In a society without conscious myths, rites and sacraments to conjure the sacred and guide the soul to its calling, queer identity carries enormous power. Gays and lesbians live the story of the hero. We each embody the archetypal pattern of the singular individual who, with improbable courage, finds and creates a home in a hostile world.
Herculaneum, Chiron with Achilles, wall painting
Gay and lesbian people are the ones who
dare depart the safe confines of a predictable life and venture into a
dangerous unknown. Our goal cannot be personal aggrandizement or social
approval. We each move instead to grasp and live the fabulous wonder of
an inborn self. Becoming queer means harkening to the will of gods,
despite doubt and fear, in the face of innumerable obstacles. We swim
upstream, impossible distances, against the odds, with only our inmost
impulses to guide us. The incredible journey – to self-knowledge, to
love and community – stands in drastic contrast to souls sunk in
cynicism, rotting with surfeit, cowering in fear of imagined
There is an essential generosity, a call to
community, in our story. Tyranny – including the tyranny of what is
ordinary, expected, possible, and easy – overtakes any place without
heroes to inspire rebellion.
Lesbians and gays are icons to all who would dare to risk despair for
the sake of freedom. We make a place in the world for mythic struggle
and transformation, when we endure punishment for the dream of love.
Shadow: The symbol of the hero can seduce us into believing we can triumph over adversity. We may be lured by the cheap trick of the happy ending. Suffering unfolds regardless, and our own failure, fear self-loathing and surrender also need mercy and healing awareness.
This idea originates with Rollo May, 1991.