that would legalize civil unions for queer couples. When this conversation has come up (rarely, but a few times in recent years), the conventional wisdom is that Sikhi’s family-oriented mission and denunciation of kaam [lust] trumps its egalitarian sensibility and tips the scales against homosexuality and towards heteronormativity. Testimonials from out Sikhs are sometimes uplifting, but oftentimes heart-breaking.

SGGS Ji, unlike other religious scriptures, is entirely silent on this issue. Among those who decry homosexuality, the most common argument is that homosexuality is an indulgence, and that those who fall out of the straight-jacket should either marry straight or stay celibate. They are told to “overcome” their homosexuality because sex is solely for procreation.

Maybe I fall out of the panthic mainstream, or maybe this puts me in direct opposition with gianis, but I think the rationale of kaam=homosexuality=verboten is a (human) attempt to diminish or demean our queer brothers and sisters. It is a way to explain why a heteronormative world is preferred by fishing for a religious argument. If Vaheguru’s hukam was so opposed to queer partnerships, then I think this would be explicit. As a Sikh, justice and love in the context of an ethical framework are important to me — and this sense of justice, in my mind, extends into our relationships. The heart of the matter is that the gender of your partner doesn’t matter much when it comes to building and sustaining a beautiful, healthy family. And further, it doesn’t seem that queer love would be more or less distracting from a spiritual path than straight love (are critics truly arguing that straight couples don’t have to “master their lust”?). Further, with adoption and assisted pregnancy, it seems like the argument against queer Sikhs is a stretch.

I have never seen love or acceptance as antithetical to Sikhi. Who are we to debase and argue our way into people’s hearts and into their bedrooms? Instead of encouraging queer Sikhs to adopt straight lifestyles, I think we, in the diaspora, have the unique opportunity to revision how we understand relationships, marriage, family, and devotion.

Resources for Queer Sikhs:


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46 Responses to “Towards a Queer ethos”

  1. HK says:

    I agree, the loving and close knit family is not limited to straight couples alone. First, there are so many children to be adopted and technology has made it possible for children to be created without sex. And second, straight couples are certainly not the cream of the crop given the widespread domestic violence issues, particularly in the South Asian community. Who is anyone to say that a straight couple is better than a homosexual couple? The Sikh equality of "everyone" should not remain in quotes. It should genuinely apply to everyone. Sikhs "do not fear anything" so there should not be homophobia in our society.

  2. HK says:

    I agree, the loving and close knit family is not limited to straight couples alone. First, there are so many children to be adopted and technology has made it possible for children to be created without sex. And second, straight couples are certainly not the cream of the crop given the widespread domestic violence issues, particularly in the South Asian community. Who is anyone to say that a straight couple is better than a homosexual couple? The Sikh equality of “everyone” should not remain in quotes. It should genuinely apply to everyone. Sikhs “do not fear anything” so there should not be homophobia in our society.

  3. JSD says:

    I don't agree with that. Sikhism says marriage of a man and woman. You aren't to have sex if you aren't married. And one of the reasons for marriage and sex is to continue the creation of God, which is babies and eventually adults who are to do naam simran remember God, be helpful citizens and so forth. Lets not exxagerate, you cant compare Homosexuality and unable to give birth to a straight couple who are adopting for that reason. Its is in the Sikhi way of life, a child requires a man and a woman…a woman who nurtures him and a man who teaches him the way of being just that. a man. For a girl, its the same thing woman for nurturing and a man for the protection and helping the mother in a proper up bringing. In my eyes homosexuality and Sikh just don't mix….if one day i see 2 guys doing laava. I will be so mad…..i wont go any further.

  4. JSD says:

    I don’t agree with that. Sikhism says marriage of a man and woman. You aren’t to have sex if you aren’t married. And one of the reasons for marriage and sex is to continue the creation of God, which is babies and eventually adults who are to do naam simran remember God, be helpful citizens and so forth. Lets not exxagerate, you cant compare Homosexuality and unable to give birth to a straight couple who are adopting for that reason. Its is in the Sikhi way of life, a child requires a man and a woman…a woman who nurtures him and a man who teaches him the way of being just that. a man. For a girl, its the same thing woman for nurturing and a man for the protection and helping the mother in a proper up bringing. In my eyes homosexuality and Sikh just don’t mix….if one day i see 2 guys doing laava. I will be so mad…..i wont go any further.

  5. Harbeer says:

    In my eyes homosexuality and Sikh just dont mix

    Then you have a problem with nature, holmes, and in your eyes, NATURE (god) and Sikhi “don’t mix.”

  6. Harbeer says:

    In my eyes homosexuality and Sikh just don’t mix…

    Then you have a problem with nature, holmes, and in your eyes, NATURE (god) and Sikhi "don't mix."

  7. JSD says:

    why don't you do something else other than grabbing my quotes and arguing them…im trying to make a valid point all of a sudden being gay is the in thing and if you argue it you are deemed an [edited by admin]…wow.

  8. JSD says:

    why don’t you do something else other than grabbing my quotes and arguing them…im trying to make a valid point all of a sudden being gay is the in thing and if you argue it you are deemed an [edited by admin]…wow.

  9. JSD says:

    no where did I say nature…do you have some valid arguement with all that i wrote?

  10. JSD says:

    no where did I say nature…do you have some valid arguement with all that i wrote?

  11. Shardaloo says:

    Until someone explains homosexual tendencies in animals, we're forever stuck in this 'social' impasse. The 'nature vs nurture' wrangle doesn't really apply to animals, so…

  12. Shardaloo says:

    Until someone explains homosexual tendencies in animals, we’re forever stuck in this ‘social’ impasse. The ‘nature vs nurture’ wrangle doesn’t really apply to animals, so…

  13. Kurri says:

    Camille,

    Really glad you posted on this- though I know you posted only about homosexual relationships, I think it's important to address homophobia as well. Homophobia seems to be stronger amongst Punjabi Sikhs than some other communities, and I definitely agree that it's antithetical to the ideal of equality that is a foundation of Sikhi. I don't, however, know how phobias are best treated…

    Its is in the Sikhi way of life, a child requires a man and a woman…a woman who nurtures him and a man who teaches him the way of being just that. a man. For a girl, its the same thing woman for nurturing and a man for the protection and helping the mother in a proper up bringing. In my eyes homosexuality and Sikh just don’t mix

    JSD, could you please explain how in the Sikhi way of life, a child requires a man and a woman? I disagree with some aspects of your comment. It sounds like you're making some problematic assumptions:

    1. women, and only women, are inherently nurturing

    2. men, and only men, are inherently protective

    3. women should have the primary role in raising children

    None of the above are necessary or inherent. If this is not what you meant, could you please clarify why you think both a man and woman are required for a relationship? There is no reason that men can't be both nurturing and protective, and the same with women. Of course there are genetic differences between men and women, which do affect the way both think and behave… but these differences do not go so far as to restrict women and men into the roles you're attributing.

    When you say that it's the man's role to help the mother in the upbringing of the child, are you saying that the woman should be the primary caregiver? This again attributes an expectation of men and women's 'appropriate' roles which should be a choice, not an expectation.

  14. Kurri says:

    Camille,

    Really glad you posted on this- though I know you posted only about homosexual relationships, I think it’s important to address homophobia as well. Homophobia seems to be stronger amongst Punjabi Sikhs than some other communities, and I definitely agree that it’s antithetical to the ideal of equality that is a foundation of Sikhi. I don’t, however, know how phobias are best treated…

    Its is in the Sikhi way of life, a child requires a man and a womana woman who nurtures him and a man who teaches him the way of being just that. a man. For a girl, its the same thing woman for nurturing and a man for the protection and helping the mother in a proper up bringing. In my eyes homosexuality and Sikh just dont mix

    JSD, could you please explain how in the Sikhi way of life, a child requires a man and a woman? I disagree with some aspects of your comment. It sounds like you’re making some problematic assumptions:

    1. women, and only women, are inherently nurturing
    2. men, and only men, are inherently protective
    3. women should have the primary role in raising children

    None of the above are necessary or inherent. If this is not what you meant, could you please clarify why you think both a man and woman are required for a relationship? There is no reason that men can’t be both nurturing and protective, and the same with women. Of course there are genetic differences between men and women, which do affect the way both think and behave… but these differences do not go so far as to restrict women and men into the roles you’re attributing.

    When you say that it’s the man’s role to help the mother in the upbringing of the child, are you saying that the woman should be the primary caregiver? This again attributes an expectation of men and women’s ‘appropriate’ roles which should be a choice, not an expectation.

  15. Simran Singh says:

    Thank you for this posting. I am an Amritdhari Sikh, and I agree that first and foremost, we should love and accept eachother. Everything is God's creation. Why demean anyone? I am willing to step in and protect the weak when someone or something is being harmed. When there is a mutual decision, I believe in freedom of choice and acceptance.

  16. Simran Singh says:

    Thank you for this posting. I am an Amritdhari Sikh, and I agree that first and foremost, we should love and accept eachother. Everything is God’s creation. Why demean anyone? I am willing to step in and protect the weak when someone or something is being harmed. When there is a mutual decision, I believe in freedom of choice and acceptance.

  17. JSD says:

    oh god. im stuck with a bunch of people who think women are opressed and stuff….i didnt mean to say all women are nurturing and ONLY women can do the upbringing stop reading to deep into my posts they are quite simple. Sher hoonday yah, mard hoonday yah…gays i guess have been accepted in punjabi culture ive seen them portrayed in various tv shows and what not but in no way have they ever been deeply Sikh or something the last thing we need is Gay Sikhs running around….2 paghs…im not feelin it. [edited by admin]

  18. HK says:

    I am of the understanding that a loving family who can learn, grow, do seva, and do simran together is what Sikhi wants. Whether the heads of these families are men or women or both men and women is of no consequence. That is what sangat is for, to maintain that balance. Sangat is an extension of the individual and of the family.

    The question is not whether homosexuality has a place in Sikhi, but whether homophobia does.

    A Sikh must accept that some people do things differently. Just as Guru Nanak Dev Ji cast away the janeu, so may some people cast off social conventions and norms. But if they can be productive members of society, then no one should have a problem.

    JSD, you have begun to stereotype and it gives me some concern. There is no need to place anyone in a societal box. I, as a woman, am flattered that you think all women are nurturing, but there is no need to be so hard on men or women and say they "cannot" be something or they "must" be something. I have known women who are fiercely protective as I have also known men who are incredibly nurturing and caring.

    Kurri, I'm not sure that homophobia is more or less prevalent among Sikhs. Maybe Sikhs, like others, are becoming more aware of homosexuality and are willing to talk about it, whether good or bad.

    But this discussion is positive because even if someone does not approve of the way of life, at least they voice their opinion. That should never be suppressed.

  19. HK says:

    I am of the understanding that a loving family who can learn, grow, do seva, and do simran together is what Sikhi wants. Whether the heads of these families are men or women or both men and women is of no consequence. That is what sangat is for, to maintain that balance. Sangat is an extension of the individual and of the family.
    The question is not whether homosexuality has a place in Sikhi, but whether homophobia does.
    A Sikh must accept that some people do things differently. Just as Guru Nanak Dev Ji cast away the janeu, so may some people cast off social conventions and norms. But if they can be productive members of society, then no one should have a problem.
    JSD, you have begun to stereotype and it gives me some concern. There is no need to place anyone in a societal box. I, as a woman, am flattered that you think all women are nurturing, but there is no need to be so hard on men or women and say they “cannot” be something or they “must” be something. I have known women who are fiercely protective as I have also known men who are incredibly nurturing and caring.
    Kurri, I’m not sure that homophobia is more or less prevalent among Sikhs. Maybe Sikhs, like others, are becoming more aware of homosexuality and are willing to talk about it, whether good or bad.
    But this discussion is positive because even if someone does not approve of the way of life, at least they voice their opinion. That should never be suppressed.

  20. Camille says:

    JSD, thanks for your comments. Here are my thoughts — within nature (i.e., the animal kingdom) homosexuality is absolutely "normal" (that is, it occurs naturally, it exists, etc.). Further, we know that while heterosexual sex may be one of the ways to procreate for humans, it isn't the only way, nor is this form of sex or gender assignment the end all be all — there are other species that are asexual or change genders based on need. Lastly, while Sikhi historically has defined marriage as a man-woman partnership, I wonder how much of this is socially normative vs. religious? There are certainly passages of gurbani that could be interpreted both as reinforcing the male-female structure or challenging it, depending on your reading. I think the assumptions (which Kurri delineated nicely) re: the "need" for a woman and man to raise a child are misplaced and often incorrect. The very few studies that have been done on these issues find these assumptions to be incorrect; that is, the orientation of your parents has very little to do with your quality of upbringing; it has much more to do with their values, qualities, etc., as caretakers.

    Kurri, I don't think homophobia is more or less prevalent among Punjabi Sikhs. I think we are just remarkably silent on the issue, and when pressed, denounce it loudly. Much like other communities, there is a growing minority that not only acknowledges that there are LGBT Sikhs, but also is working towards making queer-friendly spaces within the sangat.

  21. Camille says:

    JSD, thanks for your comments. Here are my thoughts — within nature (i.e., the animal kingdom) homosexuality is absolutely “normal” (that is, it occurs naturally, it exists, etc.). Further, we know that while heterosexual sex may be one of the ways to procreate for humans, it isn’t the only way, nor is this form of sex or gender assignment the end all be all — there are other species that are asexual or change genders based on need. Lastly, while Sikhi historically has defined marriage as a man-woman partnership, I wonder how much of this is socially normative vs. religious? There are certainly passages of gurbani that could be interpreted both as reinforcing the male-female structure or challenging it, depending on your reading. I think the assumptions (which Kurri delineated nicely) re: the “need” for a woman and man to raise a child are misplaced and often incorrect. The very few studies that have been done on these issues find these assumptions to be incorrect; that is, the orientation of your parents has very little to do with your quality of upbringing; it has much more to do with their values, qualities, etc., as caretakers.

    Kurri, I don’t think homophobia is more or less prevalent among Punjabi Sikhs. I think we are just remarkably silent on the issue, and when pressed, denounce it loudly. Much like other communities, there is a growing minority that not only acknowledges that there are LGBT Sikhs, but also is working towards making queer-friendly spaces within the sangat.

  22. JSD says:

    oh god. im stuck with a bunch of people who think women are opressed and stuff….i didnt mean to say all women are nurturing and ONLY women can do the upbringing stop reading to deep into my posts they are quite simple. Sher hoonday yah, mard hoonday yah…gays i guess have been accepted in punjabi culture ive seen them portrayed in various tv shows and what not but in no way have they ever been deeply Sikh or something the last thing we need is Gay Sikhs running around….2 paghs…im not feelin it. [edited by admin]

  23. Harbeer says:

    im stuck with a bunch of people who think women are opressed and stuff

    You're not stuck anywhere. You're here by your own free will, right? Feel free to take a hike.

    if one day i see 2 guys doing laava. I will be so mad…..i wont go any further.

    What will you do if you see that? I have a feeling you won't do much but leave obnoxious anonymous comments on the internet. Balle oh dalera!

    why don’t you do something else other than grabbing my quotes and arguing them…

    Because that's what this space is meant for. What is it that you're doing here, [edited]?

  24. Harbeer says:

    im stuck with a bunch of people who think women are opressed and stuff

    You’re not stuck anywhere. You’re here by your own free will, right? Feel free to take a hike.

    if one day i see 2 guys doing laava. I will be so mad..i wont go any further.

    What will you do if you see that? I have a feeling you won’t do much but leave obnoxious anonymous comments on the internet. Balle oh dalera!

    why dont you do something else other than grabbing my quotes and arguing them

    Because that’s what this space is meant for. What is it that you’re doing here, [edited]?

  25. JSD says:

    How bout i feel free to sit here and say that I dont like the idea of Gay Sikhs, you guys can say whatever you want just because a bunch of liberals run around screaming gay pride doesn't make it right to be gay. Dallera de bachey i wont be the only one stopping that wedding the only ones on the internet would be you and your gay activists crying about us stopping such a wedding. quote this..

    you ANUS is for exiting…not for entering. Thats how "nature" intended it. so i believe in nature so i believe in God.

  26. JSD says:

    How bout i feel free to sit here and say that I dont like the idea of Gay Sikhs, you guys can say whatever you want just because a bunch of liberals run around screaming gay pride doesn’t make it right to be gay. Dallera de bachey i wont be the only one stopping that wedding the only ones on the internet would be you and your gay activists crying about us stopping such a wedding. quote this..

    you ANUS is for exiting…not for entering. Thats how “nature” intended it. so i believe in nature so i believe in God.

  27. alvindarjit says:

    Nice argument.
    personally, I don’t agree with homosexuality.
    But if 2 guys/girls are getting married, I don’t have the right to stop them.
    I believe in free-will.

  28. alvindarjit says:

    Nice argument.

    personally, I don't agree with homosexuality.

    But if 2 guys/girls are getting married, I don't have the right to stop them.

    I believe in free-will.

  29. Camille says:

    JSD, I appreciate your comments here because they echo how many Sikhs (including in the U.S.) interpret this issue. You're going to get pushback on your opinions because of the views of the commenters and writers here (and you'll also sometimes have agreement). However, in the context of an online conversation or online community — which is, coincidentally, what we're trying to build — you're also going to have people examine what you wrote and try to tease apart and analyze/respond to your arguments. This is because we don't know you; we only have your words as our introduction to your self.

    That said, I just want to caution that The Langar Hall also has a general code of civility, including in our comment policy. We haven't had to use it yet — mostly because we were new and not very many people were commenting –, but please keep this in mind as you comment. I think your viewpoint is useful, but we all need to be able to converse about and sometimes defend our views while maintaining a sense of decorum and repect.

    Thanks :)

  30. Camille says:

    JSD, I appreciate your comments here because they echo how many Sikhs (including in the U.S.) interpret this issue. You’re going to get pushback on your opinions because of the views of the commenters and writers here (and you’ll also sometimes have agreement). However, in the context of an online conversation or online community — which is, coincidentally, what we’re trying to build — you’re also going to have people examine what you wrote and try to tease apart and analyze/respond to your arguments. This is because we don’t know you; we only have your words as our introduction to your self.

    That said, I just want to caution that The Langar Hall also has a general code of civility, including in our comment policy. We haven’t had to use it yet — mostly because we were new and not very many people were commenting –, but please keep this in mind as you comment. I think your viewpoint is useful, but we all need to be able to converse about and sometimes defend our views while maintaining a sense of decorum and repect.

    Thanks :)

  31. HK says:

    JSD, you say you don't like the idea of two Sikh men marrying. What do you think about two Sikh women marrying?

  32. HK says:

    JSD, you say you don’t like the idea of two Sikh men marrying. What do you think about two Sikh women marrying?

  33. JSD says:

    dont pick at it…Hk its the same thing im against it. Camille i know the "rules" but when people bash without using so called bad words its ok…but i said Anus its hard to swallow oh well its the truth you guys wanted to talk about gay things thats as gay as it gets big deal.

  34. JSD says:

    dont pick at it…Hk its the same thing im against it. Camille i know the “rules” but when people bash without using so called bad words its ok…but i said Anus its hard to swallow oh well its the truth you guys wanted to talk about gay things thats as gay as it gets big deal.

  35. HK says:

    I can't imagine that gay people are the only ones who have recreational sex. Domestic violence victims are often the victims of spousal rape too, which is usually a consequence of 'recreational' sex, not just to make babies.

    People are people, gay or not, and deserve the freedom to act as they choose. Similarly, JSD has the freedom to say what he wishes. He can choose to be against it. I would fight for his right as much as for the right of those he is bashing.

    But honestly, being gay isn't all about sex and if you think so, you are sadly mistaken. It's also about finding that other half of yourself, that soulmate on the path to wherever it is we go, just the same as heterosexual, asexual, or transgender people.

    While we all have this discussion in the end it's all about education. You can choose to disapprove all you want, but be open to learning something about what you hate. If nothing else, you will be more informed and make better arguments against it.

  36. HK says:

    I can’t imagine that gay people are the only ones who have recreational sex. Domestic violence victims are often the victims of spousal rape too, which is usually a consequence of ‘recreational’ sex, not just to make babies.
    People are people, gay or not, and deserve the freedom to act as they choose. Similarly, JSD has the freedom to say what he wishes. He can choose to be against it. I would fight for his right as much as for the right of those he is bashing.
    But honestly, being gay isn’t all about sex and if you think so, you are sadly mistaken. It’s also about finding that other half of yourself, that soulmate on the path to wherever it is we go, just the same as heterosexual, asexual, or transgender people.
    While we all have this discussion in the end it’s all about education. You can choose to disapprove all you want, but be open to learning something about what you hate. If nothing else, you will be more informed and make better arguments against it.

  37. Camille says:

    JSD, you were singled out, but the policy applies to personal attacks regardless of the language used. I just wanted to use your comment as a "teaching moment" to make a general statement for our readership.

  38. Camille says:

    JSD, you were singled out, but the policy applies to personal attacks regardless of the language used. I just wanted to use your comment as a “teaching moment” to make a general statement for our readership.

  39. Kaur says:

    I'd like to start off by expressing my surprise and support for this specific topic; it shows that these discussions are not just of a singular opinion in our community within our youth.

    JSD-

    I understand what you are saying however I cannot even begin to say how much I disagree and am appalled at your diction in conveying your opinion. Not trying to single you out, perhaps it is just that your posts are the only ones that can be interpreted as offensive (which can or cannot be intentional, however it is being understood as such).

    being gay isn’t all about sex and if you think so, you are sadly mistaken. It’s also about finding that other half of yourself, that soulmate on the path to wherever it is we go, just the same as heterosexual, asexual, or transgender people.

    I think this is a beautiful statement, and honestly it makes me so happy to read that another Sikh thinks like this. If I may offer my opinion on the subject, I view it as the fact that we believe in the concept of 'joth' or light that resonates in each human creation. As the guru has told us “Sabh meh joth, joth has soye. Tis de channan sabh meh channan hoye.” This translates into something along the lines of “The light, your light, is in each individual, and this resonates outward. This resonate light that is reflected in each individual is also existent and reflected in all of those around us.” ** Within this concept is the importance of sangat and the Guru Panth, and the power and level of spirituality that can be tapped into because of these pieces of resonating light (in my interpretation, Waheguru) that come together in a room full of those individuals who seek it, and begin to feel that essence we call Waheguru.

    To bring this concept to point, I would relate this exactly to what HK said (highlighted above). It’s about your soulmate, it’s about the fact that we are all told that these earthly identities we have are nothing but secular to us, it’s about equality without judgement or ridicule for what is in our comfort zone. There are many places in gurbani that we are guided to not rely on the concept of physical identity, and that this can lead to things like lust and ego. I believe that our guru’s were very intentional in not including specifics in SGGS. I definitely agree with Camille in wondering how much of this argument is social or religious.

    In this light and reasoning, and the constant struggle to remind ourselves that we are empowered to recognize the light that radiates within us, and more importantly in those around us leads us into oppressive opinions. The fact of the matter is that heterosexuality as oppression does exist, similar to the dynamics of a patriarchal structure. The political manner which is being discussed is deeply rooted in the system of control, which for some females does not start with just a heterosexual power structure, but begins within a patriarchal power structure. This is highly problematic because not only are these individuals forced to deal with this system on their personal social level, but also combined within the sexual realm, one that is also overpowered with a similar level of power.

    The pressure that our current society places on these norms is ridiculous in my opinion, as it serves to be more destructive than productive.

    ** ‘Translation’ is my own interpretation

    Bhul chuk mhaf =)

  40. Kaur says:

    I’d like to start off by expressing my surprise and support for this specific topic; it shows that these discussions are not just of a singular opinion in our community within our youth.

    JSD-
    I understand what you are saying however I cannot even begin to say how much I disagree and am appalled at your diction in conveying your opinion. Not trying to single you out, perhaps it is just that your posts are the only ones that can be interpreted as offensive (which can or cannot be intentional, however it is being understood as such).

    being gay isnt all about sex and if you think so, you are sadly mistaken. Its also about finding that other half of yourself, that soulmate on the path to wherever it is we go, just the same as heterosexual, asexual, or transgender people.

    I think this is a beautiful statement, and honestly it makes me so happy to read that another Sikh thinks like this. If I may offer my opinion on the subject, I view it as the fact that we believe in the concept of ‘joth’ or light that resonates in each human creation. As the guru has told us Sabh meh joth, joth has soye. Tis de channan sabh meh channan hoye. This translates into something along the lines of The light, your light, is in each individual, and this resonates outward. This resonate light that is reflected in each individual is also existent and reflected in all of those around us. ** Within this concept is the importance of sangat and the Guru Panth, and the power and level of spirituality that can be tapped into because of these pieces of resonating light (in my interpretation, Waheguru) that come together in a room full of those individuals who seek it, and begin to feel that essence we call Waheguru.

    To bring this concept to point, I would relate this exactly to what HK said (highlighted above). Its about your soulmate, its about the fact that we are all told that these earthly identities we have are nothing but secular to us, its about equality without judgement or ridicule for what is in our comfort zone. There are many places in gurbani that we are guided to not rely on the concept of physical identity, and that this can lead to things like lust and ego. I believe that our gurus were very intentional in not including specifics in SGGS. I definitely agree with Camille in wondering how much of this argument is social or religious.

    In this light and reasoning, and the constant struggle to remind ourselves that we are empowered to recognize the light that radiates within us, and more importantly in those around us leads us into oppressive opinions. The fact of the matter is that heterosexuality as oppression does exist, similar to the dynamics of a patriarchal structure. The political manner which is being discussed is deeply rooted in the system of control, which for some females does not start with just a heterosexual power structure, but begins within a patriarchal power structure. This is highly problematic because not only are these individuals forced to deal with this system on their personal social level, but also combined within the sexual realm, one that is also overpowered with a similar level of power.

    The pressure that our current society places on these norms is ridiculous in my opinion, as it serves to be more destructive than productive.

    ** Translation is my own interpretation

    Bhul chuk mhaf =)

  41. sonny says:

    thanks for this post, i agree with you fully. the problem we have to confront is that heterosexism and homophobia are so ingrained in our cultures (punjabi/desi/AND US-american) and thinking of homosexuality as wrong and immoral is actually the norm– look at the agenda of those who have been running this country for the last many many years. and of course people are quick to use religion and god as a way to justify the oppression of queer people. i would love to see queer and queer-positive sikhs coming together to affirm queerness in the sikh community and make it clear that the gurus would have frowned upon bigotry of any kind.

  42. sonny says:

    thanks for this post, i agree with you fully. the problem we have to confront is that heterosexism and homophobia are so ingrained in our cultures (punjabi/desi/AND US-american) and thinking of homosexuality as wrong and immoral is actually the norm– look at the agenda of those who have been running this country for the last many many years. and of course people are quick to use religion and god as a way to justify the oppression of queer people. i would love to see queer and queer-positive sikhs coming together to affirm queerness in the sikh community and make it clear that the gurus would have frowned upon bigotry of any kind.

  43. Kaur says:

    course people are quick to use religion and god as a way to justify the oppression of queer people.

    I definitely agree with this statement, thank you Sonny. I think you hit on the very core of what is the difference between faith and religion, in my opinion of course. Oppression by definition is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. There is a fundamental difference in expressing your own opinion and restricting someone else's free will, agency, and right to 'happiness'. This may not fit into opinions we individually hold as morales, but this does not give us the right to decide some one else's agency or way of life; this includes anything from freedom of faith and belief to sexual orientation.

  44. Kaur says:

    course people are quick to use religion and god as a way to justify the oppression of queer people.

    I definitely agree with this statement, thank you Sonny. I think you hit on the very core of what is the difference between faith and religion, in my opinion of course. Oppression by definition is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. There is a fundamental difference in expressing your own opinion and restricting someone else’s free will, agency, and right to ‘happiness’. This may not fit into opinions we individually hold as morales, but this does not give us the right to decide some one else’s agency or way of life; this includes anything from freedom of faith and belief to sexual orientation.

  45. […] this week I blogged about how Queer/LGBT Sikhs have been (shamefully) excluded from the Sikh community by religious leaders. Today, I was sent the following blog post and BBC […]

  46. […] coverage: Towards a Queer ethos, A “Sensible” Religious Response to LGBTIQ […]