It’s no secret that I have a Tumblr. The link is right there in my sidebar, along with links to my Antinous-focused Tumblr (which I rather neglect) and my Twitter (ditto). I even have a link to my fanfic at An Archive of Our Own, popularly known as AO3. I have often said that my secret vice is not fanfic but true crime books; I’ve never tried to hide reading and writing fanfic and participating in fannish culture, but I rarely tell people that I sometimes binge on true crime accounts, especially concerning serial killers.
(Now you know my deepest, darkest secret, gentle readers. I have read books by Ann Rule.)
Titling one’s Tumblr, like titling any blog, is something of an art form. It’s one at which I don’t particularly excel. I sometimes hate how WordPress uses the title of one’s entry for the URL; I feel obliged to provide a title for a post first thing, when it’d be much better if I made the title my last effort, the finishing touch. The title of this blog was a bit of throwing up my hands and going with the first idea I had. After experimenting with several headers for my Tumblr, I went with a title that expresses, clearly and succinctly, what I focus on there: “Hot Guys and Cute Birds.”
I follow blogs about history, science, feminism, animals, astronomy, plants, mushrooms (yes, a whole Tumblr devoted to photographs of mushrooms), classics, magic, various kinds of paganism. The fact remains that I got involved with Tumblr when I was active in the Merlin fandom, devoted to the BBC show that ran from 2008-2012. Tumblr is at its best as a way to share images, and I spent a lot of time in my early days there looking at photographs of the young actors of Merlin, Colin Morgan in the title role, and Bradley James as Arthur. While the show’s storytelling never really satisfied me, it was a very beautiful show to look at, not only for its cast, but for its cinematography; it looked very good on Tumblr, and still does.
I stayed on Tumblr during my discovery of Sherlock and my subsequent Benedict Cumberbatch obsession. If Benedict Cumberbatch had a role in a movie or tv show, you can find screencaps and gifs on Tumblr. I’d be a rich woman if I had a dollar or a euro for every time I’ve seen that gif of Sherlock whipping off his scarf and exposing his glorious collarbones and throat from “A Scandal in Belgravia”. Then came my fall (you see what I did there?) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Captain America fandom.
I have reblogged 9766 posts on Tumblr and liked a total of 81,089 posts. Many of those posts have featured Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Eoin Macken (also on Merlin, and now on The Night Shift on NBC), Benedict Cumberbatch, and now Chris Evans and/or Sebastian Stan, who play Steve Rogers and his best friend Bucky Barnes respectively. There’s also been a lot of Gillian Anderson (making women bisexual since 1993), some Sigourney Weaver, and a whole lot of birds, in particular cockatiels. I’m sure anybody who has a pet understands that even though you have X critter at home, you have an inexhaustible thirst for Internet pictures of cute X.
I know there are a lot of pagans and occultists out there who think popular culture is a waste of time that serious pagans/polytheists/sorcerers/whatever never indulge in. Well, I indulge and I don’t plan to stop. The reason I’m talking about it here, however, is the difference between the way I talk about my Tumblr passions and the way I talk about the gods.
A couple of days ago I posted a video of singer-songwriter-minor Irish godling Hozier performing a cover of “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison. I think Hozier is a brilliant songwriter, a gifted singer and guitarist, and a beautiful young man, all of which I expressed by the simple caption, “I just had to share this because UNF”. This expressed not only my admiration for Hozier’s musical abilities but my sexual response to his talent.
I have been active in online fandom long enough that I basically have no problem with saying things like, “When I see a picture of X bare-chested like that, it makes me want to lick his nipples. For starters.” Online fandom freaks people out because it’s a culture of women being unabashedly sexual and sharing openly who and what they find appealing and arousing, what their kinks are and aren’t, and explaining in detail why they fantasize about actors X and Y having sex with one another rather than about having sex with X or Y themselves.
The thing is, I don’t talk about the gods like that. I don’t talk, or write, about my feelings about the gods.
I could, you know. My primary devotion is to Antinous, after all, and Antinous makes 99% of the celebrities rated hot on the Internet look shabby. He has probably the best ass of any god ever, a better butt than Chris Evans or Benedict Cumberbatch (who have given me plenty of opportunities to make the comparison, thank you, gentlemen). He has been referred to on Tumblr as ridiculously good-looking, which is high praise in that milieu. He is a deified boy in the prime of his youth, someone who has been referred to as beautiful both in mortality and immortality. He *is* beautiful, and his being is beautiful, not just his embodiment. To approach him even a little is to be exposed to a well of kindness and beauty and grace and welcome and vitality, a light that illuminates everything beautiful in the world.
Galina Krasskova often writes eloquently and passionately about her devotion to deities, especially but not exclusively to Odin. I find myself envying her. I think I have a little fear that to praise Antinous’ glorious ass the way I might praise Chris Evans’ attributes may be impious. I also think I have a lot of what I call Anglican reticence. Episcopalians and Anglicans generally do not talk about their devotion to Jesus. They don’t speak of their faith and how it has helped them in the way that I’ve heard Lutherans speak, for example. They don’t spontaneously interject praise of God into a conversation like Baptists I’ve worked with. If you press them to talk about their religion, they’ll probably quote a poem, mention a hymn or anthem, or tell you about a significant book. They point to music, poetry, and fiction to express their feelings about their god–rather like the Bible does.
I feel kind of hopelessly infatuated with Antinous at times, I really do. I feel rather the same way about Chris Evans, Hozier, and a number of other talented and good-looking performers. I feel drawn to Serapis as to an older man, old enough to be my father, who has the wisdom and kindness and good counsel that one hopes for in a father. Dionysus is that bad-boy character I don’t want to admit I find attractive and want to get to know better. I researched a bit about Juno in order to write a poem for the agon in her honor that Galina is holding, and I found myself more drawn to her than I expected, as a powerful female deity to whom I could relate in many ways.
It may sound impious to compare my relationships with deities to my obsessions with celebrities. The difference, I think, is this: Captain America is fictional. I can only relate to him through the medium of story, in film or fanfic. Chris Evans is a real person; it’s not impossible that I might meet him and express how much I appreciate his work as an actor, but it’s also not terribly likely. It’s very unlikely that I will meet Chris Evans and we will fall in love and have the kind of relationship that bad Mary Sue fanfics are made of. Antinous, on the other hand, is real, not merely historical, not fictional, and is someone I do have a relationship with, intimately and personally. It’s much harder for me to share that with others than it is to share my love for cockatiels and their kooky ways, or my appreciation for Chris Evans’ many nude and semi-nude scenes, or even my very visceral response to the rich baritone singing of Hozier. But I wouldn’t have this blog if I didn’t think a relationship with Antinous, and with other deities, is well worth having, and worth writing about.