On Why Queer People Love Astrology
Relive a special first date with me
It’s a blustery Sunday afternoon in December 2019, and I am on my first date with the love of my life. Of course, it’s only our first date, so I don’t know that yet. I enter the restaurant, a bustling Brooklyn brunch spot, expecting a good meal and fodder for my next journal entry, nothing more.
Imagine my surprise when we hit it off.
She and I banter easily, like we’ve known each other for years instead of hours. We cover a lot of ground, too: our families, our jobs, our birth charts. I’m more than a year out from embarking on a serious astrological study, but I know enough about the signs and planets to make casual delineations with my now-girlfriend. We bond over having fire Sun sign best friends and being Geminis drawn to other Geminis. She confesses her Mars is in Leo, and it all makes sense — of course this girl cornered me on a crowded subway car and asked for my number.
It’s still cold once we step outside and move to a bar down the avenue, but I no longer feel the chill.
Nearly two years have passed since our first date, yet my girlfriend and I still joke about how astrology dominated that initial discussion. I think we both recognize a deeper truth here: By and large, queer people love astrology. It shows up in our casual conversations, inspires zodiac-themed cocktails at the bars we frequent, permeates the media we consume.
That’s not to say astrology doesn’t have mainstream appeal, too. The astrology industry is worth an estimated $2.2 billion, and it would be silly to assert that LGBTQ folks constitute all or most of its patrons, especially given the disparate levels of inequity queer people experience. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this centuries-old practice is a fixture of contemporary queer culture.
Shortly after my girlfriend and I went on our first date, I attended Chani Nicholas’s talk at the Brooklyn Museum for her book You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance. She was joined onstage by filmmaker, archivist, and transgender activist Tourmaline, who astutely noted that astrology lacks many of the barriers-to-entry associated with other spiritual practices or meaning-making systems. Astrology is not a religious institution in the conventional sense, nor does it have a central authority figure calling the shots. It doesn’t matter who you are, who you love, or how you identify. If you know when and where you were born, you can generate your birth chart.
“Astrology, especially for most of history, even though it has a lot of moments of severe popularity like it’s having right now, it’s still something that’s on the periphery of culture,” Nicholas told me in a conversation for Logo earlier this year. “It still lives and exists on the margins. And for all of recent history, at least — not everywhere and not in every culture, but within especially white supremacist patriarchal culture — queers and queer culture are peripheral. So I think queer folks naturally gravitate to what’s also been held in the margins.”
It helps, too, that we’re living in a renaissance for astrological technology. A few decades ago, most of us wouldn’t be able to access our birth chart without the expertise of a professional astrologer. Today, we can pull it up in seconds for free on Astro.com.
In their book Postcolonial Astrology: Reading the Planets Through Capital, Power, and Labor, Alice Sparkly Kat describes astrology as a language. “[Astrology] works not because there is anything magical about the language itself,” they write, “but because the act of not believing readily, of believing where belief has been earned, of listening waywardly, and of owning the magic of illusion making collectively is magic.” Though many practitioners incorporate magic or spirituality into their work, the true alchemy happens when astrology fosters connection. My girlfriend and I were able to bond over our limited knowledge of astrology because we both spoke the language with passing familiarity.
Astrological language is also a way of talking about ourselves — our identities, our communities, our desires, even our struggles — without explicitly naming these realities. It reminds me of how queer people throughout history have developed our own euphemisms (and at times, our own languages) to communicate covertly amongst each other. If I tell you my natal Sun in Gemini in the 12th House is the bane of my existence, and you laugh knowingly, I’ve effectively communicated something about myself and my lived experience.
Is your interpretation of what I said dependent on your subjectivities? Of course, but I suspect this is another reason why LGBTQ people and folks from other marginalized communities enjoy astrology. Since astrology is not a regulated field, anyone can learn about it. Astro-curious people can also pick and choose which astrologers they consult based on considerations like lived experience or positionality.
Sparkly Kat agrees: “Not all astrologers know what it’s like to experience racism. Not all astrologers understand what it’s like to encounter sexual violence or realize how normalized this violence is. … Astrology is a tool through which imperfect people try our best to talk to each other.”
Today’s Moon: There’s a Full Moon in Aries today (October 20). Aries risings, Libra risings, Cancer risings, and Capricorn risings will feel this energy most directly. New Moons mark beginnings, whereas Full Moons signal culminations. Lunations operate on six-month cycles, so take a peek at the basic house meanings for wherever Aries falls in your chart. Has something that began in that area of your life during Aries season 2021 run its course?
This Full Moon’s ruler, Mars, is in Venus-ruled Libra, the sign of its detriment. Libra has to do with our relationships to others, so take a moment to meditate on the people around you and the social engagements you’ve committed to. Is there someone or something you’ve been meaning to confront? Maybe a change you’ve been meaning to make? Mars is also in an applying square to Pluto, meaning an underlying power imbalance might be more obvious than usual. Discomfort — emotionally, interpersonally, bodily — is difficult to ignore, so let it embolden you. Aries placements get a bad rap for being impulsive. I prefer the term “courageous.”
Fave astro post: Tell me it’s Libra season with ~telling me~ it’s Libra season.