Diversity on the Camino

I wrote this in response to a pilgrim asking what the reaction of others to his same-sex partner would be. The responses were somewhat infuriating. From “as long as you don’t kiss him,” “God hates queers,” and more.

This post, however, applies to all that feel “different.” You’re not that different. Less than half of all pilgrims state they walk for “religious” reasons. Many more use the catch-all “spirituality,” which also includes a very agnostic “finding yourself.” Pilgrims come from 179 countries (2019), 56% are female, more than half are younger than 59, the youngest to complete SJPdP to Santiago by themselves (not being carried, babies have completed it), was a five year old boy with bone cancer in 2014, the oldest was a 101 year old woman in 2018.

So, here it is. You’re not different. It makes no difference whom you are, some people will judge you:

Go ahead. Judges will judge (and get their ass kicked in the afterlife, being the Man himself told people not to judge, lest…). They judge straight couples for PDA, they judged me for walking with two Camino partners whom I clearly spent more than just Pilgrim Meals with, they judge people for being the wrong religion, size, weight, sub-sub-sub-religious group, walking from Sarria, walking only from Léon, walking only from SJPdP.

Kiss whom you want. Hold hands with whom you want. Go to churches or not. Wake him up with a kiss and coffee, because that’s what loving partners do. Carry his stuff when he’s tired. Let him carry yours. Have amazing dinners. Have romantic evenings under the Milky Way and with candle light and red wine in the countryside or a fancy restaurant.

There’s a very “special” minority of pilgrims who aren’t there to mind themselves, they mind others. They feel like their relevance is not tied to their actions but their judgment of the Way. Ain’t nothing to do with whom you love, and everything to do with this minority having to be fanatical about their special brand of what the Way is, so they can feel a sliver of superiority and relevance as they deep down realize they’re anything but superior, special, or relevant.

But it’s a minority! 95% of pilgrims won’t care, and locals rarely do (after all, you’re rarely around for more than a few hours). On the Camino, that minority is lonely and gets grumpier and grumpier over it. No one celebrates them, no one worships them for their pilgrim-purity. So they’ll lash out every once in a while. Which just makes them lonelier and grumpier. And that’s how they arrive in Santiago, feeling all holy and deified but seething over how much the Camino didn’t worship at their feet. And then they go home, sad, lonely, and grumpy. You’ll go home happy, with memories of romantic evenings, great places, great people, great food, and probably much more in love than you thought you could be.

Screw the grumps. Just Walk.