Queer I Stand
The (Non-) Queer Polytheist Olympics
But, apart from the homoeroticism of Zeus with Ganymede, Apollon with Hyakinthos (and many others!), and Herakles with Hylas (and others!), what does anything "queer" have to do with the Olympics? Pelops himself was involved as the younger partner in a homoerotic relationship with the god Poseidon, which was said to have been the origin of intergenerational homoeroticism in some ancient Greek sources. Pelops was resurrected from his father Tantalus's cannibalistic sacrifice of him to the gods as a trick, and then became Poseidon's youthful lover. Unfortunately, Pelops was banished from Olympus by Zeus over his lingering anger at his father Tantalus for stealing offerings to the gods. Eventually, Pelops wooed and won Hippodamia with a chariot-race that used horses that he obtained from Poseidon as a token of their former love. He had a hero-shrine at Olympia in Elis that was renowned for its bloody sacrifices to the hero as a chthonic deity, and the Peloponnese was named after him. His children included Atreus, who killed one of his brothers and was the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus, and grandfather of Orestes. A great deal of bloodguilt attached itself to this family generation after generation.
Whether knowingly or not, the Olympic Games were re-founded in a legacy that not only honored the gods and heroes of the ancient world, but also one of the mythological first homoerotic relationships, and one of the most tragically conflicted heroic families of classical myth as well. Perhaps we should not be surprised that such controversies occur under the name of an event so tied to these figures that were heavy with bloodguilt.
Of course, the Greeks never would have imagined any of the "Winter Olympics" events as even being possible or desirable, for gymnastics—the name itself indicating nudity—were done nude, whereas that would be impossible (or at least quite uncomfortable) for most of the events that will be showcased over the next few weeks. Athleticism and competition are certainly laudable in a variety of ways, and for all sorts of reasons that should appeal to many Pagans and polytheists.
But, I'm sure Pelops and Poseidon are both equally amused and annoyed at the legacy of their actions as they play out on the international stage in Putin's Russia in 2014. If it isn't queer and polytheistic, it hardly deserves the name of "Olympic Games."
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.