[Square & Compasses]    

Letter of the month: July 2006

From: A Troubled Brother
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 00:29:42 EDT
Subject: Masonry Question
To: masonry-ask@mit.edu

I have a question that has been bothering me for quite some time now. I am 21 years old and I joined Freemasonry when I was 18 and became actively involved in all aspects. A year after I joined, I was asked to be Junior Warden of my lodge. Two years passed and I was elected to be Worshipful Master and I am currently in that role now.

I have such a passion for Masonry. It has made me a better person and I am well respected by many around me for my dedication to people, the lodge, and the fraternity at large. I have a lot of the ritual memorized and work parts in all of the degrees.

I was so drawn to Masonry because of what it teaches... Acceptance... Brotherly Love...

"By the exercise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family. The high and low, the rich and poor, who as created by one Almighty parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other."

How could anyone not be drawn to something that has teachings of that nature?

Here is my problem...I am gay. I know how certain people feel about homosexuals and it hurts me to know that many of these people I refer to are brothers.

I live in constant fear that I will be rejected for being gay...That no matter how passionate I am about what I do, that will be overlooked by the one thing that many people feel is a sin. We can argue and debate the Bible all day and believe me, no one is perfect but I just can't help but wonder if these people who I call my friends would still be my friends if they knew I was gay.

I guess my question to you is, is there anything in Masonic history that states that being gay is unacceptable for a Freemason? I don't think there is but I would like to know.

I just don't know how to handle my situation and a little advice from a caring brother would certainly help. I have always felt that I could talk to a brother above anyone else but I feel that on this subject, the situation is different.

I just don't want to live a lie. I would rather be hated for who I am than to be loved for who I am not.

A close relative of mine is very high up in the fraternity and will be running for Grand Master in a few years. I fear that he will think less of me and will not see me as conforming to the principles of the fraternity. I also don't want to do anything to jeopardize his chances of fulfilling his dream.

Your input would be greatly appreciated and any information/advice you would like to give will be taken seriously.

Thank you for your time.


"Lost and Confused"

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 14:09:23 -0400
From: A Page About Freemasonry <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: Re: Masonry Question

Dear Brother,

I can't tell you how troubled I am that gay men such as yourself have to worry about their place in Masonry. You can be assured definitively that there is *no* restriction or rejection of homosexuality in the Landmarks or written into the constitutions of any Grand Lodge I know about.

And yet, as you well understand, there are many Masons (just as there are many people in general) who immediately and instinctively equate homosexuality with immorality and wickedness, and then find a hook in their religion or elsewhere to justify themselves and to hang their feelings upon. To people like that, all of the teachings in Masonry about morality are (in their minds) a direct and unmistakeable condemnation of homosexuality.

You can't argue with people like that, as I'm sure you've learned. In fact, when I post this letter at my website (without your address) I can expect to get a pile of critical letters, all very carefully explaining why the writer is absolutely certain of God's opinion on the matter, and exactly what God wants the writer to tell me to correct my thinking. (It must be nice to be so completely sure about the mind of The Great Architect of the Universe.)

Your case is quite troubling to me because, while most of the questions I get about this are from people who might want to join, you have already joined, and given great service to your lodge and the Craft. Serving as the Master of your lodge is a tremendous amount of work. In accepting the position, you took a great responsibility for the care and welfare of your brothers. I would hate to think that your brothers, the same ones who knew your character well enough to put the governance and future of the lodge in your hands, that those same brothers would condemn and reject you over your sexuality.

The issue of your relative's position in the grand lodge puts another weight on you. It shouldn't, but it does. You shouldn't have to hide who you are from your lodge brothers, and no one should be voting for grand master based on that, but you're probably right in thinking that some people would.

I can't tell you whether or not you should "come out". I guess that's a personal decision that you'd have to make for yourself. But you can ask, "Suppose I don't come out now, and wait two years until after the election: will that be better or worse for me, or for my relative, or for the lodge, if people find out *after* the election? Suppose I do come out now, and the whole thing blows over in a few months, and has no effect at all on the election fro GM? Or if it starts a swirl of trouble that hurts my relatives chances of running for GM?" You can't predict these things, but you can try to think about the alternatives, and how you feel about each.

Do you have anyone there you can talk with about these issues? Any close friend or family member at all? A significant other? The one thing I can say for certain is that you shouldn't have to face these issues alone.

Something else to think about: Is Masonry ever going to be more openly accepting of gays? Or will it be just as hard for someone in your position 20 years from now, or 100 years from now? If it's going to change, then how will it change? Who will push for the change? Is there anyone else in a better position than you to try to do something about it? Some confused would-be candidate somewhere, or some new initiate, has the same questions and troubles that you have. Is there anything you want to do for him? I'm sure that after reading your letter and this reply, a number of gay Masons or would-be Masons would like to be in touch with you. I'm not going to include your email address in the web posting, so maybe you can think about ways for others to contact you.

I guess that's more than enough for you to think about. I hope you'll stay in touch.

-- Gary L. Dryfoos
A Page About Freemasonry
now at http://MasonryPage.org/

Another reply to this letter

I heard from this brother again two years later, with very good news.

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