(We wrote the following piece back in 1999 for a journal that, if memory serves, decided to pass on it.  We dug it up for a friend who was talking to us about the same-sex participants in erotic rituals.)

I knew something was terribly wrong in the bookstore when I flipped through a lavishly illustrated encyclopedia of sacred sexual secrets from around the world.  Instead of feeling intrigued, inspired, or even in-the-mood, I was infuriated.  The band Devo once sang "love without anger isn’t love at all,” but when I am feeling amorous the only agitation is in my genitals.  So there I was, in front of the bookstore coffeehouse patrons, trying to contain a Tantric tantrum.  Allow me to explain what was rubbing me the wrong way, so to speak.

The blossoming of "New Age” culture has made such age-old terms as "Tantra” and "Kundalini” common knowledge.  Even if one is no expert on those subjects, one generally knows they concern spiritual sexuality. These ancient sciences of lovemaking teach orgasmic enlightenment via aligning the body and mind to properly channel life force.  The market is overflowing with books and videos about sacred sex, but because most are oriented exclusively to heterosexuals, the subject can seem intimidating to non-heterosexuals.  I’m used to the fact that most sacred sex discussions ignore same-gender couples, but what truly upsets me is when the authors go out of their way to label homosexuality as an unnatural, dangerous, destructive, and even evil practice (as did the authors of the encyclopedia I mentioned earlier.  I don’t care to advertise their book, but I’ll give the title to anyone interested).  In my heart of hearts, I know that loving relationships between people of *any* gender are without question positive.  Negativity can derive only from shame, guilt, and stigma.

But I strive to be open-minded, and I wanted to determine once and for all whether sacred sexuality had any room for homosexuals, or whether we would automatically be expelled from the Tantric tradition as fast as Boy George fled the Hare Krishna movement.  (See his autobiography for all the lurid details.)  I suspected that the answer lay in one of 3 questions: Is the fundamental wisdom of Tantra flawed?  Are the authors who write about Tantra prejudiced?  Or am I simply defensive of my sexual orientation?

Let’s take the questions and my conclusions in reverse order.  Is the problem a personal one, rooted in my own defensiveness?  Having survived years of persecution in school for being "different,” I readily admit I can easily feel defensive of homosexuality.  But after a great deal of research on gender roles in Tantric sex, I can honestly say I’m not making a mountain out of a molehill.  There are explicit biases against same-sex partnerships almost everywhere you look in Tantric literature.  (No need to quote any distasteful examples here, as brave individuals can readily flip to the index of any Tantra book and look up "homosexuality” references.)  

That leads right to question two: are the writers of Tantric sex manuals unduly biased?  My conclusion is that they are, by an overwhelming majority, ignorant at best and prejudiced at worst.  Their fallacy is a simple one, however. They associate masculine and feminine qualities to gender.  In other words, they assume all men are masculine and all women are feminine.  It’s a common enough but deadly misconception.  Tantric sex revolves around the pairing of opposites.  In Tantric lovemaking, there is a giver and a receiver.  The feminine sexual energy makes a space and the masculine sexual energy fills that space.  But here is a newsflash—a person with any sort of genitals can be a giver of energy, a receiver, or both.  The terms "masculine” and "feminine” actually have nothing to do with manliness or womanliness.  The most macho guy in the world can exhibit feminine qualities when he is receptive to another’s love energy.  It’s not about being a "top” or "bottom,” butch or sissy, dominant or passive, but about how love vibes are shared.  Love energy can come from the genitals or the heart—it’s all the same.  So a same-sex couple can still participate in the cosmic play of opposites.  At any moment, one partner is giving and the other is receiving.  Forget the physical organs involved (that’s a stretch, but work with me!) because sacred sex transcends those trivial details.

I have essentially already answered the third question: Tantric wisdom is by no means fundamentally flawed.  It is simply misinterpreted by narrow-minded people.  I call them narrow-minded because they fail to perceive the broader picture.  They cannot see beyond genital combinations to the underlying dynamics involved.

"Mr. Baggins,” a columnist for The Journal of Possible Paradigms, says Tantric biases against same-sex couplings are "homophobic bullshit.”  He beautifully sums up how two men can share a sacred union: "If a man can become aware of the female half of his energetic being, make peace with it, and learn to use it, there is an absolute sanctity to the experience....  If the blending of their energies is clear and their hearts open, the new energetic space—the new reality—created by the union of two men is just as valid, just as ego-less and utterly unified, and just as sacred as the similar altered-reality state achieved during a conscious male-female union.”

The key to a genuine Tantric experience, for persons of any sexual orientation, is to free oneself of gender-definition limitations.  That is the true meaning of androgyny.  As Welsh Tantra expert Margo Anand explains, "Androgyny is a mystical concept—the idea that we are neither men nor women, although we manifest one body or the other in this lifetime.  We are both masculine and feminine, and the human system works best when both qualities are in balance.  That means that each of us is both active and receptive, emotional and intellectual, worldly and meditative.  If we do not experience both sides of this ‘dichotomy’... in our personalities and expression, it is because we are trained toward one or the other by our parents and our society.” 

It is through self-study and the gaining of personal experiences that one transcends parental and societal training to become his own man.  My studies and experiences of sacred sexuality have left me with little tolerance for homophobic bullshit.  There is a lot of valuable information on the market, but one has to look past the ignorant bias of the authors and "translate” talk of men and women into talk of masculine and feminine energies.  It’s more work than should be required of a reader, but the fruits will be worthwhile.  And one can always drop an e-mail to the publishing house—sometimes people just need a little constructive criticism to get a clue.