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In my ultimately futile effort to conclude my two-part Solstice-inspired series before Imbolc, here’s the other half of what I was led to reflect on during my trip to San Francisco this Yule.
I’ve long had a complicated, difficult relationship with what’s usually called the Sacred Masculine. A lot of Pagan practice, especially that related to or derived from Wicca, very much centres the notion of the Sacred Masculine as an essential and basic concept along with the Sacred Feminine in a duality that’s seen as the root of nature.
In many ways that’s understandable and very useful to many. But for me it’s always been difficult to relate to. I’ve previously related an especially revelatory incident in which it was assumed that I, as a man, would naturally be drawn to the Sacred Masculine, and how thoroughly that didn’t work.
Sadly, even where we manage to avoid the grosser patriarchal aspects that most of us are trying to get away from, we often present the Sacred Masculine in a way that concentrates on very specific traits or aspects of the world that are culturally defined as lower-case-m masculine.
I already knew it was going to be amazing to be in San Francisco over the Solstice season, and the prospect of an unchained Pagan bonfire on Ocean Beach after two days of Radical Faerie space was already exciting enough. Let alone one, as a commenter pointed out, held while Mercury is in retrograde and there’s a lunar eclipse.
Even then, though, I certainly did not expect to abruptly decide to join the people who were taking all their clothes off and scampering into the Pacific Ocean. (The thought process basically went: “I live in freaking Montreal. How many chances am I going to run naked into the water on the Winter Solstice that don’t involve a hot tub?”)
Anyway, it’s a beautiful season of synchronicity in my life right now, and I’ve been taking advantage of it to think about the uses of gender and sacred androgyny in my Pagan practice, and a few issues arising from it. I won’t expand too much on that practice itself at present*. But here are a few recent things I had really interesting and valuable discussions of during those four days.
I’ve found that, as in all things, it’s super important to consider my cissexual privilege in doing sacred androgyny work. Two different trans friends made more or less the same observation within a few days, in slightly different contexts, that encouraging people to think outside the gender binary plays way differently if you’re speaking to cis or genderqueer people than if you’re speaking to trans people (particularly transsexual people who identify clearly as men or as women).
This was the first time the whole house held a recorded vote on the issue. The tally was 143 for and 131 against. All New Democrats and Bloquistes present voted in favour, as did most Liberals; however three Liberals voted against and several abstained. Most Conservatives voted against, but five voted in favour, including one who spoke against the bill at second reading, which to me indicates that they can be turned. Exciting days ahead.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet Bill several times, and a more self-effacing, caring, devoted MP, with more integrity and commitment to our communities and giving voice to the silenced, you will never meet. He has been in politics for every one of the right reasons. We’re going to lose one of the best MPs Canada has ever had, in my opinion, as well as an unprecedented voice for trans and genderqueer equality.
However, he is not resigning now, but staying in parliament until the next election. So he will continue to shepherd C-389 until then. Also, the bill was seconded by no fewer than 12 MPs, including Megan Leslie of Halifax who has worked with the trans community for years and gave a wonderful speech at 2nd reading. So if it doesn’t pass in this parliament, I’m confident it’ll be reintroduced in the next.
Hey! While you wait for me to get my act together, enjoy this classic piece of femme guy theology from unabashedly flamey gay music duo Romanovsky and Phillips, with the unforgettable title “If There Is A God, He’s a Queen.”
(continued from A Femme Grows in Montreal, part I)
I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18. Continuing in my tradition of learning everything I ever knew about being a fag from lesbians, I first started to consider the label ‘genderqueer’ when I read it in Alison Bechdel’s wonderful comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in the mouth of her butch, drag kinging character Lois, who proclaims, “I enjoy being a girl… in a perverse sort of way.” This gripped me. For me, it had never been a question of reconciling my feminine ways with my manhood; it was about being something other than a man.
At another revelatory time I joined a program that went into schools to do anti-homophobia workshops. As part of the training, a trans person came in and had us play “gender gumby,” a game where we would brainstorm as many labels for gender as we could think of and then drew lines to make up a network of those that applied to us. It was the first time I, personally, had ever been encouraged to think of my gender as potentially non-binary, something other than a check-box. I was thunderstruck.
I identified far more with being a fag than with being a man; given two check-boxes, I would check off M, but I always wanted to scratch it off and write “Femme gay boy” instead. My gender was a queer one.