It has been a year now since the first Queer Astrology Conference took place in San Francisco and it is perhaps time to reflect on what happened there, how it came to be and where it will lead us into the future. There was an initial gathering of interested astrologers last spring in San Francisco, whose discussions and idea-sharing led to the planning of the summer conference. There was surprise expressed by many that there had not been a Queer Astrology Conference before 2013. After all, academic studies in Queer theory and Feminist theory have been part of mainstream intellectual efforts for more than thirty years now, and gays and feminists long ago found a kinship with astrology and astrological studies. So, why was there this cultural lag within the astrological community that has taken so long to bring Queerness and Feminism into mainstream astrological inquiry and criticism, at least to the degree that there could be a Queer Astrology Conference in 2013?
A thorough answer to that question is probably more complicated than what can be outlined in a foreword to these transcripts of last year’s Queer Astrology Conference. There probably needs to be a serious academic study of the history of feminists, gay people and their contributions to the field of astrology. However, there are rather common-sense suggestions for possible answers to the question based on the remembrances and insights of those older astrologers who began moving astrology in a new, humanistic direction in the late 1960s and 1970s, and who knew very well most of the gay and queer astrologers of the period. To that end, my conversations with Donna Cunningham, Alan Oken, Diana Stone, and Erin Sullivan helped me remember some of the queer and feminist astrologers who shaped the study and discipline of astrological practice. They reminded me that the struggle for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights of that period opened up the previous astrological community to hippies, a new generation of intellectual and well-educated astrologers, Blacks, young Feminists and Gay men. This new generation of astrologers began integrating their life-experiences and their education into astrological practice, and as a result, new astrological theories and ideas began influencing the world of astrology. New concepts like Marc Robertson’s ‘Cosmopsychology’ and Michael Meyer’s ‘Humanistic Astrology’, the influence of classical mythology and archetypes presented by Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung in re-interpreting planets and their roles in human behavior, as well as the continued work in depth psychology originally introduced by Dane Rudhyar in the 1930s (‘The Astrology of Personality’) and promoted and further developed by Liz Green, Howard Sasportas, et al, all served to bring a new astrological culture and a new body of literature into being. Part of this period of innovation included a large number of gay men and women who proved to be a driving force behind this new humanistic approach to astrology.
In spite of the queer and feminist influence in the new humanistic approaches, being openly gay was still problematic in astrological circles in the 1970s and 1980s. In spite of the very nature of astrology, most students and practitioners were not that open to knowing who was queer, much less having open discussions about it. Initially, all of the queer astrologers stayed quite closeted. This was reflected in the society at large, but when the AIDS epidemic began, it decimated the ranks of our gay astrologers. No fewer than fifteen gay professionals died during the epidemic and the initial impetus for a Queer Astrology died with them. Millions died across the country and queer people began to get angry at the lack of response and the general prejudice and ignorance. It became necessary to act up and act out—and that meant change the culture to accept ‘coming out’ as a part of the queer experience. This also began to happen in the astrological community. Gay astrologers began outing themselves, because it was clear that silence meant death. Open discussion, recognition and honest discourse were the goals for those of us who were still alive. Although things began changing in the country and around the world, within astrological circles coming out didn’t seem to make much of an impact. In the final analysis, we had simply lost too many of our most important queer astrologers to AIDS and there just weren’t enough voices left to bring the message home.
That does not change the fact that many gay men were behind the humanistic and psychological approaches to astrological interpretation and they were, in fact, the first phases of what we would now call the ‘queering’ of astrology. However, once we lost so many of our great astrologers in the ’80s-90s, we also lost the momentum in developing a body of openly queer literature, theory and criticism. Without their presence, inspiration and charisma, queerness in astrology simply languished. The global astrological community simply did not evolve any further in its understanding of queer people and their lives. Interpretations of the birth chart most often reflected the archaic, pathological view of queer sexuality as inverted, perverted, confused or simply willful rebellion. Astrologers were still telling people that their sexual identity could be found in the birth chart. Both gay astrologers and gay clientele were still being alienated by those so-called experts who had such answers for them. In fact, many astrologers still believe and maintain that they can find ‘homosexuality’ in the birth chart. This fact alone makes it clear that the process of queering astrology is not complete—we still have hard work ahead of us. However, there is now a new generation of astrologers that has been influenced by Queer and Feminist theory, and they are part of a larger cultural shift that includes and integrates queer and gay people into our mainstream, everyday life. They are open-minded, filled with empathy and new life and intellectual experiences that are beginning to change astrological attitudes, culture and practice, just as my generation did back in the 1970s. They have made it a goal in this postmodern world to deconstruct astrological interpretation and practice and renovate it with queer and feminist theory and criticism. They have begun anew where the older generations’ queer and gay astrologers and their efforts left off.
The Queer Astrology Conference of 2013 was a first step in bringing these new efforts into focus. Their influence is beginning to be felt at mainstream conferences where even the older generation has begun talking about sexuality and relationships in a new light that is colored somewhat queerly. So, I applaud and encourage their efforts here to continue the work that was begun decades ago, work that was influenced by queer and feminist theory, but that unfortunately was left incomplete after the tragic impact of AIDS in our astrological community. The challenge is to develop a new body of astrological literature that will reflect what has happened here and now, as well as fulfill the dream of the previous generation of queer astrologers. This current movement to queer astrology, to organize conferences, and to create a new mode of interpretation must result in the publication of these ideas in our collective body of astrological work. This book is clearly a first effort in creating our future and an excellent start in educating our colleagues as to the nature of the vision.