Queer Spiritual Spaces
How does being LGBTQI affect a Buddhist's practice? What are the implications of practising Buddhism for LGBTQI people? What is the standing of LGBTQI Buddhist practitioners within their Buddhist communities, and of LGBTQI Buddhists within wider LGBTQI communities? How does practising Buddhism affect someone's take-up of Buddhist and/or LGBTQI spaces/identity positions? And how does the Buddhist teaching of the lack of a fixed, permanent self along with wider social attitudes affect LGBTQI people's take-up of particular identity positions, as LGBTQI, someone of a particular gender, a Buddhist, all, some or none of these? These are the questions explored by this part of the project through in-depth interviews and focus groups with Buddhists in London.
So far one focus group of women who identify as LGBTQI practising as part of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order's (FWBO's) centre in East London has met twice to discuss these questions. Several people have also been interviewed mainly from the FWBO and Soka Gakkai International – UK (SGI-UK). Another focus group for LGTBQI men in SGI – UK will be meeting twice. It is also intended to do further interviews – hopefully mainly with women from SGI-UK who identify as LGBTQI, and with LGBTQI people from other Buddhist traditions other than the FWBO.
According to the 2001 Census, London is home to 38% of the Buddhists in the UK and many Buddhist groups are represented there. It is also home to a large section of the LGBTQI communities. London is therefore an interesting area in which to study the questions this study is engaged with. It is hoped that this part of the study will not just highlight the perspectives of LGBTQI people in large movements in the UK such as the FWBO, SGI-UK, New Kadampa Tradition but also give voice to the wide range of Buddhist traditions within the UK as well as to solo practitioners.
If you are someone who identifies with a minority gender identity and/or sexuality, practice Buddhism in London (but not as part of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) and are interested in this project, we would like to hear from you. You may be a solo practitioner or practise in a tradition that may be Diasporic (commonly known as 'Asian Buddhist' or 'ethnic Buddhist communities') convert, monastic or lay, whatever your affiliation you are welcome to get involved.
Your first step would then be to get in touch with us via the Contact page. We will then send you an information sheet about the project and a consent form to fill in. You will be free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason.
If you take part you will be asked questions about your spiritual and sexual/gender identities and experiences through an in-depth individual interview with one of us. Anything you say will be kept confidential and you will not be identified in any publications resulting from this study (unless you want to be).