Posted: On WitchVox February 16th. 2003
In many forms of Paganism a new member usually goes through some type of initiation. Usually these are planned ceremonies with certain steps that are performed and certain oaths that are spoken. I'd like to talk to you about another type of initiation; one that is equally -- if not more -- powerful than any type of planned ritual. I'm talking about initiation as a Queer person.
Now I'm not talking about realizing that you are Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual or Transgendered. Those are things that most of us realize from a very earlier age and it's simply part of us throughout our lives, for better or worse. Nor am I talking about when you have your first sexual encounter. That is an exciting and sometimes scary experience that is a right of passage all its own.
No, what I'm talking about is the Initiation into the Queer world. A type of Gay Vision Quest that we all must go on to discover the great power and mystery that exists within all of us as Queer people. I bring this up because not too long ago, I went on my own Gay Vision Quest.
I'd been out of the closet for about two years. I'd met other Queer people, got involved in GLBT organizations and even dated. As far as I was concerned, I was living the Gay lifestyle. Then last summer I took a vacation with my family (my mother and my little brother) to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.
My mother, a wonderful and incredibly supportive woman, deliberately chose to vacation at Rehoboth Beach as opposed to nearby Ocean City because of the large and very visible GLBT population of Rehoboth. I had never been around so many Queer people in my life. It was amazing to me!
My mother's masseuse had told me that I should check out the Blue Moon, a gay bar, while I was in Rehoboth. The first night we were there, a Friday night, I wandered to the bar by myself. I thought it would be pretty easy; all I had to do was walk right in right? I ended up walking up and down the street afraid to go in. I had just recently turned 21 and had never been into a bar before (for the purpose of drinking anyways), let alone a GAY bar.
I left the street and walked onto the empty beach. A bright crescent moon hung overhead. I walked barefoot in the sand as I listened to the crashing of the ocean waves. I had lived in Colorado most of my life and was unfamiliar with the vastness of the ocean. I stared out into the black waters of the ocean and listened to the voice of the Goddess. She told me to be strong, like the ocean. Somewhat disappointed in myself for being so afraid, I walked back to the hotel and told myself that I would go to the Blue Moon tomorrow night.
I didn't think much about the Blue Moon all the next day. Early that night my mother took me to an Irish Pub so that I could have a shot of Tequila. We didn't stay long and soon I found myself wandering to the Blue Moon again. This time I sat on a bench across the street and just watched the people go in and out. Men in tight pants and even tighter shirts flooded into the bar. It looked overflowing with bronzed gods. I sat there on the bench and wondered if there was really any place for me in that world. Here I was a lanky and awkward 6-foot and half tall 21-year-old gay kid. I'd been walking a Pagan path since I was a freshman in high school. Most of the issues and activities in my life centered around spirituality. I think I really considered myself a deeply spiritual person and not a gay person at all.
"Surely I don't belong in this world," I thought as I stared across the street at the bar. "There must be more to it than this..." Overwhelmed with feelings of fear, anguish and grief, I walked back to the hotel without entering the Blue Moon. I cried most of the way back. I hurt inside. I was afraid and I didn't know why.
When I woke up the next morning, I knew that if I was going to do this, I needed help. I've been pretty independent most of my life and it's really hard for me to ask for help. I guess I thought it a sign of weakness. My options were running out. I turned to my mother and asked her to go with me to the Blue Moon because I couldn't do it by myself. She agreed to go.
That night, my last night in Rehoboth, my mother and I went to the Blue Moon. My mom just walked right up to the door and walked right in without any hesitation whatsoever. It really impressed me. She went up to the bar and got us some drinks. I shuffled through the packed little building. I thought to myself that they must have deliberately made the rooms so small. I was forced to rub up against other men. I liked it.
My mom and I sat down at the back of the bar and she struck up a conversation with a group of men sitting nearby. She told them it was my first time being in a gay bar and they remarked how much of a virgin I was, as though going to a gay bar was part of every gay man's life, kind of like brushing your teeth.
During this time my mom kept handing me drink after drink. Funny thing was that I grew up in a small town in the west and had never been drunk before. It was an interesting experience. I found it nearly impossible to stop talking and I think I told my mom some things that I normally would have been too afraid to tell her. Walking became an effort as I struggled to find my way to the restroom. I only tripped once.
Eventually we got tired of the noise and went out to the front patio to sit and talk. My mom disappeared somewhere and I just started talking with the guy next to me. He was telling me what a great place Rehoboth was and I mentioned that I was an art student and he told me that his partner was an art teacher. I don't recall how long we sat there talking but at some point late in the night, when the crowd inside had died down a bit, my mom and I stumbled back to the hotel.
That night I felt freer than I had ever been in my entire life. I walked into a place where I felt that I didn't belong only to find that I was surrounded by wonderful loving people. I think that night showed me a glimpse of the majesty of Queer people. I think that ours is the strongest power of all because it is the power of love.
I was pretty sick the next morning, but my soul felt great. Looking back on it, I found that my vacation in Rehoboth was a spontaneous initiation. I traveled far from home, experienced great pain and visions, and in the end I emerged into a new and wonderful world. My mind had been opened and my Queer Spirit had been set free.
Bio: I'm a 21-year-old art student attending college at CSU-Pueblo in southern Colorado. I'm also the president of the 1 in 10 club, CSU-Pueblo's Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender club. I'm an eclectic Pagan that has been practicing for 8 years. I'm also involved in the local CUUPS group.