For young people struggling to embrace their identity, online astrology forums can be a safe space.
The use of social media has taken astrology to new heights. Quizzes, guides and other articles written around the Zodiac signs tend to be a running theme on young media sites like Buzzfeed, babe and Refinery29, which are widely circulated on social media platforms.
Facebook groups are popular for users interested in a particular topic, and some of the more dedicated groups can foster a sense of community.
Enter “the stars say you’re a loser,” one of the largest and most active astrology communities on Facebook. With 7,000+ members and thousands more added each month, it’s hard to believe that it has only been around for a year.
“The stars say you’re a loser” is the brainchild of Megan Elizabeth Sims, a senior at Harvard University. Her once-small group has grown remarkably fast since last November.
“It’s my child,” Sims said. “My problem child, but still my child.”
Sims, 22, started TSSYAL because she saw the need for a safe, inclusive forum for people like her to engage with others and learn about themselves. It would provide a sense of community, along with some lighthearted fun.
“Astrology is something bigger than us that can be used to form connection between individuals and understand how to relate to others,” Sims said. “This is so important for isolated queer kids who may never have it in. I started the stars say you’re a loser to have that sort of community, honestly. I mostly just wanted to be seen and understood.
“I’ve always used personality metrics to figure out how to interact with the world and other people.
“Growing up, I did not fit in with people around me,” she said. “Beyond being a deeply closeted lesbian, I was a liberal Jew growing up in very conservative, very Christian Dallas. I struggled a lot with finding my place and figuring out who I was because of this.”
Sims had always struggled with forming her identity and sense of self. College sent her through a lot of changes in this regard.
During college, Sims began to privately explore astrology again. It became a useful tool for her to understand and reorient herself as she navigated through mental health and sexuality issues.
Sims sees astrology as a system to make sense of the world, similar to religion.
“I’ve always loved systems and order to help me make sense of things, and astrology felt like a way to make myself legible to others and to understand others,” she said.
“I think what draws me and a lot of other millennials, especially LGBTQ+ ones, to astrology is the fact that it’s a system that makes sense but that no one told us to believe,” Sims said. “Most people are raised in a religion, and for some, this can be actively hostile to their personal identity.”
The admins go to great lengths to make sure the group remains a safe space for all.
A short questionnaire is given to would-be members before they are admin-approved to join, which is meant to determine whether the person will treat the group and its members respectfully and follow the rules of conduct.
Along with a few others whose help she has enlisted, Sims acts as an admin and moderator in the group, making sure all posts and comments follow community guidelines. Sims is not afraid to ban users who flout the rules or make others feel bad for taking astrology seriously.
“I grew up reform, so my religious system growing up wasn’t so much based on faith/belief/strict rules about how to believe,” she said. “I wrestled a lot with the idea of G-d in my early teens and identified as an atheist for several of them. But a few years before that, I started to learn about astrology and fell in love.”
Then, in her mid-teens, Sims began connecting more with her faith and with her Jewish peers. This community provided a safe place for her, and gave her a sense of belonging she had never felt before. Her synagogue was also the first place she met openly gay people, she said, and she still feels connected to Judaism.
Sims has though felt more connected more recently to astrology. “I’ve started to pay more attention to transits and other elements of spirituality, and I can identify the influence of the planets on my life beyond as a tool for self-exploration,” she said. “But I don’t think everyone necessarily focuses on this part, which makes sense too.”