|Aphrodite Pandemos"Common to all people" Aphrodite of unity.|
I've been looking into getting back into the local pagan community lately, to find a group of like-minded people whom I can call kindred. Firstly, I looked for trad witches, then I looked for green witches/herbal sorcerers/plant shamans and poisoners, then I settled on something broad and even more personal for me; LGBTQ pagan groups, people I can talk to about how sexuality and romance are so intrinsic to my interests as a practitioner. I encounter a lot of different sexualities both at my workplace (a college) and in the pagan community. Pansexuality is commonplace in the online pagan community it seems; perhaps it's because pagans tend to be "other", they tend to be viewed as outsiders and thus there is a myth of general and genuine acceptance for all walks of life, or so I thought.
In the community I've had my fair share of bad and good experiences regarding sexuality. I've had the blessing of being involved in groups who are open to all kinds of people, who focus on the larger movement of earth-centered spirituality rather than on the personal sexual lives of seekers. On the other hand, I've met a high priest who worked diligently to build a coven for gay men and who looked down his nose at women as a gender, I've met a high priest and priestess who demanded that only straight couples of good fertility join their circle. I've encountered groups of Dianic Wiccans who shamefully snub any woman who isn't attracted to other women and I've encountered all-female groups who reject the transgender woman because she was born with an XY chromosome. I've even had one bad experience of meeting a truly homophobic high priestess who believed Wiccans ought not go outside the gender binary, that a woman isn't a woman unless she has a masculine counterpart (she's also the kind of Wiccan who thinks that only in being mother can one understand the "goddess"). It's embarrassing when these kinds of people take up a circle or group, just as it is probably embarrassing to Christians to see WBC fly their hate, the same way my Muslim friends detest militant Islamists.
For me, it has been my encounters with sexual absolutists that makes me wonder if I even belong in the local LGTBQ pagan community. Every day I encounter people at work and in the online pagan community who are not homophobic- worse, they're homosexuals who think that the world is divided into Gay and Straight and anyone who falls outside of those particular norms are either A: crazy, B: lying or C: confused. I don't see the difference between a heterosexual saying homosexuality isn't real because they themselves are not gay and a gay person saying bisexuality doesn't exist because they themselves aren't bisexual. It's the same bigotry, the same ignorance, the same shameless narcissism directed at anyone who isn't fitting into a familiar sexual compartment. While the backward mindset of sexual absolutism is finally dying, it still persists, even in our little community of misfits.
I am not bisexual. I am not straight. I am not gay. I do not experience instantaneous sexual attraction to any particular gender, I do not experience sexual desire for men or/and women. Gender does not play a factor in my attraction romantic or sexual, nor am I comfortable with the idea that being attracted to a gender is normal. I don't view gender-based attraction as normalcy because I am neither straight, gay nor bisexual. I am indifferent to the anatomical aspect frankly. Don't get me wrong; of course I experience aesthetic pleasure from looking at people, everyone has their aesthetic appeal but it's not the same as sexual desire or attraction, it's more in the way one would admire a new flower, a beautiful bird, a sunny day or a lovely storm. It is shallow, superficial and based solely on the aesthetic appeal.
Sexual attraction to me comes from either someone's unique appearance or their display of intellect, both of which are the beginning and end of sexual appeal for me. I don't think to myself "gosh what a lovely pair of breasts" or "gosh, what great abs he has". It usually is something striking in their demeanor, in the way they style themselves or address the world around them, and if they happen to open their mouths and something witty or particularly brilliant comes out, then I find myself very attracted in every sense. To me, this is normal. It's how I feel, it's natural to see the appeal in almost anyone and to be frank, any person of any gender can, ehem, get the job done, so being picky over something as frivolous as a specific anatomical body part or their gender identity doesn't really factor for me. I used to think I was alone, that I was odd or that maybe I was just kidding myself. But the older and wiser I get, the more in-tune I become to myself and the more I realize that my sexual compass, the one almost everyone has, never points in a direction, it spins and spins and settles on anyone I find interesting. My being with Andrew (a man) is sometimes seen as indicative of a sexual preference. The truth is, the trait of intellect, wit, honesty, critical reasoning, self-containment and level-headedness I find so attractive is manifest in the people I date and the fact that many women do not fit these qualities has nothing to do with a preference and everything to do with a society that teaches many girls, as a rule, to be insipid, overly emotional and shallow. Plenty of men display these same traits too, and I'm just not attracted to it, the fact that I've encountered more women than men with these traits is a matter of society, not preference. I'm surprised by how many people I meet can't wrap their minds around me. When I'm with some of my lesbian friends, they laugh at my gender-indifference, some even go as far as to tell me that I must be confused; one can only be straight or gay, one can only be defined by that small, unrealistic scale. When I'm with some of my straight female friends, they tend to be much kinder, much more aware and accepting of the idea that sexuality can be a fluid thing, that some people aren't born oriented towards a particular gender (like hetero and homosexuals) or towards both "traditional genders" (like bisexuals), that some of us blissfully skip over that part and let our needs take us where we may go.
In trying to find a community or circle of pagans in which to bond to here in Seattle, I expected to find openness and acceptance in the LGBTQ pagan communities. This is not what I've found. What I've found are gays who think I'm confused, heteros who think I'm flaky and bisexuals who think I'm like them when I am not. It makes me worried that our community isn't nearly as eclectic and open-minded as as I want to believe. From what I know, there are no LGBTQ pagan circles in the area for people of asexual and pansexual/omnisexual varieties, and I'm in no hurry to leave my unsociable cocoon to start one. I had hoped to find a LGTBQ pagan group that would be a good fit, that would live up the high expectations I have for pagans as a spiritual community but the search continues. I wonder, is this normal? Are most queer-friendly pagan groups so very... narrow-minded? Do people really, truly believe that sexuality is a game of extremes rather than a gray scale of endless options? Wherever those open-minded pagans are, I hope to find them some day.