In this month’s column, astrologer and member Clarisse Monahan explores how an emerging queer astrology seeks to rethink masculine and feminine gender constructs
A few months ago, the Zodiac Dispatch discussed asteroid astrology, which arose alongside the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Conceived at a crucial historical juncture, asteroid astrology introduced four feminine archetypes as a way to think about femininity outside the Venus/ Moon binary. A noble pursuit.
Queer astrology takes its cue from queer theory, which is all about questioning, critiquing, destabilising, undoing, and making the monolith of heteronormativity non-linear. Heteronormativity assumes a cis-gendered, child-rearing subject. It loves the nuclear family, because that’s where it reproduces its norms ideologically, and ensures biological reproduction as well. It likes things clean, straight, simple, and either/ or. Through things like sports, clothes, colours, fairy tales and so on, it structures the fluidity of desire and gender expression into neat binaries – like the kind we see in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. In resistance to this logic, queer astrology proposes that we should all start talking about this star stuff in a more nuanced, modern and non-binary way. Rather than speaking about ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ signs and planets, for example, it might talk about outward and inward energies. Why? Because this shift helps divorce queer astrology from gendered concepts that are alienating; not just for certain forms of queer identification, but also for straight men and women who are increasingly uncomfortable with being pushed into rigid gender roles.
Queer astrology is also sensitive to the queerness of the Zodiac and, by extension, to the inherent queerness of astrological identifications. For a moment, think about what it means for a straight cis woman to identify as a double Sagittarius with a seven-year Uranus transit in their First House of Self. Think of all the complex vectors of energy and gender at work here: man, horse, hybrid, woman, cis, moon, sun, quirky Uranus. Reducing the complexity of this identification to some basic, generalised statement about one’s femininity or masculinity seems to miss the fluidity of the ensemble. So, what does queer astrology look like? It looks like good astrology. It looks like being open to the multiplicity and singularity implicit in the spacetime of a given chart. Generalisations of all kinds – not least in astrology – provide easy answers. But easy answers aren’t who any of us are. We’re all multiple, complex, and open. Queer astrology offers non-reductive readings of who and where a person is in life, since each chart is infinitely unique and non-binary when you think about it. Recently, I was learning about the chromatic scale in music. While most pop songs these days use diatonic scales (seven notes in the same key), the chromatic scale uses all 12 notes. These extra five notes produce chroma – that is, colour and complexity. Queer astrology, then, is kind of like a chromatic scale. It includes all the notes (not just the easy ones) to make a more colourful sound – almost like a rainbow. Happy Pride!