Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gay of the Day- Qu Yan

Qu Yan is considered one of the fathers of Toaism and  China's first major poet and author of both the epic Li Sao (Encountering Sorrow) and Tian Wan (Heavenly Question) that speak of his long standing and passionate relationship with the King of Huai. He was born 340 B.C.E.  in the Kingdom of Chu on the auspicious First Day of the Lunar Year.. His name is made up of two sacred names True Exemplar and Divine Balance. He is often depicted  in women's clothing. As a shaman he learned to divine the future, exorcise demons, heal the sick by retrieving their souls, make objects fly through the air, cause spirits to appear and bring rain. He would often be symbolized with orchids and lotus blossoms. 

But when two people are at one in their innermost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron and bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their
   inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance
    of orchids. -Qu Yan about his relationship with the King of Huai

He would later fall from grace with the king and being a spiritual leader would drown himself  in the Milou River over the betrayal of the King and because this; (the fifth day of the lunar new year); was when shamans traditionally  sacrificed themselves so that the Gods may be pleased and humanity prosper. He is as revered as Buddha, Muhammad, Moses and Jesus and is prominent in religious, cultural and the spiritual culture of China. That's why he is my Gay of the day.

In China at this time Taoism was the main belief. This is before the more routine bound Confucian ways took over as the thought and rule of the land; mystic religions and  spiritual  earth goddess worship ruled. There were even  many gods who were themselves of 2 or more genders and worship.   Homosexuality was a common and celebrated trait. These men and women were given titles of high priests and were believed to be close to the true earth mother and her goddesses. Homosexuals were said to have both Yin and Yang a very highly respected quality. Many believed that like heterosexual relations would happen due to the cycle of reincarnation and sometimes the soul that you were bound to was a man sometimes a woman.
There were many symbolic and enchanting phrases from this time referring to homosexual love.
Torn Sleeve "Dong Xian"- from the tale of Han emperor Ai and his lover Dong Xian. The Emperor so loved the boy that he would not wake him from sleep and would instead cut a portion of his sleeve to extricate himself from bed. Thus leaving his lover in blissful sleep.
Eating Peaches "Yu Tao"- Paying tribute to lovers Duke Ling of Wei and Mizi Xia. The Duke while stolling thru an orchard was offered a peach by Mizi Xai and the Duke fell instantly in love. It symbolizes the easy and simple quality of the male homosexual relationship.
There were also many beautiful flowers associated as symbols  of Homosexuality. The most common is the the Lotus blossom. The flower being feminine and the thick stem being the masculine it was used as a symbol of androgyny or gender variance. Orchids and other fall and spring flowers like the iris, lilly and magnolia were also used to represent homosexuals. But often the reference to flowers and perfumes, incense, jade and cinnebar represent same sex love and gender variance in poems like Ruan Ji's  poem celebrating Anling and Long Yang.....

Roving glances gave rise to beautiful seductions;
Speech and laughter expelled fragrance.
Hand in Hand they shared love's rapture, 
Sharing coverlets and bedclothes.

Couples with birds in flight,
Paired wings soaring.
Cinnabar and green pigments record a vow:
"I'll never forget you for all eternity." -Ruan Ji

This is from a culture who saw same sex love as it is, a natural expression of the Yin and Yang in the world. The beauty of same sex love was considered an honor and a divine blessing. Flowers known for their varied and glorious beauty were used to represent this love. 

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