“And it harm none – do what you will!”
I was chatting with Sif Brookes recently, LGBTQIA+ Officer for the Pagan Federation, when she asked me whether my queerness influenced my pagan practice.
What a question!
In some ways there’s a really easy answer… No! But then, my practice is solo, and less about working with pantheons, and more with earth energies. Personal sexuality or gender doesn’t really factor in on a practical level. But it got me thinking…
Every pagan community I have ever been lucky to be a part of has been an absolute safe haven for LGBTQIA+ people. The more people around a fire drinking mead and sharing cake the better in my books. But in my years of work in different faith communities, it’s easy to see that this isn’t always the case.
It is common to find strongly held beliefs against the ‘rightness’ of LGBTQIA+ people within some organised faiths. While this can be challenging, it is part of the reason I enjoy working in these communities so much – to help people find common ground in which to connect is hugely rewarding.
But why does paganism feel so very different? Why are we, on the whole, more accepting?
Is it because a fair few of us are considered odd-balls? Do we have a deeper level of empathy for others who sit outside of the mainstream? Is it because, on the whole, we don’t have other people’s thoughts and beliefs forced on us? Are we more open to individuality because we inherently know the world isn’t black and white, male or female, good or bad. Do we live our lives in the beautiful grey area where all are welcome (except assholes)?
This is, of course, a generalisation. There are nuances to individual thought and I am certainly no scholar who can give any definitive answers. Neither is hostility towards LGBTQIA+ completely absent from the pagan community, despite the high percentage of support.
Trending political issues will inevitably cause heated debates in some circles, especially when fuelled by mead. Should trans people be excluded from their toilets of choice? Should JK Rowling be cancelled? Did The Sydney Morning Herald have the right to pressure Rebel Wilson into coming out publicly? We all have some kind of political leaning – Liberal, Conservative… which, whether we like it or not, may clash with other people’s spiritual ideals.
So, what IS the answer? Why IS paganism so much more supportive of queer people?
I always come back to “And it harm none – do what you will!” This is a central philosophy of my spiritual outlook. It’s one that celebrates individuality, diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. We, as pagans, have a common shared belief in the power of nature, seeing all forms of life as being interconnected. This worldview allows us to embrace people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, recognizing that everyone has a place in the world.
For many pagans, this inclusive mindset makes their path a haven for those who are often marginalized by society, or rejected by other organised religion. By embracing diversity, paganism helps to create a more inclusive world for everyone.
Sass Adams, Interfaith Manager