[PBP2013] Queer Spirituality

Young people in the pagan and polytheist communities don’t care about queer spirituality. I don’t say “anymore”, cos aside from myself, I don’t know if they ever did, and even when I was fifteen, I don’t really count myself as “young people”, cos my parents were both about forty when I was born (and having kids at that age is one of the most selfish things a person can do, if you ask me, but that’s another story for another time), which really distorted my sense of what “acting my age” should entail. Queer spirituality is, unfortunately, the realm of people who are breaching middle age (about thirty-five or so) and older. I’m not the only person recently to note this, recently PSVL made a considerable note of this in the Queer I Stand article, “It’s Hard to ‘Think of the Children'”, which is mainly about the reluctance of pagan parents to raise their own children as part of their own religion cos of an inability to tell the difference between a healthy religious upbringing and the abusive indoctrination one was reared with. It’s unfortunate that, even though young people are clearly interested in pagan and polytheist religions even (perhaps especially) queer youth, they aren’t interested in the rites of people like them.

Part of me wants to chalk this up to the lie of “just like everyone else” that’s sort of lousy all over the TS/TG community, and which clearly ruined GBL culture and sold it out to corporate America.

And this is where I make the distinction between “GBLT culture” and “queer culture”. The word “queer” will likely always carry etymological connotations of being “oblique”, “odd”, “strange” and “eccentric”. The male title character from Will & Grace may have been gay, but he wasn’t in any way queer. Most of the contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race are only just barely queer. While “queerness” is now clearly intricately entwined with sexuality and gender, it’s not a synonym for GBLT, and I will firmly hold this. Being Queer isn’t about being “just like everybody else, except for sexuality or gender history”, to be queer is to be against being “just like everybody else”, if only cos that’s not what works for you. Marx’s artisans and Paul Fussel’s X-class are where the queers reside –sure, we contribute to society, but we exist outside the expectations of grow up, settle down, get boring, have some kids…. Sure, some queers have kids —waste an afternoon watching reruns of Wife Swap and you’ll be sure you’ve seen GBLT-parented families just like some of the freak-flag-waving oddballs who’ve found their fifteen minutes in front of those cameras, just as sure as you’ve seen hets raising those families.

Which reminds me of one of the stupidest things I’ve seen on Tumblr recently: Some kid made this list of “X doesn’t mean Y” and one of them was “Straight doesn’t mean normal”. Actually, yeah, yeah it does, kiddo. Go watch the discussion with father and child over the word “bent” in the film Ma Vie en Rose and then tell me “straight” does not mean “normal”. Hell, go actually read up on the etymology of that term as a synonym for “heterosexual” and tell me it hasn’t always implied “normal, status quo”. Hell, some of the most painfully straightest people I’ve known have been GBLTs; they were so straight it kinda pained me to be around them. Log Cabin Republicans are straight. The characters on The L Word are straightened out for your titilation.

But as far as I’m concerned, if a GBLT person is a monotheist, they cannot possibly be Queer. I’ll accept Queer atheists )but probably not Atheists, as this “New Atheism” requires an inherently Christian mindset) or aspiritual people, but no, the monotheistic mindset is inherently incompatible with Queerness.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

3 thoughts on “[PBP2013] Queer Spirituality

  1. I have to admit, I’m not quite with you on this one. Being a queer, femme trans girl, I definitely get the whole thing about the whole essence of “queerness” not being represented or depicted with the larger “LGBT Community.” However, I think it’s going a bit to far to claim that one aspect of someone that could be grouped into “normalcy,” completely nullifies their queer identity. Does whiteness make one suddenly not queer? Does being married make someone not queer? What about monogamy or wanting to keep your sex somewhat on the vanilla side? I think that if by you claim that just because someone is a monotheist they’re not really queer, we’re going to have the teeny, tiniest group of queers ever. Eventually this is just going to end up being the whole “queer enough” game. How about authenticity instead of holding contests about how subversive we can be? I mean this all in respect, I just think that going by that logic, we could end up invalidating and excluding people who are, in fact, quite queer. What are your thoughts?

    • However, I think it’s going a bit to far to claim that one aspect of someone that could be grouped into “normalcy,” completely nullifies their queer identity.

      And I said this… Where? But for the sake of argument, in addition to monotheism, I do believe that, of your list, that marriage is inherently at odds with queerness. That’s also not to say all unmarried people are queer, nor that there are no queers who are married –but the contexts in which entering into marriage may be tolerated by a queer person are far more clear and easier to resolve than a Christian or Muslim or monotheistic “Goddess worshipper” who decides to play around at being queer until graduation.

      Eventually this is just going to end up being the whole “queer enough” game. How about authenticity instead of holding contests about how subversive we can be?

      And what should measure that authenticity if we don’t have the guts to draw a line and say “here’s where being queer ends”? See, I see a lot of fairly earnest people go on about “authenticity over Olympics”, but no-one who actually wants to say what that “authenticity” is, no-one wants to actually take a stand for authenticity and say “no, but that simply is NOT a radical /queer thing to do, say, think, or believe”. Just because I’m willing to listen to people doesn’t mean I have to remain silent when the things they say are ignorant, logically inconsistent, fallacious, or just plain wrong. I would wager that if I were to do so, I wouldn’t be helping them find their true selves, or help them with anything else at all, if I just kept silent in the face of things that are wrong just because it’s what’s “nice”.

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