There’s less than an hour left in Friday, and I still haven’t had time to post about the EBC. I had a few medical things to take care of this morning, had to be picked up for a series of transportation hand-offs to get to a faculty meeting at one of my colleges in the afternoon, had dinner at that while we had our meeting, and then returned home via a ride to find I’d been invited next door to a political fundraiser (even though I can’t afford to donate, I was being invited as a neighbor and friend) for a local congressional candidate–who I got to meet and speak with for a few minutes (and she introduced herself to me!)–which was all wonderful. So, it’s been an event-and-people-filled day for me, which has been good! I’m still tired, and have a lot to do, but one makes time for actual humans when one can.
Which brings me to the subject of this post: actual humans. And one actual human in particular: Star Foster of Patheos.com’s Pagan Channel. She made the announcement today that she’s stepping down from her position. As Le Chanson de Roland says, “Some may rejoice; others may not.” I’m one of the ones who is not rejoicing at this news, personally…Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for Star and wish the very best for her, but I’ll miss her able handling of the reins at the Patheos.com Pagan Channel. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have anything on Patheos.com at all, and certainly wouldn’t be writing the “Queer I Stand” column. In all the time I’ve been doing that, her and I have never argued, and I’ve never been upset with her for anything; I’ve disagreed on a few things, but it was never a bitter disagreement, and even those have been very few and far between.
I have to say, some of my most fond memories of Star thus far have been the time we spent in-person at PantheaCon. Herself, Erynn Rowan Laurie, and I had lunch one day, and it was enjoyable and there was a lot of laughter throughout it. (The food was somewhat unremarkable, alas, but it was the company that made the meal memorable.) As I was passing through the lobby and the area around the restaurant, Star called me over to one of the tables by the coffee line to introduce me briefly to Peter Dybing.
And, she came to the Ekklesía Antínoou’s Bakkhoi Antínoou ritual/drama that year (2011) and stayed for the entire thing–one of few who did, actually–which was an event that was simultaneously wonderful, effective, and life-changing, and at the same time a complete and total disaster and hell-on-wheels to put on. I remember being offstage, just as the “Comedy” portion started, hearing the shoe drop, as it were, when people started to recognize that the song Antinous, Persephone, and Dionysos were singing and dancing to was Lady GaGa’s “Alejandro” with altered lyrics, and hearing this burst of laughter from Star; and then when I entered the stage singing along with part of the song as Hermes, another peal of laughter that was very clearly and distinctly Star sounded out, and I thought to myself, “I’m glad at least one person likes the show!” (I think several others did, too, but anyway…) Especially when an audience is small, and one knows some of the people in it, those putting on a performance, giving a paper, or doing a ritual most certainly do notice what’s going on, and it’s wonderful to have people in an audience situation event demonstrate their appreciation, and increase their participation by so doing, so I thank her for that!
In the early days of the modern pagan movement (which I’d put at about 1950-1965), it was the group founders and lineage establishers that were the “big name pagans.” In the second wave, it was the authors–many of whom were the group and lineage founders in the previous period–from about 1965 to 1980. Many of those authors, from 1980 to 2000, then went on not only to found more groups, but also events, festivals, conventions, and were out and doing lecture tours, giving workshops, and teaching to a wide variety of people, and they were the big name pagans of those years.
Star said in her final post that she’s not a big name pagan, and never wanted to be one–she hasn’t written a book, founded a coven or a lineage, nor traveled widely and lectured, taught, and started events that draw crowds of thousands. But, she is a big name pagan for doing what she has done with Patheos.com, and having made it into a successful pagan venture within an otherwise successful interfaith effort (even though many of the other factions within that interfaith organization couldn’t care less about paganism, and several of whom are actively hostile towards us and won’t let us forget it). She had the talents, the skills, and the opportunity to make a space for us within that organization, and she did it very well, in my opinion, no matter what some might think. By not setting out to be a big name pagan, but just by doing what she was able to do, she has done us all a great service, and deserves our thanks and appreciation for it.
Thanks very much, Star, for all you’ve done, and I look forward to interacting with you further in the future, and hopefully seeing you in person at future events as well, as you’re able!
[My next "Queer I Stand" will go to some Patheos.com editor I don't know, who probably isn't pagan, and most certainly isn't going to be queer...and, I am rather hesitant about that. But, we shall see what happens...]