How Do Pagans Feel About Homosexuality?

Gay Couple Holding Hands
Many Pagans have a fairly open-minded view of homosexuality. Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images

In many Wiccan traditions, it's common to have an equal number of male and female members. This is because, among other things, it helps create an equal balance of male and female energy. However, there are an increasing number of Pagan groups which are founded by and geared towards gay members, and may only take initiates of one gender, rather than having a balance of male and female.

Did You Know?

  • You'll find members of the LGBT community at most Pagan gatherings, and many Pagan clergy members are happy to perform same-sex handfastings and weddings.
  • Not all Pagans follow the same sets of guidelines or beliefs, but many are accepting of a wide range of sexual and gender identities.
  • There has been some controversy in the Pagan community about inclusion of transgender members; many groups are distancing themselves from those who are anti-trans.

Keep in mind that not all Pagans follow the same sets of guidelines or beliefs, so what is okay to one group may not be acceptable to another.

Pagans and the LGBT Community Today

Silhouette Friends Holding Hands With Arms Raised Against Orange Sky
Manop Phimsit / EyeEm / Getty Images

Much like other issues, in general, you'll often find that Pagans are very accepting of homosexuality. That's due in no small part to the fact that a lot of Pagans figure it's none of their business who someone else loves. There also tends to be support of the idea that acts of love, pleasure and beauty are sacred—no matter which adults happen to be participating.

In the past, some books published by Pagan authors have had a more conservative view towards gay members. That trend is changing, and at any Pagan gathering you'll probably find a higher proportion of gays and lesbians than you would in the general population. You'll also find trans men and women standing in circle with their straight, cis-gendered friends, and you'll meet plenty of other people who don't fit into a tidy little label on the gender identity spectrum.

Some Pagan traditions are strictly for gay members, and many accept and welcome gay, bisexual and transgender seekers side-by-side with their heterosexual peers, although obviously not all will be completely accepting. Many Pagan clergy people are willing to perform same-sex handfastings and commitment ceremonies.

Homosexuality in Early Cultures

Greek vase painting of Achilles and Patroclus. Artist: Sosias
Print Collector/Getty Images / Getty Images

Having gay people in a community is hardly anything new, and in some cultures, GLBT members were considered to be closer to the divine. Valerie Hadden of Examiner says, "Many ancient pagan peoples revered what we would now call LGBT or gay people. Ancient Greece is famous for its acceptance of male-male relationships. In numerous ancient Native American cultures certain men... were called “two-spirits” and were often shamans."

Many prominent, well known Pagans today are not only gay, but they are writing and speaking out about the unique issues that non-binary members of our community face. Christopher Penczak has written extensively about the subject, and his 2003 book Gay Witchcraft is on a number of recommended reading lists. Michael Thomas Ford's book, The Path Of The Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca and Living a Magical Life, is another recommended title, which explores the connection between sexuality and spirituality. 

Penczak writes over at WitchVox,

"World mythology is filled with images of gay deities. As I struggled with my gayness throughout my Catholic school days, I always heard that homosexuality was "not natural" and "against God." I had no idea that prior cultures not only acknowledged same sex love as part of life, but some cultures actually celebrated such love as divine. In these societies, the priests and priestess were often gay or transgendered...  I know I was surprised myself to find out some of my favorite gods and goddesses had gay, lesbian and transgender associations. Such unusual research will be seen as biased by many, but from the gay community, traditional research on such topics has always been biased."

He adds that the exploration of gender-variant topics in modern Paganism can present a new image of the divine to us, and that practitioners of the magical arts can learn more about deities via a direct relationship with them. Many people believe that if we can identify with a deity who has similar gender characteristics to us, we can find those gods and goddesses as a divine connection, and subsequently, see ourselves in a spiritual mirror.

Transgender Community Members and Safe Spaces

A transmasculine gender-nonconforming person and transfeminine non-binary person
More and more LGBT and gender-nonconforming people are joining the Pagan community. Zackary Drucker / The Gender Spectrum Collection

In the past few years, there have been a few incidents that have pushed us, as a whole, to look at how we as a community treat all of our members - in particular, our transgender brothers and sisters. At the 2011 PantheaCon, there was a women's ritual in which trans women were not welcome, and this—rightfully so—sparked a number of discussions about how we view and define gender. In addition, it has forced the Pagan community to seriously evaluate just how inclusive we really are.

Following the PantheaCon controversy, a number of offshoot groups of the Dianic tradition that hosted the ritual distanced themselves from founder Z Budapest. One group, the Amazon Priestess Tribe, publicly retired from the lineage with a press release saying,

"We cannot support a policy of universal exclusion based upon gender at our Goddess-centered rites, nor can we condone disregard or insensitivity in communications regarding the topic of gender inclusion and Goddess-centered practice. We feel it inappropriate to remain members of a lineage where our views and practices diverge significantly from those of the primary lineage holder."