Tibet tends to be a less homophobic country. I have a theory: everyone who has a gay propensity there becomes a monk. When youíre young and you realize that you have homosexual feelings, you take refuge in a monastery or nunnery, with other people of the same persuasion. This is a joy, like coming out; and a monastery is often a way to earn a living or stay alive in this world. As a result, you find few gay people in Tibetan society; theyíre all in a monastery.
Homosexuality in Tibetan monasteries is rampant. Almost every one of all the monasteries of all the four traditions, Gelug, Kagyu, Sakya, and Nyingma are totally gay, in heart, if not sexually active. ďIt is condoned,Ē said H.H. Druk Chen, smiling pointedly. I thought, this is wonderful, being a gay man. But I also think if you take monastic vows, you should abstain from sexual activity. Desire, straight or gay, is desire.
The monasteries are very very gay, but they donít think of themselves as gay. In 1971, when I was first being introduced to it all, I remember staying in a monastery in Sarnath, India. There were these beautiful young men, nineteen years old looking like they were fourteen, and with the emotional worldliness of a twelve-year-old, sleeping in each otherís arms, in a rapturous embrace. They tried to keep it hidden, but often Iíd come upon them. There were three monks and three beds in every room. They may not call it gay, but they were lovers. They loved each other, their hearts were open and their bodies were open. I really liked this vibe, a great deal of love from the heart center in a completely male world, so I really liked being with them all, as I studied and did practice.
Of course, then, there is the funny and sweet way they have sex, when they do. According to the monastic rules or vinya: it is really bad for there to be penetration and ejaculation. No tongue in the mouth, no rimming, no asshole fucking, no deep throat blow jobs and cumming in the mouth. Monks have these sex routines, like putting their dicks between each otherís legs, and cumming. And it is done very secretly.
This is a far cry from the great accomplishments of our Western sexuality: great bliss and clarity, fist fucking on LSD and crystal meth in the summer Olympics, going for the gold with full ignition, open and vast as the skyÖ
You said that if someone is within a monastery, they should be celibate. Are you saying if they are practitioners of Dzog ChenÖ
Simply that if you choose the monastic tradition, you should do it thoroughly, abstain from sex, and you will get amazing results; or if you choose the yogi path, youíll get equally amazing results. But I request of the Buddhas that there be a third path,
gay yogi. I mean that humbly and respectfully. Teachings and practice specifically for lesbian women and gay men, for their needs and working with their suffering, which might be ever so slightly subtly different from the monastic and heterosexual yogi traditions.
A heterosexual yogi can sometimes think not so well of lesbian and gay. He might think it is an obstacle. Heís an old fashioned straight guy. I propose that there be a third path that works directly with the specific needs of lesbian women and gay men, using their phenomena to more quickly become Enlightened; with teachings and practices adapted or the wisdom of fully realized beings.
Iím happy that some monks make it with each other, Iím happy they do it. And if they want to keep it secret, thatís OK. It is the
secret consort. Thatís what the wife or girlfriend of a heterosexual yogi is called
sang yum or secret female consort. I hope it is not blasphemous to say
sang yab for a gay male partner. Just to say the words
lesbian yogini must be terrifyingly horrible to ordinary straight Buddhists, a sacrilege! For Dzog Chen practitioners, thereís no discrimination, no bad and no good; everything is the display of wisdom and compassion.
I have never thought for a second about becoming a monk, even though Iím a gay man. Not once. Because I always have been interested in working with sexual energy, to become enlightened for the benefit of all sentient beings. Why take a vow against it? Anyway, meditation has nothing to do with sexual activity. Meditation is watching your mind, seeing clearly the thoughts as they arise and their empty nature, and resting in great equanimity.
-- John Giorno, interviewed by Winston Leyland in Queer Dharma: Voices of Gay Buddhists