There is order and sense in madness. Though appearing a wild thing, without reason or meaning, madness represent much more now than they did in ancient times.
Dionysus is commonly hailed as the god of trans people. His story is one of confusion, reclamation, and identity. People denied who he was, and instead of complying and trying to slowly change things, he returned with a powerful vengeance.
Yet they deny him and degrade him in modern culture. This once vivid and bright transgender, nonbinary goddex has been degraded to a Danny Devito lookalike.
Disney’s Fantasia portrayed
Bacchus Dionysus as a fat, bumbling, ditzy fool. He’s the host, but just in name, he’s not the one really running the show. He holds no power whatsoever.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians went a step further to actually dethrone Dionysus. In this story he chased after an off-limits nymph and got put on time out by getting literally all of his power taken away, being banned from alcohol, and having to chase after over-powered teenagers. He’s described as looking like “a cherub who had grown up in a trailer park”.
Dionysus has always been queer, and his image has fluxuated with views of how trans, queer, and nonbinary people are seen. When same sex relationships and being transgender people were revered, or at least accepted. Now a days we’re fighting for our right to exist and live.
Queer/LGBT+ people rarely hold the power of a deity. When we fight for what’s ours, we’re demonized. The brave, powerful, lovely women who threw bricks, shot glasses, and curses at their oppressors. To me, they’re heroes, like those of antiquity. I have gone to them for strength, for guidance, for support.
Marsha P. Johnson(left), heroine of transgender dissent. When the police infamously raided the Stonewall in on June 28th, 1969 she would no put up with persecution any more. With a cry of “I’ve got my civil rights!” she smashed a shot glass into the mirror, beginning the rebellion. She’s a hero, a girl who will take what’s hers, and she inspires fire, I will be given respect and dignity or I will take it, respectability politics be damned.
Later in life, after the Stonewall rebellion, she co-founded STAR with Sylvia Rivera, an LGBT activism and support organization. It paid special attention to homeless trans women of color, providing them with resources to get on their feet. She actively engaged in the LGBT community until the day she died.
Sylvia Rivera, the trans heroine of working with the system. During the Stonewall Rebellion she led the police on a chase around the Greenwich Village streets. Through the night they ran, elusive, chaotic but perfect in this chaos.
Following in her footsteps is the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) which to this day fights for trans rights and provides training for those in police, healthcare, government, and other related fields.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, known as simply Miss Major, the trans heroine of fucking shit up. She famously threw the first pennies at cops during Stonewall, “coppers for the coppers”, then the first brick. The longest lived of these three women, she is still alive and is the executive director of Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project. She takes no shit, lived how she wants, causes chaos and still finds herself on top.
All of these women were wonders in their own rights, yet they’re pushed to the outskirts. Most of my peers have never heard of Stonewall, let alone know these women or their contribution. Trans women are demonized, ridiculed, in horrible ways I cannot begin to speak of, much like Dionysus, this is not their truth. You’ve seen Dionysus’s falsehood, his caricature. Yet what is his truth?
Dionysus is darkness, passion. He is youth, androgyny, deep longing, losing yourself in the wildness of the mind. The closest I’ve ever felt to him was in an an apartment with my then-lover and his unrequited love. I had smoked so much weed I couldn’t stand up anymore. I was laying on a couch, the world spiraling around me. My mind had been reeling, changing, I was reforming into a different person back then. I saw him, back and forth, it was sexual, intense, similar to the Passions of Aphrodite but seen through dark, deep merlot eyes. I fell asleep languidly kissing my lover, imagining the swirling grape skies he laid before me.
Being transgender, nonbinary to be exact, is the only other deep connection I have to him. My gender is rebellion, it is greys and purples in a black and white world, it is screaming in a chaos for life, destruction for a chance that one of us will rise from the ashes of our pain to become the Phoenix that all of us so desperately cry for.
Dionysus is a transgender god. He is the very spirit of transgender people, our oppression, and our revelry.