Although I have only very recently acquired the language to articulate my experiences, I have never identified comfortably with my assigned gender. From my earliest memories, I have struggled against the things that have been expected of me in the context of my presumed masculinity. I was too sensitive, too passive, too interested in emotional fulfillment, in intellectual pursuits. I had no interest in sports fandom or physical competition – a matter of great consternation to my peers and the adults who surrounded us, given my physical size. I was drawn to darkness, but not to cruelty – I had been subject to too much of it, and could not comprehend the logic whereby it was validated by making others, in their turn, suffer as I had. While I certainly wished destruction upon my enemies, I rarely wished them to suffer or be humiliated, and never carried through on that impulse. I was drawn to contemplative, experiential mysticism, not the violent and muscular Christiantiy that pervaded my home town when I was growing up.
My earliest spiritual practices, after rejecting both the God I found in the Bible and the one advocated by my Protestant peers, began with a pubescent and misinformed obsession with the Yin-Yang, the first non-theistic spiritual symbol I encountered. In a world filled with hard dichotomies of antagonistic oppositions – good versus evil; men versus women; Christians versus everyone – the notion of complimentary opposites, each containing echoes of the other, was deeply appealing to me. It was ignorant wank-sauce Orientalism, I know that now; for what it’s worth, it was 1996 and I attended public school and I didn’t know any better. And, more to the point, today: it was the only place in the world that I had found any context for the parts of myself I now describe as queer. The notion that I might be energetically yin, rather than yang, gave me a way to contextualize myself and my experiences.
When I discovered Paganism, proper – not just energywork and New Age mumbojumbo – I was drawn to Goddess-worship and the effeminate undertones of witchcraft, though I was yet too contaminated by the respectability politics of the 1990s to embrace confrontational quality of the word.
I have more words, now. Better words. I am bisexual. I am queer. I am genderqueer. I am something man-ish; something woman-ish; something neither; something both. “All of the above and none of the above,” I tell people when I’m being pithy. Sometimes, I am more sincere, and just tell people that my gender is “witch”. My pronouns, though I rarely insist on them, are xie/xir. Damn right I use the weird ones that got dropped from even the most inclusive lists.
I started coming out as bisexual in 2001. I embraced the witchcraft identity in 2006, at about the same time that I embraced the label queer. Though I recognize this is not true for everyone – or even most people who use either identifier – those two words are inextricably linked for me. My queer identity and experience inform my witchcraft; my witchcraft shapes my experience of gender. “Witch” is not quite as confrontational as “queer”, but it’s better than “Pagan” (though I use that word, too).
I’ve touched on these themes before. Several times, actually. More times than I’ve just linked. More times than I can remember. And I’ll keep talking about it until the world is a better place. Until admitting to those identities publicly is no longer a potential job-killer at any level of society. Until they no longer come with a risk of having everything you own and/or love taken away by a hostile judge in a divorce hearing. Until they no longer bear the risk of being executed by police and vigilantes.
I’m here. I’m queer. I’m tired. And I’m angry.
I am a witch. I have seen visions such as are granted only to prophets of other faiths. I have raised my friends up and laid my enemies low. I have made love to monsters and screamed in the faces of gods.
I am an artist. I have a penchant for drama. That doesn’t mean I’m lying. Just that I talk about things others would rather keep quiet.
Today is National Coming Out Day. Here I am. Fucking fight me.
Come out if you can. And if you can’t, know that you have friends and allies. You are not alone.