Astrology is having its moment. The study of the stars has come a long way from its reputation as generic tabloid advice, ensuring you that yes, Taurus, you will find love this month.
While horoscopes have always been a popular pastime, there’s never been as much interest in the in-depth aspects of astrology as there is now; Google analytics over the last two years show anywhere between a 50% and 65% increase in searches for terms like “birth chart” “astrology houses,” and “rising sign.” The idea that planetary movements impact our lives has trickled into the mainstream—and it’s also taken root in LGBTQ culture. The connection between gay identity and astrology has become so strong that AstroPoets, a Twitter account with over 400,000 followers, frequently tweets things like “the moon is a gay icon” and “all signs are a little (and a lot) gay duh.”
The sky & stars
& moons & planets
& comets & asteroids
& black holes & galaxies
& nebulas & all of the sun?
Gay. Very gay.
— Astro Poets (@poetastrologers) June 1, 2018
But why do so many LGBTQ folks take interest in astrology? A baseline knowledge of the zodiac has become almost a prerequisite for engaging in various queer social scenes. Lindsey Faust, a lesbian, admitted that she initially got into astrology just to have a point of conversation in gay spaces. “It’s an assumed common ground,” she tells NewNownext. “I recently went to a ‘queer function’ and was asked my sign within 15 minutes.” But beyond making small talk at a party, what’s the appeal of astrology for LGBTQ people? Why are we so drawn to the stars?
Jessica Lanyadoo, a professional astrologer who identifies as queer, has noticed that astrology is “widely accepted in queer culture, much more than cis, straight culture… though when it comes to matters of the heart, we are all pretty much the same.” Jessica says that people turn to astrology “because they want help, insight, and a sense of meaning,” something that many straight cis people find through other venues, such as organized religion. “Too often queer people are rejected by their families and the religious institutions that they grew up in,” Jessica continues. “Astrology offers a totally non-denominational and non-judgemental method of connecting to the Divine, and for having a sense of connection and meaning.”
The spiritual value of astrology isn’t lost on those with even a casual interest in it. Lindsey noted that astrology “connects itself not to a specific deity, but to the universe, so there’s no chance of judgment.” She went on: “I’m religious, so I’m just guessing, but it seems to me like astrology gets to a lot of the same questions that organized religion answers. It just doesn’t have space for the pain that organized religion often causes.”
Pip Thomas Malone, a transmasculine person, echoed Lindsey’s sentiments. He thinks of astrology as “a way to have spiritual beliefs without any of the usual dogma and conservatism” often present in religion. “There aren’t really any rules or barriers to astrology,” he says. It’s a spiritual model in stark contrast to the hierarchical models of faith many of us were raised in: There’s no gatekeeping of the Divine.
As LGBTQ people are often cast out from organized religion and other communities centered on meaning-making, it’s no wonder that we turn to the cosmic to organize our lives. It’s more than just a spiritual outlet—it’s a means to make sense of our identities. We’re interested in self-interrogation, and we’ve had to do a lot of it; unlike many of our straight and cisgender peers, we didn’t have the luxury of growing up uncritical of our behaviors and desires, of the way we were perceived by others. Coming into ourselves often meant desperately trying to disguise or repress our otherness, all the while asking: Why am I like this? Why do I feel this way? What do other people see when they look at me? We grew used to asking these questions—and astrology has the answers.
Astrology, however, is more than a tool for personal revelation: it’s a way to relate to other people, to announce who we are to the world. “I think that as LGBT people, we’ve often spent our entire lives searching for words and communities to define ourselves and our experiences,” Cameron, a gay trans man, reflects. He believes that astrology, like identity labels, can satisfy our desires to be seen and understood by those who share “our feelings, our traits, and our experiences.”
Astrology allows us to build community around sameness—and difference. It enables us to discover ourselves, to declare who we are, to find our people. To feel a little more secure and a little less alone.
Or maybe it’s not that deep. Maybe we love astrology because it’s fun, because it’s the perfect vehicle to throw shade at our chronically flaky coworker (“Ugh, he’s such an Aquarius”) or blame our family troubles on something less depressing on prejudice (“My sister told me that my transition is ‘just really taking a toll’ on her—but could I expect anything less self-absorbed from a Pisces?”). Maybe it’s because queerness has always celebrated the strange, the magical, the countercultural. Maybe it’s because we want to believe in predestination, that we are born this way, that our bodies are woven with stardust. But no matter what, this much is clear: There’s power and magic in the language we use to claim who we are.