I am Queer.
The identity descriptors I would use to describe myself are: Black, Indigenous, Jamaican-Canadian, female, pansexual, agendered, pagan, and ambiamourous. My experience of identity is really one of liminality. And the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that it always has been.
When I moved to Canada in my teens I had the experience of being Black but not identifying with the African-American experience (since Jamaica is made up of a Black majority, and neither my Black nor Indigenous identity was ever positioned as an obstacle). I was Indigenous but now also a settler since I was not Indigenous Canadian and did not relate to the Canadian Indigenous experience. I have a strong Scottish background but am definitely not White presenting.
I also live in a liminal state because, while I find these identity labels useful as a descriptor of where I am now when self-reflecting or communicating with other people, I don’t really believe in taking on these descriptors as a solid IDENTITY. I am Alicia. Period. And Alicia grows and evolves and shifts and changes. I am naturally inclined to be fully, authentically me in each moment and I find the boundaries of firmly categorizing myself limiting.
Queer spirituality is all about this energy of liminality, subversion & transgression, fluidity, balance, boundaries, questioning & challenge. To even take on the label of Queer means that you had to have gone through some process of self-questioning and challenging both your own identity and the status quo. Queerness challenges our core beliefs, our worldviews, what is authentically us and what is our programming, our comfort and boundaries. It takes courage and inner strength and balance to be able to live a life in the chaos that exists between boundaries and not drown in it. That chaos is pure creative potential that has yet to be manifested and that is what existing in and navigating that space and energy is what the Queer Mysteries are about.
There is no question that our Western culture has denied and oppressed the Divine Feminine, and that She has been experiencing a reclamation and revival in recent times. The divine nature of queerness has also been denied and oppressed, and we also need to work towards honouring, reclaiming and reviving this divine energy as well.
What most people today do not understand (and what I have learned through my studies in gender & sexuality studies, religious studies, anthropology and archaeology) is that the very ideas of heterosexuality, heteronormativity, homosexuality, and homonormativity are very recent. So is the concept of homophobia and all the other identity based “phobias” out there. Many of our cultures recognized the sacred nature of queerness and had valued roles within their societies for people that identified with those energies. Im am happy to see that work is being done in many spiritual communities to sacralize queerness. For example, many Indigenous communities are reclaiming the sacred nature of being Two-Spirited, in Wiccan communities the Queer Mysteries are being developed, even some Christian comminties are developing Queer Mysteries and rituals within their churches. This is work we all need to do, whether you are Queer or not. If you can find value in the Divine Feminine if you are not female, and find value in the Divine Masculine if you are not male, then you can understand the importance of valuing the Divine Queer and the lessons this energy has to teach us all.
There is still a lot of stigma around Queerness in Black communities that is spilling into the emerging decolonized Black Spirituality in the Americas, that I have to address here. The popular misconception is that this attitude comes from Yoruba religions and cultures that came from West Africa during the Slave Trade. But that has been, and still is being, proven incorrect. We now know that the prescriptions against homosexuality in Yoruba was an import of the West during colonial contact in Africa that was happening way before the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade even began. I think we sometimes forget that Africa was also colonized. So, for me at least, this is not an excuse for us to continue to deny and oppress queerness and queer people in our Black communities. We have valuable perspectives and gifts to bring to the table and by continuing to discriminate against Queer people would be to continue to ignore a source of solutions and enrichment for us to move forward as whole, strong and fully empowered.
If you are curious about the Divine Queer, here is a list of some LGBTQ+ associated deities, spirits and mythological figures to look at (if you know of any I missed, feel free to email Arcane Shaman):
Hapi / Hapy
West African, Yoruba and Dahomean
Mayan god Chin
Tonsured Maize God
Xochipilli ('Flower Prince')
Tezcatlipoca and Yaotl
Aakulujjuusi and Uumarnituq
Inle and Abbata
Baron Oua Oua
Baron Lundy and Baron Limba
Yu the Great
Tu Er Shen
Mizi Xia and Lord Long Yang
Shinu No Hafuri and Ama No Hafuri
Ame No Uzume
Mitra and Varuna
Binukots (The most famous of which are Nagmalitong Yawa and Matan-ayon)
Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus
Islamic and Pre-Islamic Arabian
Al-lāt, Al-Uzza, and Manāt.
Ruth & Naomi
David & Jonathan
Gilgamesh and Enkidu
Greek & Roman
Aphroditus / Hermaphroditus
Dionysus / Bacchus
Bathala and Malyari
Menjaya Raja Manang