Christian de la Huerta is a man with a vision. Cuban-born, and displaced by Castro’s revolution, he achieved in the U.S. all the trappings of success –the hot lover, high-paying job, fabulous condo, sports car, Armani suits. Abruptly one day, feeling the emptiness of his life, and responding to an inner call, he walked away from all of it and began his spiritual quest.
In the course of his journey, he founded Q-Spirit (www.qspirit.org) an international network of gays and lesbians involved in spiritual life. Q-Spirit sponsors discussions and workshops whose purpose is to empower participants to “come out spiritually.” It also sponsors “techno-rituals”–drug free celebrations involving dance, music, live performance, ritual, chanting, introspection and interaction. These celebrations have been described as “circuit parties for the soul.”
In his book, Coming Out Spiritually, Christian shares some of what he has learned about queer spirituality. He believes that queer people have unique spiritual gifts to offer the world, and he describes these gifts as ten spiritual roles or archetypes which we have traditionally fulfilled:
Catalytic transformers. We are acutely sensitive to what needs changing in our society. We participate, disproportionately to our needs, in movements for change.
Outsiders: Mirrors of Society. As the ones who break the boundaries, we force the world to look at the things it doesn’t wish to deal with.
Consciousness scouts: Going First and Taking Risks. In both trivial and profound ways we function as scouts. We go ahead, we blaze the trails. It is we who are the trendsetters in music, fashion, and the arts. And spiritually, in our role as shamans, we are the ones who traditionally discover, develop, and manage, the frontiers between the seen and the unseen.
Sacred clowns and eternal youth. As James Broughton put it, “We are the Peter Pans of the world, the irrepressible ones who believe in magic, folly, and romance….That’s part of what being gay signifies: innocence of spirit, a perennial youthfulness of soul.” We are the puer eternus, the divine, radiant, eternal youth; and the trickster, the spirit of humor, surprise, and playfulness.
Keepers of Beauty. If all of us stayed home for a week, the cultural life of our society would come to a grinding halt. Everywhere we are in the business of making beauty – in music, art, and theater; in interior and graphic design; in fashion, hair style, and make-up. Perhaps being different keeps us in that fluid state which is necessary to create art and beauty.
Caregivers. Gay people seem to have vast reservoirs of compassion and empathy, which makes us naturals at healing and nurturing. We excel as counselors, nurses, physicians, massage therapist, flight attendants, personal trainers, food servers, teachers, and, parents.
Mediators: the In-Between People. In many cultures, we are seen as “the in-between people”, because we seem to embody characteristics of both genders. We have been valued as mediators between the sexes, and also between the material and the spiritual worlds. In some Native American tribes, for instance, the berdache, or Two Spirit People, as we were called, were considered go-betweens, who could mediate between the world of flesh and the world of spirit because we embody opposites in our own beings.
Shamans and Priests: Sacred Functionaries. Throughout history, in many cultures, gay people have assumed honored roles of spiritual leadership. Christian documents this fact with examples from Africa, Mesopotamia, ancient Greece and Rome, Chjina, India, ancient Russia, from Celtic and Polynesian people, and from Native American customs.
The Divine Androgyne. Many writers on spiritual life, from Edward Carpenter to Carl Jung, have suggested that the archetype of the Divine Androgyne, who rises above sex-role polarization by uniting masculine and feminine characteristics, is a goal of spiritual evolution. We are trailblazers in manifesting this archetype.
Gatekeepers. Among the Dagar tribe in Africa, gays are believed to have a higher “vibration,” which allows us to contact the higher spiritual realms. Our purpose on earth, they believe, is to keep the gates open to the Otherworld. One Dagara who came to the West to disseminate the wisdom of his people has written that, because Western gay people have been cut off from their true spiritual purpose, our society is suffering from imbalance and dysfunction, and that it cannot heal unless we fulfill our spiritual destiny.
Christian believes we have liberated our bodies; and that now it’s time for us to liberate our souls. “The time has come for us to reclaim our heritage,” he writes, “both for ourselves and for the sake of the world at large. The world, though it may not know it desperately needs us to step back into our traditional roles. Torn by strife, violence, and ecological destruction, the world needs our mediating, transforming gifts now more than ever… I see a queer community awakening to our potential to transform the world.” Can there be a more inspiring or ennobling vision of our purpose?