What does Paganism say about sexual orientation, if anything?
In a technical sense – Paganism, being an umbrella term that encompasses all non-Abrahamic religions – doesn’t really say anything at all, as each of the paths and religions under that umbrella may (or may not) have their own ways of dealing with the issue.
Having said that though, I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a more general sense many Pagans and their associated religions are in some ways more welcoming, or at least more sensitive to the LGBT community, than many of the more mainstream religions might be. However, that is not to say that you won’t find anti-gay, or even downright homophobic individuals or groups within Paganism as a whole.
Some traditions/paths that do have known stances…
- If you look at recent events at PantheaCon the last couple years, to the controversy surrounding “women” only rituals and the comments and actions of Z Budapest (founder of Dianic Witchcraft). This is an ongoing case where it is clear that those who are transgender, are particularly not welcome within certain paths.
- We often hear about racism within some Heathen groups (though it’s important to note that this is not something that is at all condoned by the wider Heathen community), and along with that often comes homophobic sentiments as well. Interestingly in this particular case, it’s something that is not necessarily supported by the lore, as there are definite cases where the Gods – Þórr and Loki in particular, take on gender-opposite roles. In the Þrymskviða, (Poetic Edda) Þórr dresses up as Freyja in order to retrieve Mjölnir, which the jotnar Þrymr has stolen. In the Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), we learn that Loki is actually a mother. Having changed himself into a female mare in order to save Asgard from losing Freyja and the Sun and Moon, and as a result gives birth to Sleipnir. There is some indication though that it may have been considered “unmanly” for a man to do “women’s” work, however that didn’t stop Óðinn from learning Seidh. The following is an interesting read on the topic in general.
- Within Wicca specifically, though Gardner himself was known to be extremely homophobic, my understanding is that many covens will welcome those who are LGBT. Something to keep in mind though, is that though one’s sexual preference, when one is not working with one’s coven, is generally up to them – due to the nature of the religion (being a fertility cult and all that entails), within ritual work, it all comes down to the plumbing (so to speak). Men take on the traditional male rolls, women take on the traditional female rolls, regardless of one’s normal sexual preference.
- There are various groups who are completely inclusive, and clearly welcoming to those of all orientations or gender identities, there is Reclaiming, or Feri, and some Traditional Witchcraft paths – though those are more apt to be gender specific, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, or Dianic.
So in general there are many choices if one is looking for LGBT support within the Pagan community. Of course like any where else in life (at least until we can get to a point where one’s sexual preference/gender identity is no longer an issue), it’s matter of finding place that fits us the best.