I was asked what is Taoism’s view on homosexuality was today.
My initial personal reaction to this question is:
It doesn’t matter what Taoism or any other religion says about same-sex behavior. Religion doesn’t stop people from being people. People will always contain in their nature: all the Yin Yang aspects of humanity itself. Some people will embrace with acceptance same-sex activity as being natural. Others will find same-sex activity to be a threat to their ego, their sense of self, and hence attack the behavior.
Some people will embrace a religion just to support their personal views and justify their feelings as right or wrong. Taoism steps away from this and reminds us we are human first. That in being human, we will have this wide range of nature to accept. Same sex relationships are not a religious issue no matter what anyone says; sexual preferences are an interpersonal topic. People are always people for both good and bad. Learn to understand people, not religion, to help find peaceful answers to such questions.
Taoism is a practice of acceptance. People make a mistake to think that since Taoism is a religion of acceptance, which Taoism must declare a universal standard of acceptance. Taoism cannot declare such a single answer, since acceptance is a personal journey for each seeker to resolve, in their terms for finding wholeness.
Questions such as acceptance of homosexuality are rooted in ego in scope. Ego-based questions cannot be answered from a universal perspective: despite ego’s insistence that it’s universal in nature. So in the end, “ego” based questions must be answered by each person. Giving any single general answer would always create interpersonal conflict. To a Taoist this problem is easily avoided by leaving the question unanswered from a larger perspective. To recognize this question is personal in scope for each individual to balance in their life.
Taoist practice teaches a person to embrace ego lightly. So while Taoism doesn’t answer the question directly, Taoist practice resolves the “homosexuality & religion” conflict.
Not every question should have an answer.
When this answer bothers a person, then it’s a sign that their ego is working with issues that are personally hard to find acceptance. Such feelings indicate a personal internal conflict deeper than this question itself. In fact, this is often why a person seeks a universal answer to this question: as a means to end a more profound personal conflict. Move the issue outside of the internal realm to find final absolution or solutions outside of their nature.
A Historical Taoist Perspective
If Taoism is a practice of acceptance, this means that one’s sexual preferences are their own. It’s fine to be who you are. No one has the “right” to tell you how you should be. So in this sense, Taoism ignores the question of same-sex relationships and leaves it to each person to decide for themselves. Generally speaking, Taoism promotes healthy sexual relationships between partners since sex is part of human life. Taoism also encourages a person to balance all their energies, including sexual energy. This does leave much open to personal interpretation.
Historically, some Taoist practices frowned upon any sex since it reduced one’s vitality and distracted a person from immortal development. Other Taoist schools believe in ample sex to better exchange energy.
As a result, you will find all sorts of answers when reviewing older texts or ask Taoists from various schools of thought.
Some Taoist sects would be upset over same-sex activities. However, they would claim so not because it’s sex between same-sex partners, but rather they consider sex in general as a distraction. Also, some Taoist sects could consider such a balance to be going outside a traditional Yin Yang (male/female) balance.
So the actual answer again ends up depending on who you ask. Hence, it is an issue outside religion.
My final answer would be this:
You are what you are…
Homosexuality or any sexual orientation doesn’t enter this statement at all on purpose. Because you are human, you define yourself, not others. Don’t beat yourself senseless over what your desires are or your nature. To do so limits your nature and prevents you from becoming enlightened. Learn to release desire and work towards acceptance of your nature and the larger universe as a whole. So a person is what they are no matter what sexual orientation they are naturally. If any sexual orientation is due to others forcing you to be that way, then it’s wrong, since it has been forced upon you.
The important point is to know attachment and desire can prevent a person from discovering their full nature and embracing their life story. No activity should distract you from exploring the potential of your life. So sex is fine but not at the cost of the sex preventing a person from living wholly.
However, “right” and balanced actions don’t always factor in real behavior. People do hurt each other for seemingly no good reason. So always tread carefully. Many people have pain regarding this issue. As a result, people will lash out due to their inner conflict by trying to resolve their inner nature. This personal question always needs to be answered with kindness and never by self-judgment.