The queer hero’s journey is a mythology of the queer path, which provides a framework of evolutionary unfolding that help’s orient the queer person towards certain key moments along the path of self discovery and creative freedom. This perspective can be incredibly helpful for providing context to challenging situations, highlighting hidden opportunities, and introducing a sense of trust in a better future.
I’m releasing this journey as a series of conversations so check the links in the description if you want to follow along.
Okay let’s get started. So the beginning of the queer hero’s journey, our main character is usually an unassuming and awkward misfit who feels out of place, overwhelmed and insecure. But their destiny is to be a creative, self aware, and open-hearted person who is using their gifts to bring light into this world.
But of course… getting from here to there, is no easy task. Because just like every heroic story you’ve ever heard… our main character is going to have to be brave in the face of danger. And they are going to have to open, when they want to close.
And even though in the beginning, our hero-to-be is faced with a seemingly impossible task… and they have no clue how to get from here to there… still, their destiny is to succeed.
So in today’s conversation… let’s start at the origin of our queer hero’s journey: The Closet
So according to the storyline, the first major lesson that the unrealized queer hero-to-be needs to learn… is how to be a shapeshifter. Or a master of disguise who is able to bypass their truth, and change who they are… in order to fit in.
But even deeper than that… they need to change who they are, in order to receive love. Because for as long as they can remember… the love-givers in their life have placed very specific conditions on what is worthy of love. Say this, and not that. Wear this, and not that. Do the right thing, and love is given. Do the wrong thing, and love is withheld.
So from an early age… our main character is conditioned to believe that certain parts of themselves are good, and others are bad. This is normal, that is weird. This is proper, that is perverted. And depending on the particular rules and expectations of their original environment… our main character learns how to present certain qualities, and hide others. That which is perceived as good is allowed to be out in the open. And that which is perceived as bad, gets banished to the closet.
And thats how our hero-to-be, begins their journey. In the closet. Not forever of course, but just temporarily. Because from the perspective of the uninitiated queer hero… who is still dependent on the love and approval of others… giving up a piece of their truth, in order to receive life-sustaining nourishment is a small price to pay. So in the short term… the queer hero makes a subconscious judgement call… and they play it cool, in order to get by.
Alright, so that is the origin of our journey. The closet. And if that’s where you are… then congratulations. And welcome to the hero’s journey.
But before we move on to a simple strategy, I do want to make one thing clear. So in this story I’m using the closet as a metaphor for the tendency to hide parts of ourselves based on 1 - our desire to be loved and 2 - our ideas about right and wrong.
So just keep in mind that from here on out… when I reference the closet, what i’m really speaking about the underlying psychological mechanism which is secretly influencing our behavior; and in the case of the queer person… is causing them to place parts of themselves in the closet.
Okay so the first thing to understand about this part of the journey is that while yes… this is an evolutionary process, which is leading you towards healing, resolution, and wholeness… right now, it probably doesn’t feel like that. In fact it probably feels pretty awful right?
The body is tired, the mind is anxious and the soul is hurting. Because being disconnected from our heroic capacities simply doesn’t feel good. Hiding who we are, shapeshifting just to get by, feeling trapped in circumstances we cant change… all of this sucks.
But that’s kind of the point right? Like, this is what makes for a good story. And if you’ve ever really gotten swept away by a book, or a movie, or a biography… you know that things have to be hard in the beginning. Thats just how it goes. The main character is supposed to be down on their luck. They are supposed to feel disconnected and afraid and insecure. And they are supposed to be faced with insurmountable challenges.
Otherwise, the story wouldn’t be worth telling. So at this point in the journey… my suggestion is to simply be brave enough to place yourself within the heroic narrative. And to have the audacity to look at your circumstances and say… wow, this is an amazing origin. Just look at how beautiful this disaster is. Our main character is so lost, and so alone… and so clueless about how to move forward.
And then from that perspective… see if you can introduce a sense of curiosity. And a trust in a better future. Because you recognize that life always finds away. Even in the most desperate circumstances. Life adapts, evolves, and flourishes in the face of extreme opposition.
And thats where you’re at. In the mud of your own evolutionary unfolding. Experiencing the exact perfect set of challenges which is preparing you for your own version of the queer hero’s journey. And if you can get quiet enough… my sense is that somewhere inside you… is a wise version of yourself, who is watching your situation, and saying wow… this is gunna be good.
And now that we’ve talked about the origin of your heroic story… it’s time to move on to our next chapter… the crisis. Alright, I’ll see you in the next one.