In January of 2009, Oprah Winfrey devoted an hour of her daytime talk show to exploring spirituality. … The episode featured a panel of spiritual teachers, including Rev.d Ed Bacon, a rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.
During the broadcast, the panel answered questions from audience members and those video-conferencing from home. One of those home callers, a 33-year-old gay man from Atlanta named Sedrick, explained how growing up in a Christian home in rural Alabama caused him to see his sexuality as a hindrance in developing a fulfilling spiritual life.
In response, Rev. Bacon said simply and lovingly, “Being gay is a gift from God.”
A Divine Right
To put it mildly, Sedrick was taken aback, as if he was hearing a Divine revelation, and, indeed he was. Oprah, herself, reacted with a look of surprise and astonishment at the reverend's declaration. “Well, you are the first minister I've ever heard say being gay is a gift from God, I can tell you that,” Winfrey said, but her shock was delight, not disgust.
Another panelist, Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, then chimed in [with] his response.
“We're not talking religion,” Beckwith explained, “We're talking spirituality. People don't just happen to be gay. When people are born, they have that type of orientation, so he (Sedrick) is gay by Divine right.”
Both Bacon and Beckwith got much flack from Oprah's online community, as hundreds of negative comments were posted on her show's website.
… How did we get to a place today where Sedrick and countless other gay people have failed to recognize themselves as holy (whole-y) men and women … failed to embrace their roles as Way Showers? How did we lose touch with our giftedness, and, more important, how can we reconnect with it?
Gift of the Rainbow
… I remember that for my 12th birthday my grandmother crocheted me a winter hat and matching scarf and gloves. She used a multitude of colored yarns, as she couldn't remember the color of my winter coat and wanted to make sure that her creation would go with everything.
Though I politely thanked her upon receiving the gift, I knew that I would never wear it. As a young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, I feared that wearing the multicolored hat, scarf and gloves would make me look “gay” in front of my peers, so her gift sat unused on a shelf in my closet, because I was too ashamed to wear it in public.
Looking at [that time] now with adult eyes–and with Grandma long gone from this earthly plane–I now see how foolish I was to reject her gift.
… Oh, if I could only have that rainbow hat, scarf and gloves back today, they would be my most cherished gifts. I'd wear them with pride, happy if they made me look “gay” for the rainbow is now the symbol of gay pride.
... Though I and the gay community have come a long way since I was 12, there are still many gay people today who initially reject the gift they've been given. They reject the Gift of Gay, much as I rejected the gift from Grandma.
… Our nature as gay people is not a curse, but a Divine blessing! It doesn't make us “better” or “more special” than others, but it places us at an advantage in terms of spiritual growth, and it urges us to use that advantage to teach others what we know.
… What a shame it would be to waste that gift by not allowing it to reach its full potential. When we practice our G.I.F.T.edness—Gratitude, Inspiration, Forgiveness and Trust—we not only begin to grow in our own awareness of ourselves as Divine Light, but we can then shine it on the world.