In most forms of Buddhism, we meditate to come home to our true selves and face whatever lies within our hearts. On a Metta retreat at Spirit Rock, I attended what was described as a “LGBTQ affinity” sitting group. When I arrived, I joined about 20 people of all ages, colors, sizes, and gender persuasions. The experience of meditating with the affinity group was both comforting and healing in a way I didn’t expect. I wasn’t aware of some old wounds I’d been carrying. Sitting with the group that week gave me an opportunity to get in touch with some deep hurts and let them go.
Upon returning home to the central coast and reflecting on the experience, I wondered if an affinity group like the one I attended at Spirit Rock might serve meditators at the White Heron Sangha. Upon investigation, I discovered a majority of meditation organizations in various traditions, and especially those in urban areas, offer sitting sessions geared to traditionally under-served populations like seniors, non-binary and LGBTQ, people of color, women, etc. Many centers offered affinity meditation opportunities specifically for those who identify with an alternative form of gender expression such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, asexual, intersex, transgender, etc.
You are warmly invited to join the WHS LGBTIQ+ Sitting Group
which meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 7:30-8:30 pm.
It appears that the Western Buddhist community is becoming more curious and inclusive over time with expanded access to quality writings about the mysteries of gender. A search of Buddhist publications online yields a large number of hits in valued periodicals like The Lion’s Roar, American Buddhist Perspectives, and Tricycle where stories are being shared, new terminology is explained, and diverse opinions expressed. A growing cadre of varied and respected dharma teachers who identify as LGBTQ or non-binary, such as Roshi Pat O’Hara, Larry Yang, Caitriona Reed, and Lama Rod Owens, have written articles that speak about their experiences.
After reading many articles written by LGBTQ practitioners, I noticed a theme that emerged of the desire to come home to the true self of who we really are. For some, it is becoming the gender that outwardly matches the inner self. For others, it means living and loving in a wholesome way that might not necessarily conform to religion or society’s gender rules. May we all be our authentic selves and live together in peace. If you are moved to do so, please join us at the LGBTQ Sitting Group!
Note: For more information on this topic, the Lion’s Roar website https://www.lionsroar.com/lgbtq-buddhism/ maintains a better-than-average list of online articles about non-binary and LGBTQ topics, including commentaries, personal stories, and interviews.