The importance of astrology in online queer communities

I was drawn to astrology, the supernatural, and magic as a child. Nose in a Harry Potter book, I dreamt of studying divination at Hogwarts even though all the main characters hated the subject and were oddly skeptical. At girlhood sleepovers, my friends and I watched The Craft and tried to levitate each other. We chanted “light as a feather, stiff as a board” in dark rooms and pretended to float. When I fell for another girl in middle school, I bought a pink-bound book of love spells which instructed me to scrawl my crushes name of a piece of paper and burn it under the full moon. Wednesday nights, my mom and I curled up on the couch to catch the latest Ghost Hunters. My friends teased me in high school for believing in Nessie, Loch Ness’ famous (lesbian) plesiosaur. As I grew older and more cynical, I rejected my former hobbies and turned my nose up at all forms of “pseudoscience.”

In early March, images of zodiac bingo cards popped up on my Instagram feed. The traits listed for my sign (Capricorn) were not only amusing, but surprisingly accurate. In the past, I found Capricorn traits difficult to relate to. Capricorns are often portrayed as power hungry money grubbers, and I’m more of an insecure introvert writer than a Wall Street wolf. My sign’s bingo card still talked about money and ambition, but in a way that addressed my desire to be the best while simultaneously feeling like I’m never good enough: “actually good with money,” “hard af on yourself,” “unstoppable when you put your mind to it,” “pretty pessimistic.”

I followed the account that had posted the image, @jakesastrology, which led me to other accounts, and eventually I fell down a rabbit hole of astrology memes; my cursory interest as a child had barely scratched the surface. Through Spongebob and RuPaul’s Drag Race memes, I discovered natal charts, moon signs, and ascendants. By acknowledging some of my Capricorn tendencies (taking myself too seriously and being unable to take a joke), I learned to loosen up and laugh at myself.

As I followed more and more meme accounts, I noticed a trend. Many, including @jakesastrology, @astromemequeen, @chaninicholas, @scottloudounofficial, and @aquariana_astrology are headed by queer individuals and reference queer culture.

The inverse is true as well. Queer accounts like @_personals_, a personal ad service for lesbian, queer, trans, and nonbinary individuals, reference astrology. The ads include descriptors like “Dependable Taurus” “Aquarian Artist,” and “Misunderstood Gemini.”

Not limited to memes, queer astrology also pops up in the academic and writing communities. The Twitter account Astro Poets (@poetastrologers), with upwards of 334,000 followers, is a favorite among writers. Author and Pushcart Prize recipient Alex Dimitrov runs the account with Dorothea Lasky, author of five books of poetry and professor at Columbia University.

Jeanna Kadlec, founder of Bluestockings Boutique: a lingerie boutique geared toward the LGBTQIA+ community, recently published What’s Your Author Horoscope on Electric Literature. The article, revered by English majors, professors, authors, and publishers, highlights queer writers, women, and authors of color in lieu of the straight white men that usually dominate the literary canon. As a writer, the Capricorn pill is a lot easier to swallow when Lin-Manuel Miranda’s face is affixed to the label. Miranda is my aspirational Capricorn role model while Alexander Hamilton, the subject of Miranda’s Tony-winning musical, is Capricorn’s cautionary tale.

I wanted to explore the connection between queerness and astrology further so I reached out to a few account creators. @jakesastrology, the account behind the viral zodiac bingo cards, is headed by Jake, a 21-year-old who works a “normal retail job” and writes sex horoscopes for Cosmopolitan. Jake uses astrology not only to predict the future, but to re-contextualize the past: “My favorite use of astrology is looking at past events through an astrological lens. When I look at my horoscope for a certain day or time in the past, it allows me to view that past event in a different, objective way.”

Lily Hoagland of @astromemequeen likes astrology “because it helps me understand people, their points of view, and the reasons behind their actions. People think differently than I do. Astrology is a way of exercising mindfulness.”

Both acknowledge the link between queerness and astrology.

Jake says, “Since joining supernatural/occult communities on various social media platforms in high school, I noticed a large amount of queer people my age interested in the same topics.” Lily has a more socio-historical perspective: “Astrology is seen as a traditionally feminine practice so there aren’t many cis straight guys into it.” Masculinity is stereotypically associated with logic and reason, which may explain why some men are reluctant to embrace a practice deemed unscientific. “It would be one thing if they researched,” Lily says. “They would see a lot of intelligent people — Jung, Franklin — studied astrology.”

Jake believes astrology serves as a spiritual substitution for those who feel abandoned by organized religion:

“Esoteric spiritualities offer a freedom that traditional religions don’t have for queer people. I’m not saying that every practitioner of ‘mainstream’ religion is anti-gay, but the inclination for homophobia in those communities is strong. Eclectic religions, philosophies, and spiritualities allow queer people to have faith or belief in a higher power without feeling the restriction that many feel from more widely-practiced spiritualities, Jake says.

For Lily, astrology is a form of community building. Marginalized individuals use astrology to create space for themselves and others who have long been excluded from traditional society:

“People in the queer community have been isolated, Lily says. “Women and queer people are drawn to astrology because it’s a way to connect. Like drag, astrology is used for expressing yourself.

Similarly to the queer community (and the QPOC communities especially), astrology has historically been isolated from mainstream society and frequently criticized. Queer people are drawn to astrology and other spiritual arts because they are welcomed and accepted in these spaces. Organizations like Harriet’s Apothecary in Brooklyn, “an intergenerational, healing village led by the brilliance and wisdom of Black Cis Women, Queer and Trans healers, artists, health professionals, magicians, activists, and ancestors,” make astrology and other spiritual practices accessible to Black women/non binary individuals. They offer a safe space for solidarity and community-building.

Queer people use labels and their innate connotations to signal and find each other. Despite the “labels are for clothes” sentiment quoted in every TV show with a coming out arc, we love labels. Labels help us understand and define ourselves which is why the LGBTQIA+ acronym is ever expanding. It’s not that we don’t want to be labeled, we want to be labeled correctly.

Like Myers-Briggs and Hogwarts houses, astrology is an aspect of identity that we are free to claim if it suits us.

Astrology isn’t something you believe in or not; it’s a revelatory tool that allows us to look inward. Chani Nicholas, a counseling astrologer for over 20 years, theorizes that queer people love astrology “because for some of us, it’s the first time we see a clear reflection of ourselves.” Queer people spend their entire lives questioning who they are and where they belong. Astrology doesn’t judge who you are — it simply gives you a roadmap for who you could be.

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