A Witch Alone?
Posted: On WitchVox July 25th. 1999
It seems impossible to escape the all-pervasive notion of blissful partnership which characterizes our modern society. Everywhere we turn, we are confronted by couples. Virtually every movie filmed seems to end with the good guys living happily ever after together. Thousands of Harlequin Romances and Hallmark Cards celebrate the joy of perfect love.
Let's forget, for the moment, that the vast majority of this is directed at heterosexuals. Love is love, after all, regardless of gender something which homosexuals have known for a very long time.
The gay community is no different, really. In fact, given the stresses of living as a homosexual and the relative infrequency of finding others like yourself, one could argue that the pressure to find a mate is even greater. Acceptance, at least for certain circles in gay society, can be a dicey thing. Wear the right clothes and wield the right 'tude, and you'll be popular in no time. And let's not forget to make certain you have the right thing hanging on your arm no, I'm not talking purses. More often than not, straight or gay, we are defined by not who we are, but who we have.
So where does this leave the mate-less, matchless individual? And what does any of this have to do with Paganism?
A great deal, if you happen to be gay, single, and Pagan.
There's a reason I chose to write an essay which deals with these issues. Namely, a personal experience of my own which ties all these facets together into something which vaguely resembles coherence. Bear with me.
Somehow, being gay and single isn't quite the same as being straight and single. It can be a depressing experience to find yourself alone in a world where there is an intense drive to just find someone anyone and that drive is far more intense in the gay communities I've seen. There's a hidden pressure to grab whatever you can before someone else does, and it can lead to frustration and depression when the person you're seeking just doesn't seem to exist.
Not so long ago, that frustrated individual was me. I was tired of being alone, tired of watching everyone else find relationships while I found nothing. Sometimes, at night, I would walk outside to look up at the sky and ask the Goddess to help me find love. It seems humorous now, but I was in deadly earnest. I knew She was listening.
The last straw came when my roommate, who is also gay, stumbled into a relationship. I was furious. Seething, I walked out into the evening rain to vent my frustrations. I was filled to bursting with envy, bitterness, and anger. It's all completely irrational, of course, but that doesn't make the emotions any less powerful.
As I raged, a sudden thought crept into my mind. What was I doing? What sort of person becomes enraged when a friend finds happiness? Slowly, it dawned on me that my quest for love had been completely misguided. I was in no state to receive love from another person, never mind return love in any measure. Clearly, I had a lot of work to do on myself before that would ever be possible.
That's when I looked up at the leaden sky. Right overhead, the thick clouds drifted apart to reveal the silvery moon and nothing else. I was stunned. I knew it was the Goddess, affirming what I had just discovered. I could almost feel Her smile, almost hear Her whisper, Exactly.
I asked the Goddess to help me find love, and She did. She helped me find love for myself. Since that night, I have slowly come to the realization that the love I was searching for starts from within, and that without that self-respect, love offered from another is meaningless. I've also realized that the Goddess and the God love me more than any individual ever could, and that I am beautiful in Their eyes. The challenge is to now see myself the same way They do. It isn't easy, unfortunately, but I know Their hands will steady me each time I stumble.
This all comes back to being single, eventually. We need to ignore the silent pressure which society exerts on us all, telling us we need another person to make us complete, that to be alone is to be somehow undesirable and imperfect. I recently had a friend of mine ask me how I can be so happy without a relationship, and I replied, "Because I'm thankful for what I have, not saddened by what I don't have." I think that's a good rule to live each day by. And I think it's a rule which Paganism offers to its many followers in many different ways. We have the incredible privilege of being able to see the world in a unique fashion. We are lucky enough to realize that we are never truly alone.
This isn't a lesson which applies solely to gay people, of course. It's just more meaningful for some of us, I think, because we face that invisible pressure in a way that straight people don't normally experience. We know better how the people we love can define and shape us. Pagans know it, too none of us can deny how we are shaped by the awesome love of the Gods. We get to experience it every day.
Cernan -- July 12, 1999