Is Weed Gay ?: A Condensed Cultural History
LGBTQIA + people and cannabis enthusiasts share similar experiences when it comes to legal advances, political challenges, and the ongoing pursuit of equality.
Weed is not attracted to other same-sex weeds. A lump can’t have a gay wedding. A joint does not identify as a genderqueer. An edible cannot speak to me about the new L-word: Generation Q.
However, weed is at the core of the experience of many queer people. In fact, one study says queer people are more likely to use cannabis than heterosexual and cis people.
In this series, part of Leafly’s Pride Month celebration, we’ll explore some of the history, health, and culture links between queer people and cannabis.
There were queer people long before modern attempts to promote queer rights. Cultures around the world began to mention the presence of a third gender, two-minded individuals, and other alternate gender representations centuries ago.
The Egyptian royal manicurists Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were born in 2400 BC
In ancient societies such as Greece, Rome, and Egypt, it was not uncommon for same-sex couples to be depicted together or even buried together in the romantic sense in art or mythology. And while it is difficult to draw direct conclusions from the little information we have about queer people in ancient society, queer people are mentioned in the fine arts and literature for thousands of years.
1688: Japan’s first gay bar opened in the 1790s: Monaco, the Kingdom of Prussia, Luxembourg and Belgium decriminalize sodomy at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century: the concept of a “Boston marriage” or long-term partnership between two women appears in standard American Society.
But despite having existed for centuries, many modern religions and societies struggled to accept LGBTQIA + people – and perpetuated misconceptions that they were dangerous or morally corrupt.
Cannabis also has an ancient history. The people of Central Asia are aware of its power and have had edible use since 2737 during the Islamic Golden Age.
Weed rituals: an intercultural connection to calm
Hemp has played an important role in helping America become an industrial and agricultural powerhouse from the very beginning. But eventually taxation and fear won out.
The U.S. government passed laws like the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 – resulting in a federal cannabis ban. After cannabis was criminalized in this way, it was easy for many people to write off weed as a hazard.
Both the LGBTQIA + community and cannabis have more in common than their ancient history. They have been unfairly demonized in the public forum, where the cannabis ban and anti-LGBTQIA + policies were used as moral imperatives rather than deliberate political choices.
The shift towards fairer and more compassionate treatment of both cannabis users and queer people has been a welcome change in recent years.
Almost two decades after the Defense of Marriage Act was signed in 1996, gay marriage became legal nationwide. But only after a number of states had legalized it themselves. While gay marriage isn’t the only problem LGBTQIA + people face, legalizing it has helped expedite other safeguards for queer people around things like housing, employment, parenting, and medical care.
Weed has pursued a similar draft of national legalization, with more states legalizing either medicinal or recreational cannabis. The current government is under pressure to consider a path for national legalization, and the passage of all states’ cannabis programs will help provide cannabis users with greater protection and care. Sound familiar?
Hatred goes up in smoke
Today, the majority of Americans support both queer rights and the full legalization of cannabis. 76% of Americans say they are for LGBTQ +, while 68% of Americans support cannabis legalization.
Dear Joe Biden: Here is the data, now is the time to adopt marijuana legalization
We still have a long way to go, but it’s important to celebrate the small victories and appreciate activists for both cannabis legalization and LGBTQIA + rights. They are the people who made us what we are today.
The future is brighter, safer and more equitable for cannabis users and queer people as long as we never stop fighting for what’s right and facing the work we have yet to do as a community and as a country.
Read more about weed and queer culture
C. Merten is a writer, creative, and cannabis enthusiast from Chicago. Her passions include breakfast, 70s music, pina coladas and the rain.
View article by C. Merten