Disclaimer: Herein lies statements of subjective experience, opinions, and selfhood. The generalizations I make are from my personal experience; I am fully aware that your mileage may vary and that no experience or group of people is without flaw. :) This post is not the post I thought it would be, but I think it’s worth sharing anyways, howevermuch I waffled about posting it at all.
It Does Get Better; hell, sometimes, it starts good and goes from there.
I’m queer. I get mistaken for the opposite sex fairly often in person and online, I identify as genderfunky (genderqueer/genderfluid), and I’m pansexual. I have dated males, females, and a genderqueer person who shared my first name. I see gender as an immense, fluctuating, color-wheel-esque spectrum, not a line from girl to boy, and certainly not a binary of yes/no either/or. On any given day, I may be more masculine or more feminine, depending on the onlooker’s gender paradigm and my own shifting nature. Essentially, though, I am always checking the “Other” box when asked to describe myself, and I am very open and “out” about my non-normativity in daily life, including my corporate dayjob in Texas. (Kid you not: I walk into my nine-story office building every day in blue-jeans and a flannel, sporting a mohawk and a scorpion talisman, surrounded by suits and skirts. No one says a word.)
Given my identity and given the gender binary and heteronormativity of many mainstream types of paganism, what’s a queer cat to do?
Well, when I got into Wicca-flavored paganism, I was a teenager and did not identify as genderfunky yet. I identified as a strong young person who wanted to be proud of everything it was, including its sex and gender, and tell you what, Wicca supported me there. Wicca made pure and powerful both genders, both sexes, finding things for men and women to rejoice in and treasure, both in themselves and in those of the opposite sex. People who were not stereotypically girly or boyish still found deities they could jive with and a subculture that was beginning to explore the potential range of gender expressions.
By the time I claimed the label genderfunky, I was away from any particular brand of paganism and following only the goddess Sekhmet. My companions within sight of my winding path were of all sorts, but many or most of them were some kind of queer or queer-supportive, as well as being some kind of pagan. Now, I find myself at home in Kemetic Orthodoxy, where queerness is welcomed with open arms and even our gods show that it’s not all male/female all the time.
I know there are a slew of potential queer pagan issues out there, particularly in traditions/styles/groups that have a strong duality or sex-based roles. I myself just… don’t really run into them. My path is either eclectic and solitary, where I make my own rules and rituals and magic, or I’m participating in a group that doesn’t even bat an eye when I fall outside the typical gender pronouns. This is one of those cases where my matter-of-fact attitude about my honest self-expression feels like an immovable object: I just don’t have any problems with being queer in a pagan world. I am Queer Rock, hear me roll.
Amidst all the uncertainties and challenges surrounding life as queer, it’s kind of nice not to have to fret about how my gender, sexuality, and spirituality mesh. I know plenty of queer pagans have trouble getting all the ducks in a row, and I am nothing but grateful that I’ve somehow avoided most of the jagged rocks. Now, granted, there are plenty of issues with being queer in the secular world, but that’s politics, and I hate talking politics. I’d rather enjoy the fact that the path I walk feels custom-made for the soles of my feet and leave it at that.
To my fellow queer pagans who may feel there is not enough queerness in paganism: roll up your sleeves and dive in. If you can’t find old-school queer deities to suit you, see if there are any new-school ones willing to say hi – or look at those old deities in a new light. Tired of binary rituals for Sabbats and Esbats? Write new ones. Magic and paganism are very personal paths, and there’s nothing really stopping you from customizing it to fit you (short of inflexible rules of a particular tradition). If the Universe gave birth to the full range of human gender identity and sexuality, then we can certainly expand our spirituality to include this variety and diversity.
Being queer, in any crowd, is rarely easy. I’m immensely thankful that, of all the cats I could hang with, pagans are more accepting of my kind of folks than most. Props to all the wonderfully tolerant and supportive people out there, pagan or otherwise, queer or otherwise. You rock.
This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.