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Gay Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $15.53

ProductID: alt0017

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About this item
  • The Gay Tarot focuses on the experience and identity of homosexual men. While men are featured as all the major
  • figures, women are not excluded. The 78 images are fully illustrated, with people are of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes
  • and in modern, contemporary settings.

Name Gay Tarot
Creators Antonella Platano, Lee Bursten
Publisher Lo Scarabeo 2004
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Rider-Waite-Smith
Minor Arcana Style Unique Scenes Without Suit Symbols
Suits Cups, Swords, Wands, Coins
Court Cards Youth, Man, Guide, Sage
Major Titles The Fool, The Magician, The Intuitive, The Protector, The Emperor, The Priest, The Lovers, The Chariot, Justice, The Hermit, The Wheel of Life, Strength, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Self-Hatred, Revelation, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Beyond Judgement, The World
The Fool is 0
Strength is 11
Justice is 8
Card Size 2.60 x 4.72 in. = 6.60cm x 12.00cm
Card Language Spanish, Italian, German, French, English, Dutch
Card Back Reversible
Back Design Mirrored image of a man, with a starry background.
Companion Material 64-page multi-language companion booklet.
Extra Info ead an interview with creator Lee Bursten.


Of the gay decks I’ve come across, one is explicitly erotic and the other (the rotherhood Tarot) expresses the pagan spiritual outlook of the Radical Faerie movement. This one is much more practical and widely applicable as it seeks to represent the everyday life experience of a wide spectrum of gay men. Leaf through the deck and you will see the young, the old, the beautiful, the not so beautiful, career men, workers, lovers, single parents and retired same sex couples. The Symbolism and the settings are very cleverly devised to reflect common aspects of everyday life for gay males but still remain very close to traditional Tarot meanings. Hence, anyone with a fairly good working knowledge of the Rider Waite system should have little problem adapting to this with the aid of the concise yet well written instruction booklet.

There are significant but justifiable changes to the Major Arcana and the Court Cards. The traditionally female High Priestess and Empress are replaced by male equivalents The Intuitive and the Protector. The Devil becomes Self Hatred, particularly in the context of an inability to come to terms with being gay. The Judgment card becomes “Beyond Judgment” and shows a gay liberation parade/celebration. The most powerful alteration for me is card number 16 which changes from the Tower to “Revelation” The image portrayed is one of a young man coming out to parents who are both anguished and angry. Lightning strikes through the open window. Simple symbolism, yes, but powerfully relevant in the experience of many gay men and totally befitting the traditional notion of the world crumbling around you. Aside from these larger alterations, the rest of the Major Arcana are presented in a similarly challenging, fresh and exciting way. For me personally, the Moon and Sun cards stand out, the former portraying the er otic and romantic energy of the Moon while the latter shows the well-being and security of building within the safety of a strong, same sex relationship.

With regard to the Court Cards the traditional figures are replaced by the Youth (page), the Man (knight), the Guide (roughly analogous to the Queen but also representative of the higher/ spiritual self) and the Sage (King).

One of the things I really love about this deck is its continuity. Look closely and you will see that many of the cards portray the same people in different aspects or situations. Therefore, we see the Protector and his daughter re appear in the Three of Coins. The young man on the Chariot card appears in a more spiritual incarnation on the Star and is also one of the two Lovers. Also, the solitary space pilot on the Hermit card is again portrayed enjoying the success of his mission on the nine of cups. As a result of this, the figures really do begin to feel like three dimensional and multifaceted characters. Making the same associations during a reading can also be a powerful additional tool for self-awareness.

One thing that does take a little adjusting to is the fact that the minor cards don’t actually show the corresponding number of pips within the illustrations like a more traditional deck. For instance the Rider Tarot shows a clown juggling two coins to achieve balance on the Two of Coins. Here we see only a man practicing Tai Chi. No coins are shown but the essential meaning is the same. As such, you have to rely on the inscriptions at the top of the cards to initially identify the card but this would not be a problem once you were used to the deck. The corresponding symbolic freedom brings its own rewards.

If you’re looking for magic and mystique you probably won’t find it here. However, the images are powerful and moving in a more subtle way. What you have is traditional tarot meaning from a gay perspective, presented with the gritty symbols of real life. Because these images present well - known truths in a very direct and unexpected way they will catch you off guard and touch you deeply.

In practical terms, this is one of Lo Scarabeo’s more polished offerings. The wonderful artwork is by Antonella Platano who has already illustrated for the same publisher. Titles are presented in six languages within a dark blue border, which really does enhance and compliment the artwork much more than a white border would have done. The back design is extraordinarily beautiful: a reversible design showing the head and shoulders of a man between two pillars, lit by moon and stars. The little white book is more substantial than usual for this publisher; well written by Lee himself and presented in five of the six languages on the cards.

As a gay man I have waited a long time for a deck like this. It speaks powerfully into my everyday life and I can see that I’ll use it frequently for myself and also to read for clients if they request it. The author has said that he devised the deck to fulfil the same role for gay men that the many feminine gender orientated decks have done for women or specifically for the lesbian community. In this, he has more than succeeded. I also think that anyone outside the male gay community looking at this would be pleasantly challenged to expand their visions and preconceptions of who we are as everyday people.

In short, an invaluable and challenging asset to anyone’s tarot collection and an extra special resource for men who identify themselves as being attracted to the same sex.

Combine shipping is possible.

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