A self-described transgender graphic designer made national headlines this June when a number of her designs were used in Target’s controversial pride collection. One design found on the London-based designer’s own online apparel shop has the message: “Satan respects pronouns,” encircling a goat head.
The designer, whose shirts feature phrases like “astrology made me queer” and whose UFO-shaped pin says “no gender no problem,” doesn’t claim on her site to be a Satanist per se. Instead, “Erik” says, “There’s something magical about the unknown, the frightening, and the mystical which is why I so frequently feature these themes in my art.”
Erik’s work isn’t the only pride-adjacent satanically inspired activity to feature in pop culture recently. The brand Nair, which supports pride as evidenced by its Instagram posts, ran an audacious “worship yourself” ad campaign that harks back to the “father of modern Satanism’s” motto, “Hail Satan! Hail thyself.”
At the 2023 Grammy award show, self-proclaimed “nonbinary” singer Sam Smith and transgender Kim Petras’ performance of their hit single “Unholy” included blatant satanic imagery.
Smith and Petras don’t publicly identify as Satanists, but many LGBT members and “pride” proponents do. A simple search of “Satanist” among Twitter accounts brings up countless results that include rainbow flags and gender tags such as “nonbinary” and “she-they.”
Lucien Greaves, cofounder of the Satanic Temple, says most members of the Temple are LGBT folks who consider themselves rejected by orthodox churches and other such religious establishments. Greaves told Out.com, “We will always fight them, we will fight them to the death to ensure that there are equal rights for the gay community.”
History shows, too, that Satanism has been a fitting spiritual home for the pride “community.” Aleister Crowley, the early 19th-century occultist credited with being the “grandfather” of modern theistic Satanism, was keenly interested in ancient pagan deities, many of whom are seen today as “gender-bending.” Androgyny or hermaphroditism was seen by Crowley and other forebearers of the modern occult as mystical, powerful, and closer to the divine. Crowley’s “Gnostic Mass” includes the phrases:
Male-female, quintessential, one
Man-being veiled in woman-form.
The infamous icon of Satanism, the goat-headed “Baphomet,” represents a fusion of the male and female, with the two halves of the body representing each sex. The “divine androgyne” is “the hieroglyph of arcane perfection,” according to Crowley. While Baphomet has a complicated history of iterations and interpretation, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that gender-confused young people might welcome this binary-breaking symbol of “balance and harmony” and see a satanic sect as a spiritual home for them.
The two most famous philosophical statements of the 20th century’s most iconic Satanists, Crowley and Anton LaVey, serve to illustrate the strong ties between modern “pride” and their belief systems. The life of Crowley especially finds continuity in the gender-expansive, free-love universe of pride.
‘Hail Satan! Hail Thyself’
In the 1960’s, LaVey, known as the “Black Pope,” created a Satanism that differed from other, older satanic traditions in that it claimed to be atheistic, considering Satan to be a literary figure. LaVey’s most famous chant is “Hail Satan! Hail Thyself.” His Satanism prescribes self-worship and gratification: staples of LGBT pride culture.
Two of his Nine Satanic Statements are: “Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!” and, “Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!”
While most who wave the rainbow flag no doubt would agree that, for instance, murder is wrong (a “so-called sin” Satan represents), pride nevertheless allies itself with the pro-abortion agenda. The right to murder a preborn baby leads to “mental and emotional gratification” for the abortive mother (and often her sexual partners). And ridding oneself of progeny to care for promotes further indulgence Satan is said to represent. Proponents of sexual libertinism and gender fluidity don’t usually describe themselves as Satanists, but LaVey’s philosophy of carnal hedonism is the bedrock of today’s pride culture.
Writing for the Encyclopedia of Religion, professor of religious studies Eugene V. Gallagher describes LaVey’s Satanic Bible as promoting “ritual and pageantry” and displaying “a flair for mockery.” On a ritualistic and philosophical level, drag queen, queer, and homosexual subcultures would mesh well with LaVeyan Satanism. What is drag but pageantry mocking femininity? And what would foment the mockery of Judeo-Christian sexual norms and family structure better than hailing Satan, the enemy of the God who made humankind into the “restrictive” physiological categories of “male and female”?
‘Do What Thou Wilt’
One familiar repeated sentiment in Crowley’s 1909 The Book of the Law has echoed through culture for over a century now: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. … Love is the law, love under will.” We may not know it verbatim, but we recognize its other iterations such as “follow your heart” or “do what you want” or “all you need is love.” These popular cultural expressions guide the pride movement; they encourage the unshackling of human expression from heterosexual mores.
Unlike LaVey who came after, Crowley was an unabashed theistic Satanist. He wrote in his autobiography of his desire to “get hold of [Satan] personally and become his chief of staff” and “get into personal communication with the Devil.” His pride and egotism, modeled in today’s pride movement, would seem prerequisites even to aspire to such a position.
Activities the Bible labels sexual depravity, the kind celebrated in pride parades, were rampant in Crowley’s life. Early on, he rejected Christian morality and saw taboos as things to be deliberately shattered. The occultist was keen on “sex magic” and was bisexual, as evidenced by his more recently discovered homoerotic poetry. The Book of the Law reflects his belief in “free love,” a lifestyle most accepted within pride: “Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will!”
Today, we can see the blending with LaVey’s and Crowley’s philosophies under the rainbow flag: While so-called love is esteemed, the only true reverence is for the self, and the only allegiance is to its will. The highest virtue is the expression of one’s true self: to live authentically, or live your truth. “Hail thyself” and “do what thou wilt” are guiding principles of the pride movement.
In Christian theology, pride is the original sin that prompted God to cast Satan down from heaven. He now leads a rebellion against God’s will. What a wonder is it that pride is the name taken on by the LGBT alliance, which is also leading a rebellion against biblical morality? Those who don’t support pride are routinely shocked by the rhetoric, imagery, and stated desires of the pride movement, such as offering graphic sexual material to young children in school libraries.
But it should come as no surprise that rebellion against God’s design for humanity is satanically inspired. That is, after all, his mission.