So, I read this blog post this week, and I really want to address the idea that we, as pagans, need to make ourselves normal to break away from negative stereotypes. (Note: I’m not singling out this blog post for any reason other than it happens to be the most recent thing I’ve read that states this opinion. This is not a new attitude; this is just the first time I’m writing about it.)
I really hate this idea. I think it’s fundamentally wrong, from a social justice viewpoint. I see it not only in paganism but in other marginalized groups,* and intersectionally. The idea that in order to destigmatize ourselves, we need to become just like the mainstream — we need to do what the kyriarchy wants us to do.
Darlins, I use the word queer for a specific reason, and it’s not because I’m exclusively attracted to women (which I’m not).
When I say I’m queer, I don’t just mean I’m a proud QUILTBAGger. I mean I’m queer as fuck. I am strange. I am different.
And that’s awesome.
I have no intention of dressing myself up in “normal” just so I can convince the ruling classes that I’m worth their attention, that I deserve to have rights or respect. I deserve to have rights and respect regardless if I choose to wear sweat pants and my Community shirt when I go out or if I dress up in fairy wings and vampire fangs for Pagan Pride Day. How ‘normal’ or queer I look has nothing to do with either my religious sincerity or my basic humanity.
Arguing that we should normalize ourselves so that the kyriarchy will accept us as mainstream and “normal” is basically throwing the queers under the bus.
“Look! I’m a normal pagan! I’m not like those weirdo pagans that wear fairy wings! So you should let me into your special Masters of the Universe club.”
“Look! I’m a fat pagan and I dress nicely according to your standards! I’m always looking out for how I look, because it’s important that you don’t think I’m poor.”
So long as we continue to do this — fighting for our rights by helping the marginalization of other folks in our groups — we’ll never attain true equality. I’m not a fan of the idea that the ends justify the means or that we should be happy for any change, and therefore it’s okay to throw others under the bus so long as we get some rights.
Those ideas do not go along with justice. And we know my feelings about that.
While some pagans call for normalcy and dispelling of “negative” stereotypes (because, you know, wearing glitter or comfortable clothing makes us all look really bad), I don’t. I call for a queering of paganism.
Come as you are. Be as weird as you want to be. There are no spots for us in mainstream society, and I’ll be damned if I let the spots that are open to us close up because someone wants us to fit into that wide, sludgy river.
I think Ani said it best:
the mainstream is so polluted with lies / once you are wet, it’s so hard to get dry / and we are all taught how to justify / history / as it passes by
Get yourselves out of that river. Come inside, warm yourselves by the fire. Let your queerness shine through.
*Please note that while paganism is a marginalized group, the marginalization we face as pagans is no where near the level trans folk, people of color, or queer folk suffer, or even the level that other minority faiths suffer. I’m not equating them.