Monday, March 2, 2015

Guest Article: Homosexuality & Freemasonry by Ye Grander Hugnot (pen name)

I've published this paper written by a brother; he has asked to remain anonymous. This paper is an excellent discussion and I'm glad to be publishing it.

I honestly cannot believe that I have to write about this. However, this topic came up on a Facebook group that I am a member of. Though the topic has since been deleted, I feel it is extremely important that we discuss the situation at hand. The question asked on the group page the thoughts and opinions of brethren regarding the petitioning of a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). Being a group of brethren I would assume the answer was an easy one, but I stand corrected. Evidently, there are some individuals who feel that having a Homosexual amongst our ranks is… wrong. So, let’s discuss this. I know I may make a few readers upset and that is fine. I am welcome to your constructive criticism. I will advise any negativity will be ignored. You and I have better things to do with our lives than to argue over the internet, friendly debates are always welcome.

So, lets set something straight. What the ‘L’ represents in LGBT is not welcome in our fraternity, with the exception of Mason lodges that recognize women. However, as a Free & Accepted, we do not recognize women in our lodges, nor shall we. Therefore, for the sake of mainstream American Masonry as lesbians are women they cannot petition. Same goes for Transgender individuals, lets be real here. If a man is petitioning but he wants to become a woman or is in the process of becoming a woman, he is not a man. Soon after petitioning, Joe Snuffy is now calling himself/herself Josephine Snuffy. Not to mention the idea of changing your gender means changing the plans on the Great Trestle Board of the Universe. Our job as Master Masons is to follow the trestle board according to plan not to revise it. We do that enough as it is with our mistakes in life, we aren't perfect.

That leaves us with the ‘G’ and ‘B’. This is where a lot of issues seem be rising. There is a lot of discussion about how we took an oath on the Bible and it is against God to be homosexual or bisexual. It is a question of morality to some brethren, saying these young men petitioning who are gay are immoral.

First thing is first, Since when does religion matter in the Blue Lodge? Have we forgotten the requirements of being a Master Mason? To be freeborn, of lawful age, to be of good report, highly recommended, and the belief of A Creator. It does not state anywhere in our requirements that you must believe in the God of Abraham. So, for anyone to bring Christianity into the debate, let me be frank. It is not homosexuality that is causing the division in our brotherhood, but it is you who argue for religion. We are a secular organization that requires the belief in a Creator. Leave your religion at home and accept a brother for being a brother; not because he believes in the same God as you. If you want to argue calling for the sinful nature of homosexuality, I will ask you if you have ever shaved, or worn mixed material clothing.

Next, if the man standing outside that door is of lawful age we have no reason to not accept him into our Craft. If he is of good report and recommended where is the problem? I know many men who claim to be God fearing and practice their unsaid faith who do not deserve to be Masons. On that token, I know many straight, gay and bisexual men who would be great contributors to our Craft. They are just, moral and align. Some of them actually live more upon the level than those we have already accepted into the Craft. So, morality is not an issue. There are good and bad men in this world regardless of their sexual orientation.

This next argument actually made me laugh hysterically. The man, who shall remain nameless, actually believes it is a scientific proven fact that homosexuality is a mental disorder. Wait. Hold on… I need to sip a little a coffee so I can spit it out and ask… WHAT?! This is by far the most ridiculous argument that I have ever seen in my life. I actually found links for this individual and posted them on the group so he could see how he was wrong. Let’s be clear, Homosexuality is not a disorder or disease. If that were the case, then being attracted to women who are blonde with blue eyes is a disorder. That’s only because the love of my life is brunette with hazel eyes. I’m thoroughly sorry but if you believe this to be a disorder, then you need to go back to the civil rights movement when it was considered a disorder to be in love with a man/woman of color. This is by far the most ignorant statement one man could make. Mental disorders are more something like: PTSD, ADHD, Autism, the list goes on and on. Sexual orientation is not on that list.

If we simply look beyond our own closed minds and see that a man deserves to be a Freemason based on the required criteria we cannot deny anyone regardless of their race, creed or sexual orientation. If you still feel that a homosexual should not be allowed to petition to a lodge or become a Mason based on your own thoughts of morality please let me show you that our Craft uses different tools outside of the VSL to measure morality. One of those tools is the level. It is not our place to judge a man who wants to become better, the man’s sexual preference is none of our business. That is between him and his God. Not yours, not mine, but his and how he relates to the Creator. The man’s politic’s, religion and sexuality is none of our business. Let us choose to elect a man or not for the good of the order.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.


Unknown said...

We had an openly gay Worshipful Master and no one batted an eye. Honestly, the only "issue" is that on the banquet circuit, some Masters have gifts for the brethren and a gift for their ladies, so that Master's partner got a lovely collection of flowers and and keychains.
But the writer DID skip a serious question some jurisdictions wrestle with is female to male transgendered individuals. My jurisdiction has "born a man" as a requirement so it makes it plain and dry, but for those jurisdiction that don't, its an honestly difficult question.

Jim said...

While I believe we, as Masons, should certainly hold to universal landmarks and standards, honestly, I think it all comes down to location, location, location.

How Masons interact in New York City compared to Masons in San Francisco compared to Masons in the Deep South, may vary greatly. And those differing values and viewpoints often span many "debatable" topics from race, to gender, to creed. And yet that is part of what makes Freemasonry both universal yet locally distinct. Does it make it "right"? No. But it certainly helps to explain the "why".

Togeika said...

Unknown: How is "born a man" phrased? If you want to be consistent, following the letter of the law, would mean someone "born a man" but changed to a woman, would be eligible. It might be better to go with the spirit of the law and recognize the person's legal gender.

KMH said...

Outstanding post Brother!

It's good to see this topic getting some discussion, certainly it will be a tough one, with plenty of vigorous discussion. I see KT as probably the biggest area where this could pose "problems". But hopefully as we continue to talk about this within the Craft we will see more acceptance.

Adrian said...

Being from across the Big Pond (The Netherlands)I am - to say the least - surpised by the thoughts of this one brother. How un-Masonic can you be? Judging another, who is only to be judged by himself.
We are more inclinded to regard the bible as 'a' book of truth, rather than 'the' book of truth, as a symbol (yes, how Masonic). Individual Brethren might have strong (religious) beliefs and disagree with modern society's customs, but they will not be allowed to express that in the Lodge. For it is also good practice that politics and religion will not be discussed while 'at work'.
For me it boils down to: be a brother and make yourself known as a Mason in the West (are you familiar with the expression...?).

Nick Settich said...

As a Freemason, I set my political and religious agenda outside the door of the Lodge.

Tolerance is not a buzz word in our Craft but one of the most important and binding tenants. "The opposite of tolerance is bigotry, prejudice, fanaticism, and small mindedness" (WB Herron).

Our Brothers who have a different sexual orientation were born that way and should be universally accepted by our Brethren.

Do we have issues with attitudes and practices that discriminate against another man? Yes. Whenever we find one we should work to practice "tolerance", and not a personal political or religious doctrine.

There are problems all over the world with the acceptance of the differences between us. Let us lead by our individual actions of Brotherly Love, Faith, Hope Charity and Tolerance.

There is a precedent for homosexuality in Freemasonry that so many seem to forget. Oscar Wilde was a writer and poet who was jailed for his sexual orientation; he was never reprimanded, suspended or expelled for being gay from his Lodge. At the time loving another person as the same gender as you was not only a crime but considered a mental illness. His Lodge did not see fit to persecute him for "who he is", and they way he was born. Nearly every Masonic Lodge who has a list of famous Freemasons proudly hang their hats on Oscar Wilde's is time to accept all men.

For the nay sayers who will read this post and say that being gay is a choice, and not just part of who you are as a person... I ask them the question "When did you decide to be straight?"

No big campaigns, no billboards...let's just accept our Brothers for who they are.

People will not always react well to change, for them:
"Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much." Oscar Wilde

Anonymous said...

Two primary points. First, with regards to Trans people, I think that you are missing out on some really wonderful men by simply saying that they aren't welcome. Granted, it might be difficult for some folks to handle should one of their brother's transition. However, it may not happen weeks after they are made a Mason. Add to that, FTM guys are awesome and there isn't a single one that I wouldn't recommend to the lodge should they show and interest in joining.

Second, you brought up the idea of homosexuality is not a mental disorder or disease. However, you didn't seem to follow this logic through. You mentioned PTSD and ADHD. We don't prevent brothers with these from joining. So, even if the brother who genuinely believed that it was a mental disorder could be correct (and at one point, it was accepted as such) how would this impact their ability to join and differently than brothers with PTSD or ADHD?

CSG said...

Everybody quit patting themselves on the back for being belonging to an organization that we claim is a bastion of tolerance. We admit G and B in, and we should. But spare the world the self-righteousness. We don’t admit convicted felons, even if they have served their time and are considered rehabilitated. We don’t admit women. We remain either willfully ignorant or supportive of a Prince Hall Grand Lodge system that exists for no other reason than to discriminate against or African-American brethren. (And spare us all with the comments about the illegitimacy of their charters or whatever nonsense you claim that “it’s not about race.”) LGBT, race, gender: the fact Brother Johnson had to even include this topic on his blog is more evidence that this Craft that we are so proud of lags behind society in so many ways, including the tolerance it claims to stand for. We are only as good as our Brothers. If Freemasons exclude based on intolerance, then Freemasonry excludes based on intolerance. The sum is not greater than the parts, Brothers.

The Franklin Free Paper said...

My Lodge is in Manhattan. Not only do we have gay members, we have panamoral individuals. We practice one of the principal teachings of the Craft. Tolerance for differences.

Unknown said...

I happen to know several Homosexual masons I in Texas that have been members of the craft for over 50 years. They were compelled to hide a portion of themselves for more than 50 years. I am proud to say that my lodge has initiated a few openly gaya brethren.

Unknown said...

I've know of a gay Freemason in my mother lodge before I was raised. We've always had gays in the Craft (Oscar Wilde) Where I may have a problem is when the gay spouse applies? In the same lodge?

Francis Dryden said...

I have been up and down this road many times and my first question is why is sexual orientation such a big deal with gays? I now live in Mexico and down here they refer to gays and to "putos" - the first being a normal person, the second being a "flamer". I really don't think that most gay people like "putos" and I know I don't personally.

Nobody asked me about my sexual preferences when I joined the craft because quite frankly it should be no one's business... but a lot of gay people think it is a big deal... why is that? Could they be "putos"?

There is a real grey area for me though and it is in our oath where it says we are to respect the chastity of a brother's wife, mother, sister and child (no gender in the latter because that covers off pedophilia)... I think this has to be looked at sooner or later and the wording I am not real sure of, but, I do hope Jurisprudence Committees should be looking into this somewhere and very seriously... I have first hand experience of men being expelled for indiscretions with a Brother's wife... and expelled world wide. Do we expel a gay Mason who "has an affair" with my brother (family) or my father? Touchy problems that must be discussed... should a gay Mason have rights that are a complete taboo to a straight Mason?... Absolutely not!

Freemasonry is NOT a service club and every one knows there are tons and tons of rules, landmarks, etc. and also that these have not been considered or changed for perhaps too long a period of time. Those who believe rules are made to be broken are uncivil... rules can be changed by a majority of the body that has the rules. I think that probably some gay members and some straight members should start that process out in a Grand Lodge somewhere and present a motion to amend constitutions to accommodate gays in the Craft and assist straights to better understand.

It will not happen overnight but very well could be started somewhere tomorrow... there are a growing number of Masons who should be extremely interested in this change to cover our times and the future.

Worthy...or...Worthless said...

I am a freemason. I am a full member of the York Rite bodies in my area. I am Christian in my beliefs.

There are several issues with handling sexual orientation in lodge.

First, you can not exclude someone based on Christian views and beliefs. Why? Because Freemasonry does not recognize any one religion over another. To be a Freemason you simply must state that you believe in a single, all-knowing, all-powerful, Creator. Freemasonry accepts men of all single Deity faiths (or should if they follow Masonic guidelines correctly). Unofficially this means that Freemasonry accepts Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist. Now, if you do some research you will find that all of the single Deity religions above are against homosexuality relationships, even Buddhist who say that the genitals are for the purpose of reproduction and any relations outside of the male/female is against plan.

Secondly, if you exclude or expel someone from Freemasonry based on moral turpitude then realize that homosexuality is not the only sexual morality issue. So if you are going to question someone's sexuality then you need to include ALL sexual morality issues in that questioning, and the penalties need to be the same. This would include premarital sex and adultery since all of the religions above consider these actions against their religious moral code, too.

Personally, I do not need to know about someone's sexual orientation or activities. I judge a man based on how he interacts and treats the general man not how he handles himself in the bedroom. Now, if a person starts to openly discuss his sexual activities in lodge, around lodge brothers, or openly identifies himself as a freemason in relation to any sexual orientation events then we have a problem. And I am not just talking about the gay issue. The same view should be held if a brother came to lodge bragging about bedding several women or cheating on his wife.

So what I am saying is this... Sexual activity either should be handled the same for all or not at all. Anything else would be non-Masonic.

Agnes said...

Nowadays homosexuality is normal! And I'd like that these people could say about their orientation without fear!!! Maybe smb can't accept it but if they read they'll be able to change their mind and view! Good luck!)

Webconomist said...

I think the issue of a female transitioning to male is simple...they were originally "born a man" but in the wrong body. So they're simply using the benefits of science to put things as they should've been at the start. I know several people transitioning and seems to me they were born in the wrong body.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm exploring becoming a mason in my local city in the UK. I have a lot to offer and after research I'm keen to join. I visited the lodge a few days ago and was honest with mason who showed me around and answered questions. I asked if me being an out gay man who had married his male partner of 21 years a month earlier would be a problem. He thinks not and would be shocked if it was. I'm no different to a straight man becoming a member. I want to be open and honest from the start as I don't wish to go back in the closet to become a mason. Having to filter references to my partner by not saying he or she. Not feeling able to invite my partner to events where partners are invited. It's 2016. I fought for the rights to be treated like straight people. Please don't discriminate against me.

Anonymous said...

U.K. Freemason. Would I be happy to accept a gay man into my lodge, of course. My only issue would be if his partner wanted to join also. I would personally be happier if he joined another lodge based in our building, if only to avoid any uncomfortable issues if they were to break up in the future and it cause disharmony in the lodge room, there'd be no reason why they couldn't visit each other's lodge frequently. Only my opinion, hope I don't upset anyone, this all goes to show how clever the founders of our craft were to exclude discussion of religion and politics in the lodge .

Unknown said...

Hi my name is Nialah and I understand because I'm transgender i couldn't be a freemason,I read Solomons wisdom. Where does that leave people like me whom still believe in the faith.
Please email me back, please no negative responses

Nobody said...

What the fuck

Unknown said...

I've been a MM for about 4 years. I've often thought privately about what it would mean to have a gay or bi man as a brother. While I don't have any issue with someone's sexual preferences, and am not aware of any current rules precluding a gay or bi male from becoming a brother, I do wonder:

1. if the obligation would need to change "in the spirit" of the oath.
2. how to address the trans issue (both ways)

For point 1, even before becoming a mason, I grew up understanding the problems surrounding dating a buddies ex. I think that's the foundation behind not messing with wives, daughters, mothers of brothers. While I've not seen it be a problem, it would seem as that messing with a brother's partner, son, father would cause the same kind of tension, yet it's not called out as specifically. Maybe it should be?

On point 2, masons are an acknowledged sexist organization. We imply that there are differences between men and women, and would prefer to do our work with men only. From a trans perspective, this would loosely mean that a woman to man transition should not affect that, however a man to woman trans would. I wouldn't fault a man from making that transition, but at the same time, the person transitioning seems to also acknowledge that there is a difference, and as such should not be confused when asked to leave the fraternity based on that choice. I might question why they became a mason in the first place if they prefer being a woman, but there are so many factors that I doubt any answer could be formed that would address them all.

As some have said, there is no defense needed for a decision at the ballot box. I would likely blackball a man -> woman trans, and likely not blackball a woman -> man, but it would depend greatly on how I saw that individual interacting with my lodge.

IF masons change the rules, it will be a long time before all those who would instantly blackball grow old.

GaymasonUK said...

In the UK at least, things are moving on, albeit to a mixed response:
Also, I’m setting up a new group:

Unknown said...

Well done my Brother. My husband and I joined to the craft on Feb 29, 2020.
This is year we ll celebrate our first Gay Pride with our Lodge the best we can under the circumstances of this Covid-19. Despite the fact, we always felt comfortable around the Bretheren and we are the only and first gay couple to join a lodge at the same time.
Thank you for validating what everybody else outside our circle forgot... our unity and respect for each other.

Unknown said...

Well done my Brother. My husband and I joined to the craft on Feb 29, 2020.
This is year we ll celebrate our first Gay Pride with our Lodge the best we can under the circumstances of this Covid-19. Despite the fact, we always felt comfortable around the Bretheren and we are the only and first gay couple to join a lodge at the same time.
Thank you for validating what everybody else outside our circle forgot... our unity and respect for each other.