It can be difficult to navigate a culture or religion that is closed-minded about sexuality, whether it’s due to homophobic rhetoric to fear mongering about the consequences. If you find your sexual interests outside of what’s permitted in your culture this can be isolating and extremely difficult, but there are ways to explore your sexuality that are both safe and positive.
Before we dive in, consider this. This topic can be a heated one as every person’s experience and situation is different. Any advice given below should be considered within the context of the situation you face. So if some of the advice doesn’t necessarily apply, that’s ok.
Because many cultures and religions have conservative views on sex and relationships, people within these situations may feel constrained. On the extreme end of things, others who want to lead a completely alternative dating lifestyle may feel like they are living a lie. If you are in this type of situation, know that you are not alone and know that there are ways to explore your sexuality without feeling guilty about it.
Find your people
It would be naive for any religion, faith or culture to assume that every one of their followers has the same sexuality. It would also be naive for any culture to assume that they can control or stigmatize alternative ways of dating. In reality, in any faith, there are more people like you out there. You just need to find them.
Not long ago, it was rare to find out-and-proud gay Christians. Today, there are ministers who are open about their sexuality, and the Christian dating scene has changed—there are now even Christian dating apps and sites, and even sites for gay Christians. Though the current circumstances are far from perfect, enough practicing Christians have come out and fought to be acknowledged and as a result, a greater number of Christians are less likely to discriminate against the homosexual members of their faith.
The same goes for the Muslim and Jewish faiths. Like Christianity, there is stigma around anything that isn’t heteronormative. And also like the Christian dating scene, this intolerant attitude often stops people from talking about and exploring their real sexual selves. Our word of advice is to find a community of people within your faith that are on the same page. It may seem at first that you are the only one, but trust us, there are more people trying to explore their sexuality within their faith than you expect.
Look for online resources
The best part about the Internet is that it offers the most inspiring resources. From the It Gets Better campaigns to this Queer Muslim art project, there are resources out there to help all religious individuals who identify within the LGBT spectrum. Find resources that connect you with people who face similar problems. The more you look, the more you will find that there are other people in your faith that feel the same way you do. Reach out to them and see how they navigate things. Being a part of a community that faces the same barrier and just knowing you are not alone makes a world of difference.
Photo credit: Curioso/Shutterstock