MARS AND THE POLITICS OF DIFFERENCE – BARRY PERLMAN
“Queer astrology rests on the premise that we are actually more different from one another than is commonly assumed, expressing a widely divergent mix of desires, preferences, practices, and feelings that often don’t neatly cohere within conventional identity-categories such as “gay” or “straight”. We vary in terms of whether we want: a long-term relationship or shorter-term pairings; monogamy, non-monogamy, or polyamory; sex coupled with emotional intimacy, or sex separate from emotional intimacy; a biological family of our own, a “chosen family” of one sort or another, or a more independent existence. Likewise, we vary in how successfully we express the stereotypical qualities of our born gender, or don’t, and in how we may choose to change our outward gender-identification. To unpack all these variables (and others) is to “queer” the way we discuss these ideas with regards to ourselves, our clients, and astrology.
As a human-created meaning-system, astrology cannot exist outside of our linguistic frameworks.
The language we use in our client-sessions, lectures, writings, and discussions is never separate from the astrology itself. And like any meaning-system, astrology reflects the mainstream biases of the society in which it’s practiced. Queer astrology seeks to challenge these biases, breaking the traditional silence around non-conforming gender and sexual expressions, while deconstructing the pathologizing tone often used when such expressions are mentioned at all. How we conceive of, and communicate, the meaning of the astrology in a client’s chart can make a profound difference between them experiencing self-empowerment or shame in their lives.
I take this seriously enough (and have witnessed enough damage done to clients by more careless astrologers) that I felt called to become a vocal participant in this “queering” of astrology. I am in a well-suited position to take on this blending of astrological practice with queer theory and feminism, as I’d been traveling the academic path prior to becoming a professional astrologer, through interdisciplinary graduate work which explored representations of gender and sexuality in popular culture. Because astrology has been largely ostracized from the academy for centuries, it still lags behind in its integration of these more recent linguistic and conceptual considerations. It’s now our job to do this work within the wider astrological community.