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Gordon the Toad interview

Q: What gave you the idea of setting up HOBLink in the first place?

Gordon: At the time, I was aware of the complete lack of support for ‘out’ homosexual or bisexual pagans, or even any help within any of the networks I was involved in, for people who didn’t want to be out, but wanted someone to talk to. In addition, there seemed to be a general lack of awareness of Gay issues, so I thought "why not get stuck in there and cause a bit of trouble?" because I felt that we were ignored; that everything revolved around a heterosexist attitude to the world, which estranges Gay people from magick.

Q: Do you find there’s a lot of bias against Gay or Bisexual people in magical or pagan beliefs?

Gordon: In some instances, yes. In the circles I’ve worked in, it depends almost entirely upon the individuals, but at best there’s been a passive tolerance and at worst "Oh no, you can’t work magick because you can’t raise power because you’re not natural." With some, it’s a case of "Well, it’s all right so long as you don’t let it come into your magical working" which is probably even more patronising.

Q: Do you think that some ‘magical theories’ of why homosexuality is bad are just prejudice dressed up in occult terms?

Gordon: Yes, completely. They cannot back that up with anything other than personal feelings - there’s no historical precedent that says that people of other sexualities have no place in magick. In fact the historical evidence is more in our favour than against us.

Q: Could you give some examples?

Gordon: I don’t think there’s enough real evidence of the nature of Celtic culture to talk about sexuality. What we have mostly is the Irish and Welsh material, most of which was written down well into the Christian era, and has been edited or censored. I read that material, and I think that there’s something not being said here. Most warrior-societies we do know have a high level of homosexuality, and there’s the South American cultures where there are men’s spaces and women’s spaces; the men and women do meet, but there’s also a lot of sexual activity within the individually-sexed houses.

Q: How do you think HOBLink has been received by the Pagan Community in general?

Gordon: A very mixed response. Some people have been very supportive; magazines like Moonshine, Pagan News, Greenleaf, and various bits of the F.I.N. network. Some others have ignored us completely. We haven’t been attacked but we’ve certainly been ignored.

Q: How do you think HOBLink has developed over the last two years?

Gordon: Very Slowly. It hasn’t done much, but then you let a network grow the way it wants to. Within the last 8-10 months it’s opened out and started to pick up speed again. Initially, people were quite shy, and now more people are willing to be open contacts for the network, which gives us a chance to do things, like workshops, of which we’ve just had the first ever. It’d be nice to see other different strands of the web linking across, rather than all the information coming through me.

Q: How did the workshop go then?

Gordon: I thought it went very well; people came from all over the country and talked about themselves, and where they would like to see the network go in the future.

Q: Do you find that the network includes people from a wide variety of paths?

Gordon: Yes, very diverse. I think the majority would describe themselves as Wiccans, and then next are those who would call themselves magicians, rather than pagans. It’s still a predominantly male network, although the balance is changing and there are more women coming in, which is nice to see.

Q: Do you think that Gay people are alienated by working in heterosexist magical traditions?

Gordon: I think so. From the people I know in the network, there’s a lot of people who have been confused an hurt by Wiccan traditions in particular where they feel they’ve been taken in because they were physically male or physically female and then expected to behave as a heterosexual. Not necessarily sexually, but within the magical working because that’s the only role that a man or a woman could have. We’re also seen sometimes as androgynous, which smacks of so much ignorance. Gay men for example, are sometimes thought not to be ‘men’ just because they relate sexually to other men - that is still a god-feature, if you want to use those terms, and a very powerful one. Our relationship with a god-figure is still as strong as any heterosexual males, albeit a different one. As I see it, our relationship with the goddess is an equally strong one, and from conversations with heterosexual pagans, I feel that our relationship is possibly more intimate than theirs.

Q: One ‘occult’ theory of homosexuality that gets brought up is that gay people are female bodies with male spirits (for lesbians) or vice versa for men.

Gordon: I don’t think so. I am a spirit, and to assume that my sexuality reflects my spirit is a limiting view of the Universe. The Universe is not male or female - it’s energy. I’m a spirit in a body, and at this time I love men, and in all my explorations of my self and my relationship with the Universe, there has never been any feeling of "Oh you’re the wrong spirit in the wrong body." The Universe says, "Love, and go for it."

Q: Do you think that a sexually-positive theology might come out of HOBLink?

Gordon: I think that we’re so diverse as a group that the evolution of something like that I would feel would come from a group of people working in a similar tradition. HOBLink is so diverse that all that would evolve is a very general approach. What might come is a way of looking at deities which was much more supportive of the whole range of sexualities.

Also, a changing awareness that divinity doesn’t give a damn about your sexuality, and that the biggest thing that we can do, in whatever paths we work in, is to help people, who are perhaps trapped in a heterosexual dream, to see a wider reality. The relationship that deities have with us is to see us live our lives to the full; they don’t give a damn what your sexuality is, and it’s really wrong to impose that upon them.

Q: Do you think that HOBLink could help to uncover any gay-positive myths that have so far been hidden?

Gordon: I think that it’s the sort of thing that a lot of people, both within the network, and outside of it, are looking at already, and it might be that HOBLink could be a vehicle to promote those through publications, etc.

Q: Is there anything that you’d recommend to people in the way of reading?

Gordon: There’s Living the Spirit, which is a modern Native American work, looking back on their sexual traditions and looking at them in the modern context and reclaiming them.

On the whole there seems to be very little in the way of useful publications. If we can get some money together and somebody to write them, then perhaps we can produce some books. Folk stories and myths are crucial and I’d be supportive of publishing rediscovered collections of myth or folklore, rather than the more academic treatises on our role.

Q: Does HOBLink have an educational role to play then?

Gordon: Yes, as an agent for raising awareness. Also, I think people have a great tendency to make magick ‘safe’, and this safety is in hiding from things in society which they don’t like, which in some cases, is us. Magick, more than anything else, is about honesty, and personal honesty. You cannot be honest with yourself and your community if you hide from it.

Q: One criticism which has been lodged at Wicca, for example, is the rigid adherence to ‘polarity’ within very narrowly-defined terms - forgetting that ‘male & female’ can exist within one individual.

Gordon: If you are wholly male, with no trace of the goddess in you, then there’s something horribly wrong, and you’re completely unbalanced. I don’t think HOBs are any more balanced than anyone else, but perhaps we are more aware of the presence of both within us.

Q: Would this be due to having had to question one’s sexuality in depth?

Gordon: It sounds almost paranoid, but to be out as Gay or whatever and to be out as pagan means that you’ve gone through a double process and hopefully accepted the joy of who you are.

Q: Some say there’s a parallel between coming out as gay and coming out as a pagan.

Gordon: Either one can get you thrown out of your home or job and estranged by the community.

Q: That brings up another point. Do you think that some people in the pagan community are wary of HOBs due to the current wave of anti-occult press?

Gordon: Not that I’ve met. But I can see that as a danger. Some elements of the pagan community are trying to sell it as nice and safe and essentially middle-class and not at all threatening to society. They might well try to stuff us back into our broom cupboards. I think for paganism to try and present itself like that is a betrayal of what we stand for. For me, being pagan means working with the Earth and if I try and sell myself as a nice sweet slightly eccentric person who’s not a trouble-maker at all, then I’m betraying the Earth, because this society is destroying the Earth.