Column: The Spiritual Legacy of Matthew Shepard

Pagan Perspectives

I had always been wary of strangers. Every gay child growing up in the 1970’s learned this important life skill. American culture was, and in many ways remains, openly antagonistic toward our kind; it made sure that we knew our place. I grew up hearing stories, often in hushed tones, about men who had been discovered to be limp-wristed fairies, and who were subsequently shunned, fired from their jobs, and forced to move away to start new lives as outcasts. But living near San Francisco meant that I had a certain level of protection from the harsh realities of a homophobic world, as this was the place many of those outcasts would journey in their search for acceptance.

Column: the Hope of Being “Queer”

Pagan Perspectives

“If that’s being queer, then we could do with a bit more queerness in these parts.”
― J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

In the alphabet soup of inclusion that has become the LGBTTQQIAAP movement – or LGBT+, for short – a common criticism is that the (constantly evolving) term is ugly and difficult to remember. What we have gained in terms of inclusion and numbers, we have lost in terms of a feeling of solidarity and community. Besides being difficult to remember (I’m sorry, I can never remember all the letters, and what order is preferred again?), the long initialism lacks a sense of poetry or cohesion, and therefore – magically speaking — it’s a poor thing indeed. This leaves us with a movement with no name, and as appealing that may be to some, it just doesn’t sit well with my Witch’s magical mind. To this, I feel there has been a poetic, if somewhat jarring, answer to this criticism that deserves another serious look: that is, the word “queer.”

Many people within the LGBT+ movement are understandably uncomfortable with the word “queer,” as it has been used as a slur against our people for generations.

Column: the Coming of the Queer Tarot

Pagan Perspectives

Tarot is a popular divinatory system utilized by many Pagans and Witches of all stripes. With so many variations available to the public (and more being created all the time), we have an opportunity not just to work with an artistic style that we enjoy, but – thanks to the advent of decks engineered with specific communities in mind – we can also “fine tune” the symbolic language utilized by tarot and apply it in a way that speaks more directly to our own experiences and peoples. Enter The Queer Community Tarot. The brainchild of J. Ryan of Queer Street Tarot, The Queer Community Tarot is set to be released this coming November. It intends to speak to LGBT+ practitioners using a common language.

Column: the Mainstreaming of Pride

Pagan Perspectives

June saw events around the world commemorating the LGBT+ Pride celebration. (LGBT+ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, “plus” other nonheteronormative gender and sexual identities.) While on the surface these seem to be happy affairs, awash in rainbow colors and set to the thumping beat of dance music, their history is one marked by oppression and bloodshed. Commemorating the June 1969 Stonewall Riots that sparked the birth of the LGBT+ equality movement, modern-day Pride celebrations have for years struggled against an onslaught of hatred and persecution in the United States and around the world. But as society continues to make its snail’s-pace march toward genuine equality, one unexpected – if problematic – ally has emerged: capitalism. What began solely as a human rights movement has now also become a viable market.