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LGBTQ+ Deities: Who They Are And Their Myths

Owned and operated by members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Pride holds a special place in our hearts at Downtown Tarot Company. Many in the metaphysical community believe in forming spiritual connections with deities, and so, in celebration of Pride, today we are highlighting some myths from around the world that feature LGBTQ+ deities and/or queer themes.



Pride in Mythology

  1. Apollo – In various myths, the Greek god Apollo is shown to have romantic and sexual relationships with both men and women. One interesting, though tragic, story is of Apollo and Hyacinthus. The mortal man Hyacinthus captured the attention of both Apollo, god of the sun, and Zephyrus, god of the west wind. Apollo and Hyacinthus became lovers, which sparked the jealousy of Zephyrus. While Apollo and Hyacinthus were playing a game of discus one day, Zephyrus interfered, using his power over the wind to cause the discus to strike Hyacinthus in the head, killing him. Apollo, in his mourning for Hyacinthus, turned his body into the flower that then became known as the hyacinth.

  2. Tu’er Shen – The Chinese myth of Tu’er Shen tells of how a mortal became the Rabbit God and patron deity of gay love and relationships. The legend goes that Hu Tianbao, a soldier in Fujian, was executed after professing his love to a local officer. Those of the underworld recognized Hu Tianbao’s act as one of love, and so they decided he would become Tu’er Shen, the Rabbit God. Today, Tu’er Shen has become a significant symbol in both China and Taiwan for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

  3. Mohini – In Hindu mythology, Mohini is the female form taken by Vishnu and, once reincarnated, by Krishna. There are several stories about Mohini, one of which is the tale of her marriage to the warrior Aravan. The myth begins following Aravan’s offer to become a spiritual sacrifice on the battlefield. For his sacrifice, he is granted three boons, the final of which is to be married before his death. Krishna then transforms into Mohini and offers to marry Aravan. Although their marriage is short-lived, the love and relationship between Mohini and Aravan have become an important symbol for the transgender community and are still celebrated today during the annual 18-day Koovagam Festival in India.

  4. Callisto – The Greek Callisto was one of the hunters and companions of the goddess Artemis. After Zeus sees Callisto among Artemis’s hunters, he seeks to seduce her. Knowing that she will not accept him, he disguises himself as Artemis. Callisto is unfortunately deceived and becomes pregnant from this encounter, and when the pregnancy is discovered, she is expelled from Artemis’s hunting party. After the birth, Hera learns what happened, and in her rage, she transforms Callisto into a bear. Callisto’s child grows up to be a hunter, and one day he happens upon Callisto in her bear-form. To save her from being hunted by her son, Zeus transforms them both into the constellations Ursa Major and Minor. Although Callisto has a rather tragic tale, her open love for Artemis still makes her an inspiring lesbian mythological figure.

  5. Lakapati and Bathala – The Tagalog people of the Philippines have a creation story of the earth that features not one, but two transgender deities who are in a romantic relationship. One day Lakapati, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, noticed that the supreme god Bathala had a feeling of emptiness. To help him, she gave him a ball of clay. From the ball of clay, Bathala began to sculpt landscapes, such as mountains and rivers. When he had finished his creation, Lakapati thought it was so beautiful that she placed the molded clay into the sky and called it Earth.


 

Honorable Mentions: More Mythic Queer Icons

Although we don’t have time to cover every myth, here are five more LGBTQ+ mythic figures worth exploring if you are interested.

  1. Lan Caihe – Lan Caihe originated in ancient China and is specifically one of the Eight Immortal figures in Taoism. What earned Lan Caihe a spot on this list is their gender ambiguity, as the perception and depiction of their gender have varied across different legends. In some stories, they are portrayed as a man or woman who defies gender norms and appearance. In other tales, they are depicted as nonbinary or genderfluid.

  2. Loki – Shapeshifting is one of the powers depicted in the mythology of the Norse trickster god. In several stories, this includes shapeshifting into women or female creatures, as well as giving birth. There are different interpretations of Loki’s gender, with some considering Loki genderfluid, or at the very least representative of gender fluidity.

  3. Pan – True to his name, the Greek god of the wilderness, music, and fertility is consistently perceived as being attracted to multiple genders. In literature and artwork, he is often depicted as pursuing both men and women.

  4. Xōchipilli – The Aztec god Xōchipilli, also known as the “flower prince,” is associated with flowers, art, song, dance, love, sexuality, and fertility. Xōchipilli also specifically came to be regarded as the patron of homosexuality.

  5. St. Francis – The Italian friar St. Francis of Assisi was known for his care toward the poor, the ill, nature, and animals. He was also known for his gender nonconformity, having people refer to him as “mother” rather than “father” and bringing feminine interpretations, terminology, and roles into his spiritual practice during a time when the religion was very traditionally masculine-coded.

There are many more LGBTQ+ deities and stories from mythology to be explored. If you were drawn to any of the deities and myths featured here, definitely continue to research them on your own! Learning about a deity’s mythology and symbolism is a great way to begin forming a spiritual connection.

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