Heathenry and Homosexuality. Look on any internet forum or social media group and this topic always brings out the worst in everyone. I am going to attempt to wade into this and make some sense of it all, but most likely I’ll just end up making more of a mess.
Full disclaimer, I am a gay married man, I live with my husband whom I love very much. That being said…
As it relates to Heathenry, there is very little to go on in regards to homosexuality when it comes to the lore. Heathens don’t have a Bible, we have stories. They are allegorical. Yes, I know there are fundamentalists that believe that the gods were literally licked into existence by a cosmic cow, but at some point the adults in the room have to seize the conversation and tell the children to pipe down. There are two main points that some Heathens who aren’t exactly fans of The Gay bring up whenever the topic is broached. The first one they bring up is the account of Tacitus regarding ancient Germanic law. Tacitus was born in 56 A.D. and lived to 117 A.D. The other point I will get to in a minute but I want to put Tacitus to rest with one simple point.
He lived almost 2,000 years ago.
I know that Heathens revere our ancestors, but we don’t think the way they did. We don’t live the way they did. We’ve changed and evolved over the centuries. There’s nothing wrong with looking to the past for guidance, but we shouldn’t be looking to the past and deliberately repeating mistakes. We scoff at Christians who believe the earth is literally 6,000 years old, flat, and the center of the universe, why should we compete with them in the Ignorance Olympics? What ancient Germanic people allegedly did to homosexuals who were tried and convicted of the offense was, by today’s standard, barbaric and stupid, but to them? They lived in harsher times where reproduction was much more crucial to their survival so they did what they could to discourage non-procreative sexual activity. We know better, so let’s stop it with this notion that Tacitus was an authoritative source on how every tribe dealt with homosexuality. He didn’t even know every tribe. He only wrote about the ones he encountered, and that could be another three paragraphs if we got into that particular tangent.
The second point that gets brought up is even more insipid because it’s kind of like prison logic. It isn’t really gay if you’re the top, basically. If you were the one doing the deed, either poking Olaf in the dumper or having him shine your knob, then you were perfectly fine, no harm no foul. Olaf, on the other hand, or any man who took the submissive role was seen to be acting shamefully and was considered weak, and may have been called an ergi. To be called ergi was a grave insult and one that often resulted in bloodshed. However, even being a bottom wasn’t necessarily punishable by death or outlawry, and because of the loaded nature of the term, no pun intended, it wasn’t an insult that was thrown around much because let’s face it, depending on who it was, they might be able to beat the shit out of you in a fight or even put a sword in your belly for saying it.
Regardless of how I feel about these notions, I am not going to whitewash the past and say that our Pagan and Heathen ancestors were all-accepting and perfectly fine with homosexuality. A lot of tribes weren’t and it wasn’t just the Roman and Christian influence at work. Many ancient religions and cultures had taboos regarding sexual behavior. I’d like to think we’ve moved on from those by now as we learn more about nature and nurture and about human sexuality and how it exists on a multi-dimensional continuum and is not binary in the least, but let’s stick to the main focus at hand, eh?
Now that we’ve gotten the Tacitus issue and the ergi issue resolved, what is left?
Simple. Personal dislike.
For too many, it’s not enough to just say, “I don’t like the idea of gay sex”. They have to find something else to justify it and make it seem like it’s some sort of crime against nature, or that the notion of it offends the gods. Let me disabuse you of some of these notions.
1. It’s against the laws of nature. People who say this are not very observant of nature, as homosexuality has been documented in hundreds of species. When you hit them with that, they backtrack and say “Well, animals eat their young too, so we shouldn’t look to the animal kingdom.” Well, which is it, stupid? You can’t say it’s against the laws of nature and then, when refuted by nature, say we shouldn’t look to nature. Also, how are we even communicating? Is it by smoke signal? Carrier pigeon? The Pony Express? Or are we using a machine that allows us to instantly communicate with others around the world in real time? Does that sound natural to you? How did you get to work today? Did you ride a horse or walk, or did you take a bus or drive a car, both made from human beings taking raw nature and forging it into a tool to make your lives easier? How did you get your dinner? Did you hunt it? Did you raise cattle and pigs for meat on a farm and grow your own fruits, grains, and vegetables, or like most people, did you go to a grocery store or maybe a restaurant? If the latter, turn in your nature card now, and if you’ve ever been on a plane you can never, ever talk about the laws of nature because if Odin wanted us to fly he would have given us wings or at LEAST a chariot drawn by some sort of animal that flies but has no wings (looking at you, Thor). Like it or not, homosexuality is a part of nature, always has been, always will be. The tribes that Tacitus chronicled did not stamp it out, Christianity did not stamp it out, and neither will Islam or any other brutal, repressive religious institution or government.
2. It offends the gods. No it doesn’t. The gods don’t give a rip what we do with our genitals. It’s not even on their radar. What hubris to think that any of the gods or goddesses would care who we slept with. And what a Christian notion this is, too. Our gods are not omnipotent and not omniscient. They are not aware of what we do and when we do it or why, and even if Odin is Santa Claus, he’s not making a list and checking it twice. The gods have their own roles and their own agenda. Besides, if the idea of gay sex offends the gods so much, why make it possible and pleasurable? Unlike Christians, we can’t fall back on original sin, or say that well, the gods gave us free will, but if we do something they don’t like (even though it’s not documented in any stories involving the gods that they disapprove of gay sex) then we’re “rebelling” against them. If our gods did not want us to have gay sex, they would have made it not possible, not pleasurable, or they would have been explicitly clear in forbidding it, but none of that is evident, so the logical conclusion is that the gods don’t care who you fuck.
3. One last entry here is in regards to family and passing on your bloodlines. Of all of the arguments, this one holds the most merit but not by much. Because this religion venerates ancestors, some believe it is a disservice to them if we, in turn, do not have children of our own. There is a certain romanticism to that sentiment which is undeniable, but it is also just that- sentimental, and not representative of anything of true substance. Gay people can reproduce. Nowadays you don’t even have to have sex to create a child. However, many gay & lesbian folks have reproduced, just not with same-sex partners. Some gay couples adopt children, and adoption was something we know our ancestors practiced as well as the gods themselves. And let’s look at the sadder side to this- not everyone is capable of having children. Some men don’t have a high enough sperm count. Some women are infertile. That’s a really shitty thing for anyone to have to deal with but that’s no reason to reject them. Some people are killed before they are able to have kids. It’s sad, but it happens. Not everyone gets to have or even wants to have kids. We all know people who probably shouldn’t have kids. Let’s put this romanticism to rest, not everyone needs to have kids.
So what, then, is the answer, especially if you don’t agree with anything I’ve said?
You don’t have to agree with me. You can, and I am sure some of you do, think that everything I said here and in all my other posts on Heathenry is total bullshit. And, honestly, I don’t care if you think that because you are not in my Innangarð. I owe you nothing, I am simply writing this to give you some insight and perspective. Take it or leave it. And just as you are not in my Innangarð, I am not in yours. See how that works? My kin, my clan, the people I hold close to me, my family, my community, they know me and accept my husband and I for who we are. Period. And as they have a right to accept us, you have a right to reject LGBT people in your own circles and kindreds. I don’t recommend it, because should any of you have a gay or lesbian child it can cause unnecessary hurt and drama, but again, that’s on you. And that’s exactly what this comes down to. You.
You dislike gay sex for whatever reason and that’s okay. You don’t have to like the idea of a sex act that makes you uncomfortable to think about. Just have the courage to own your feelings. Don’t pass them off on the gods, the ancestors, on Asatru or on Mother Nature. Don’t pass them on to gay people as if we could just stop being gay and spare you the pain. It’s not our fault that you don’t like gay people, take ownership of your thoughts and feelings. Maybe challenge them a little bit, but don’t avoid responsibility for them, that’s just gutless.
When it comes to greater politics and society, everyone should have equal rights and protection under the law. When it comes to Innangarð, and who you keep within that circle, that’s up to you. Whether or not your decision is wise or reasonable will be determined by the result of your deeds and actions and whatever luck flows from them, and that’s not for me to determine. I can only offer my perspective.