“Gay Gods” and “Lesbian Goddesses”

Or “Why Sexual Orientation Doesn’t Matter”…

So I discovered this wonderful button that lets me look at my site’s stats, and one of the search terms that popped up is “is freya a lesbian goddess?”

Today I received a question from an anonymous asker who hopefully won’t mind if I quote them:

“What are your thoughts about bisexuality in modern heathenism? Are there particular Vanir whom a bisexual heathen may be better able to relate to, than others?”

(BTW, my tumblr is here: http://answersfromvanaheim.tumblr.com/)

So I think it’s time to address this question.

The long and short of it is, the idea of “gay gods” and “lesbian goddesses” is about as silly to me as the idea that there are “straight gods” and “straight goddesses”.

What I mean by this is that deities definitely appear to have their preferences. There are deities who are (at the very least) bisexual as we moderns would understand it, but the thing is, sexual orientation wasn’t really a thing until modern times. In many societies, as long as you “did your duty” and had children, you could have lovers “on the side” and no one would give a fuck.

If you were a man, at least. It’s difficult to find a lot of material on lesbians in pre-modern societies (though depending on where and when you’re looking, you might have better luck). In kyriarchical societies, men just don’t care about what women are doing unless they’re doing something particularly transgressive (like dressing up in men’s clothing). These are just broad brush strokes that obviously don’t account for time and place.

I think there is definitely a misconception among some that the phrase “gay/queer god” somehow means that I think the deity can only be worshiped by gay or bisexual men. Such people usually say “Well, I’m straight and I worship X.”

Seriously, this line of reasoning is just silly.

By the same token, it’s also silly to claim that certain deities can’t be worshiped by queer folks because of something stupid like “deity X is too manly” (as if all gay/bi men are effeminate). This opinion was expressed by a well-known Heathen author who I believe has since retracted those comments.

Deities will choose whoever they want. It doesn’t matter if that person is gay, het, bi, genderqueer, intersex, or any other orientation or gender identity. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t particular deities that LGBT+s might feel an affinity towards (Loki, f0r instance, seems to have a lot of queer followers) but that doesn’t mean you, as an LGBT+ person, is limited to a list of deities the community defines as “queer friendly”.

Your relationship with any deity is between you and that deity.

Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that even the most heteronormative deity is secretly flying a rainbow flag in their bedroom.

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2 thoughts on ““Gay Gods” and “Lesbian Goddesses”

  1. “I think there is definitely a misconception among some that the phrase ‘gay/queer god’ somehow means that I think the deity can only be worshiped by gay or bisexual men.”

    I totally agree with you on this. Never tell a god what they or their people aren’t allowed to do.

    At the same time, however, I find the subtitle “Why Sexual Orientation Doesn’t Matter” to be disturbing. Sexual Orientation *does* matter when it comes to what faces the gods show their people. A straight man is much more likely to have Freyr come to him as a farmer, the corn-god who gives his life in the fields to feed the people. And yet for gay men he comes in skirts and wearing bells. Eventually as a devotee you’re going to be introduced to the majority of a deity’s faces, but how the deity comes to you initially and why are deeply rooted in who and what you personally are. Transpeople often find/are found by Loki specifically because s/he is both a mother and a father. To say these things “don’t matter” rings false in my ears. Perhaps I would rather say all gods have queer and straight faces.

    1. I wouldn’t say that it “doesn’t matter” in that it doesn’t factor at all (and I think at times it doesn’t, but it depends on the deity and the person), but it was more of a response to those people who say “oh, I can’t worship such-and-such” or people who say “why are YOU worshiping such and such, don’t you know that X is a FERTILITY deity???” as if this somehow invalidates my entire argument. (Even in nature, there are plants and animals that reproduce in other ways besides sexual reproduction. We humans just like to think in sexual terms because that’s how we produce.)

      I would say that there are definitely parts of deities that some people just aren’t going to understand, but that goes for many other traits besides sexual orientation. Like, I don’t relate so much to Freyja as a warrior goddess because I’m not a confrontational person and I’m not involved with the military, police work, or similar professions.

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