Pagan Is The New Gay

My Queer friends don’t want to be called Gay or Lesbian. Too many connotations. Not accurate enough to their own personal experiences. They’re much more complex than what those labels allow for. Gay is too easily marketed to, and at this point completely co-opted by the mainstream.

Gay is Will & Grace. Queer doesn’t even own a TV.

My Gay friends don’t really understand Queer. What’s wrong with Gay, they ask? There’s a history to the label; rich and complicated, and worth preserving. You lose that legacy when you abandon the label. So what if you’re anti-mainstream? You’re still subject to oppression from the mainstream, aren’t you? Bigots don’t care if you call yourself queer or gay or faggot or tranny. Its all the same to them. You’re Other, no matter how you choose to self-identify.

Thus, the Gays, Lesbians and Queers remain distant, abbreviated letters — G’s, L’s & Q’s, with B’s & T’s squeezed tightly between the three stodgy siblings.

Pagans Are SO Gay

I’m watching this debate go on about the validity of the term “Pagan”, and whether or not it’s useful anymore. Admittedly, I’m a newbie in the Pagan community. But, I am no newbie Gay. And, I feel there’s a valuable parallel between our struggles that no one is picking up on.

The GLBTQ…xyz community, in actuality, is not the tightest knit community. We have little pockets of community. We micro-organize. We have bars, community centers, gathering places, apps. We have parades. But, we’re a tiny minority living in the midst of an often antagonistic majority, and the subcultures within our subculture often don’t understand each other or work toward a common end.

I see the same thing going on right now with Pagans.

Some Polytheists may not consider themselves Pagan any more than most Queers consider themselves Gay. But, the Queers are out there having that crazy homo-sex. You know… the thing that first led the Gays to seek one another out, to organize in protest of widespread oppression? Remember all that Stonewall jazz?….

And the Polytheists are out there worshipping those same Old Gods that all the Pagans are buying statues of in our local metaphysical shops. Polytheists may approach their religion with more academic backing (or they may not), and they may feel compelled to reestablish and align themselves with cultural identifiers and practices which have long since disappeared (i.e. Reconstructionism). But, whether you trace back your spiritual lineage to Gardner or to an unnamed Celtic Warrior of Old, you’re still a part of something that’s happening right now, in the world. This world. The present.

Identity v.s. Branding

This isn’t so much a question of identity. We’re pluralistic, the LGBTQ’s & the Pollies/Pagans. There isn’t ever going to be a single identity which we can embody, and I think it would be a shame to make that a goal. Our diversity is what gives our respective cultures their intrinsic value. I don’t think anyone is trying to reduce us down to the lowest common denominator.

This is really a question of how do we — Polytheists and Pagans — wish to be portrayed outside of the festival grounds. I wouldn’t use the battle language that Laura LaVoie used, but the sentiment here is mostly the same. When we try to make our place in this world, amidst a religious majority that might not allow us the space or respect we deserve, what will unite us as a people. Our title?

T. Thorn Coyle may have said it best when she wrote:

What do I think is this thing that ties such diverse ways and means of practice, experience, and belief together? We all have a sense of “Divine with us on earth.” The Gods are not just far off in Asgard, they are in our gardens and our homes. Goddesses don’t just live in some distant place, they help us run our businesses, and teach our children. And these Gods and Goddesses have their own agency, too. Paganism(s) and systems of magick – as they exist in contemporary religious expression in this loosely knit group of practitioners – hold theologies of immanence in common, whether this is directly acknowledged or not.

Do we need to develop any more interfaith language around this? Must we have a single word that defines the whole group? Or, is it possible for us to make space for an individual’s choice to reject Capital Letter Titles in favor of a label that feels more specific and resonant with her own religious approach (like, for example “I am a priest of the Old Belief, a polytheist through and through, and more than anything else the Heroic Life is my religion“).

It’s a Queer approach, but if done with respect for the hardcore Pagans and the diehard Gays it may be the next step in our spiritual and cultural evolution.

What do you think?

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50 responses to “Pagan Is The New Gay”

  1. Vyviane Avatar

    What a great post Teo, I have somehow missed it previously. Thanks for reposting the link.   I  choose and change my titles not based on myself and beliefs but in the person I am talking to and using the best word possible for them to understand what I mean and in most cases let me move on with my life without a long drawn out conversation.  If I am in a place set up to support long conversations then I choose other words. Pagans or women’s spirituality tends to convey what I need it to though I suppose when I think about it for the few minutes I can allot  to it this morning  the only thing I really truly believe and understand enough to commit to is “I’m a Sister in a Sisterhood and I love the Goddess” and that just kind of sounds vague and weird when I voice it. 
    Sexuality is the same. I say bi-sexual  because “open minded, open hearted and open legged” doesn’t get me very far in conversation and makes people even more uncomfortable then the word bisexual which is hard because bi-sexual tends to make more people uncomfortable then not. 

    I won’t spend to much time thinking about it. I thought about it lots and had all sorts of prepared official statements on both matters when I was younger. As I get older I realize very few people even ask or want to know and I just wing it on the rare occasion it comes up. 

  2. […] May of last year which led to his firestorm-post, Why I’m Not Pagan, and my followup piece, Pagan is the New Gay. The whole back-and-forth put my lil’Druid blog on the map.When I started writing Bishop In […]

  3. Wally Avatar

    I completely agree Teo. Very well written too I might add 🙂

  4. […] at the Bishop in the Grove blog, Teo Bishop wrestled again with the label of “Pagan”.  The question of my Pagan identity has come up frequently in this […]

  5. Robert Sharp Avatar

    Love the post very interesting.  I am not sure if I agree with it. Everyone has their own opinions about religion and then sexuality. It is always a touchy subject. no pun intended.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Robert! Nice to see the dialogue still taking place around this post.
      I’d be interested in knowing in what ways you disagree. Is it the general premise, or something more specific?

  6. Myrkr Avatar

    A very interesting and excellently written post, I actually had similar thoughts on the matter but it seems you might have beaten me to this exact blogpost.

    PS: Welcome to the Pagan Community!

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for the welcome, Myrkr, and for the comment! I’m glad to know that I’ve tapped into something that’s relevant for other people in the community/communities!

      Bright blessings to you!

  7. Cassandra Avatar

    Well, considering that Pagans pre-date Christianity..wouldn’t Pagan be the OLD gay?

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      “Old Gay”….

      I love the comment you wrote on Weiser’s Facebook recommendation of this post. I’ll be thinking “Jazz Hands” all day long!

  8. Epona Fire Avatar
    Epona Fire

    Hey, Teo, found your blog from “Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom,” and as a new (self-described) pagan, I’d like to put in my two cents (which is probably what it’s worth, lol).
    First off, I’ve struggled a bit with the naming thing, am quite comfortable with pagan, but the tradition I’m currently studying – The Druidic Craft of the Wise (non-reconstructionist) – celebrates the use of witch and witchcraft as descriptives. Witch still has negative connotations to me still, so I’m still trying to get over it. Interestingly enough, the term Warlock doesn’t have such a connotation for me. Maybe because warlocks don’t feature prominently in American lore. Anybody have an opinion on that?
    Secondly, a group of witches and pagans here are organizing a Pagan Pride parade, and as I am not out of the broom closet with parents and friends, I am not sure I want to participate. I would like to know what other people think of this. I think this type of activity is most definitely reflective of the homosexual activism in our society. Oh, and by the way, I like in the South, and the tolerance for homosexuality is better, but the tolerance for paganism is not.

    1. Epona Fire Avatar
      Epona Fire

      Um, that should be LIVE in the south, sorry. 😉

    2. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Hi Epona! Thanks for sharing your comment! It sounds like you’re not looking so much for an opinion as you are for advice.

      Pride parades are big affairs, in general. Even the small ones. You may find it easier to connect with a few individuals first, and then slowly build your way up to a larger, “out-in-the-open” Pagan event. Or, you may feel compelled to take part in the parade. Either way, its your choice & you get to decide the pace of how you choose to come out.

      I hope that in whatever you choose, you find comfort in knowing that you’re on your own path, and that path is a valid expression of your own spirit!

      Blessings to you!

  9. Kaye Avatar

    I think that this may mirror the problems in the LGBTQAI community a lot more than you’ve indicated here. Many lesbians feel like most of the focus in the community is on gay/queer men and that lesbian, bi, and queer women are just “tacked on.” They use the low numbers of women featured in mainstream LGBTQAI publications or in those top 100 lists as evidence of gender inequality. As much of this media is owned and operated by gay men with maybe several women on staff, the feeling is that the non-fighting-for-equal-rights stuff is often completely irrelevant to women’s needs and that these publications should make it more clear that they’re specifically for gay men with some occasional additions for perspective diversity. Ergo, women should refocus their attention on more lesbian-centric publications. Check Autostraddle or other online communities and you’ll see this sentiment everywhere.

    And now for relating this to the pagan community. Just like the LGBTQAI community tends to mean “gay men plus sometimes maybe women or transgender people,” talking about the pagan community tends to mean “Wiccans plus the occasional Druid or Asatru practitioner.” As you can imagine, it can get VERY frustrating and alienating for people who identify as recons or non-Wiccan pagans because we constantly have to negotiate losing our individual religious identities when we want to interact with the community. After a while, some of us may leave, making the community more homogeneous. This only perpetuates the problem because you can’t include a group if they’re not there, and you can’t seem inviting to someone unless you already include people like them.

    Just my 2̉ cents. Hope this makes sense — it’s rather late.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Kaye – your 2’cents are much appreaciated! Thank you for commenting on this post!

      I appreciate that you’ve expanded on my post. The points you make about an imbalance of attention, focus and perhaps even respect in the medias representation of the LGBTQAI community are ones that need to be heard. Our community has always challenged the binary, but it seems as thought there are those who would just as soon us return to the old “Gay and Lesbian” binary ourselves! I will pay Autostraddle a visit – thanks for the recommendation.

      I’ve also experienced the “Wiccans plus the occasional Druid or Asatru practitioner” bit. I wonder if you could propose a solution to the exodus of recons or non-Wiccan pagans? How do we create a community that is more accepting for people who don’t identify with the Big Three?

      1. Kaye Avatar

        Since reading your question, I have thought about many different possible solutions, and I don’t see any of them being sustainable or doable in the long term. Essentially, both sides feel very frustrated at not being heard and there are huge issues of tolerance when it comes to different positions (i.e., personal experience vs. rigorous academic study; ceremonial circle-casting vs. nothing recognizably circular; Earth-based vs. deity-based).

        Nothing can happen unless a lot of people make an effort to learn about the other as an actual Other. Maybe short-term schisms are actually a good thing — they make people a lot more shaky about their assumptions and more willing to explore the differences that have caused these problems. And … if we can’t fix this, then just like a bad romantic relationship, it probably isn’t worth salvaging.

        1. Teo Bishop Avatar

          Thanks for sharing the comment, Kaye. You bring up a lot of really big issues, and I’m not sure I can speak to them all at the moment. But I will reiterate something from my post — it seems like the best we can do, in the face of the very difficult challenge of reaching a consensus about what “Pagan Values” would be, is to speak as honestly can about what our own values are. Maybe through that form of sharing we’ll come to understand our common ground.

          Does that make sense?

          1. Kaye Avatar

            Wow. That sounds like the perfect plug for Pagan Values Month. 😀

          2. Teo Bishop Avatar

            I’m all about month-long writing themes. 🙂

  10. […] even more from Peter Dybing, Teo Bishop, Lamyka, Crystal Blanton, and Alorer (among yet more still). I think there’s been a lot of […]

  11. Sisterlisa Avatar

    May I interject something, please? I came out of a strict fundamentalist Christian background and now live my life more along the lines of ‘organic’. I’m out of mainstream, though I still follow Christ. I see this.. “I feel there’s a valuable parallel between our struggles that no one is picking up on.” in many areas! I have seen so much domination and bickering among Christians who wanted to own their label and have a united front. It caused them to rip each other to shreds. They developed their label and anyone who strayed even a hair from their definition of that label has been outcast. I love the spirit of this post about being who you are. Remain diverse. Being diverse is what sets people apart in their own special unique ways and although you all have some similarities that connect you in community, the diversity of it all is what thrives. Like wildflowers that are free to grow beyond the fences and the butterflies pollinate and spread the life all over the earth. I believe the spirit of this beautiful planet and all that lives within us that is love, should have that freedom to continue to create more diversity. Yes, a vase of fresh cut pink tulips is beautiful, but a vast field of wild flowers is unique and organic. Hope you don’t mind the metaphors. 🙂

    The dilemma you are seeing and writing about here is also being experienced in the “Christian” community. More Christ followers are leaving churches and finding community among their cities and are more open to diversity now. It’s a breath of fresh air!

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for your comment, Sisterlisa! I’m so glad to hear your perspective on the matter.

      I, too, grew up in a Christian community, although one a bit more liberal. However, we had our fair share of division. I do see a lot of parallels between the current Pagan struggle and the ongoing Christian strugge. I may even write about that in a future post.

      Again, thank you so much for being here and for lending your voice to the discussion. You’re always welcome!

  12. Paul Avatar

    As a self-identified Gay Pagan, I’d like to weigh in here!

    My understanding of Queer, is that this is a polemic / radical / political term. The narrative I heard was that Gay was becoming co-opted by those wanting marriage and leading a hetero-normative lifestyle, and so Queer became co-opted to mean those who didn’t want to lead a “mainstream” life. Have you ever been exposed to this narrative?

    … that being the case, I don’t see such a strong parallel between Queer and Pagan. Queer is a word with a definite agenda. Pagan (in my experience) has more of a neutral connotation.

    Finally: This is the first I’d heard of this blog, so I’m going to snoop around a bit. 🙂

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Well, hello Paul! So delighted you stopped by and shared your Gay Pagan-ness. 🙂

      I have been exposed to the Queer narrative you refer to, and I’ve seen it played out to a certain degree in the lives of my friends. I’ve also seen, however, a “queer-normative” lifestyle forming, almost in spite of itself. We go all normative because at some point we have to just live our lives, you know? I know that wasn’t exactly the point you were making, but I think it’s an interesting development in Queerdom.

      I’m not sure I see a strong parallel between Queer and Pagan either, but I do see one between Gay and Pagan. Gay is used often as a “catch-all”, as is Pagan. But that doesn’t jive with some Queers, and neither does the later with some self-identified Polytheists. To you or I, “Gay” may seem neutral. But, to my radical, politically active, homo-sex having Queer friends, there’s a whole heap of packed baggage that comes along with it. And, to some Polytheists, “Pagan” is a hodgepodge of Wicca, New Age-y-ness, and mismatched theology, all thrown in to one big cauldron. It’s jambalaya served to a Vegan, you know what I mean?

      Snoop away, Paul. Feel free to comment whenever you feel so moved. I appreciate your perspective, especially being that we share some titles. 🙂 I hope to hear more from you!

  13. Themon Avatar

    I’m not entirely sure I understand the fuss.

    When someone uses the word “Christian,” for instance, they are painting with an extremely broad brush. From the outside, all Christians kind of look alike, but if you look too closely you’ll see the major branches of Orthodox Catholicism, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. The Orthodox tradition has its autocephalous traditions, such as Russian or Greek or Coptic, the Romans put up a united front but with tremendous heterodoxy underneath (North and South American Roman Catholics have very different religions, for instance), and the Protestants include everything from Lutherans to Jehovah’s Witnesses to Unitarians.

    One could even argue that brutal sixth-century ethnic groups, fifteenth-century popes, and twentieth-century televangelists have poisoned the term “Christian” beyond all possible redemption, and that decent people ought to call themselves something else lest they be confused with something vile. Christians — at least, the ones who AREN’T tarnishing the word — are constantly in a process of “reclaiming” their own name from this kind of misappropriation and criticism.

    Despite all that, “Christian” is still a useful umbrella term to distinguish Christians from Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and … well, Pagans. Beyond that, not one of these terms is terribly accurate or descriptive.

    I think the same applies to the term “Pagan.” It’s just a very broad brush.

    I do think it’s interesting that it isn’t very successful as a marketing term, however. 🙂

    Personally, I think that’s a good thing….

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I wonder, Themon, if it has anything to do with the title being related to the existence or absence of a central theological tenant. Jesus is central to Christianity, regardless of the denomination. He may me more God in some than in others, and he may serve a number of different functions from church to church, but he’s still pretty much at the heart of anything “Christian”.

      With “Pagan”, where is the center? Is there anything?

      The T. Thorn Coyle quote speaks to a shared understanding of the “Divine with us on earth,” and some would see that as a center for Pagans. But, that’s also somewhat of an abstraction, isn’t it?

      Do you see a “Jesus” for Pagans? A center point?

      1. Themon Avatar

        That’s true today, but it wasn’t true for the first three centuries after Paul wrote about his conversion on the road to Damascus. People didn’t start writing Gospels until nearly a century after the events they record (Mark is generally dated CE 90, John around CE 120), and between CE 100 and 350, there were huge debates throughout the Roman Empire over whether the Christos was Jesus, John the Baptist, Dionysus, Osiris, and probably a lot of other real or mythic characters that have been lost to our knowledge. The Christian creeds started developing under Emperor Constantine in CE 325 and continued through the rest of that century, but there were at least two centuries of “Christians” within Rome prior to that.

        A lot like what the “Pagan” religions look like today, in fact.

  14. 'Trie Avatar

    I’m not really sure I have anything new to add. I do think that you are making a really interesting parallel between two sets of identity constructions for groups that have, historically, overlapped. <–There's a reason why "faggot," meaning a bundle of sticks, became a pejorative for non-heteronormatives; they were used as cord wood to burn the witches.

    Yet, as one of the more pedantic pagans (Hellenic specifically–I have a degree in Classics to back it up, that's how crazy I am) as well as a Q (really, pan, poly, and genderqueer–cripes, that sounds pretentious–how better to do the gloss-over intro than “queer”?), I really use the more generic “queer”–or even “bi” if I really don’t want to get into the “pan”-explanation–and “pagan” to identify myself with the macro-communities as well as historical affiliations (’cause, seriously, pagan comes from paganus and that gets us back to the Roman Empire and pre-Christianity super quick).

    Micro-community identification and explanation of individualized gender identity/sexual preferences/religious affiliations is usually better handled in intimate groups–like three people max. But your mileage may vary.

    You’ve got good thinky-thoughts and are bringing up semantics that we should really be thinking about.

    1. Ruadhán Avatar

      There’s a reason why “faggot,” meaning a bundle of sticks, became a pejorative for non-heteronormatives; they were used as cord wood to burn the witches.

      This is quite false.

      The etymology of “faggot” as a pejorative for homosexuals is more closely related to its use of derision for women than it has in any connection to kindling:

      You are perpetuating an urban legend that is fairly easily proven false.

      1. Teo Bishop Avatar

        Thanks for being a part of the conversation, Ruadhán. I’m glad to see you here!

        I’d encourage reading this post which I found through the same Patheos “Link Round-Up” that you may have found mine on. There’s a very interesting line of thought about “pagan” being more useful as a descriptor, and also about the origin of the word. A quick sample:

        “Those who say that the term paganus was invented by Christians as a pejorative for the polytheistic peoples who hadn’t yet converted simply aren’t very well aware of the realities of this terminology. Even when everyone in Greece, Rome, and ancient Europe was pagan, there were still pagani among them.”

        1. 'Trie Avatar

          There’s always been a difference in how rural pagans (meaning “polytheist” in this instance) and urban pagans in the ancient world experienced their spirituality–which is why paganus totally means “hick” or “rural dweller.” In cities, polytheists become more monotheists, and in the country, polytheists tend to stay more polytheist. That’s why paganism (as we know it) survived the longest in rural areas (and we can still see some of this in Christian practice and saints–syncretism is a wonderful thing–especially when it’s borrow from the Romans who perfected it).

          It’s also an odd conversation to have since everyone (technically–except for the Jews and Zoroastrians) were polytheists. It’s almost more helpful to talk about public religion, state religion, and mystery religions.

          I totally didn’t mean to go all explain-y. I’m just really into the historical aspect of all of this. Did I mention I’m a dork?

        2. Ruadhán Avatar

          Yes, I know this.

      2. 'Trie Avatar

        We could get even crazier and go all the way back to the use of faggot for heretic–of which gays and witches were both–and their relationship to kindling (which, as the site you cited, lists that as early as the 13th century as does the OED):

        Please be careful about the rhetoric and written tone that you use. It can really sound like a Women vs. Queers and the ‘whose more oppressed than whom’ arguments that aren’t going to get anyone anywhere. Also, be careful about online sites. Some are more authoritative than others. When it comes to historical etymology, the OED is usually the best way to go.

        Also, that doesn’t prove it’s false. That proves that as of c. 1914, it became a pejorative slang for male gays after it had been in use for women for sometime. Not the same as it being false or more connected to women.

        Thank you for allowing me to explain this more clearly. I often forget that my mileage varies due to my background. I assume that everyone (on the interwebs) knows this stuff and has the same background as me, which is silly.

        1. Ruadhán Avatar

          Even on some of my best behaviour, I get the tone argument (also, hon, my weiner and the pole I smoke tells me I’m more gaymosexual than woman — for some-one so bent (oops! another gay slur!) on implying all over the place “don’t assume”, you seem to be assuming much.

          Also, really now, homosexuality wasn’t the same thing as heresy — did you ever go to Catholic school? Martin Luther was decried a heretic — and I know of no evidence that he engaged in the bum fun. He was called such for openly challenging the teachings of Catholicism while still calling it Christian.

          Even with the expanded etymology, your URBAN LEGEND of “homosexuals used as cord wood for witches” still shows absolutely naught a bit of historical founding. You’ve done nothing more than further explain how I’m right.

          Have fun with that.

          1. Teo Bishop Avatar

            You both are entitled to your perspectives, and we are all limited by a text-based medium in communicating clearly our “tone”. With that said, this discussion seems to be moving away from the original post, and I’d like to kindly request that, if we’re going to continue this thread, that it be brought back to the subject matter at hand.

            If you would like to speak more to the core elements of the post, or to contribute a perspective that speaks to the issue being debated in the Pagan community at large (i.e. the relevance of “Pagan” as a title), please feel free to do so. Otherwise, I would appreciate everyone respecting the space I’ve created here by not allowing the discourse to devolve into mean-spiritedness or name calling.

            Much respect to you both,

          2. 'Trie Avatar

            You’re totally right, Teo. I didn’t mean for it to be in any way disrespectful to what this blog is about. I apologize for my part in that.

            Again, thank you for having this kind of forum where, if we get off into the nutty, you gently reel us back in.

    2. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I think you added some great perspective ‘Trie. Thank you for your comment!

      I hear your choice to be selective about how you engage in discussion about your identity echoed in many other comments in this discussion. Sometimes its easier to go by the generic, even if it would be more accurate to say something else. I also agree that deeper conversations about these subjects are easier in smaller groups, or even on a one-on-one basis. We’re getting the same MPG there.

      Thank you for kind words, and for being a part of this conversation. Hope to hear your voice again!

      1. 'Trie Avatar

        Aw! Thanks for having me! I lead such an insular life that I forget what it’s like to talk about all of this with people who are similar to me.

  15. David Avatar

    Such connection to ‘pagan’ and ‘gay’ as BEING one and the SAME, is a non-sequitur to me.

    Gay in the term of ‘happy’ certainly, however your commentary pointed to sexual orientation and I certainly would disagree that to be pagan is to be homosexual.

    In the form of argument that Pagans face challenges similar to the gay community, this is the case with all minority faiths or practices in any majority mono-deity nation state as they are constituted today.

    Those who are students of history understand the danger of the burning time and have no desire to return, the way forward is to unite and bring about greater awareness. In this much of the homosexual and transgender community have done work. Likewise has the Pagan community, via such leaders as Pete Pathfinder.

    The important challenge to keep in mind is that this is a learning and teaching opportunity, not a confrontation or clash of cultures.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, David. I’d like to take a moment to clear up a where I was coming from.

      I was in no way saying that “Pagan” and “Gay” mean, literally, the same thing. What I was getting as is the idea that those titles are functioning in a similar way within a larger cultural conversation. In this way, they are connected.

      I’m both Gay and Pagan, and as such my perspective is informed by the cultural markers and histories of both communities. I found a parallel between the current and historical challenges of LGBTQ’s & Pagans, and it was from that perspective that I wrote this post.

      I agree with your statement that “The important challenge to keep in mind is that this is a learning and teaching opportunity, not a confrontation or clash of cultures,” — that is right on. Culture clashes can take place within and between cultures and subcultures, as I tried to point out in the first few paragraphs of my post. When that happens, the best thing we can do is to step back and regroup.

      Does that make sense? I’m trying to clarify, because I think we’re actually coming from a very similar perspective — we’re just getting a little mixed up in the language.

  16. Tammy Avatar

    I am all for these conversations and “friendly” agruements, however I have also notice some leaning toward allowing these discussions to delve into the all too human condition of making their brand of religion better. I hope we all remember each persons journey on their path is valid and proper for them, whether or not its the same as ours. Ok I’m off my soap box. Lol

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks for commenting, Tammy! I’m glad the post moved you to join the conversation.

      I completely agree with the idea that we all should have our path respected and our views heard. Any manipulation of the discussion to further one path over the other sorta misses the point, right?

      Keep bringing on the soap box talk, Tammy! Glad to hear it!

  17. Jennifer Avatar

    Merry Meet Teo~

    I personally don’t agree with you when it comes to NOT using the capital letters “LGBTQ” because all of them mean something different. I am bi and would not walk around and use the term Queer in it’s place. Bi-sexual means something completely different than being completely gay. I like men AND women and just feel that using the word bi is ok by me. I am also a Pagan and like Pamela said, I think Pagan is a catch all tem for many traditions. When you start to use words associated with Pagan…THEN you start to break down individual beliefs and ways to practice. At the end, your final words were in an example “I am a priest of the Old Belief, a polytheist through and through, and more than anything else the Heroic Life is my religion“). Isn’t priest a label as well as polytheist? And you also mentioned that you think that it may be possible to reject the letters and use something more specific that resonates…more specific to me Would be those capital letters. When you say OLD Belief…people may also be curious as to what that is and ask You to be more specific. If you told them Pagan, they might understand a bit better and maybe even have a word to research if they wish to.

    I hope you are having a great weekend!! 🙂

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Hi Jennifer – thanks for leaving a comment!

      I understand and respect people’s choices of using a L, G, B, T or Q. I’m a G, and I think its great that you’re a B. As Thorn pointed out in her comment below, some see a catch-all quality to Q, although I understand from your comment that you may not feel that way.

      You and Pamela have a great point that using Pagan first might be a great way to initiate deeper conversation. I’m interested to know if that’s ever happened for you, personally.

      Priest and polytheist are both labels – yes – and ones that work well for Drew. They might not work well for others. My point was simply that we should all have the ability to choose the monikers that work best for us. I encourage you to read Drew’s post, Why I’m Not Pagan to get more of his perspective. I think you’d enjoy it!

      Again, thanks for the comment. I hope you have a great weekend, too!

  18. T Thorn Coyle Avatar
    T Thorn Coyle

    Teo, thanks for the shout out. I was just discussing the “to pagan or not to pagan” issue over dinner last night. One of the things I said was, “this is why I say I am queer. It is a catch all and I don’t have to explain a bunch of stuff about my life to someone. Yes, I could say ‘I am a non-dualist and polytheist’ but then I have to have a whole other conversation.”

    Signed – a Queer Pagan (who is mostly just a human being in the midst of evolution)

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you for writing from a place of sincerity and truth! You’re shout-out worthy!

      I respect how you choose to identify, and the discrimination you use when talking about your beliefs. It seems like a balanced approach. This conversation belongs not just in the Pagan community, but in *all* communities. How do we identify ourselves, and why? How are our words used to bring us together, and when do they divide us?

      Queer folk may be leading the way for all of us.

  19. Pamela Avatar

    Teo: this is a very interesting point. For me, the term “Pagan” is a catch-all term for many paths or traditions. But I think the term creates a certain sense of community, micro or otherwise. Perhaps just an attempt to define our faith to others, within a certain context. I do not think we need to fear this definition because we each have our personal definition. Sit in circle, ask people about their paths – it will be very different for each person. Perhaps that is the point – we strive to avoid stereotypes even as we create them. Ah, Saturday morning philosophy! Be well, my friend.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks for commenting, Pamela. Great to hear from you!

      I think “Pagan” is actually quite useful in the context you present. It serves much better as a “catch all”, being that it doesn’t really represent a definitive path.

      So long as we keep allowing for those ’round the circle chats I think we’ll be in fine shape!