This is a topic that comes up often in discussions by those outside the Craft, usually posed as an attack.  I thought I’d get it out of the way because I have heard it countless times.

It is often pointed out (correctly, mind you) that Gerald Gardner denounced homosexuality and claimed that homosexuals incurred “the curse of the Goddess.”  Some even go so far as to discuss the fertility aspect of the God and Goddess duality (the Law of Polarities) to suggest that Wicca is essentially a “fertility religion.”

The implication here is that Wicca is not, intrinsically, gay-friendly because not only did its “founder” denounce the practice, but that gay sex doesn’t lead to reproduction.  Thus the defense that Gardner was “a product of his times” is somewhat weak because, in this line of argument, fertility is a biological and spiritual constant.

These conclusions, however, are extremely flimsy when you examine them.  They are based on several presumptions that are either faulty or represent a poor understanding of Wicca in general.

The first of these presumptions is that Gerald Gardner is held in some sort of veneration among Wiccans, or occupies the status of a prophet.  Those of us within the Craft know this is not true; Gardner did a lot to bring the Old Ways back after his own fashion, but those who actually follow the strict Gardnerian tradition are a relative minority among Witches.  We may refer to Gardner and appreciate what he did, but we are free to question or disagree with him.  Gerald Gardner also said that only pretty, young women should serve as priestesses in performing the Great Rite, but few Wiccans perform the Great Rite in its original form, let alone with pretty young virgins.

The second presumption is that Wicca is solely about fertility.  Although fertility and reproduction figure strongly into the symbolism and veneration of the Wiccan tradition, most Wiccans today regard their faith as a veneration of the whole of nature, even those parts we don’t fully understand.

The third presumption is that the Wiccan understanding of gender is mired in the same biological literalism as most Western religions.  In truth, the Wiccan understanding of gender tends to be more shamanic.  We do believe in two principle genders that infuse energies and individuals, but we accept that physical gender and metaphysical gender are two different things.  Some transgendered Wiccans have even adopted the much older Native American term “two-spirit” to describe themselves.

There are some other facts that beg consideration.  First, Gerald Gardner was actually very close to the late esotericist Aleister Crowley.  It is no secret among those who have read any of Crowley’s poetry that he was very flamboyantly and openly bisexual, and had a strong preference for males; Gardner certainly had to know this.

Second, Gerald Gardner’s revival of the shamanic ideas of pre-Christian Europe wouldn’t have happened without the New Forest Coven.  Although the exact time, place, and nature of the coven is disputed, few authors doubt that a New Forest Coven existed near Christchurch, UK some time in the early 20th century.

Third, homosexuality, bisexuality, and even transgenderism occur in nature!  This is a hard sell because Western thinking has been adamant in demonizing homosexuality as “unnatural,” but anyone who has paid attention at zoos or farms knows better.  Naturalists now believe that same-sex pairings help ease social pressures and control populations.  Probably the best academic work on the sheer scope of this phenomenon in the animal kingdom has been done by Dr. Bruce Bagemihl, author of “Biological Exuberance” (a fascinating read, even if it is a bit of a door stop.  Give it a look).

So is Wicca intrinsically anti-gay?  No more or less than nature itself.