A collection of teachings from, profiles on, and conversations with LGBTQ folks in Buddhism. Featuring Larry Yang, Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Steve Silberman, George Takei, Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Finn Enke, Ellen Krug, Issan Dorsey, Lama Rod Owens, Jeff Wilson, Justin Simien, Caroline Contillo, Koshin Paley Ellison, Robert Chodo Campbell, Pablo Das, Ray Buckner, and more.
While many religions enact rules about sexual behavior, Buddhism simply says lay practitioners should not harm others through sexuality. Therefore, Buddhist attitudes toward LGBTQ people are often a reflection of culture rather than Buddhist philosophy. Specifically in the West, Buddhism is generally socially liberal and welcoming to LGBTQ members. There are prominent queer teachers, and most major communities host events, meditations, and retreats specifically for LGBTQ practitioners.
On LionsRoar.com you’ll find teachings, articles, and resources for and by LGBTQ Buddhists. Whether you’re part of the LGBTQ community or not, we hope you find inspiration, peace, and wisdom in the resources below that highlight the richly influential lives of these folks.
Peter Sweasey on sexual identity as help and hindrance on the path towards spiritual discovery.
Queer Eye, Right View
After the US legalized same-sex marriage, Minal Hajratwala contemplated the ongoing, unresolved suffering of others in the LGBTQ+ community.
Revisiting the Traditional Buddhist views on Sex and Sexuality
José Cabezón challenges people to critically examine traditional Buddhist views of sexuality.
Buddhism and Sexuality: It’s Complicated
Jeff Wilson reviews José Cabezón’s Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (2017).
You and Me: It’s all One Thing
James Ishmael Ford says an old Zen story can help us overcome any confusion about another person’s gender, sexuality, or identity.
Pablo Das is dubious about Buddhist refuge in the Trump era
Gay Buddhist teacher Pablo Das responds to Trump’s election, stating that Buddhists should stand with the most vulnerable in society.
The Fleeting Feeling of Joy
Reflecting on Orlando, Ray Buckner says — even in the darkest times — there is joy and freedom amidst suffering and repression.
See Us Clearly: A Buddhist’s View of Transgender Visibility
What it means to be Buddhist, genderqueer, and trans — and why they all fit together like “a miracle.”
The Dalai Lama’s View on Sexuality, “According to Buddhist Tradition”
In a 1998 commentary, Steve Peskind (1951-2004) reflects on a 1997 meeting he had with the Dalai Lama and seven gay and lesbian leaders in San Francisco regarding the definition of sexual misconduct in Buddhism.
How Far We’ve Come
George Takei reflects on his life as a gay man, an activist, and a Buddhist.
Coming Home: Getting to Ellen
Ellie Krug writes about her transition story and the teacher who helped her find the courage she needed.
Happily Ever After
Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes, recalls marrying his husband in the midst of an American culture war.
The Narrow Way
An excerpt from Chris Lemig’s memoir of coming out, getting clean, and finding Buddha.
My Original Face
Caroline Contillo asks what it means to be gay.
My Body, My Life
Lama Rod Owens reflects on mindfulness and living as a black queer man.
Where I Make Sense
Finn Enke, professor of gender and women’s studies, chronicles their lifelong journey with identity.
Even a Broken Heart is Fundamentally Good
The struggle of breaking up and letting go, and how the dharma can help.
The Lone Mountain Path: The Example of Issan Dorsey
Kobai Scott Whitney profiles Issan Dorsey, a drag-queen-turned-Zen-abbot.
Love and Justice: the Radical Dharma of Rev. angel Kyodo williams
John Demont profiles Rev. angel Kyodo williams, ordained Zen priest and co-author of Radical Dharma.
Where Everyone Can Thrive
Lindsay Kyte profiles the East Bay Meditation Society in Oakland, California — a leader in inclusivity.
“Dear White People” creator Justin Simien talks Buddhism, empathizing with haters
Justin Simien talks with Sam Littlefair about his identity, his new Netflix series, and his Nichiren Buddhist practice.
Meet a Teacher: Larry Yang
Larry Yang answers questions to help readers better get to know him.
How does Buddhism view LGBTQ people?
A reader asks Lion’s Roar staff how Buddhism views queer folks.
Does My Transgender Identity Conflict with No-self?
Buddhadharma’s Ask The Teachers answer a question from a transgender practitioner.
Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail on trauma, sexuality, and Buddhism
Buddy Nielsen talks with Rod Meade Sperry about Buddhism, trauma, and the sexuality spectrum.
We’re All Different: Musician Glenn Copeland on his journey as a Black, Buddhist, Transgender Artist
John Harvey Negru talks to Glenn Copeland about his life as a pioneering musician and his forty-four years of Buddhist practice.
Our Moment of Possibility and Joy
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara shares three teachings that have given her solace and strength as she asks: “Who am I, really?”
Do you know your true face?
Lama Rod Owens says we all must look honestly at each aspect of who we are.
Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel on recognizing that race, sexuality, gender, and class shape how others see and treat her.