This is very much NOT the post I thought I was going to write. I thought I was going to be working on part 3 of my Pride series and discussing spiritual exercises and spells and rituals for honoring our Ancestors, practical ideas for engaging in Queer community and building stronger communities.
This is not that post, but this is something I realize I needed to write. Sometimes the act of writing is an invocation or an evocation, and sometimes it is an exorcism. Even as I have been working and writing around Pride as a Holy Celebration and about how to take the fears and anger stirred by recent outrages and use it productively, I’ve been dealing with some of my own and with some ghosts from my own past.
A memory from my childhood.
Many years ago, sometime in the early to mid-1980’s… I don’t remember the exact time as being blessed with dual time blindness of ADHD and childhood blurs the timing of some memories for me.
My father and I were walking through a mall. We were walking towards the exit and a man walked past us, some sort of biker. He was tall and broad shouldered and burly with a belly and a beard and a glorious mane of long brown hair. The mingled scents of his leathers and pipe tobacco swirled around him as he passed. I remember looking up and pausing in my walk, my gaze following him for a moment. I remember thinking how very handsome he was, beautiful to my eyes and heart. Then, of course, I clamped down on that instinct and looked down and hurried on to catch up with my father.
Because even then I knew that that reaction could get me made fun of, that reaction could get me hurt… or much much worse. I was somewhere around 10 years old. That’s kind of a heavy mental and emotional load to carry at any time of ones life, especially difficult in childhood. Especially when you believe that there is no one you can talk to about it.
I grew up as a Queer kid between the first wave of Gay Liberation, and the onset of the Age of Aids, and my time as a young adult was in an era of increasing efforts and organization in our community’s movement towards equality. Now as a man in his 50’s I am seeing many of the old enemies returning with many of the old tactics of violence and terror and fear and manipulation.
This year for Pride we are seeing increased of the uses of the phrase ‘Groomer’ in the public discourse to discount LGBTQ+ voices, the return of an old and once upon a time all too effective slur against the Queer community or voices that speak in support of our community. We are dealing with public figures engaging in stirring up fears and bigotry in the media. In the last week we have heard news of a narrowly avoided act of domestic terrorism at a Pride event in Idaho. News of hate groups entering a public Library in San Lorenzo, California to hurl slurs and insults and disrupt a children’s reading hour/literacy event because a drag queen was reading.
I, like so many of my Queer siblings, am dealing with fear and anger. For some of you this is a new experience, for others of us it the return of something we had thought we had left behind. One of my responses has been to deep dive into the idea of Pride as a Holy Season and celebration. A time for honoring my LGBTQ+ ancestors and for doing ritual and work around Queer community and empowerment and self-empowerment.
Last week I was present for a homophobic incident at my corner store. Some guy started being rude and confrontational to a trans woman or drag queen who was in line behind him, and then when he turned to the clerk and asked him something along the line of “you don’t think that’s right do you?” and the clerk pointed out that he himself was gay, the homophobe started shouting about how the clerk was “a destroyer”. After the guy left a few of us regulars and the staff and security guy were joking around about it. At the same time something about it stuck with me. It has been many years since I had experienced a random act of loud and self-righteous homophobia.
The other day my bear and I went to a public pool for open swimming. We both love swimming, even though it’s been ages since we’ve been, and it’s especially good for his lingering left side paralysis from his stroke. We spent an hour splashing around amidst the other families out at the pool. I was keeping a careful eye on my beloved because he tires easily and is disabled now. At the same time, I am realizing I was on a level of wariness and alert I haven’t been familiar with in years. I was waiting for a slur, an accusation, I was on guard for trouble in a way I haven been, haven’t felt the need to be in many years.
This wariness and the mix of fear and anger at its heart is at once a reasonable reaction to the current assaults upon our lives and liberties AND AT THE SAME TIME exactly where our enemies want us. They want us to return to the closet. They want us out of the public eye and public spaces and public discourse. They don’t want us back in gay ghetto’s, they want us eliminated from society. They yearn for a return to a world where being Queer was a criminal act and a diagnosis of sickness and something to be cured. They want us to know fear and anger and they want to make us helpless.
Fuck. That. Noise.
So for now I write, and pray, and engage in spiritual practice. I begin to seek ways to reweave myself and my family into bonds of Queer community and other communities. For now I spend hours I should be sleeping writing out a bunch of feelings and facing some of my own fears. I do the work I can do and the work I need to do.
I hope the same for each of you.
Bliss and Blessed Be,