Sunday, June 17, 2012

lgBt Pride

Happy Pride!
Today amidst the rainbows and dancing drag queens, I decided it important to share something.  Its been literally keeping me awake at night, turning over and over in my mind - an absolute need to explain something I normally would brush off with an over-intellectualized reflection on identity politics. But this is beyond politics or academic exercises or some kind of call to arms to wave a flag and wage a revolution.  This is personal.
Hi. I’m Kitzie. And I’m bisexual.
This wouldn’t even be of note if it didn’t come up over and over since moving back here to Baltimore. But within one (1) month, I’ve been told bisexuals “don’t count”, that bisexuality is “strictly a theoretical construct” and that in dating a straight man I’ve clearly “gotten the gay out of my system.” And this, friends, is all from members of the LGBT community.  Even well-meaning straight family members have kindly informed me I’m actually gay, as bisexuality (again) “doesn’t exist” or that one day everyone has to “pick a side.”  And this is all from people whose opinions I value and consider intelligent and caring members of communities I consider myself an integral part of.  The rest of the world, at 5 days away from turning 30, doesn’t have the hold on me it once did.  But this from my people – my community – has made me feel isolated, depressed, and alone at a time reserved for celebration and unity.
Yes, the term “bisexual” is a bit problematic. It implies a gender binary, and excludes anyone trans identified that doesn’t chose and/or fit the label of male or female. (Though I’d assert those labels alone are up for interpretation/deconstructing, but we’re staying out of academia tonight.)  That said, even in its most limiting form and interpretation, the term “bisexual” does in fact describe my personal life experience. I have been attracted to, dated, been involved in significant, meaningful, monogamous, long term relationships with (cis)women and (cis)men.  Some of my female partners have been lesbians, others bisexual, others decline labeling.  All of my male partners have been straight (though at least 1 had had same-sex experiences, and he and another could certainly be considered bicurious.)  None, to date, have been transgendered.  Does that mean it’s an impossibility or that I’m incapable of attraction towards a trans person? No, certainly not.  But bi-sexual, unlike pansexual, is a bit less fluid and a bit more descriptive of acknowledging of the differences in these relationships, but not favoring one gender over the other.  Also, whereas pansexual may be a familiar term in queer circles, its less so in straight ones (as is “queer “ for that matter.)  Bisexual is more familiar and easy to understand the general concept, if not its complexity.
Whereas using the term “lesbian” gains instant inclusion in the gay community, using “bisexual” gains distrust and some sort of wariness of this nebulous privilege that I’m assumed to be utilizing and benefitting from constantly. When a bisexual woman is with a female partner, it makes it a bit easier to just use the term lesbian. The bisexual seems unnecessary or superfluous – this isn’t the case when dating a straight male partner.  Being out as bisexual, aside from being frankly the most honest identifier, helps maintain my queer visibility.  I never “feel” straight. Probably because I’m not.  Shocking! Being a queer woman dating a man is confusing to people. Sometimes to me. I stand out a lot – from life experience to corresponding view of the world, to language, to even role models, my queerness – my otherness – is not exactly hidden.  Ever.  And it shouldn’t be – I’m proud of being queer, even when my own community seems to suggest I shouldn’t be.  I’m not an ally because I’m currently dating a man. Is Ani Difranco straight because she married a man, after years of dating women and being embraced by a queer community she spoke out for?  Some lesbians might say yes. Does that make her straight? Nope.
What reinforces the binary more: using the label “bisexual” or denying bisexuality even exists?
I have also not been spared societal obstacles such as homophobia, parental rejection, or the trials of coming out shared by my gay and lesbian cohorts.  To assume or imply that I have, by sustaining this magical bi identity, is hurtful and ignorant.  I lost my spiritual home of 16 years to discordance with my sexual orientation.  (And consequently, gained a better one.) I’ve lived through absolute rejection and resentment from a homophobic & biphobic father and experienced a thankfully evolving relationship from a once-rejecting, now-LGBT-advocating (!!!) mother.  Like every other queer person, it has been a process, a struggle, and a lifetime of sacrifice.  I walked away with my girlfriend of 4 years from an act of housing discrimination, when the landlady informed us she “didn’t rent to freaks.”  I lost straight friends in college after coming out as bisexual, as if I’d suddenly transformed into a new, unrelatible breed of human.  I lost gay friends when I did it again after exclusively dating women for 10 years.  Both times, I gained more.
And in all this time I have never hid my queerness. I identified as a lesbian for 10 years because it’s the label that best fit. Then I (quite unexpectedly) discovered strong feelings for a man, and my entire sense of self was turned upside down. But (as Saturn’s return is wont to do!) it opened up my world.  I feel more free than ever before – I feel more at peace with the “exceptions.” I don’t have to hide any part of me that doesn’t fit perfectly into a box. I don’t have to deny past relationships or experiences as phases or mistakes, at least not in terms of gender.  I just AM.  And those few who accept me for that – for what I was, what I am, what I hope to be – I am honored and humbled to know.   Right before the parade stepped off today, a member of the Kitty Club who I admire told me she’s making an effort to become better educated about bisexuals, having realized its long been a hang up.  It was kind, sincere, and meant the world to me. Perhaps being the “B” in LGBT is just another way to be a Peaceweaver.
I’ve met lesbians who admit to having recurrent sexual experiences and attraction to men, and even relationships, yet still distrust and dislike those using the “bisexual” label. I’ve met trans folks who feel the same. My job, as a traveler on this Earth, is to respect and work to understand perspectives and life experiences different from my own, and challenge any beliefs I may hold that become obsolete, outdated, or in any way damaging to others. This challenge has recently come to light after one of my heros, Z Budapest, shocked the Pagan world by sharing, quite ineloquently, severe transphobia.  A second-wave feminist myself who came late to the party, I began and continue to learn, re-evaluate, and scrutinize my own views on female-only spaces and a progressive and evolving landscape that has outgrown and surpassed old safeguards and constructs. This in itself is fodder for another post- for now, I can say it has been a transformative experience.  The fae, as always, are excellent guides.
I’m a little weird. Or so I’ve been told. I’ve lived in different cities and different communities, tried on different labels and continue to see what fits and what I’ve outgrown.  Time to donate them to the next generation of awkward teenagers. I was wary of bisexuals myself once – my college girlfriend, an open and proud bisexual, will attest to that – and then Goddess and Saturn fixed that.  Thanks, guys.  I don’t know all that much about theoretical constructs. What I do know is right now, I’m in love with a phenomenal man who spent the day with me at Pride today.  Where I got to catch up with an exgirlfriend who’s now a mother to a violin-playing little boy.  And I’m so thankful for all the amazing memories I have of so many past Prides, and the girlfriends and boyfriends who shared them.  I am one fucking lucky bisexual.
I’m here. I’m queer. I’m bi.  I’m used to it – whether you are or not doesn’t matter so much. This Thursday I’ll be 30.  Maybe this is what being an adult feels like.  Guess I’ll wait and see.
Happy Pride, all.    

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Marriage Equality in Maryland...Almost



While there is much rejoicing within the Pagan community, its critical to note the uncertainty (I know, way to be a downer!) of this decision. Despite being passed by the house and senate and approved by Governor O'Malley via (upcoming) signature, there is an important, irritating caveat - the new law will not go into effect until January1, 2013. Why is this delay so crucial? Because this means its going to referendum - yep, that dreaded stage made infamous by California's Prop 8. At least Maryland isn't granting marriages and then deeming them null and void. (Seriously? Where does that whole 'love thy neighbor' bit come into play?)

So unlike our New York neighbors to the north, whose victory was declared in honor of my birthday this past Litha (thanks NY!) Marylanders are going to have to wait for our fate to be decided by the masses. Why exactly civil rights issues protecting the rights of the minority are decided upon by the majority is beyond this HPS. Granted, it is quite disappointing (though not surprising) that "gay" marriage* passed in the New Jersey House and Senate, only to be vetoed by Gov. Christie, and now also falls in the hands of New Jersey voters come November. But while I'm displeased with the governor's decision, he is following due process - I don't agree leaving that vote up to New Jersey residents either. We elect these officials for a reason - we trust them to make decisions in our best interest. Does this always transpire? Of course not. But until we unroot and revamp the system, let's stop doing ridiculous maneuvers like putting decisions up to a general vote like a bunch of sore losers.

I'm looking at you, Maryland.

Rants aside, where does this leave us as Pagans and Maryland residents and constituents? While I admittedly celebrate this victory (and am proud and grateful of all the hard work of organizations like Equality Maryland and the HRC for all their work to help achieve it) as clergy I urge all of us not to sit back and declare this peaceful fight over. This is a call to arms - to keep pushing for equality and take it to the streets. We are the Weavers - its up to us to stand up for the oppressed and promote equality and love in our communities and beyond.

In the upcoming months, a media war is sure to commence. If you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or a straight ally, stand up and be counted. Let's perform public rituals. Let's mobilize our covens and circles. I am incredibly honored to be recognized as Pagan clergy, and thus among some of the most progressive and love-driven spiritual leaders I've ever encountered. As an openly bisexual Wiccan HPS, I made a vow long ago not to even consider getting married until it was legal for all humans, as well as not to perform commitment ceremonies until that day comes. New York, once my home, has answered the call. Now its time for my hometown to do the same.

Blessed be, weavers! May we unite and celebrate this victory while re-committing to freedom!


* I'm not a huge fan of "gay marriage" because it implies every member of a same sex couple self-identifies as "gay". "Same sex" is preferable (though I suppose this isnt particularly trans or intersex friendly) and "marriage equality" is my prefered terminology.

Monday, February 13, 2012

In Search of the Star

Greetings, magickal ones! It's been a while since I last posted, and I'm sure I've consequently lost the limited readership I had. Ah well, tis the way of it. Inspiration waxes and wanes, and I've felt in need of the Star as of late - perhaps all that inspiration was spent on my one and only graduate school application, which I finally submitted with a stamp and a prayer last month. May it be met with wise eyes and open hearts - I suppose its not everyday a Wiccan priestess quotes Starhawk on a gradschool application. Let's hope not anyway.

In the meantime, I've been in a bit of a spiritual rut, most likely of my own creation. I'm more journal-ist than journalist, so reporting on the goings-ons of the Baltimore pagan scene seems a bit daunting and perhaps pointless, given my limited to non existant involvement. Since relocating here from my NYC home and wonderful Pagan family in January of 2011, I've attended a handful of Pagan events: from the Sacred Space conference, to a Norse-inspired Samhain ritual in DC's Sacred Circle Books, to Baltimore Pagan Meetup gatherings, to regular stops in the local occult (sorry - "new age") shop in Hampden. I've also gotten to do a little traveling, returning to NYC for my own ordination; to the lovely woods of Virginia to observe Lughnassad with the welcoming folks of Shadow Grove; to the delightfully Pagan shops and streets of Seattle, WA (if you ever venture Westward, be sure to check out Edge of the Circle Books. The epic tarot collection alone is worth the trip.)

All the while, no Sabbats have been left unobserved - each month for an entire year, beginning Imbolc 2011, I've hosted Sabbat dinners (inspired by Passover Seders held by friends over many years) for friends and family, often attracting friends-of-friends. Its been part educational circle (as most people are unfamiliar with Wiccan ritual) part interfaith circle, part dinner party. I've been incredibly moved by these dinners, for several reasons: the fact my friends actually humor me and show up; the willingness to observe and share experiences, fears, and hopes with everyone present; the enthusiasm brought to ritual, all of which is participatory; the awesome wine and food everyone has brought to share. So many aspects of ritual are universal - the circle of women (and the occasional man) such a powerful symbol and reminder of sisterhood and sacrifice - of the communal nature of education and nurishment - of the importance of sacred and safe spaces. The Goddess is in all of Us - she is alive and well, so long as we are eating, laughing, and sharing with one another.

One of my best friends in the entire universe (and sabbat attendees) is leaving for California next month to embark on postdoctorate work. I too feel the West calling my names - both magickal and secular - and am trying to plant seeds for that journey. Baltimore is not my home, though it contains much of my heart. I have dear childhood friends here, I have a lovely sister and mother and a couple bright souls I've stumbled across in my car-less travels. But it does not feel like home - even less so than the chaotic streets of NYC felt. I havent made friends here, as I did easily in New York. I worry about the sanity and stability of those I have made - I wonder about that line between fantasy and spiritual calling Pagans seem to sometimes tread.

One insightful person I did meet in Baltimore said the reason she loves this city is its energy matches hers - that each city has a unique energy and the best we can do to find that one true "home" is try out different places until the energy matches ours. Baltimore does not speak to me - Seattle chattered. San Francisco hummed. Berkley sang. I'm sure somewhere out there I'll start to sing along.

Tomorrow is Valentines Day. I plan to celebrate it in my finest red attire and bright smile, like a prop in one of the storefront windows I help decorate. I'm ok with the plastic hearts and roses - I like the Vagina Monologues - I love getting to spend the entire day with the person I love. The one lovely thing to come out of this broken city drives a mini cooper, sings like a rockstar, chain smokes, and studies rocket science - and I'm looking forward to our first of hopefully many VDays.

I guess the theme here is Inspiration - to go - to breathe - where one is inspired. I find lessons everywhere. I meet amazing, consciousness shifting people everyday. But to feel inspired - for more than just the passing moment - I have to pack my bags and try again. Hopefully this time, my muses will follow.

Blessed Be.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This Week in Bmore: T. Thorn Coyle at Breathe Books

T. Thorn Coyle, author of "Kissing the Limitless" & "Elementary Witchcraft," will be teaching a class at Breathe Books in Hampden this Thursday at 7pm. Cost: $20.

Autonomy and Will: Bringing Intention into Action

Not sure if I'll be in attendance, but check it out if you're available! I've heard amazing things about this progressive Witch and her work.

Thanks to David over at Capital Witch for the head's up!

In Search of Community: The Baltimore Pagan Meetup

The frequency with which I've updated this blog as of late pretty much sums up my magickal experiences in Baltimore. The lack of activity (or at least activity open to the public) is severely limited. Even an email to the committee for Baltimore's PPD proved futile - I remember the first time fondly helping with NYC's PPD, where my offer to volunteer was accepted immediately. As an organizer, I'm all too aware of the importance of volunteers. So having an offer of "I'll do anything to help!" fall on deaf ears strikes me as downright bizarre. Ah well. Perhaps I'll move to DC, home to the soon-to-be-opened Pagan Community Center (congratulations, Open Hearth Foundation, on signing the lease!!!) Until that day comes, I'll continue tooling around looking for a few good witches...

This is not to say the City of Baltimore is without magickal folk: there is an ambitious and quite welcoming group of people who sponsor a monthly Meetup at The Life of Reily, a charming Irish pub with a sizable private upstairs room. From palmistry workshops to Tarot basics lectures, HPS Iris and Meetup attendees provide an invaluable service free of charge and full of enthusiasm.

I've been to 2 events: one a tarot event, the other on past life regression. My familiarity with the tarot helped my enjoyment of the first meetup, serving as both review and practice session. I never cease to learn new details or techniques in pretty much any class on the Tarot, this meetup being no exception. Though clearly nervous, the guest speaker did a lovely job of summarizing the cards' significance before yielding the floor to a reader teaching different spreads. (Ego is clearly not an issue with this group, which is always refreshing!) The past life regression lecture and workshop, led by HPS Iris, was nothing short of a revelation. Not only did the group regression prove intensely effective, but it quelled any/all doubts I'd had about the validity of pastlife regression prior to that evening. The quality of content of these Meetups is high enough to make a former Wicca school teacher return to her books.

The structure of the meetup is logical, though not without drawbacks. Iris encourages others to lead and share, often I'd venture, to the detriment of the pace/focus of the meetup. Lectures did not begin until well after 9pm, allowing a full two hours for gathering and socializing (which, even by Pagan Standard is a bit extreme.) The material presentations have on both occasions run well past midnight, and after discussions (I'm told) can last up until the bar's closing time of 2am. This doesn't seem to phase most members: it seems an attempt to combine a social meetup with a class. For Baltimore Pagans, whose outlets for this community seem extremely limited, it makes sense that every second counts - a 7 hour (!!!) meetup may seem extreme to an ex-NYC Pagan with numerous opportunities to meet with other local Witches, but probably not to someone with a mere one night per month.

All this considered, its worth checking out. The people are lovely and well-intentioned; the knowledge is offered generously and without charge; the material seems painstakingly well prepared; HPS Iris is clearly a seasoned and inspiring leader and magick-worker providing a gift to her community. And its in a bar. With beer. And an assortment of fried Maryland-esque (read: crab-full) edibles that I've heard are quite delicious to non-vegan folks.

I'm not sure when next I'll appear at one of these meetups: limitations to both attention span (esp on a Friday night) and transportation in turn limit the frequency of attendance. But I'm in awe of their efforts, and thankful for both establishing some semblance of faith in Baltimore's Pagan community and helping illustrate the needs of the community, both those met and those yet to be.

For details and/or to join the Meetup, visit:

Baltimore Pagan Meetup Group
Baltimore Witches Meetup Group

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Gift of Impermanence

The monks visit, in brief, was an incredibly magickal experience. From the moment the monks donned their masks and began their week-long task of creating the sand mandala, I knew I was in for an inspiring few days. After several attempts at capturing the experience in words, I came across a video by fellow Baltimore Yoga Village staff member Changa Bell and instantly realized the images speak louder than I ever could. Enjoy.

Drepung Gomang Monks Visit Baltimore Yoga Village from C-54 Productions on Vimeo.

As they calmly swept away the beautiful and pain-stakingly crafted sand art, one monk explained the importance of impermanence: acknowledging that all things, however beautiful, come to an end. Impermanence - the virtue the yogis call non-attachment. While I've found the latter challenging to embrace, the former created a sort of bridge between my Wiccan and Yogi worlds: the circle continues. Hoof and horn Hood and horn: All that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain: All that falls shall rise again.

As Harvest time is upon us, remembering that our gifts are meant to be shared - neither hoarded nor wasted - is our seasonal task. In that sharing we take a leap of faith: trusting in the Goddess that all we consume or give will regrow. It's a difficult time for this spirit of sharing: unemployment and cost of living can prompt panic and the urge to cling deperately to what little material wealth we have. It's a time of self-preservation, tightening our definitions of "family" to blood relatives (sometimes just those in the same zipcode), and demanding our governments stop taxing us into bankruptsy. Entering month six of my own unemployment, I've certainly shared these sentiments on more than one moment of frustration. (And yes. Unemployed people still pay taxes.) But shutting down and blaming out accomplishes nothing but cutting off our lifelines. From social services to the power of the potluck, cultivating a culture of sharing - of harvest - ensures our survival. Or at least gives us a much better chance.

A Christian friend of mine once described church as "where the people who have meet the people who need." Whether its a hot meal, a shoulder to cry on, spiritual guidance, a place to live; religious community (and membership in the greater human community) fosters this connection. When living at an ashram in upstate New York, I was always in awe of how whenever someone needed something - be it gardening gloves or a random herb to heal a wound - it appeared. The value of the collective, albeit a tiny one, was undeniable. Neo-Paganism encourages and values this interdependence, valuing each individual as an equal weaver in the web of life, and encouraging community building through celebration of the sabbats as shared celebrations of life. Even when we have nothing, we have everything.

Trust and B'lieve, hon. May you never hunger. May you never thirst. Happy Lughnassad.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tibetan Monks Visit Baltimore

Knowing people actually read my bebe blog is motivation to actually post. Who knew! Thanks especially to the solitary who reminded me of the Sacred Space Conference in Timonium - I did indeed attend this year and had an inspiring weekend of workshops ranging from invaluable tips on officiating handfasting ceremonies to an in-depth lecture on the Hermetic Laws. Michael Reeder's class on working with trama survivors in a circle/coven context was especially notable as someone interested in the pastoral counseling aspect of Pagan ministry.

As my spiritual interests & influences stretch beyond the cauldron, I'm spending the week attending workshops and meditation sessions with Tibetan monks at Baltimore Yoga Village in Mt. Washington. The visiting monks are from the Drepung Lineage, the same as the Dalai Lama. Throughout the week the monks will be constructing a colorful sand painting on the floor of the studio, called a Medicine Buddha Mandala. All the events are open to the public and donation based, all proceeds going to the monks directly to fund their institute in Southern India. If you're in the area, drop in for some/all of this week's events - spiritual/magickal/political minded folks should get something out of it, or at the very least get to say you met some refugee Tibetan monks. Free Tibet!

Schedule of Events for the Rest of the Monks' Visit to Baltimore:

Tuesday 7/19 @ 7:30pm: Meditation led by the monks (BYV Mt. Washington - 6080 Falls Rd.)

Wednesday 7/20 @ 7pm: Cultural Dance Performance & Tibetan Ceremony (First Unitarian Church - 12 W. Franklin Street)

Thursday 7/21 @ 6:30pm: Closing Buddhist Healing Ceremony (BYV Mt. Washington)

In addition, the studio is open for meditation with the monks each morning at 8am, with a Q&A session to follow.

I'll be posting experience throughout the week, and hope to see some interfaith-minded Pagans at these events!