Queer I Stand
There are, of course, exceptions. For every Kali who comes to me as an aged Indian woman in white and embraces me as a child, laughing with me and weeping with me and calling me her daughter, there's also a Loki who gets my attention by flirting (in a very sexual manner) at the edges of my consciousness, and then gives me dreams of skeletally-thin individuals slowly melting into pools of blood in a theatre full of spectators as if it is a scene they all want to watch, and I am forced to watch along with them. Yes, both of those things happened... and, yet, though I don't know him very well at this point, I still do like Loki for appearing in this way as much as I like Kali for appearing to me as she did! And, for those who have experience of these matters, it is never particularly fun nor easy to encounter Typhon, not only because of how ferocious he is by nature, but because of how pained he is in his punishment. Though I am not perfect, I find it possible within myself to feel compassion even for a being who set out to overthrow the very order of the universe itself. But what all of these encounters share in common with all of the most beautiful and beatific encounters I've had with other deities is that all of them are convulsively powerful-to even be in the presence of a god and to have them in one's sensual or extra-sensual perceptions is to have the very medium of those perceptions stretched to near-breaking point. While I am not yet blind, deaf, or completely insane from having seen, heard, and felt such things, one can easily understand how such results might occur as a result of prolonged exposure. And yet, I persist in my devotions....
It's difficult to refute, I think, that Antinous is one of the most superlatively beautiful deities there has ever been, given that he was a human whose face and figure we have come to know through a profusion of images, and his particular physiological proportions seem to be pleasing to the eyes of people of every gender and sexual orientation. But, one of my earliest experiences of him was not of the usual "pretty boy" image many people might think he has, or even is, based on all of those statues and the ways in which he has been described by poets and devotees over the centuries. An Antinous whose face is contorted into a barbaric battle cry, screaming for justice with cheeks streamed by tears, charging into battle with spear brandished over his head, bloodied and dirtied and wounded, and holding in one hand a severed head that is his own stoic and expressionless face, beautiful but bloodless, and found in some of his extant images and idealized by so many modern and premodern people... this is Antinous the Liberator, the most ferocious and active, transformative and transforming, dynamic and powerful manifestation he has yet taken for me. It is easy to love an Antinous whose hair smells like flowers and whose skin tastes like honey; it's much harder to love an Antinous who is moved to tears and violence at all of the injustices of the world, and even harder still to take up arms and join him, and-if necessary-have one's own injustices of soul rooted out at the tip of his spear. But, that is the liberation that we are called to when Antinous the Liberator approaches.
Or, to take another example from my devotional life, there is Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Ulster. Those who are familiar with his extant myths from medieval Ireland know that few of his sexual encounters (though there were many of those!) are described in even the scantest non-general detail (for the Irish had a bit of a geis when it came to "exposing the secrets of the bed-chamber," which is probably a good rule to follow in general!). But his one-night stand with Úathach is described at some length: it ends when he accidentally breaks her finger and all of her mother Scáthach's men come to rescue her... and, of course, meet their deaths at the Hound's hands. One does not lie down with Cú Chulainn in ignorance that he brings his sword and his spears to bed with him, and he's not afraid to use either or both in the course of a good romp. The same is true when he sits down to eat, when he stops to converse on the road, or when he deals in peace or in wrath with a poet (and since I'm the latter, I know this better than many!). One only needs to know that his foster-brother and lover Fer Diad was slain by him, ultimately because of questions of honor and duty, and his lament over him was more bitter than any uttered in Ireland over any slain warrior to know that for Cú Chulainn, those he loves most are often the ones he hurts the most.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is a metagender and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist religious group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and other related gods and divine figures). E is a contributing member of Neos Alexandria and a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan in the filidecht and gentlidecht traditions. Follow Lupus' work on the Aedicula Antinoi blog.