I met my inner feminine at the age of 30, at the same time as I was becoming sick with AIDS and waking up to the spiritual dimensions underlying life’s exterior dramas. Embracing the feminine aspect of my soul was part of the journey I have taken into mysticism as a way of perceiving the experience of life on earth. I never desired an exterior, bodily, gender transformation, instead saw the potential of the inner marriage of the genders within myself to bring me to greater understanding, wisdom and freedom. I sought from then on to develop both female and male aspects of my personal unique incarnation of the spiritual, non-binary Self that manifests in all beings.
When I met the Radical Faeries of Europe on the Dutch island of Terschelling in 2001 I walked into a scenario where gay men delighted to don feminine attire and sing Goddess chants. I knew I had found my tribe, come home after the 5 year long transformation that HIV led me into, preparing me for this new, magical, life. Through my own inner femaleness I had met the Divine Feminine and stepped into my soul purpose as a priest of the Goddess, of the Moon, of the Divine Mother. This is how I see the Radical Faeries – as a tribe of Goddess people, who communicate with Her and with ancestors, animals and elementals. We are that natural shamanic queer spirit that connects worlds and heals communities… that talks to the spirits of the weather… emerging from the undergrowth of western so-called civilisation, emerging in a culture that tried to explain away who we are in terms of gender and sexuality, that slaughtered so many of our kind over so many centuries that even WE forgot who we are.
In a post-colonial world, the historical experience in non western cultures of what the modern world calls trans, non-binary, gay and lesbian people is revealing to gay people in the west so much about who we really are, and the journey of emancipation and acceptance in society has gone far enough for us to get together and discover the magical, spiritual qualities in our souls for ourselves. And if we dive far enough back into the roots of western society we find queer shamanic souls playing the same sacred roles in pre-literate cultures and in the temples of the ancient civilisations, many myths from which show intimate, fundamental links between transgender people, same sex oriented love and the sacred.
In The Spirit Of Intimacy (published 2000), priestess of the Dagara Tribe of West Africa Sobonfu Some wrote:
“The words gay and lesbian do not exist in the village, but there is the word gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are people who live a life at the edge between the worlds – the world of the village and the world of spirit.
“What they do, they don’t like to communicate to anyone. It is their right to keep it to themselves. Everybody in the village respects that because without gatekeepers, there is no access to other worlds. Most people in the West define themselves and others by sexual orientation. This way of looking at gatekeepers will kill the spirit of the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers in the village are able to do their job simply because of strong spiritual connection, and also their ability to direct their sexual energy not to other people but to spirit.
“The gatekeepers stand on the threshold of the gender line. They are mediators between the two genders. They make sure there is peace and balance between women and men. If the two genders are in conflict and the whole village is caught in it, the gatekeepers are the ones to bring peace. Gatekeepers do not take sides. They simply act as “the sword of truth and integrity.
“Gays and lesbians in the West are often very spiritual, but they have been taken away from their connection with spirit. My feeling is that without that outlet or that role in the culture, they have to find other ways of defining themselves. This could be one of the reasons why they would want to get married or make themselves look as though they do not have a unique purpose.”
In classic binary terms:
Feminine power channels through emotion and spirit
Masculine power through body and mind.
Every living being requires both aspects to function.
Men have neglected their inner feminine
Women have been denied access to their inner masculine
and those who embody both male and femaleness in their bodies,
who once held holy roles in every corner of the earth,
have been long denied their right to be who they are
and in the West are still the most attacked and hated of all queer people.
BUT WHO INVENTED THE BINARY SYSTEM? The scientific minded West.
Other cultures, and older western ones, had more holistic views of human nature:
Gender is a spectrum. All forms of love are sacred.
Separation is an illusion. All life is One.
“Transsexuality comes to us with all the power of a divine force who will not be denied. If we recognize it and accept it as a true vision of the self from the deepest part of the psyche, if we carry the Goddess with us …..then we may find it opens us to a life of spirituality and joy. If we try to deny or belittle it, or explain it away, it can destroy us.” Rachel Pollack, Archetypal Transsexuality, 1995
I’m a History graduate and more fascinated by it than ever these days. History – we must remember – has been seen thru a straight Christocentric gaze until recently. When straights defined Homosexuality they had no idea about who queer people really are. Edward Carpenter and others tried to tell them. John Addington Symonds is one of my favourites, he proposed getting to the root of religious homophobia, ie our role in pagan times, something the modern gay rights movement, born in a secular age, hasn’t addressed. Nor can gay Christians address it. Only we who live it can show the world who we are.
“Transgendered people have long been robbed of their own spiritual history, not knowing that there were once times and places where ours was considered a spiritual path in and of itself… We are all sacred and it is time that the world knew it.” Raven Kaldera
See this amazing video from Alok Vaid-Menon on trans awareness:
Check out also the Youtube channel of Ashton Colby for “videos that dive deeper into narratives of gender transition that say it is so much more than physical changes!”