|The Monastic Disciplinary Code says pandakas (transsexual or transgender, often gay, individuals) may NOT fully ordain but might be novices as a school interprets its Vinaya.|
|Gays are found worldwide but are rarely "out"|
|Just friends, Burma* (JLH)|
But that acceptance does not extend to official full monastic ordination. Many gays certainly seem to be "monks" (bhikkhus), but they are actually novices (samaneras or "trainees," "probationers," "new recruits").
- PHOTO: *Just friends? A curious thing about Asia, which many closeted gays must find comforting, is that males hold hands and touch one another the way females do in Western society, and no one thinks of it as "gay" or odd or at all sexual. The two novices or monks shown here at Burma's Shwedagon Pagoda may hold on to one another, and no one in that society would think this was indicative of homosexuality or even an effeminate thing. But as Western tourists we can hardly think it indicates anything else. Females in Asia are not as demonstrably touchy-feely as in the West, but there is some innocent sisterly affection.
Genrally, ALL Thai males (gay or not) are expected to ordain temporarily in the capacity of a samanera (female samaneri) for at least a week. [Everything said of gay males here would equally apply to females seeking FULL ordination (whether heteroflexible, bisexual, ambisexual, pansexual, lesbian, or experimental), which is distinct from the Ten Precept status (Thai Mae Chee) most females were traditionally restricted to in Theravada countries. Female can now be fully ordained thanks to newer generations of nuns who successfully reinstituted the tradition.]
|Gender is socially constructed yet very real|
- Buddhism and Sexual Orientation
- What the Buddha Never Taught: A "Behind the Robes" Account of Life in a Thai Forest Monastery (20th Anniversary Edition) is a funny and enlightening behind-the-scenes account of life in a Thai forest monastery by Tim Ward.
- What the Buddha Never Taught is a wonderful true-life story by a journalist who wanted to see what it was like to live at Wat Pah Nanachat, the International Forest Monastery open to Westerners in Northeast Thailand. We visited it, asked around, and found it to be just as Ward described even years later. He did not find a nest of homosexuality, but some novices are gay and forced to temporarily ordain as if they were Catholic boys in Rome. Ward tries to explain Thai culture, which as Westerners we are forced to think is so sexual and "anything goes." But apart from the Bangkok Red Light District strip clubs (like Pat Pong) and misleading massage parlors (which actually do massage and are not fronts for prostitution since prostitution can be found everywhere else).
The most famous is the comedic British monk in Australia, Ajahn Brahm. Others include Jack Kornfield (author of Living Buddhist Masters, who brought attention to Ajahn Chah and other Buddhist saints in the jungles of South and Southeast Asia to the West, reissued as Living Dharma: Teachings of Twelve Buddhist Masters), Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Ajahn Sumedho and other former abbots of WPN, and so on.
|What leaders do -- be it Obama, Netanyahu, or the Pope -- followers will follow, regardless of the motives of the leaders doing it. Hugs are homeplate, and exemplars are on first base.|
|Thai New Year (arztsamui)|
|What's the big deal? - It is a big deal! (TM)|
- [*NOTE: This is not to suggest that homosexuality leads one to molest boys, but only to say an almost equally controversial thing: All males who molest boys are engaging in homosexuality, even if one maintains that they are straight or doing it for nonsexual reasons. A terrible thing that happens with molestation, incest, and sexual abuse is that no one talks about it, creating a perfect environment for it to fester and perpetuate itself. Let gays be gays and bis be bis, but let's never let children be molested or victimized because we have too many hang ups to deal with the stark reality of our own issues.]
|Good thing this is only for a week (D_C)|