As well as being the time of Imbolc, February is marked by LGBT History Month. Both times, for me, are a reminder to look back at the past for inspiration for the future.
With Imbolc, we recall the Winter past, knowing that while it is still here and still a time of struggle, the hope of Spring is not far away.
With LGBT History Month, we recall the struggle and fight by so many people to simply be able to live as who they are, love who they love, and be free to exist. We know there are still tremendous struggles to be faced now, powerful people and institutions who would deny LGBT people their rights because of religion, or politics, or simple hatred. But we look to the LGBT ancestors, and in their struggle we find hope. Things have changed, and are changing, and the future can and will be better.
Stonewall have an exellent timeline on their website, so you can go back through the last hundred years or so of LGBT history and see all the brilliant people who made it their lives’ work to fight for acceptance. It’s a reminder that we are who we are, and where we are, because of the sacrifice of others before us.
I define, mainly and provisionally, as “Queer”. I’ve written about why I use that term before, but in brief, for me it’s about reclaiming a word used as a slur, taking it and turning it into armour, wearing it with pride and defiance, shining out against those who would try to keep me, and others like me, down.
The word “Pagan” was a slur once, too. For some on the more evangelical Christian side of things, it still is. Yet we take it and declare ourselves Pagan with pride, because to us it doesn’t mean “evil”, or “immoral”; it means “of the Land”.
It seems to me, in my own limited experience, that there’s a higher than average proportion of LGBT folks within the Pagan community. Perhaps that’s because people who have not been accepted by the mainstream society and the institutional religions can turn to Paganism, itself on the margins, and find a spiritual path that is open, that is accepting, that not only tolerates diversity but celebrates it.
It’s important that we remember that. When designing Pagan rituals, think about the language used. Is it inclusive? Is it open to all genders and sexualities (as well as all ethnicities, physical abilities, neurodivergence etc.)?
If your ritual focuses exclusively on a heterosexual male God and female Goddess having sex and giving birth, think how that ritual might exclude people who are not heterosexual, who are not cisgender, who do not or cannot have children. Not to say that the “Great Rite” shouldn’t be celebrated, but that it should not perhaps be the sole focus to the exclusion of others. If heterosexual reproductive sex is seen as Divine, then by default other sexualities are seen as lesser – whether that was the intention or not.
If your ritual focuses on heavily gendered imagery, how would trans or non-binary people respond?
Nature for me is at the heart of my Paganism, and it is to nature I look for inspiration and wisdom, not to ideas originated by men in the mid 20th century. And nature is endlessly diverse, filled with a plethora of sexualities, genders, transformations, and ways of being that bewilder and break down simplistic human categories.
We are more than our bodies, more than our genes, more than labels.
We are more than the boxes other people have built for us.
We are a universe.
And togther, we rise.