Written by Jessi Quinn Alperin
Illustrated by Rosalie Moloney
When I was in high school I told my best friend, “I don’t want to become one of those astrology lesbians.” But against my will, time has made me an astrology queer.
I used to see lesbians on Tumblr talking about moon signs, tarot and wearing pink, so I assumed that I needed to be “not like other girls” and be “cooler” than those lesbians by hating astrology outright. My identity has shifted a lot since then and in the process I have met a lot of queer folks. There seems to be one thing that always comes up one way or another: astrology.
It might be an easy assumption to make that an interest in astrology is a thing “young people” have, but my supervisor, a lesbian rabbi in her 40’s, knows almost as much about astrology as I do.
What is it that draws queer people to astrology in droves? Is it a need to differentiate from each other since queerness does not make us feel unique when we are with each other?
“I think queer people spend a lot of time thinking about why we are who we are, at least more so than straight people, and I think astrology helps explain that,” says J.P. Leskovich, a queer 23-year-old Pittsburgher (and a Taurus). Leskovich believes astrology is “a tool to build community and create a common language that can bring us together.”
I am inclined to agree with him. Our eyes light up more when we find out someone has the same sun sign as us than we do when we find out we share sexual orientations. I, personally, feel more of a kinship with fellow Aquarians than with most bisexuals. Although, that may be because it is a smaller population to compare from.
Despite distaste for lesbians on Tumblr talking about astrology when I was younger, Tumblr is to thank for a lot of twenty-somethings knowing anything about astrology. Between 2014-2016 there was a wave of astrology-based memes on Tumblr. They would often follow the format of: “The Signs as __” or “What each Sign Wants/Needs/Etc.”
(Side note: in 2015 I created one of the top shared and liked zodiac posts about each sign’s speech patterns.)
Because this trend was going on at the same time a lot of us were coming of age, a lot of twenty-somethings feel as though our queerness and interest in astrology are somehow connected.
Kayla Bradley, a lesbian, actress and Aquarian explains, “weirdly, me realizing I was queer and getting interested in astrology are inextricably linked. There was this girl in sixth grade that I was really into, and when we had sleepovers she would read to me out of this big astrology book. It was at one of those sleepovers, literally while she was reading to me, that I first realized I was queer. She was reading about Pisces and Aquarius compatibility and I was like, ‘I want to kiss her so bad.’”
While not everyone falls in love with both a person and astrology at the same time, for many of us that deep connection with astrology is still there. Yet, most of us only discuss astrology with other queer people. I do not have more than two straight friends so I assumed I was not the right sample population to be asking. However, when asked, both Bradley and Leskovich admitted to not having many cisgender heterosexual (cishet) friends either. Bradley did add that if she does talk to cishet people about astrology, “they’re usually not interested in astrology the same way I am.”
As queer people, we are drawn towards astrology for a variety of reasons; it is fun, our friends or partners love it, or tons of other answers. Although, it seems most likely that so many queer people are drawn to astrology because it is a way of dividing up the world into categories and making it “make sense.” This is something that everyone does; but as queer people, it is almost like we need astrology as an extra form of categorization because we are already so different from the majority of society.
Queer people are intimately familiar with the feelings of isolation and otherness and many of us feel a need to explain the world and why we were made the way we are. In adolescence, many of us struggle with feelings of confusion and anger that can be soothed by finding some way to explain the universe. Due to being queer, we are both blessed and cursed with a second adolescence, making our need for both understanding and community feel all the more essential.
Bradley astutely described, “queer people tend to embrace outsideness and otherness. Deviant [sic] sexualities are so demonized and stigmatized, and historically astrology has been stigmatized in the same way because of its prominence in religions that are largely led by either women (Wicca) or brown people (Hinduism). So it seems to me that, in America, the demonization of astrology for being deviant would just naturally bother straight people more than queer people, based purely on like norms [sic]. So it’s this ‘queering faith systems’ thing but I also think it’s just more accepted by and accessible to queer people than cishets, especially white cishets.”
We are freer to engage in practices that are frowned upon by larger society. We are freer to create community and language on our own terms. The way we create queer community is still radical today; and all the more radical when a vital part of our connection to one another is based around the stars and the days we were born.
For many queer people, astrology is the key to that community experience. Astrology is an innate part of queer communication.
Jessi is a poet, a YouTuber and a photographer. Currently, they are a Springboard Social Justice Fellow for Oberlin Hillel. On the side of this, they review queer books, speak out about mental health and have attended protests on international issues such as gun law in the US.
Edited by Stephanie Kleanthous