Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gay Beltaine

Beltane is coming up, with all its "Tra-la, It's May!" imagery.

If you do an image search on Pinterest for "beltane" or "beltaine" you get lots of saucy pictures of white folks dressed in scanty scraps of green, with crystals or elk horns stuck on their foreheads. Or you get suggestively posed trees. There's some maypole dancing, and a few folks jumping over flames. Oh, yeah; and deely-bopper-anteneaed flower fairies.

If you do an image search for "gay beltane" or "gay beltaine" you get _nothing_. Not even gym-queens in Pan drag. Same thing for "lesbian beltane" and "LGBT beltane." Granted, this is Pinterest and not the whole internet. But still, it reflects the heteronormativity of the Neo-pagan community.

I've always had difficulties squaring homosexuality with mainstream Neo-pagan celebrations of Beltaine because attempts to do so seem like simple token substitutions (http://johnburridge.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-im-solitary-neo-pagan.html). To be fair, my latest Google search did bring up an interesting ritual exploring the erotic relationship between the Greenman and the Horned God as a metaphor for the interconnectivity of as the plant kingdom and the as the animal kingdom. ... and then it turned into a discussions of the symbolic roles of tops and bottoms.

Turning away from the internet, when I think of this time, I tend to not think in terms of Beltane and more in terms of it being The Ides of Spring: the purifying balance-point between the new beginnings of the Spring Equinox and the transformations of the Summer Solstice. For me, the male divinity of this festival manifests as an attractive man, drumming, with flowers or a wreath in his hair. I like the custom of jumping over a fire, or passing between two fires as a kind of purification--and a ritual circle of scantily-clad men drumming together around a roaring bon-fire for purification would be enchanting. And hot.

Thinking about the ritual and the erotic energy connected to this festival, I can't help think about boundaries and taboo--which circles around again to purification. And then I get conflicted thinking about how to share this kind of festival with my family. I know balancing body- and sex-positive ritual with family-friendly ritual is an on-going debate within the NeoPagan community, and it gets even more complicated in a mixed-faith family. I imagine some Neo-Pagan families get a babysitter for the "adult" rituals.

Beltane Babysitter. Now there's a story idea.
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