I’ve been thinking about Antinous, specifically Antinous the Liberator. Although some people might understand this aspect of the God as mostly having to do with helping His GLBTQI children, I disagree. I’ve been thinking about Antinous as the drive to “come out”, and what that might mean. Coming out of the closet can have many meanings. Many Pagans joke about being in the “broom closet”. Might Antinous not help a Pagan come out to his or her family? Coming out as a Pagan can be just as traumatic as coming out as gay or lesbian, and some folks have to do both. I think part of what Antinous teaches is accepting the truth of who you are, owning all parts of yourself, and bravely presenting that face to the world. At least I think that is part of why He came to me.
I happen to have many closets that I am in various stages of being out of. Everyone I know is aware that I am Pagan, including my family and my boyfriend’s family (and that took them years to get used to). Most of the people I know am aware I am bisexual. Much less that I am polyamorous. I wish that this was all I had to worry about, but in the last year or so I became aware of yet another stigma-inducing label I wear. You see, I was diagnosed as suffering from Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. It was something I suspected for a while, as it runs in my family, but I was reluctant to admit it.I felt like I was weird enough already, and I did not want to add another thing that could be misunderstood. Mental illness carries a huge stigma in our culture, just as much as homosexuality, I think. And it is something that cannot be escaped. There is no cure for mental illness, only treatment. Mental illness does not automatically make people violent, and it is not the same as mental retardation (you’d be surprised how many people think that the mentally ill are somehow intellectually challenged). Mental illness is not moral weakness, and it not just laziness. It is a chronic disease, just like diabetes. I insist that talking about having a mental illness is no different than talking about having cancer.
When I started to feel an attraction to Antinous, I was just starting to come out of the “crazy” closet, to stand up as an advocate for the mentally ill. I am an activist by nature, something that I think comes in part from being so close to Athena, Who I see as the Goddess of advocacy and social justice. It’s actually hard for me NOT to speak my truth. My life is very much an open book. I don’t like to hide, even if it makes things a little harder in the long run. I am what I am. And the fact is that somebody has got to be on the front lines, somebody has to stand up and shout “Hey! This is me, and I’m a person just like you!” or nothing will ever change. Someone has to be willing to take the knocks in the short term in service of a long term goal, that is, cultural change. So in short, I think Antinous came into my life to help me accept my illness, own it, and to become an mental health advocate.