Welcome to a much clearer, and much queerer, chapter. If it’s your first time here, you’ve found a chapter-by-chapter release of my LGBTQIA+ centric philosophy book, where you can debate, discuss, question, contribute; your inputs become my edits, until the finished book has all our voices in its pages, bright and beautiful rainbow-flag-waving community of mine. Welcome, queerly beloveds, to Venus Valley - Queer Philosophers’ Forum.
THE STORY SO FAR: My exploring philosophy started with a HEGELIAN DIALECTIC - an inner dialogue between two opposite halves of a greater whole - between Old Christian Me, and New Queer Me. I discovered both sides had FOUNDATION MYTHS, or MYTHIC DESCENT - roots that go back to times before their nature was understood, so explanations beyond nature came in. I’ve shared what I’ve found about times, both ancient and modern, when SOPHISTRY and RHETORIC - using tools and tricks of philosophy debate, not to prove your point, but to sway your audience - can make dangerous use of those myths, in what I’ve called, because I felt like it needed a better word where there wasn’t one, WEAPONISED APPROPRIATION. I’ve offered EUHEMERISM - stripping back “holy” ideas and ideals to their human origins - as an alternative, for the inspiration it gave to HUMANISM - seeing humanity’s progress from the past as proof, or at least hope, of its potential for the future.
But, just like so much mainstream philosophy, and the exact thing that turns a lot of people off from studying it in the first place, so far most of it’s been sourced from, or rooted in, wealthy, white and western cultures.
And that’s ironic considering I spent the whole last chapter talking about a wealthy white western warmongering culture obsessed with proving how they were the true source of ancient Middle Eastern and Far Eastern wisdom!
So for the next few chapters I’ll be giving their due, firstly, to the Eastern philosophies I know about; nextly, to the western philosophers influenced by Eastern philosophies; lastly, to an Eastern philosophy I’ve always been curious about myself, and definitely decided it belonged in a book like this, when I learned how my homosexual and asexual-spectrum readers - the Gays and the Grays, if you will - would be better represented if I gave it its own chapter, instead of squeezing it into another.
Any philosophy talk can pretty quickly turn to the Ancient Greeks, whose very own Pythagoras takes the credit for coining the term PHILOSOPHER; but he coined it, or so they say, by refusing any kind of “teacher” title like Magus or Maestro, saying he wasn’t a wise man, but a LOVER OF WISDOM - PHILO-SOPHIA - because he was just passing on what he’d received from farther east - Egyptian, Babylonian, Zoroastrian, wisdoms and traditions. How many queer elders that we look up to in our rainbow community, who influenced and inspired us in our personal quests for queer pride, will tell us they’re no one special, just being themselves, when we tell them how much they’ve influenced and inspired us to do exactly that? Even brick-swinging Stonewall heroine Marsha P Johnson said the “P” stood for “Pay it no mind”.
(Side note - is “so they say”, the nonbinary equivalent of “that’s what she said”?)
Even farther east, they already had plenty of philosophy of their own. To so many of the cultures we wealthy white westerners found, when we made our way over there to steal spices, what we called their religions - from Shinto to Hindu - were simply a way of life, not strictly a rule of life. The famous names we know today, from the old Oriental-trope phrase “A wise man once said…”, like Confucius and Sun Tzu, gained the same kind of place in their society as priests or prophets, by learning from experience and teaching by example, offering that up to others as a better way than relying on books - what we call their writings were more likely to’ve been written down life lessons other people learned from them. How many of us, when we try and reach out and teach our elders and supposedly-betters to show sympathy, solidarity and support for us and be our allies, just can’t get through to them with facts and figures, until a friend or a family member comes out as gay, trans, non-binary or asexual, and they have to learn to love them, and fight for them, face to face?
So I’m going to show you in a bit more detail, the Eastern ways of life that those wealthy white warmongering westerners, so obsessed with the propagation of their own race and their religion, might not have been so quick to take occult and esoteric credit for, if they’d known quite how queer they were!
In Japan, Geisha “girl” was a role played by men, before it was played by women - welcoming their wealthy patrons into the Pleasure Quarters of their town, who came to pay them to play whatever role - from artisan to courtesan - the women of their household either couldn’t or wouldn’t do; some of the world’s first drag queens! Hence when it grew through the years into independent women’s thing to do, it was still looked down on by the “high”, as if it were something “low”.
In India, Hijras are sacred sanctuary communities created for those forced into prostitution, after facing poverty and prejudice, by their families, for being “hermaphrodites” and “eunuchs”. Within their own walls, under the guidance of a Guru, they deliver blessings on weddings and childbirths, holding cross dressing temple festivals in worship of avatars of Vishnu - some of whom appeared as united male/masculine and female/feminine bodies. One story goes, that the god(dess) commanded “all the men and women” following them to go home. Years later, they returned to find the Hijra were still standing there in devotion, being neither men nor women, thus not covered by the command. Since then the Hijra have their own passages (no pun intended - or is it?) in both the Lotus Sutra and the Kama Sutra. More recently, despite being known by the general public as little more than comic relief in Bollywood dance movies, their communities have worked for legal recognition as transgender, intersex and nonbinary communities.
Those are the two that get most often brought up in debates in online spaces, when one side tries to claim it’s all “some new woke ideology” and the other has to reply, maybe for the hundredth time that week, the mantra We’ve always been here.
But let’s go even further back, to something that looks even more spicy fun, although a little bit harder to pronounce: the Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs, in the Xinjiang region of northwest China, created between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. Rock carvings of what looks like some kind of fertility ceremony, discovered in the 1980s by Chinese archaeologist Wang Binghua, start off with some figures clearly meant to be female by their shapely legs and jewelry, and others clearly meant to be male by what’s between their legs. Then it moves on to a third group with masculine shapes between their legs, but feminine jewelry on their heads. Dancing around images of these genderqueer figures chasing women, naked, are one man embracing another man, a third pleasuring himself, and two chorus lines of newborn babes - one flowing from an apparently-woman’s vulva, the other emerging from an apparently-man’s phallus. In the gaps around them in the design are animal face symbols, which are a trademark telltale sign that this is a spiritual, as well as a sexual, ritual.
What exactly that all means, is a question to which as yet there’s no straight answer - but I doubt very much that the answer, when it is found, will be straight.
Is it any wonder these cultures influenced the author of The Gay Science, whose career writing scathing roasts of politics and religion was plagued by rumours of hidden homoerotic, sadomasochistic tendencies, spread by his professional rivals? Or that they inspired the creator of the psychotherapy concepts of Anima & Animus: the hidden man inside the mind of every woman, and the hidden woman inside the mind of every man? To read about their writings on the Zoroastrian founding father, and the Taoist treatise of the I Ching, join me for the next eastward-facing chapter of VENUS VALLEY!
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About the Creator
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Niche topic & fresh perspectives