September 16, 2020
It is an interesting question to explore – Is there evidence of LGBT deities, gods or goddesses in history or mythology? Everyday, there is more and more interest in researching and studying the presence of LGBT deities in history and mythology.
The truth is people have been worshipping queer gods for ages. Furthermore, people have looked up to deities for guidance, hope, love, and acceptance irrespective of a god’s or goddesses’ sexuality. Here are some of the LGBT deities from history from around the world. Be it Greek, Egyptian or Indian mythologies, there is evidence of LGBT deities everywhere.
LGBT Gods in Greek Mythologies
Have you heard of the Male Lovers in the Trojan War? What about the gay cupbearer on Mount Olympus? Homosexuality has always been present in Greek mythology. In fact, Greek mythology shows greater acceptance of homosexuality in ancient Athens. Furthermore, Greek Gods have expressed their virility through both homosexual as well as heterosexual relationships. Some of these gods include the famous Zeus and even Hercules.
Zeus is the Greek God of Thunder, Lightning, and Sky. He is the king of gods on Mount Olympus. Zeus is often called the ‘philanderer extraordinaire’. Despite his reputation for his relationship with women, Zeus has commonly fallen in love with men. According to mythology, one of his famous lovers is Ganymede. Ganymede was chosen to serve as Zeus’ cupbearer on Mount Olympus. Furthermore, Zeus abducted him and then placed as his heavenly cupbearer. Finally, the relationship between the two allowed for the custom of Paiderastia. Paiderastia is a practice wherein greek men indulge in erotic relationships with adolescent boys, from time-to-time.
Hermaphroditus is the child of Hermes and goddess Aphrodite. Hermes and Aphrodite are the gods of male and female sexuality. Born as the son to the gods, Hermaphroditus attracted love from Salmakis (Salmacis), a Naiad nymph. The girl prayed that she be united with him forever. Her prayers were answered, and finally, their two forms were merged. Hence, Hermaphroditus became a creature of both sexes. In this manner, Hermaphroditus can be seen as one fo the earliest literary references to an intersex individual. Furthermore, in paintings, Hermaphroditus is often depicted as a winged youth who possessed both male and female features. For example, as seen in the above image, the creature has womanly breasts and hair but male genitalia.
The Amazons are regarded as the original race of female warriors. According to the myth, the warriors lived in a society that was free of men. Furthermore, they would only indulge in heterosexual sex once or twice in a year for reproductive purposes. According to Pride, the warriors might have indulged in lesbian relationships for the rest of the year. While many scholars suggest that lesbian culture is a more recent phenomenon, Pride identified art from that time that suggests the existence of such relationships. For example, there is a painting that shows Amazonian Queen Panthesilia accepting a love gift from a huntress of Thracian.
LGBT Deities in Hindu Mythology
Hindu literature, for centuries, has had deities and figures in their scriptures that defy the binary nature of gender. This means that the idea that gender is a spectrum, is not something recent or modern. Furthermore, there are stories and instances sighted within Hindu mythology where gender is androgynous, and relationships are homosexual. Keep reading to know more about these deities.
Ardhanarishvara (Shiva and Parvathi):
Shiva and Parvathi are husband and wife. Shiva or Mahadeva is known as ‘the destroyer’ and is often seen as the ‘ultimate embodiment of masculinity’. Parvathi also is known as Shakti and is the goddess of motherhood, marriage, and love to name a few. Once the two deities combined to form a new avatar called Ardhanarishvara. Ardhanarishvara is an androgynous composite of the husband and wife. Furthermore, the form is portrayed as an equally divided figure. Parvathi on the left, and Shiva on the right. The cause of this form is that Parvathi wanted to share Shiva’s experiences. According to Sadhguru, “What is being said is that if the inner masculine and feminine meet, you are in a perpetual state of ecstasy”.
Mohini (A form of Vishu):
Vishnu, the ‘the protector’. According to mythology, the god takes many forms/avatars for different purposes. Including the famous Dashavatara stories, meaning Ten avatars of Vishnu. For Instance, Vishnu once took the form of Mohini. Mohini is a female avatar who appeared in the epic narrative of Mahabharata. In the story, she was an enchantress who took the elixir of immortality from demons and gave it to the gods. Furthermore, in this avatar, Vishnu had a relationship with Lord Shiva and gave birth to a boy called Ayyapa. Another name for Ayyapa is ‘HariHaraPutra’ which means the son of HariHara, wherein Hari is Vishnu and Hara is Shiva. Hence, in this instance, indirectly, Ayyapa is the son of 2 men.
Also Read about LGBT in gaming: Did you know? Iconic Video Game Characters that are LGBTQ
Source Credit: Advocate, Theoi Greek Mythology, Out Magazine, Pride