Number 153 Spring 2013 $9.95
Harry Hay Conference Faeries & Giving
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Issue 154 / Summer 2013
QUEER ART Submission Deadline: April 21, 2013 www.rfdmag.org/upload
As we enter the high season of Summer, with its PRIDE commemorations and gatherings galore, we in the RFD Collective want to celebrate the many FABULOUS artists in our community. So we are asking for you, dear artists & lovers of the Arts, to send in images that capture the nature of your work or of those whose work you love. How has being Qweer influenced your work, and how has your werq led you in your own lifepath, through process as well as personal insight. We’d love to make this a SPLASHY pictorial replete with imagery as well as the words that convey your experience as an artist or as someone profoundly changed by something someone else has shown you in exposing their inner selves. Who has influenced you? How has ART contributed to this community—especially in its rich ritual life? Where are we going & how is Art leading the way in ways often presaging the written word? How do visuals communicate with and without words? Let’s celebrate Summer and our rich artistic heritage! 2 RFD 153 Spring 2013 Photograph by artboydancing
Radishes for Dinner
Vol 39 No 3 #153 Spring 2013
Between the Lines As RFD glides slowly toward our fortieth year, we’re finding ourselves thankful for the gifts which have come to the RFD community through the years. Since RFD’s move to New England in 2009, we’ve found so many giving people donating their energy. We’ve also been thankful for the donations which subscribers include in their renewal envelopes. It’s increased our meager cash flow to consider projects to deal with the back issues which we have on hand. One of these projects is looking to sell / donate back issues to archives and libraries which already have holdings of RFD in their collections. We’ll have more to say about this on our website in the coming months. Meanwhile, this issue’s focus on giving brought in a variety of poignant articles and poems as well as clarion call to ask our community to consider ways of collectivizing our wealth to tackle larger problems. We also felt it was important to dedicate part of this issue to the recent Harry Hay conference held in New York City in September 2012. The organizers and some of the presenters were kind enough to provide our readers with a sampling of the festivities and dialogue. We also want to celebrate the release of two films which delve into the lives of people near and dear to RFD and it’s readers: Sister Soami, Sister Missionary P. Delight and James Broughton. We’ll cover Mr. Broughton as his centenary nears in our Fall issue. —The RFD Collective
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Submission Deadlines Summer–April 21, 2013 Fall–July 21, 2013 See inside covers for themes and specifics.
On the Covers Front: “starman” by artboydancing Back: Collage by artboydancing Inside Front: Photograph by artboydancing Inside Back: Courtesy Kent State Archives
For advertising, subscriptions, back issues and other information visit www.rfdmag.org RFD is a reader-written journal for gay people which focuses on country living and encourages alternative lifestyles. We foster community building and networking, explore the diverse expressions of our sexuality, care for the environment, Radical Faerie consciousness, and nature-centered spirituality, and share experiences of our lives. RFD is produced by volunteers. We welcome your participation. The business and general production are coordinated by a collective. Features and entire issues are prepared by different groups in various places. RFD (ISSN# 0149-709X) is published quarterly for $25 a year by RFD Press, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA 01035-0302. Postmaster: Send address changes to RFD, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA 01035-0302 Non-profit tax exempt #621723644, a function of RFD Press with office of registration at 231 Ten Penny Rd., Woodbury, TN 37190. RFD Cover Price: $9.95. A regular subscription is the least expensive way to receive it four times a year. Copyright © 2012 RFD Press. The records required by Title 18 U.S.D. Section 2257 and associated with respect to this magazine (and all graphic material associated therewith on which this label appears) are kept by the custodian of records at the following location: RFD Press, 85 N Main St, Ste 200, White River Junction, VT 05001. Mail for our Brothers Behind Bars project should be sent to P.O. Box 68, Liberty TN 37095.
Production Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Guest Editors: Joey Cain & Covelo Art Director: Matt Bucy Editor: Paul Wirhun Editor: Eric Linton Editor: Jason Schneider Prison Pages Editor: Myrlin
Artists in this Issue Gary Plouff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Willi Cole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Joey Cain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6–9 Artboydancing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13, 16, 32, 35, 57 Stewart Stout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Cory Peeke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 38, 42 Chris Gagliardi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26, 28–30 Conrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Chris D. Lallman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Mark Hufstetler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Photograph by Gary Plouff
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CONTENTS Letters & Announcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Harry Hay Conference Harry Hay Conference Coverage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Radically Gay: The Life and Visionary Legacy of Harry Hay Conference â€”A Quick Overview. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joey Cain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Radical Faeries and the Subversion of Identity. . . . . Jason Baumann. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The Fool Speaks the Truth: The Creation of Queer Archetypes in the Radical Faerie Community. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Husk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Occupying Faerie Tribe: Exploring the Numinous Tension Between Sacred Space and Historical Reality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Endora. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 A Roll in the Hay, Saturday, September 29, 2012 The LGBT Center, NYC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Croonquist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Giving Radical Faeries and Money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To Give? Or To Receive? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Offering Sexual Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Giving is Living . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gifts from the Dirt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hammer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Robin Hartman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Dylan Norton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Rosemary for Remembrance. . . . . . 39 Nadja Bederven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Film Big Joy! The Adventures of James Broughton. . . . . . . Stephen SIlha / Eric Slade. . . . . . . . . 44 Joy! Portrait of a Nun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joe Balass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Poetry Lying in This Bed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interview: Yolo Akili. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grandfather Rock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ezekiel at the Brook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cayenne and ginger. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mateo Olson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Jason Roush. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Jason Roush. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Jeff Crandall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 v. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Reviews, Interviews & Columns Nick Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mercury Aquarius. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Review: Gay Press, Gay Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bill Glover. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Remembrance: Dhandi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Brothers Behind Bars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Myrlin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
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LETTERS & ANNOUNCEMENTS Bali Faeries We are a new Faerie group currently forming in Bali, Indonesia. Weâ€™ve already had one successful gathering here and planning the next one later in 2013 Contact Info: email@example.com
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BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton! World premiere and upcoming showings announced! Big Joy Screenings:
Hong Kong International Film Festival March 25, 27, 2013 For more info: http://www.bigjoy. org
South by Southwest World Premiere! March 9, 10, 13th, 2013
Maypole at Short Mountain 2008. Photo by Willie Cole.
GATHERINGS AROUND THE WORLD New Zealand Faerie Gathering North Island NZ Mar 21–24 Folleterre Water & Land Project France April 14–24 Billy Club May Day Gathering No. CA Apr 25–28 Gay Spirit Visions Spring, The Mountain, Highlands NC Apr 26–28 Beltane at Wolf Creek Sanctuary OR Apr 26–May 2 Beltane at Folleterre France April 26–May 3 Beltane at Short Mountain Sanctuary TN April 26–May 5 Folleterre Gardening Week France May 11–18 British Columbia Radical Faerie Camp Squamish BC Canada May 18–23 Walt Whitman Faerie Camp Destiny Grafton VT May 24–27 Generate Gathering Saratoga Springs near Ukiah CA May 24–30 Longhouse Gathering Redmond WA May 24–27 Sex Magick 169 Workshop Wolf Creek Sanctuary OR Jun 1–8 Family Gathering Faerie Camp Destiny Grafton VT June 14–16 Folleterre Gender Splendour Gathering France Jun 22–30 Spirit Gathering Kawashaway MN Jul 1–6 Billy Club 4th of July Gathering No. CA Jul 2–7 Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries Wolf Creek Sanctuary OR Jul 3–10 Black Leather Wings No. CA Jul 18–25 Sex Magick Workshop Folleterre France Jul 20–27 Lammas Faerie Camp Destiny Grafton VT July 27–August 4 Folleterre Community Week France Jul 29–Aug 2 Folleterre Great Circle France Aug 3–4 Silver Jubilee Lammas Kawashaway MN Aug 3–12 Folleterre Summer Gathering France Aug 5–14 Summer Gathering Breitenbush OR Aug 14–18 Austrian Faerie Gathering Hochkönig Austria Aug 17–27 Blue Heron Gathering Upstate NY Aug 26–Sept 2 Billy Club Labor Day Gathering No. CA Aug 29–Sept 2 Cmen West Coast Gathering Malibu CA Aug 30–Sept 8 Fall Foliage Faerie Camp Destiny Grafton VT October 11–14 Lumberjacks and Lumberjanes Gathering at Folleterre France Oct 20–27 Billy Club Halloween Gathering No. CA Oct 24–27 Sex Magick 269 Workshop Saratoga Springs No. CA Nov 16–23 Sex Magick 169 Workshop Loon Lake BC Canada Nov Date to be announced (check faeriesexmagic.org) Folks interested in finding more info should check out www.radfae.org’s website for full details.
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Radically Gay: The Life and Visionary Legacy of Harry Hay Conference—A Quick Overview By Joey Cain
hortly after Harry Hay’s passing in 2002, his extended Caregivers Circle along with his dear companion John Burnside met to explore ways to continue Harry’s legacy - a legacy that consisted of his ideas and theorizing, organizing activism and vision. As part of a multi-part plan we agreed to sponsor an academic conference, along with funding Sex Magick Workshops and the long term preservation of Hay related video footage. We were fully aware of how Harry and his ideas had been summarily dismissed by theories then dominating the discourse of Queer studies and the academy. Our hope for such a conference was to re-introduce Harry Hay back into the academic world while exploring the multiple aspects of LGBT experience and being that Harry lived and pioneered. After looking around at several Gay/Queer studies departments we decided to partner with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York(CUNY). Their commitment to both academic pursuits and community engagement and activism clearly distinguished them from other departments and programs, Queer or otherwise, that we looked at. I started meeting with CLAGS in 2009 but eventually a team of planners emerged that included myself in San Francisco and Robert Croonquest in New York representing the Harry Hay Centennial Committee and, representing CLAGS, their Board Chair, author and historian Daniel Hurewitz and their Executive Director Jim Wilson. In late 2011 we issued the following Call for Papers and Proposals: In honor of the 100th anniversary of Harry Hay’s birth, CLAGS and the Harry Hay Centennial Committee will sponsor a four day long conference exploring Hay’s life and ideas and the multiple facets of LGBT life that Harry Hay himself pioneered. Harry Hay’s life and his impact on LGBT history and culture were extraordinary, and the range of his activities was terrifically diverse. In the 1930s and ‘40s, his involvement in progressive politics, avant-garde art, and the Communist Party all shaped and influenced his formulation of the idea
that LGBT people were a distinct “cultural minority” who needed to become conscious of themselves as a people and organize for their own liberation. With that insight, he co-founded the Mattachine Society in the 1950s and helped launch the modern LGBT liberation movement. He was an organizer of the first Radical Faerie gathering in 1979 and remained an
active participant and inspirational figure in LGBT movements until his death in 2002. In addition, as a gay activist Hay committed himself to a larger progressive agenda, working in the anti-war movement, on behalf of Native Peoples, and within Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. As an intellectual, Hay devoted himself to anthropological and historical research about the origins and meaning of LGBT lives, social roles and consciousness. His research focused particular energy on two-spirit people among Native Americans and matrilineal cultures. Given this rich array of interests, the conference organizers seek to gather scholars, public intellectuals, activists, students, and artists who will take inspiration from Hay’s life and ideas in order to think together about several strands of LGBT living. In particular, the conference will explore four central themes inspired by and reflective of Hay’s life and
Photographs by Joey Cain; Mark Thompson speaks (above right)
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times: LGBT arts, political activism, spirituality and sexual identities. We welcome proposals for full panels, individual research papers, artistic presentations, and “state of the debate” discussions. We are certainly interested in proposals about Hay’s life itself and any of its many facets. At the same time, we very much encourage proposals that explore and debate how the questions raised and confronted by Hay have continued to evolve, address, but need not be limited to, any of the…thematic topics. Meeting spaces were rented at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York University and the New York LGBT Community Center. After much conference calling and planning by the four of us, Radically Gay: The Life and Visionary Legacy of Harry Hay was presented September 27-30, 2012.
The four day conference drew over 300 attendees who were treated to 30 panels with more than 120 presenters, four keynote speakers, a film festival, an Oral History Lounge, excerpts from plays by Jon Marans and Tony Kushner, a full evening of live performances, a march through the streets of Manhattan and a party at the historic Stonewall Inn. What follows is a sampler of some of the panels and events. To see the full schedule go to http:// web.gc.cuny.edu/clags/pages/conferences/hay.php. (Or just type CLAGS Harry Hay into your Goggle search engine and click on Radically Gay: The Visionary Life and Legacy of Harry Hay-CLAGS.) The conference began at the CUNY Graduate Center on Thursday evening with an opening keynote speech by Gay scholar, historian and author 8
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Will Roscoe, a long time collaborator with Hay and editor of his writings. His profound and humorous speech was entitled “Radical Love, Visionary Politics: The Adventure of Harry Hay” and traced both Hay’s influence on him as a thinker and re-examined the continuing importance of Hay’s theories regarding Gay people. To close out the evening, award winning playwright Jon Marans introduced the performance of two scenes from his play The Tempermetals about Hay and the founding of the Mattachine Society. The first session on Friday morning included panels on “Sexuality, Ethics and Resistance”; “Two Spirit and Gender Diversity”, and a showing of James Broughton’s films entitled “Harry Hay, James Broughton and the Philosophy of Big Joy”. Lesbian poet and essayist Cheryl Clarke gave the second keynote speech entitled “Of Faeries, Faggots, Dykes, Queens, Queers and Homophiles”. Session two panels included “Bohemian Los Angeles: Art and Politics in Hay’s LA”; “Radically Gay Theories: Interrogating the Ideas of Harry Hay”; “The Gay Revolution? Liberation Politics and Culture in the 1970s” and a film program, “Harry Hay, Activist 1990-2002” in which documentary video artist Tim McCarthy showed his footage of Harry including Hay’s visit to the Soviet Union and the Marches on Washington. The third session panels included “Homophile Radicalism: A Contradiction in Terms?”; “Radical Spirituality: New Queer Directions”; “Queering Queer Empiricism” and “New Directions for Contemporary LGBT Politics”. The film program was a showing of De Profundis by Lawrence Brose followed by a panel discussion on the Department of Homeland Security’s persecution of Brose for allegedly downloading illicit images of children, many used in this film, and the impact of that persecution on queer artistic expression. Friday’s programming concluded with a keynote speech by Professor Bettina Aptheker of the Feminist Studies Department of University of California, Santa Cruz. Entitled “Queer Dialectics/Feminist Interventions: Harry Hay and the Quest for a Revolutionary Politics”, it reclaimed and examined Harry’s role as an important and deep Marxist thinker in the context of revolutionary theory in the USA. Following Bettina’s speech a letter to the conference from playwright Tony Kuchner was read as the introduction to a staged reading of scenes from his play The Intelligent Homosexuals Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Saturday saw the conference relocate over to New York University. First session workshops
Playwright Jon Marans and actors from The Tempermentals. Photograph by Joey Cain
included “Calling Ourselves Into Being: 1950s and 60s Roots of Identity”; “Eat Your Fetish!: Against Equality and the Production of Queer Cultural Production and Appropriation”, and “Harry Hay and the Faeries Take Wing”, a slide show by Gay activist and writer Mark Thompson of his photos of Harry and early Radical Faerie Gatherings. Session two included “I Do Believe in Faeries: Advocating Tran-historical Identities and Archetypes”; “Lavender Left: Homosexuality and Radicalism in 20th Century US”; “Queer Encounters with the Sacred” and a showing the Hay documentary Hope Along the Wind with director Eric Slade. The third session of the day included “Queer Characters: The Eccentrics of Gay Liberation”; “Examining the Limits of Identity Frameworks: Past and Present”; a workshop on the Heart Circle and a film program entitled “Infrared: New Visions of West Coast Underground”. The day finished up with a keynote speech by historian Professor John D’Emilio of the University of Illinois at Chicago entitled “Do We Need Another Hero” in which he gave his personal ruminations on Harry and the role of the Homophile movement in the history of LGBT history. Saturday evening’s festivities moved over to the New York LGBT Community Center where “A Roll In The Hay- An Evening of Performance” took place. A full report on that event is published elsewhere in this issue. Following the performance about 150 Feys and Friends marched through the streets of Manhattan with posters and signs celebrating Harry (and John Burnside) arriving finally at the Stonewall Inn for a party for the conference. Sunday saw us back at the Community Center with workshops on “Radical Faeries and Money” and “Edward Carpenter and the Roots of the Radical Faeries” and a closing Heart Circle. Throughout the conference cultural historian Steven Watson and documentary film maker Tim McCarthy set up their video cameras to tape people telling their stories in “Oral History Lounges.” Some of the workshops and all of the keynote speeches were video taped and are available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/groups/163594. I think I speak for all the organizers when I say the conference was a great success. I think most of the attendees would also agree. As of this writing Will Roscoe, Daniel Hurewitz, Bettina Aptheker and myself are collaborating on a book that draws on the papers and keynotes that were presented at the conference. w Vince Gatton, Stephen Speights and Joey Stocks read
from Tony Kushner. Photograph by Joey Cain.
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Papers from “Radically Gay: The Life and Visionary Legacy of Harry Hay” The following three papers were presented at a panel titled “Do I Believe in Faeries: Advocating Transhistorical Identities and Archetypes” at the Harry Hay conference in New York City, September 2012.
Radical Faeries and the Subversion of Identity By Jason Baumann
should start by admitting that my paper today is probably a total failure, or given the recent interest in gay failure, probably just a partial failure. I tried to write my presentation as a faerie, rather than as an academic, and that was probably my first mistake. My naïve goal was to deny that the Radical Faeries endorse claims of transhistorical gay identities, based on the extreme slipperiness of faerie as an extended metaphor. Yet somehow, this has landed me on a panel purportedly devoted to defending transhistorical gay archetypes. Somehow something is always lost in translation. In my remarks today I will try to tease out the relationship between the invisible faeries which folk wisdom teaches are all around us, and the many flesh and blood radical faeries visible at this conference and in the writings of Harry Hay, although this theme runs through the work of other writers important in Radical Faerie movements such as Mitch Walker and Arthur Evans. The source of my naiveté about faeries and essentialism probably reaches back to my own initiation into the Faeries some twenty five years ago. I was about 15 and had read about the Faeries in Margot Adler’s classic sourcebook on Neo-Paganism, Drawing Down the Moon. I know I was a little young, but I was raised by gypsies and lesbians, and had grown up on a steady diet of spiritualism and back issues of Conditions magazine. When I realized that there was a group that was pursuing a spiritual dimension of Gay Liberation—Some meaning to being gay beyond Madonna and HandJobs Magazine (God bless them both)—I knew that’s where I needed to be. I hopped on a bus and made it to my first Gay Pride March. Somehow, I navigated my way past the 12-step groups and the gogo boys, past the gay 10 RFD 153 Spring 2013
Catholics and lesbian softball leagues, and found my way to the faeries. And somehow this little occult sissy found himself very much at home. What I found were some very complicated queens with unruly beards and loudly patterned skirts, a swinging brazier of incense (“darling your purse is on fire…”), some lovely satirical chanting (“We all come from New Jersey, by the Path Train we’ll return…”) and, a burly Greek daddy wearing a loincloth and a pair of antlers, who told me all about his lesbian girlfriend and his stint in the Greek air force on our way back to his apartment on Hudson Street for quite a lovely evening. What I really found was a movement of gay men who were turning to the most despised stereotypes of homosexuality—effeminacy, camp, eroticism, and outrageousness—and making them the basis of a wild, deep, spiritual, and collective life. A few years later in college at the apex of the era of high theory, I was dismayed to discover that my beloved fairies were guilty of the unforgivable intellectual crime of gay essentialism, which appeared to consist of the ridiculous claim that there might have been gay people prior to 1870, or even if there were men who liked to have sex with other men prior to 1870, or 1812, or 1776, to think that they might have had anything in common with gay men today. Around the same time, I realized that I had fucked somebody, who’d fucked someone, who’d fucked somebody else, who had fucked, or been fucked by someone, who’d done Walt Whitman. And given, the way we gay men get around, probably so have you. And so regardless of the historical distance between us and men of the 19th century, or even before, we at least have a few tricks in common.
The real point of this exhibitionist bit of salacious personal narrative, is to show that the most diehard social constructionists, for all their insistence on historicism, actually have a very weak concept of history. They tend to view historical epochs as monadic bubbles of time inexorably separated by their epistemological regimes, ignoring the real flow of people who knew, fought, and enjoyed each other, and who collectively created the world we have today. And, if we actually study the writings of key figures in the Radical Faeries, like Harry Hay, what they actually did was they searched through history and across cultures, before there was even the luxury of something that could be called gay history, looking for evidence of men who loved other men. They looked for examples from the past that could inspire and expand the possibilities of our future. It’s both too easy and very strange to dismiss their turn to the past for inspiration given that this historical turn is so fundamental for gay culture. Larry Mitchell put it best in one of the most beautiful passages in the Faggots and their Friends between Revolutions, where he writes: The faggots cultivate the most obscure and outrageous parts of the past. They cultivate those past events which the men did not want to happen and which, once they did happen, they wanted to forget. These are the parts the faggots love best. And they love them so much that they tell the old stories over and over and then they act them out and then, as the ultimate tribute, they allow their lives to recreate those obscure parts of the past. The pain of fallen women and the triumph of defeated women are constantly and lovingly made flesh again. The destruction of witty faggots and the militancy of beaten faggots are constantly and lovingly made flesh again. And so these parts of the past are never lost. They are imprinted on the bodies of the faggots where the men cannot go (13). This cultivation of the most obscure and outrageous parts of the past is most evident in the Radical Faeries’ invocation of the mythical faeries themselves. I never understood how being a faerie could be a trans-historical identity, or symptom of essentialism, unless, maybe of a diaphanous, a-historical essence, since faeries tradition tells us, like sylphs, partake of the essence of air itself. No one is quite sure who the faeries are or where they came from, nor their similar kin like gnomes and trolls in the folklore of continental Europe. Some argue that they are memories of the old pagan gods, or beautiful fallen angels who were too good for
hell, or the lost souls of unbaptized children, or the hidden remnants of the aboriginal inhabitants of pre-historic Europe, or the last breaths of dying men fantastically lingering to confound the living. In her definitive account of Fairies in Tradition and Literature, Katherine Briggs counted over 100 different varieties of fairies, each more unlikely than the last: Redcaps and Selkies, Pixies and Brownies, Kelpies and Goblins, Banshees and Boggarts. Despite our familiar images of Tinkerbell, and fairy queens and fairy godmothers, the traditional folklore makes it clear that faeries were dangerous. They had a secret government that conspired against humanity, with aims unknown. They lived and breathed illusions, liked to enslave and capture humans, and lived on stolen milk or even blood. We should wonder why our fairy forbearers called us by this name. Before we delve deeper in this lore we should note that it’s precisely these kinds of obscure and outrageous historical inquiries that get us faeries into trouble with academics—for playing revisionist histories and dabbling in essentialism, like witches round a cauldron. These concerns have been expressed most eloquently by Scott Lauria Morgensen in his study Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization, published just last year. Morgensen is concerned, and I think quite rightly, with appropriation of Native American cultures by the Radical Faeries, and he’s put in a good amount of time as an anthropologist studying us faerie natives in our natural habitats. In his critiques of faerie culture, Morgensen draws upon on range of Native American analyses of the ways in which white colonials appropriate and fantasize about Native Americans in order to get in touch with their wild inner native, a disturbing pattern which can be seen in American cultural movements from the Hippies to the Boy Scouts. On this issue, Morgensen is spot on. However, Morgensen goes on to problematize any turn to pre-modern cultures, including White American interest in pre-modern European cultures, such as fairy folklore, as unavoidably tainted by the colonialist desire for indigenous vitality. This is much harder to swallow. It’s hard to see how white Americans studying the Elder Eddas, the Mabinogian, the Bacchae, or the Golden Ass, are acting out a colonialist imaginary. In fact one could wonder if all of western culture has been one long continual reimagining of its ancient roots. A similar point through a different lens can be seen in Carole G. Silver’s study Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Historical Consciousness. Silver RFD 153 Spring 2013 11
shows how the resurgence of English interest in faeries was intertwined with their colonial projects abroad. She shows how the Victorian interest in pixies was related to their interest in pygmies. However, one could do an equally interesting study on how resurgence of interest in faeries by the Irish, such as the work of Yeats, may have helped fuel their anti-colonial movements by reviving the awareness of the magical power of their history and their land. In addition there has been extensive historical work by Eco-Feminist authors, such as Starhawk, showing how traditional folk beliefs in faerie had to be destroyed in Europe to pave the way for modern industrialization and capitalism. It would seem that there is no easy blanket way that we can generalize about turns to pre-modern beliefs and practices. Each movement and manifestation will have to be judged by its own merits. For instance, educational theorists Tyson Lewis and Richard Kahn have explored how faeries have inspired radical ecological politics. In their essay “Exopedagogies and the Utopian Imagination: A Case Study in Faery Subcultures” they explore how the Earth Liberation Front, E.L.F., also known as the Elves, have been inspired by the legacy of the faeries. ELF is considered an “eco terrorist” organization. They undertake covert actions to disrupt and destroy industry in order to protect the environment, including arson of offending industrial buildings and explosives. They have consciously, and probably also unconsciously, patterned themselves on the old image of the faeries as a secret people, disrupting workaday human affairs, allergic to iron and industry, protecting the sovereignty of the earth beyond human instrumentalization of nature. So given that this inspiration by pre-modern cultures can have real radical consequences, we can now turn to what mythical faeries, might have to do with Radical Faeries. Philosopher Arthur Evans delved deeply into the lore of faeries, claiming that they were a transformation of gender-bending witches in pre-modern Europe. Several historians claim that gay men started being referred to as faeries in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century. In Gay New York, George Chauncey has delved in depth into the culture of faeries at the turn of the last century, a sub-culture that had roots in prostitution and the sporting life on the Bowery. We don’t really know what inspired this piece of slang to call homosexual men faeries. It could have been the way that faeries formed a secret hidden society, or replaced normal straight children like changelings, or the glamour they used to paint their faces, or their regal 12 RFD 153 Spring 2013
otherworldly grace. Harry Hay made it clear that for him, being a faerie wasn’t a choice, it was an ambivalent calling. In his essay “A Separate People whose Time has Come” he wrote: When I was looking for a word to represent neither masculine nor feminine, I used the word the hetero bully boys had used to describe me as they saw me years ago. “Fairy,” they called me, “not-masculine/not-feminine—fairy.” Hay goes on to detail the violence of the bully boys, and question the source of that hatred. Even in this short passage on fairies so much of Hay’s vision is clear. For Hay, being a faerie wasn’t a choice. It’s also not an essence, because it is neither male nor female, it’s a refusal of that binary system. A faerie can’t be a universal, can’t be an essence, because that double negative does not add up to a positive identity. Faeries are what escape the definitions of male and female. As he quotes his childhood tormentors earlier in the essay, “No, you don’t throw the ball like a girl. You throw it like a Sissy!” On other occasions, Hay described the faeries as a third gender, inspired by examples of multiple gender systems not only in Native American societies, but throughout history and around the world. We should note though, that he didn’t say we’re a third sex, but a gender. As a Marxist, Hay was well aware of the historicity of human culture and classes. I don’t think he claimed there was a universal essence that united us with cross-dressing priests in Babylonia. But he did think that we had an opportunity to disrupt the business as usual of current gender hierarchies, and we might be inspired by those historical examples in this work. According to Hay, this third gender space that opens, this otherworld, grants us faeries magical powers. The powers of transformation, creation, vision, and the power to disappear and reappear. In “Toward the New Frontiers of Faerie Vision,” he invoked the magical transformations of fairy tales: Fairies everywhere must begin to stand tall and beautiful in the sun. Fairies must begin to throw off the filthy green frog-skin of Hetero-imitation and discover the lovely Gay Conscious not-MAN…shining underneath. Faeries must begin creating their new world through fashioning for themselves supportive Families of Conscious Choice within which they can explore, in the loving security of shared consensus, the endless depths of diversities of the newly revealed subject-SUBJECT inheritances of the Gay Vision. Quotes like this are where most people begin to roll their eyes. But I wonder if everyone would “remembrance” by artboydancing
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applaud the audacity of his rhetoric if he had been French. I think the problem is a lack of attention to his use of ‘Gay conscious” and “Gay consciousness.” When Hay talks about Gay Consciousness, he’s not talking as a New Age Guru. He’s talking as a deep Marxist. Gay Consciousness is Hay’s transformation of Class Consciousness. Hay’s use of the extended fairytale metaphor of himself as the (possibly drag) princess releasing the gay frog prince from the spell of Hetero-Imitation is his revision of Marx’s use of the fable of the Christian resurrection. Marx continually used the apocalyptic metaphor of the Resurrection, and the awakening of the dead at the end of times, to explain the realization and liberation of the proletariat from the demonic bondage of capitalism. Hay has simply sissified and paganized that metaphor for the purposes of a gay minority politics. This formulation of Gay Consciousness has often been located as a key marker of Hay’s essentialism, and questioned, because of course, most Gay men appear to lack this vision. But if we see the deep influence of Marx on Hay, it’s not very mysterious. The whole problematic of Marxism is that the proletariat have a unique opportunity to realize the oppressiveness of capitalism and their role in overthrowing it—a unique vision. That’s class consciousness. But the proletariat do not have this vision. Hay’s argumentation and structure are directly from Marx. If Hay was an essentialist, then so was Marx, and then what would essentialism really mean? This coming to Gay Consciousness, throwing off the ideology of Hetero-Imitation, gives us a “vision” or “window,” another way of looking at the world that is not constrained by heterosexual norms; it gives us the power to transform our lives by loving ourselves and each other as gay people; and the power to create new forms of family and relationships. It also gives us the power to disappear and reappear. Hay wrote: With all this, we have to say that we Queers, having won our autonomy with no help from anybody, shall continue to maintain that autonomy. We shall be happy to walk with any group so long as we and they remain in a loving-sharing consensus. But the moment the consensus breaks, exercising our ancient prerogatives to totally self-reliant independence—We Fairies vanish! If you want us to reappear, you shall have to make the first move to reestablish the lovingsharing consciousness. This power to appear and disappear turns on this ancient prerogative of independence, which we now 14 RFD 153 Spring 2013
know best as the conceptual freedom of homsexuality as a vector of analysis. That our queer concerns cannot be reduced only to economy, gender, or any other matter. It’s our freedom to bring our concerns into the arena of political life. And our ability to create institutions that speak to these concerns, while not ignoring any other vector of political analysis. Hay called this power our magic talisman. In the beloved fairy stories of our childhoods, the fairy godmothers—or, if we were lucky, the handsome fairy princes—would give the chosen subject of the story a “talisman”: The talisman, in turn, unlocked secret treasures or gave the person holding it the power to fly, or made visions and wonderful dreams come true. New phrases such as gay window on the world or gay consciousness and new concepts such as subject-subject consciousness seem also to be talismans, because both faerie-brothers and hag sisters, upon hearing such phrases and concepts for the first time, keep constantly finding themselves brimming with new visions and spiritual breakthroughs that they’d been bottling up for years, maybe a lifetime—because until that moment of receiving the talisman, they’d had no shining idea, no frame of reference for a new multidimensional way of perceiving. Through many years, and intensively over the past few days at this conference, I think that all of us have realized the magic talisman that we all have in the legacy of Harry Hay—however we might manifest that power. I hope that each of us here will not be afraid to carry this vision forward to create new visions and spiritual breakthroughs. And that none of us should be afraid to admit that we believe in faeries. w
The Fool Speaks the Truth: The Creation of Queer Archetypes in the Radical Faerie Community By Husk
The evening of Samhain 2011, I along with dozens of other Radical Faeries process from the Wolf Creek’s barn to the fire circle. A faerie tells the story of Persephone and her descent into the underworld. He invites everyone to tell Persephone the story of our ancestors, of our light and our joy so that she can carry those into the darkness. A friend wonders why we repeat a story about male domination over a woman; why we don’t rewrite the story with her having two lovers. He then yells, “Run, Persephone, Run!” At midnight, two people place Persephone in the fire sending her to the underground and then ask us to invite our ancestors to the fire circle. As people list their dead, both those known by name and those whose names are forgotten, clowns sitting in the fire pit’s southeast corner cackle and laugh. During someone’s polemic on apathy surrounding environmental degradation, a man in a two-toned jester suit holding a crown runs up, collapses in front of the fire, and places a leaf into the flames. He shouts “this just in from Grandmother Maple.” After some confusion, because the person being witnessed had not finished, the trickster stands up, looked at this year’s Stag King and says, “I stole your stupid crown.” This presentation focuses on how Northwest Radical Faeries use the figures of the fool and the Stag King as sources of self-creation, community cohesion, and critical dialogue. The uses of these archetypes reveal the continual presence of Gay Liberation- in its levity and mission- within this contemporary queer culture. Since this conference centers on Harry Hay, I focus on how his writings and call to gathering are still present and relevant to the Radical Faerie community, despite a significant portion of Faeries not knowing who he is or ever reading his work. What this suggests is that while present, Hay’s influence is not dominant. New traditions and archetypes arise without Hay’s research or goals as the basis. One example is the more masculine five-year old tradition of picking a Stag King, which people developed to create a clearer focus for the Samhain gathering. While more pagan than queer, the ritual provides a point of communal cohesion through making an annual collective resolution, instead of the more typical
individual resolution. This alongside the use of a real or imagined past and continual gatherings in the same locations provides interesting insights into a theorization of queer space and community that is counter to some strains of queer contemporary thought. In Sex in Public, Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner describe what they imagine is needed for a queer culture that not only creates safe spaces, but also allows possibilities outside heterosexism.1 They rightly state that queer culture is “not empty release or transgression but a common language of selfcultivation, shared knowledge, and the exchange of inwardness.” They quickly continue “Queer culture has found it necessary to develop this knowledge in mobile sites…. Sites whose mobility makes them possible but also renders them hard to recognize as world making because they are so fragile and ephemeral.” Now I realize they sequestered community from their discussion of queer culture-making, partly because of the theorization of the concept “community” in queer theory, but this movement detracts from our understanding of queer cultures. Radical Faerie culture is queer but not completely fragile or ephemeral. In my studies, I explore a conceptualization of queer culture that is more solid. A queer world-making established through building and sustaining communities, histories, and spaces. In this paper, the creation of history and archetypes will be my primary focus. In starting the Mattachine Society in 1955, Harry Hay posed three questions: “Who are we?” “Where do we come from?” and “Why are we here?” Hay wrote that answering these questions is key to both the acceptance of gay men into US culture and tapping into queer potential. For answers, he looked to Medieval Europe, Iron Age British Isles, Pueblo, and goddess worshiping cultures. Every example of a queer group or figure was another validation and insight into the role of gay men in culture. Each instance was proof of existence and times when queers were not oppressed or obliterated. The past gave a foundation, hope and a position from which to create. 1 Pg. 187 RFD 153 Spring 2013 15
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The political purpose of Hay’s research was to gain a place in community, not at the expense of assimilation, but to challenge heterosexist culture. The role of queer people is to work within society- to heal, to entertain, to teach, to govern, and challenge it. Secondly, by looking at pre-mass culture societies, he promoted clear examples of how cultures and communities functioned when culture was not just consumed by people, but created by them. Thirdly, this research transforms historical isolation- a feeling that one is an aberration, a reject within culture that has no past and certainly no future. Instead it shows how gender and sexual others have a history. These three pieces come together to form a place of dignity, a place to build a life and the idea that one could at this contemporary moment be part of a larger community.2 This sounds essentialist, and I realize that, but the fear of essentialist dialogue and the long-done argument between essentialists and social constructionists does not concern me here; the implications of this way of thinking does. These movements help create a community for those who need community. It challenges a stream within queer theory. Because of identity’s damaging fixed and preconceived notions, it remains suspect. The sacrifice of identity is connected to the dismissal of community. Here I refer to the anti-communitarian turn, most notably Lee Edelman. Less vehement, but nevertheless present, anti-communitarianism is plentiful within queer theory. The more sober Michael Warner writes “the notion of a community has remained problematic if only because nearly every lesbian or gay remembers being such before entering a collectively identified space, because much of lesbian and gay history has to do with non-community, and because dispersal rather than localization continues to be definitive of queer self-understanding.”3 Being trepidatious about community’s ability to regulate is understandable, but instead of categorically refusing community, we should discuss understand their purpose, mechanisms, and effects. The Radical Faeries, a community of choice, allow for flexible self-exploration alongside the possibility of creating a genealogy, a history, such as Stag King and fool; 2 Hay, Harry. “Mattachine Society Mis-
sions and Purposes.” In Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder, edited by Will Roscoe, 131–32. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. 3 Warner, Michael, ed. “Introduction.” In Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, vii–xxxi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. 15 “starkisses” by artboydancing
a move that some radical faeries actually refuse. For those who do undergo this cultural building, it helps them create and solidify a space of dignity and comfort within a culture that undervalues their lives. This can involve the rejecting of life as it has been offered to them, by doing what Hay suggested and “explod[ing] once and for all the obscene unexamined assumptions by which we bind ourself into, the obsolescent social conformities… [instead] I define myself. We define ourselves!”4 Here Hay is not lambasting all representation, but instead massmediated images, created not by communities but by institutions. To find a foundation, Hay looked to the past; the accuracy and realness of this past is not as important as how it is felt and what it does. Inspired by Edward Carpenter, Hay dug through history to find gay men’s societal roles. In Medieval Europe, a queer person was “the Fool” or the Mattachine; this person did not marry or raise a family, but instead denounced unjust laws and oppressive taxation. Fools also organized festivals and rituals creating spaces for the community to mock and speak against those in power. Plays organized by the fools showed how the church dominated the community, but explained how the community could rise up through “their own faith and their own self-created dignity.”5 Hay marks the rise of a central state, a higher concentration of wealth, and increasing hierarchal organizing to queer folk traditions’ demise. The few that survived went underground or became state-sponsored, like the Court Jester. To work through how Radical Faeries utilize the fool and Court Jester, I rely largely on two sources: my experiences at the radical faerie sanctuary Wolf Creek’s Samhain 2011 and an interview with Michael Zero, a Radical Faerie and clown. For clarification, not every Radical Faerie uses archetypes to find their place in this community; this is just one path. Zero has spent almost a decade within the Radical Faerie community and he attributes the community with shaping him into the adult he is. Early on, someone within the community identified him as a “sacred fool.” This could have been irreverently dismissed, but Zero investigated it. He began 4 Hay, Harry. “Western Homophile Con-
ference Keynote Address.” In Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder, edited by Will Roscoe, 190–. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. 5 Hay, Harry. “The Homosexual and History... An Invitation to Further Study.” In Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder, edited by Will Roscoe, 94–119. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. 107-113.
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this spiritual work and then later discovered the People sit around a fire and witness people’s emoRadical Faeries connection to the 1950s Mattachine tional outpours or polemics. This space for expresSociety via Hay. Zero, citing the Italian peasant sion is not inherently damaging, but when every clown, the Mattachino, largely repeated the story night is about practicing community ritual the same of the Mattachine that I just spoke and the similar way it becomes unproductive and boring. People go work of speaking truth. This connection via Hay to bed early instead of bonding with the community, and their shared tendencies of faeries and clowns doing their magic, or remembering their ancestors. to walk between worlds and work with shadow, the Their communal and spiritual needs were not being parts of self not easily explored, provided a solid met. They asked to dance, but because of how the rationale for the large subset of clowns within the power flows in that circle, it didn’t happen. There Wolf Creek community. is hierarchy; one that I can point to but have not Zero does “possessory work… utilizing my body got the community’s thoughts on. In this situation as an empty vessel that can be filled with another though, the clowns served by laughing during and energy that is not mine perhaps at the ritual repersonally and the work minding the community part of it is the practice that joy and levity still of clearing away a porexists and secondly, to …the clowns served by tion of … my self-ness tell us we could be expelaughing during, and to create space for that riencing joy now through perhaps at, the ritual other energy or entity rituals of remembrance reminding the community to inhabit.” Whether that were not solemn or the possession is by an solely about watching that joy and levity still external force or somean outspoken few. The exists and, secondly, to tell thing within him is not clowns’ laughter served us we could be experiencing clear for Zero. This work as a release valve for the joy now through rituals of is in service of himself, angst around death and cultivating a person he loss. In addition to the remembrance that were would like to be and also AIDS epidemic’s incrednot solemn or solely about for the community, he ible shadow, the recent watching an outspoken serves as a vocal critic, a deaths of two faeries few… warning, and a sounding to suicide and alcoholboard. During a night ism on or near the land when the community created an even heavier allows drinking on the ritual. The clowns’ laughland, Zero invoked Buddy. He rinsed out an empty ter shocked me out of the mourning state upsetting wine bottle, filled it with water, did ritual, put on me at first, but reminding me that the dead Faeries face, and showed up at dinner circle intoxicated. In might not want to be remembered in this fashion. recalling that night Zero switches from speaking Within the community, the Faerie clowns continue as Buddy, to speaking of Buddy as other: “I show traditions of mocking the powerful, the sacred, up way too early, way too drunk and is just a mess while also revealing issues, such as alcohol use. They and is falling over and knocking things down and serve the community by challenging the community. being really abrasive and offensive and not okay.” Zero hopes his actions would cause people to conThis magic creates an intentional reminder about front him if he upset or challenged them. Clowns alcohol consumption. He recalls that both times he create one of numerous places for feedback. While has done this libations night had fewer incidences. his work is in service of the community, it also helps Clowning offers his body as a momentary sacrifice. him work through addictions, shame around sexualHe explains that others see “Zero, a level headed ity and being an effeminate and extroverted man. and available and clear minded and of service being By embodying these things, he works out internal [as] a real fucking mess.” drama externally, allowing if need be, the commuOn a different night, Zero was one of the clowns nity to rally around him. That gathering two crying laughing while people mournfully invoked their clowns needed and received that support. Clowning biological and chosen ancestors. His reason was provides a position not only to help, but also to be that the fire pit rituals lost their joy and movement. helpless. 18 RFD 153 Spring 2013
The Stag King is a five-year-old ritual in which the community crowns, celebrates, and then symbolically sacrifices the stag king. This ritual lacks a queer bent to it, although the Stag King sometimes represents the Horned God, who is central to numerous queer pagans. This ritual is not Hay-derived, but created by members of the community in 2008. Its purpose was to focalize a practice and magic around Samhain, like the Beltane pole ritual does for the Beltane Gathering. In 2011, the community gained a Stag King when someone found the silver ring in his cake. For one day, he was king, although he lacked any real authority, he was given perks; his boots were polished, someone cooked him a special breakfast. This movement of reprieve was given to him because for the next year he carries the burden of embodying a communal sacrifice or resolution. That evening May Queen transformed the stag king into a stag and community members hunted him. While those who hunted the stag king were out, the community reflected on this year’s sacrifice, “our illusion of our independence from all our relations.” It was a call to become vulnerable and interdependent; a rejection of the American ethos of going it alone and a needed spell as the land and organization undergo dramatic and controversial changes. This was a plea to believe in the community and rely on community. After his death, the king reclined in his chair, the Jester interrupted the ritual and announced that he stole the Stag King’s crown and was not giving it back. In his hands he held the brown leather crown with fur and a pair of antlers affixed to the front. This theft was not without motivation. The Jester announced that Faeries do not have kings. Perhaps letting the community know that this ritual went too far into realism, was not enjoyable or too hierarchical. Or perhaps the Jester, like my friend who yelled for Persephone to run, was pointing out the heterosexism within this pagan ritual. He then declared that his friend died on the land the previous week. He sacrificed himself to the land and crowning a living Stag King ignored that sacrifice. Ocean, a former Stag King, agreed that we were not acknowledging his friend’s death. He then discussed the role of the jester and how it was a space where gay men survived and contributed to society through mocking the king. The Stag King stood up, announcing his frustration and anger; he wants his crown back. Someone quickly countered, the crown was not his, but the communities. The jester did not give him the crown, but laid on the dirt, crying, and sporadically threatening to burn it. In contemporary queer studies, shame and pride,
and their equivalents, are the affective stances of choice, with not many siding with pride. Harry Hay’s research and the work of Faeries bring forward the position of dignity. Unlike shame or pride, dignity is a place to build a life and community. This does not mean assimilation or complacency, but instead the creation or re-creation of a smaller queer culture, which challenges itself and the larger community. The work done here is not meant to stay within faerie culture; it is instead a space to practice and experiment in culture making. The point is not to just learn how to speak up for the community’s needs during a gathering, but to gain the experience and courage to take this out into the larger world. The fool and the Stag King position people to reflect on communal needs and their role in speaking them. Touching history, whether five years or several centuries worth provides a sense of comfort, not complacency or conformity. Part of what I need to explore here, but will remain unaddressed for now, is the experimenting, conjuring and replicating of “archaic” politics and social organization. Here I am thinking of Pierre Clastres’ Society Against the State and James Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed. But to return to my main discussion, the archetypes provide a history that does not determine, but allows a person to contextualize themselves within a community and time. Because few declare themselves an archetype and these positions are not held in perpetuity, it could be a momentary or unacknowledged exploration of self. The quest for dignity captures what Carolyn Dinshaw calls “the queer historical impulse,” “a desire for queers to relate to something before them and connecting that to the ways of being that are currently being left out.” With this Radical Faeries recall and embody the recent past, such as the AIDS Crisis, and times when people experienced more communal or tribal living. The roles people take on are not static, but instead something to be stepped into, made one’s own, and stepped out of or further explored. Instead of being anti-relational, anticommunitarian, and anti-futuristic as proposed by Lee Edelman, Radical Faerie’s queerness is a place to relate and create a culture and inter-dependence. Archetypes provide a felt history of people outside the norm and a felt purpose and usefulness that actively encourages people to reflect on and take action within their life, their culture, and their community. This is one way Faeries create a flexible stability, a shifting continuity, a queer institution, a useable past, a queer culture that is not fragile, but resilient. w RFD 153 Spring 2013 19
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“Kyle Receives the Spirits ” by Stewart Stout
Occupying Faerie Tribe: Exploring the Numinous Tension Between Sacred Space and Historical Reality By Endora
want to begin with a scene that is well-known to anyone familiar with Radical Faerie ritual; this particular example is recent. I am standing with about 70 other people, mostly men, in a large ritual circle called the “Hecate Circle.” (It is called the “Hecate Circle because the first time it was used, the faerie who was invoking the goddess Hecate was really intense and wore some twisted drag while screaming “Hecate” during the ritual.) It is a grove of tall maples and ash and is the primary ritual circle at Faerie Camp Destiny, a sanctuary in rural Vermont. I am proud to say that I am one of Destiny’s founders. It was our annual celebration of Walt Whitman’s Birthday in May. Tonight is a ritual that is aimed at “honoring our ancestors.” The Gathering Call (that I wrote) read: Saturday Night Ritual: Ancestor Altars. We will build altars to Whitman and Carpenter, to those queers and faerie ancestors lost to oppression and illness, to our own personal ancestors. Using texts from Whitman and others, we will invoke our faerie ancestors and commune with them at these altars before dancing and drumming in their honor. Around the circle are altars covered with clothes on which are pictures and objects honoring Whitman, Carpenter, beloved “Dead Faeries”, and personal family ancestors. On each altar is a bowl with short quotes from Whitman, to be used as a divinatory tool when participants reach in and choose one and consider it. We invoke a circle of ancestors, envisioning them as surrounding our living circle, holding and supporting us, (a very generous interpretation if you knew some of these ancestors while they were alive.) Individual faeries begin to call out names; some are familiar, others are not. Some names are quite recent, and focus on the generation of faeries that was decimated by plague – Pearl, Violet Flame - but some names are distant: Plato, Michelangelo, Robin Hood, Sappho, Rumi, Wilde, Carpenter, Hibiscus, and of course, Whitman. It is a powerful ritual trope among Radical Faeries, one that is clearly meaningful to most of those in the circle. You can tell this because for a moment, as the names trail off and we can hear the wind in
the trees all around us, no one is talking. Then, as if on cue, someone calls out “Jon Benet,” a reminder of the faerie allergy to anything that feels like church. Radical Faerie ritual is, as it should be, veiled in irony. There is a great deal of both belief and skepticism in the circle, and often in the same people. Much has been made at this conference and in the literature about Hay and Faeries of the “essentialist” claims of Harry Hay regarding the nature of gay identity, and the idea that Radical Faeries widely hold as a core belief the idea that there is a transhistorical essential gay or queer identity. I think it is important, before I dive into my primary argument, to point out that in my experience, most faeries have quite a complex relationship to faith claims or beliefs. Radical Faeries don’t define themselves by belief but by sensibilities. Faerie beliefs are widely divergent when it comes to queer history, queer identity, and spirituality in general. As we say, ‘every faerie is autonomous and speaks for himself;’ And, most conspicuously to an outside observer, the ironic quips and running bitchy commentary at many Faerie rituals provide a useful if sometime irritating reminder of a pervasive post-modern skepticism regarding any faith claims. Yet, it is also true that in ritual, and particularly in ritual theater, Radical Faeries do repeatedly exhibit a strong sense of identification with and connection to historical figures that are interpreted as ‘queer ancestors,’ and while this doesn’t point to a shared literal belief, it is an important trope in Faerie discourse, one the Faeries do wrestle with and integrate. However, this trope exists in creative tension with the equally strong, if not stronger, Faerie discursive trope of deliberate, purposeful self-invention and the widespread understand of identity as fluid. Faerie ritual explores both ideas regularly. Indeed, what I find most powerful about the Radical Faerie play with such notions is not found in one belief or another, but in the play between. Further, as a student and teacher of ritual and religion, I want to make a specific argument that ritual provides a useful mechanism that allows Faeries to enact RFD 153 Spring 2013 21
and inhabit, in the sacred time and sacred space of ritual, various notions of queer identity, both transhistoric and inventive, in order to discover what might be learned if one can let go, for a time, of critical analysis and skeptical questioning and allow oneself to ‘try on’ or ‘occupy’ these notions of who queers might be. As Jay Michaelson said yesterday, Harry’s speculative work about ‘our nature,’ is more a prolegomena than a treatise; it is an invitation to try things out and see what we learn. Sometimes this might mean exploring an idea that makes us bristle intellectually. Radical Faerie ritual and culture provides a space to explore the hermeneutic play between what-oneknows-in-ritual and what-one-believes-rationally, and the creative, playful dialectical tension between them is an important aspect of what the Faeries are doing in accepting Harry’s invitation. This tension requires neither dogmatic faith in nor dogmatic rejection of mystery, but a certain delicious pleasure in experiencing the space between those two options. I am arguing that in the cultural context of Faerie camp, play, ritual, and paradox, temporarily inhabiting transhistorical constructs of queer identity during ritual can and does create powerful, healing, and numinous experiences of connection and commonality without necessarily producing the accompanying belief that such experiences reflect objective historical reality. I think this dialectic between two or more ways of knowing provides a useful model for queers to explore the paradox between the spiritual certainty that we share something profound and essential with queer ancestors through the ages, and the intellectual awareness that we can’t possibly, or at least that it is much more complicated than it seemed in ritual space. More broadly, I think it is a very important and useful model for all people to question whether what is experienced in ritual can in any way be translated into ethics or worldviews without recreating oppressive categories of identity that simply shift from one group to another. That is not to say what happens in ritual isn’t real or isn’t a source of knowing. Like the erotic, ritual is a powerful source for knowing. But, just as when you are having amazing, cosmic sex with someone, you might experience strongly the notion that you have done this before over lifetimes, it doesn’t mean that you did. It means something, and I believe something more than simply self-reflection. But if such experiences of what feels profoundly true “between the worlds” are to be interpreted at all 22 RFD 153 Spring 2013
into this material, political world, we must be very skeptical, smart, vigilant, and critical in our work. Too much oppression has come from the failure to do just that. We must remember that many of those who have harmed us most have had an insight, often during ritual, that felt profoundly true to them: we are disgusting and dangerous and must be destroyed. It is a Faustian bargain to take on their epistemology in the attempt to challenge their ways of thinking. Cynthia Eller, in her book, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why and Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future, (Eller 5-6) makes a powerful argument against mythic historical claims. She argues that in trying to legitimize women’s power by rooting it in ahistorical claims about an ancient period of blissful matriarchy, when, as Merlin Stone put, “God Was a Woman,” women are shooting themselves in the foot. It doesn’t matter, Eller argues, whether women ever held power in the past, they deserve to hold it now, and it is dangerous to legitimate a movement by rooting it in questionable claims about history. One can make a very similar argument about Radical Faeries and the myth of gay ancestors. Indeed, Radical Faeries have much in common with the Women’s Spirituality Movement, and in particularly, feminist Witchraft, particularly the Reclaiming tradition framed by Starhawk. Starhawk, a woman widely credited with the popularity of modern, American, feminist Witchcraft, participated with Arthur Evans and other early faeries in the original ‘faerie circles’in San Francisco before the first Radical Faerie gathering. Her seminal book, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, was published in 1979, the year of the first gathering of Radical Faeries. Arthur Evans published his Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture the year before, and Merlin Stone published her book, When God Was a Woman, only a few years before. Radical Faerie rituals are very similar to Reclaiming Wiccan rituals, in large part because many of the ‘ritual queen’s in the early faeries were also witches. Of course, there are profound parallels between the two in terms of hermeneutics, form, and cultural analysis. However, while Eller might be correct that in the 80’s, these movements held these histories as both faith claims and historical truths, she misses that many of the leaders in the women’s movement, like many or most of the Radical Faeries I have spoken with, no longer hold these ideas as history, or at least they hold much more complex notions of the
“A Boy and His Dogs” by Cory Peeke
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possibilities and limits of such a history, but they because ‘deep within each of us is a vestige of the enthusiastically affirm that they gained something ‘wild’, often seen as ‘the child’ or ‘younger self ’ that powerfully transformative and enlightening by rituis seen as a unique tool for entering ‘the domain ally inhabiting these ideas as mystery. They do not between nature and culture” (Salomonsen 84). dismiss the internal truths they learned from ritual, I believe this offers a very useful frame for unnor do they deny modern research and understand- derstanding the invocation of ancestors I recounted. ings. They are not faith claims regarding history; Faeries recognize that queers have been shaped by they are faith claims regarding inherent worth. culture into a symbol of what is dangerous if we do The experience of a sense of connection need not be not fit norms of gender and sexuality; we have been turned into a claim on history. This is a distinction taught that we are sick, pathetic, isolated, marginal, that religious zealots of all stripes should condangerous and sad creatures. The word Faerie is one sider, as the misidentification of powerful religious such symbol or myth. Through political awareness, experience with objective ‘truth’ is a source of great we can intellectually recognize this symbol for what wrongs in many areas of the world. it is, but to fully ‘unlearn’ it requires more than While Eller’s work serves as a useful caution awareness; it requires powerful direct experience of against rooting gay or Faerie the power and potential that identity in the mythic past, a positive understanding of my topic today is more easidentity offers. We can get that Faeries recognize ily framed by the work of through sexual experiences, that queers have been theologian Jone Salomonsen. love and friendship, commuIn her 2002 book, Enchanted nity—but it is done powerfully shaped by culture Feminism: Ritual Gender and in ritual, where we inhabit and into a symbol of what Divinity Among The Reclaimoccupy these ideas intentionis dangerous if we ing Witches of San Franally, deliberately together and do not fit norms of cisco, Salomonsen analyzes yet very much individually, the ritual hermeneutics of in an open and altered state gender and sexuality Reclaiming. In it, Salomonsen of awareness that allows us describes Starhawk’s view to viscerally experience the of knowledge and identity pain of the old symbol, and as a complex dialectic between nature and culture, then the power of ritually transforming it. When, in what we might call essentialist and constructivist ritual, Faeries call out to Walt Whitman, we should claims. Starhawk fully recognizes that identities are not be saying that he was a gay man, and certainly constructed powerfully by society and have always not a Faerie; we should not be saying that he would been. Human nature is culture. Culture imbues recognize or approve of what we are doing during certain identities with symbolic meaning, so that, ritual. for example, the witch is shaped by culture into a However, in a ritual circle, invoking ancestors, dangerous, marginal, scary, even crazy old hag who there is for many if not most, a deep sense that is either truly powerful or delusional. Starhawk’s there is something real and profound in the conclaim is that in ritual and in play, participants can nections between, say, Whitman and those in the break through the ‘spin’ of culture to discover a circle. There is a knowing glance, a little archeseed, a glimpse of the power that created such fear, typal cruising going on in the rambles ‘between one that is experienced directly in liminal space, the worlds’, that says, ‘I know what you are. I and then brought out of ritual and must again be am, too.” “What you are” need not be qualified. interpreted and transformed into the new culture The hope in Faerie ritual is for a moment that ofthat is being created. fers what might be a glimpse through that veil of In Reclaiming, Salomonsen argues, “divine realiculture, to see “between the worlds.” In that way, ty is not divided between immanence and transcen- Whitman and the rest are experienced powerfully dence, but between visible reality, as experienced and viscerally as ancestors. in ordinary life, and invisible reality, as experienced I think it fair to describe the experience of anextra-ordinarily, abruptly as in revelation, in ritual cestors in ritual space and its dissonance with our space, or in altered states of consciousness” (Saloawareness of construction of identity as a ‘Faerie monsen 135). As Salomonsen describes Starhawk’s Mystery.” Merriam-Webster has a surprisingly useapproach, “we are not ‘irreversibly acculturated,’ ful definition of ‘mystery’ as: “a religious truth that 24 RFD 153 Spring 2013
one can only know by revelation and cannot fully understand” (Merriam-Webster) I would modify it to: “something we experience but can’t believe.” If we focus our examinations solely on the time and experience in ritual, we ignore the richness of the many conversations and jokes that happen between and after them, many of which are skeptical commentaries on the experience in ritual, attempts to find an internal comfort with having experienced something we don’t and probably shouldn’t really believe. In analyzing similar moves in Reclaiming rituals, Salomonsen points out that such experiences are resonant of Aristotle’s distinction between the concept of empeira, or knowledge gained from interacting with things, as contrasted with theoria, knowledge gained from observing things at a distance (Salomonsen 130). It also fits well with Aquina’s definition of mystery as “cognition dei experimentalis,’ or “knowledge of God through direct experience” (Salomonsen 132). Unlike Durkheim’s argument that “ritual is secondary to belief,” meaning we ritualize what we already believe, Salomonsen argues that the Reclaiming approach to ritual is more reflective of ritual studies scholar Ronald Grimes’ approach that sees ritual as “a legitimate means of knowing, and not primarily as a way of reinforcing belief ” (Salomonsen 161). I am arguing that it is then our responsibility, as we emerge from these ritual experiences to be careful, skeptical, and critical in interpreting or applying these experiences to the visible world as we attempt to create a culture that will, like all cultures, inevitably shape that identity in ways both liberating and oppressive. It is a mystery; we can experience it but we should be very careful about turning it into an article of belief. The danger does not come from the experience in ritual, but from how we interpret and apply them afterwards. To use a Biblical example, we need not discard or doubt that when Moses went up the mountain he experienced something profound and powerful and learned something inspiring about who he was on a spiritual level; It’s as he came down and decided to translate that experience and carve it in stone that our problems begin. It is important not to conflate what happens at the top of the mountain, and what happens on the way back down. It is important not to discount either as valid sources of knowledge. It is important to be very aware that culture shaped Moses before he went up the mountain,
while he was at the top, and when he came back down. I named this talk “Occupying Faerie Tribe.” Like the Occupy Movement whose encampments seek, at their best, to explore in microcosm the sort of society it would like to see come into being, Faeries ‘occupy’ ritual space, inhabiting for a brief time, ahistoric notions of identity, like ancestor and ‘tribe,’ in order to play with them and see what can be learned from the experience. Occupy did not mistake the encampment with the larger political reality. Faeries should not mistake the mysteries experienced in ritual with the larger political reality. Nor should we discard those experiences as ‘unreal.’ They are simultaneously real and unreal. To fully and accurately understand what is delicious, particularly for skeptics, about Radical Faeries spirituality, one needs to understand the power and pleasure in recognizing and occupying paradox with others, the pleasure in letting go of the need for linear resolution, the learning together that language can’t effectively express what we have experienced; “The Tao that can be named is not the True Tao.” I would argue that the sharing and exploration of such glimpses is a source of a profound experience of connection and spirit among Radical Faeries. We occupy the notion of queer ancestors the way we occupy our drag: eclectic, playful, campy, full of both mirth and reverence, and not taking itself too seriously. From the outside, like Faerie drag, it can just seem disjointed and sloppy, but there is, from a certain angle, if you squint your eyes, an internal coherence. It is this interplay between ways of knowing that permeates the encampment, know to us as gatherings and ritual, that Faeries of widely divergent beliefs and experiences can occupy as we come together in the process of figuring out who we are and what we are doing here. Blessed be. w Works Cited Eller, Cynthia. The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001. Hirschman, Linda. Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. New York: HarperCollins, 2012. print. Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2012. website. 24 September 2012. Salomonsen, Jone. Enchanted Feminism: The Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco. London: Routledge, 2002. Print. Thompson, Mark. Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Print. RFD 153 Spring 2013 25
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A Roll in the Hay, Saturday, September 29, 2012 The LGBT Center, NYC Text by Robert Croonquist, photographs by Chris Gagliardi
weekend of community events took place at The LGBT Center in New York City in conjunction with Radically Gay: The Life and Visionary Legacy of Harry Hay, an academic conference co-sponsored by CLAGS (The Cener for Lesbian and Gay Studies) and the Harry Hay Centennial Committee. The purpose of the events was bring the academy to the community and the community to the academy. On Saturday there was an evening of performance called A Roll in the Hay and on Sunday Joey Cain gave a talk on Edward Carpenter, Terry Cavanaugh gave a talk on the Faeries’ relationship to money and Rosie Delicious and Chas Nol facilitated a heart circle that heard the voices of many significant people in our history who had not been together for decades. Among them were Jim Fouratt, Randy Wicker, David Thorstad, Stephen Silha, Joey Cain, Mark Summa, Eric Slade, Jerry the Faerie, Daniel Hurewitz and numerous others. A video installation by Tim McCarthy was featured throughout the month of September. Saturday night celebrated Harry Hay through the world of performance. It came just at the right time. John D’Emilio had given the closing keynote address in the afternoon. His oration compared Hay to Bayard Rustin in an unfavorable light. It was forgivable and provocative but the scholarship was lacking and thus it was unfortunate. Hay’s niece Sally Hay was so upset that she walked from Washington Square South to West 96th Street where she was staying and missed the entire evening. Those who came found their spirits lifted. Hosted by the New York (dis)Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the night was emceed by Justin Sayre with Jason Baumann. The performances traced Hay’s life from his high school years with composer John Cage to his college years with filmmaker James Broughton, from his radical days with the Los Angeles Communist Party to the People’s Song Movement. From his life with actor Will Gere and his wife Anita to his passionate affair with fashion designer Rudi Gernreich. From his life in New Mexico with his true love John Burnside to his undying devotion to the Radical Faeries. Performers
Daisy Shaver. Photograph by Chris Gagliardi
included the Destinettes, Eddie Rubeiz, Nath Ann Carrera, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, Pete Sturman, the Reverend Roger Yolanda Mapes, Charles Lawrence, Cody Sai and Donald Gallagher. The evening was produced by Robert Croonquist and directed by Wil Fisher/ Sylvia Gather Rainbow with Nolan Kennedy as technical director. The wizard Hucklefaery called in the directions and then opened the circle at the night’s end. A procession led by drummers Richard Dworkin and Eddie Rubiez under the full harvest moon arrived the Stonewall Inn for an afterparty hosted by Mx Bond. Sponsoring events at the Center was not without controversy. The conference organizers had reserved space at the Center two years in advance. In the interim a pro-Palestinian organization of gay and straight activists who were organizing in support of the Gaza Flotilla was banned from the Center. A wealthy donor had threatened to withdraw funding. In the community, there was talk of a boycott. The conference committee approached Siege Busters, the aggrieved group, and told them that we had scheduled events at the Center and that we would like to meet with them to discuss how we could go forward in a good way. We had set aside a room on Sunday for the stakeholders in the issue—Center board members, Center staff members, Siege Busters and other concerned members of the community. We would facilitate a talking circle in which all present would speak his or her truth.WWW This was the best shot we had to gain movement in a positive direction. We received no reply from Siege Busters. Some felt that we should have boycotted the Center. It was our belief that the Center is our space, created by the hearts and souls and work and devotion of people we love, many of whom died all too soon. We thank them for giving us this home. We love the Center, we love the people who work there. We love the opportunity to learn together. We choose to OCCUPY!
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Cowdy Sai—An Homage to the Fashions of Rudi Gernreich. Dazzling Viennese refugee Rudi Gernreich and Harry formed a “Society of Two – The Mattachine.” In 1948 at the age of 36, Harry Hay formulated the idea for an organization to fight for the rights of “his people”. He wrote up a prospectus for an organization that proposed to bring homosexuals together for the purpose of self-understanding and recognition of their contributions to humanity. Over lunch at the Chuckwagon, Hay passed his prospectus calling to unite the “Androgynous Minority” to Rudi Gernreich a young designer with whom he had fallen in love. Gernreich said, “It’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen, and I’m with you one hundred percent.” Thus the Mattachine Society was birthed. Keeping with the Mattachine code of silence, Gernreich was referred to simply as X. His pivotal role in gay history finally became known after he died of lung cancer in 1985.
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Mx Justin Vivian Bond reads “Document #18– Pearls, After the Death of an Annointed Queen”. With “the incessant clattering abacus of softened themes and time signatures” V paid homage to the love that the Dutchess (as Hay was wont to be called) had for pearls. Hay’s mother was born in Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, with a refined American pedigree that included the Corcorans, the Rensselaers and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Harry’s father was a stern mining engineer who worked with Cecil Rhodes in South Africa and then moved his young family to the Guggenheim’s Anaconda Mine in the Chilean Andes, catching the last American transport ship out of Great Britain in waters patrolled by German U-boats. The Hay family returned to live in Los Angeles in 1916 where, one evening when Harry was nine years old, he dared to correct his father on a point of history during a family dinner. The senior Hay, incensed at being contradicted, grabbed and dragged Little Harry out to his workshop and began beating him. Harry stubbornly refused to apologize to his father for challenging him. After being sent to his room, Harry pulled out a history book to double check his point and the book confirmed that he was indeed right. Suddenly Harry realized, “If my father can be wrong, then the teacher can be wrong. And if the teacher can be wrong, maybe the priest could be wrong. And if the priest can be wrong, the maybe even God could be wrong.”
Daisy Shaver and The Destinettes (page 26)—The evening was a benefit to raise money for solar panels at Faerie Camp Destiny in Grafton, Vermont. The Radical Faeries became Harry’s far-flung community and the arena into which he would put his organizing skills, insights and energy for the rest of his life. Throughout this period he continually developed his ideas about gay consciousness and refined the answers to three questions: Who are the gay people? Where did we come from? What are we for?
Reverend Yolanda Mapes And Pete Sturman—Harry became the theoretician of People’s Songs, “Dialectical Materialism in Three Quarter Time.” In 1938 Harry joined the Communist Party and became a respected teacher on Marxist theory and a successful section leader. He participated in demonstrations against the rise of fascism in Spain and Germany, organized to create trade unions and promoted civil rights for Negroes. He worked in many progressive organizations of the period and his home on Cove Avenue in Silver Lake became a center of the West Coast branch of Pete Seeger’s People’s Songs movement where he met Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Earl Robinson and Woody Guthrie. He created and taught a music history class called The Historical Development of Folk Music. Harry’s eager intellect thrived on Marxist dialectal materialist theory, which seemed to embrace all aspects of human endeavor. One such luminary introduced at Harry and his wife Anita’s home was Yma Sumac, whose Peruvian voice spanned eight octaves. Harry was stunned to tears – he had heard those songs before. In the Andes when he was a child. Photographs by Chris Gagliardi
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Justin Sayre (Right) and Jason Baumann—As Harry and John advanced in years, a group of Radical Faeries moved them up to San Francisco in order to take care of them. Harry passed away from lung cancer on October 24, 2002, at the age 90. He was cared for by John and the Caregiving Circle that had brought the two of them to San Francisco. John lived another 6 years after Harry›s death, passing away at the age of 92 on September 24, 2008. Harry and John›s ashes were mingled together in a public ceremony in San Francisco and spread at Radical Faerie Sanctuaries throughout the world. At the evening’s conclusion emcee Justin Sayre exhorted those assembled to “all just love one another a little more.”
Donald Gallagher—“Part of Hay’s whole existence is being at the center of something daring,” Jim Gruber. Donald Gallagher sang an adaptation by Robert Croonquist of “A Call to Gay Brothers” to the first Spiritual Conference of Radical Faeries, by Harry Hay, Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker, 1978. Sung to the aria “O Isis and Osiris” from Die Zauberflote by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
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We call to faeries everywhere To share new insights of our selves To hold, protect, nurture and caress To find the place to heal our hearts To find the place to heal our hearts To ground ourselves in the calamus root to stand against the patriarchs discover, invent inspire and listen Evoke a great faerie circle Evoke a great faerie circle
Photographs by Chris Gagliardi
Radical Faeries and Money
By Hammer (also read at the Harry Hay conference, September, 2012)
have been simultaneously living in two worlds, the world of my Radical Faerie community and the world of work, business, and finances. This is undoubtedly true for many Faeries. Recently I have come to realize the disempowerment this split causes both me and the Faeries. On the one hand I love the Faeries for the affirming, creative, and alternative community we create, on the other I am fascinated by the nature of money, the creation of wealth, and the social justice of how goods and services are distributed. In first presenting this paper at the Faeposium in San Francisco 2008, I finally found an authentic voice to discuss the intersection of these two essential spheres of my life. The paper being so well received I was emboldened to refine it for publication in RFD. The topic of money seems so loaded few of us think about it in a neutral way. Most of us have preconceived ideas and powerful prejudices about money. These preconceptions act as filters in regard to how we think about money. New ideas can be hard to grasp. Many of us, perhaps rightly so, are skeptical or cynical when the topic of money is introduced. If you are feeling skeptical, I invite you to observe yourself and note any other emotions this article may evoke. I have been a Radical Faerie for 31 years. I discovered and fell in love with the tribe at 24, long before anyone heard of AIDS. At that time and age money mattered little. I was moved by the joyful expression of blending my spirit and sexuality. I was enraptured by the discussions of feminism, our role as sacred beings in the culture-as opposed to sinners, the artistic and social creation of gender bending, drag, open relationships, subject-subject consciousness, confronting ageism, racism, and classism, art and creativity, and in general- all things anti-assimilationist. I also remained interested in money. I remained a responsible and devoted worker fascinated by what it would take to become financially empowered, or rich, or to be financially free. I wanted to es-
Photograph courtesy Hammer
cape being a wage slave. I was and am interested in social justice. Social justice issues are mostly defined by how money is spent. I was curious about the Faeries attitudes about money and how we would build this future community of enlightened loving companions. Back then the ideas of creating highly developed sanctuaries, buying more land, building more Faerie places of study, Faerie cottage industries, urban communes, sustainable agricultural and art coops was so exciting.
Then the AIDS epidemic fell on us and altered the early development of Faerie consciousness. Our community focus shifted to the immediate demands of the epidemic. Our urgency became staying alive. We shifted our thoughts to education and behavior modification, caring for our dying friends and lovers, grieving, and making spiritual meaning out of this catastrophe. We struggled with government for more medical and behavioral resources. Faeries lost too many talented alternative thinkers and actors to AIDS. The epidemic stunted much of our philosophical and material community development, albeit offering profound emotional and spiritual growth. RFD 153 Spring 2013 31
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Emotionally supported by my Faerie Community, I spent my focus during the worst of the epidemic as a social worker for 15 years developing and maintaining community responses to AIDS. But I also spent time buying property, living below my means, and investing carefully. For decades I never found a comfortable way to integrate these two areas of my life. One of my important gifts seemed an inappropriate discussion at Faerie Gatherings. Something remained dis-connected inside of me. I felt somehow inauthentic and not whole.
We Faeries Have an Uneven Development Regarding Money I was told this story of the origin of NOTAFLOF, (No One Turned Away For Lack OF Funds). At the second gathering in Colorado some Faeries came and did not have the money suggested for the per person costs of the gathering. Other Faeries suggested they could have a “scholarship” or do a “work exchange” for their part of the required costs. Such work included washing dishes and serving others. In a short time this was called out for what it was—a financial class-based system, where various parties’ contributions were valued differently based on the amount of money they brought. Conversations and heart circles followed and somewhere along the way, the NOTAFLOF policy was institutionalized. NOTAFLOF is an example of a Radical Faerie non-assimilationist position regarding money that sets Faeries aside from mainstream western material culture. It creates a distinction in regards to how we see money, wealth, and class issues. It is a great ethos to always uphold. But I don’t think it goes nearly far enough. Another notable success of Faeries’ financial consciousness is collective land ownership in the form of Radical Faerie Sanctuaries. Examples are Short Mountain, Wolf Creek, Zuni Mt., and Destiny in Vermont. I have not lived in these in communities, but understand that some shared financial and other wealth resources, (labor, autos, homes,) exist in these social and material constructs. These are important arenas where real community and common wealth are being explored. But they impact relatively few Faeries. They also do not impact the Faerie body consciousness in any systematic or transformative ways. Note how after thirty years of Faerie existence- how few, (if any) collectively-owned urban faerie coops exist. Also note how there is no general formula, fund, or think tank for generating additional sanctuaries. They pop up here and there, but it seems more out of chance or the beneficence of Collage by artboydancing
a major donor, than planning or intentional community effort. Also note how many of these communities survive on the financial margin- and not necessarily because of choice. NOTALF and some collective land stewardship and community living are the more enlightened developed side of Faeries and money. The rest of the dialogue about money and wealth among Faeries is incomplete and unfinished. In my experience the topic is usually passively discouraged and avoided. The idea of hanging with Faeries and talking about wealth generation has been unthinkable. Bringing up money in a Faerie setting is a turd in the punch bowl- a party killer. An exception is whining about being broke- the “alternatively acceptable” relationship to money. Another exception is the discussions regarding gathering fees and the solicitation of donations for sanctuaries. I suggest noting the tone and change in the room when money comes up in Faerie space. In my experience Faeries can talk for years about drag, decades about sex, for a day about politics, art, drugs, and a few hours about race or theoretical issues of class and ageism. But we generally do not engage in authentic conversations about our incomes, our wealth, our money, our income strategies, our financial plans, our retirement plans, or our feelings about having wealth, or lack of wealth. We do little true financial community building and rarely participate in consciousness raising about money.
suspect the feelings we have about wealth and financial resources are shaped by our upbringing in an uber-capitalist society that is conflicted and rather insane, (and I mean insane- literally), in regards to money. We probably don’t talk about money at Faerie gatherings because of the embarrassment or shame most of us feel about our situations regarding money. And because of the myths we have absorbed that money is dirty, tainted, materialistic, and only related to an assimilationist way of being in the world. Money is mundane and by definition NOT FAERIE. Money is “other,” or anti-faerie. Money is what keeps us all from living in total Faerie bliss on the land in a sexual-revolutionary, artistic, ecologically sustainable spiritual brotherhood of brilliant alternative culture. “Money” is not revolutionary, progressive, artistic, spiritual, or cool. The idea of a faerie stockbroker, realtor, financial planner, or faerie banker is absurd and laughable. Most of us in the US are unfortunate victims of insane attitudes and upbringing regarding money. I think some of the powerful emotional states that RFD 153 Spring 2013 33
control us when the issue of money is present life. Living in an economic system called “Capitalinclude: ism,” essentially means those with capital, or large Anxiety and Fear- afraid of running out of amounts of money control what happens. Whommoney- spending it foolishly, being taken advantage ever controls capital dictates who gets health care, of, wasting it, and somehow looking bad. social security benefits, the sustainable use of the Greed: wanting more than our share- or wantenvironment, healthy food, who gets to dedicate ing an easy life, wanting the freedom from work, or their life to art, etc. These larger issues and concerns wanting luxuries- to which others or we may or may regarding fairness and social justice remain unadnot think we are entitled. dressed by Faeries when we maintain a poverty Shame and Guilt- related to how we do or don’t consciousness or just stay unconscious regarding get our money, or what we do or do not contribute money. Harry Hay was involved with communism to society, our greed. and politics because he was concerned about fundaEmbarrassment at having or not having enough mental financial inequality in society. In our time we money. need to find a better way. Anger and frustration about Faeries gaining a more mawhat is not fair regarding the ture and developed relationdistribution of wealth, money, ship to money will deepen our I have been thinkand privilege. stand in the world, as nonConfusion, obfuscation, assimilationist, as community ing about money for and general dumbness about organizers and activists, as a 30 years and have money—related to no one ever counter voice to what, as well only recently been teaching us the essentials of as who oppresses us, as well willing to bring it to money management, intenas what we choose to create. tional unwillingness to take Everyone reading this article heart circle or into financial responsibility for has money and uses money to “Faerie Space” beourselves, or because money is fuel their life. The amount of cause of my fear of so “male”, “that’s a male thing,” money we have and the skill in looking un-cool or or a straight-assimilationist which we utilize that money thing. decides how well we live. un-faerie. I have been thinking about Money makes huge differences money for 30 years and have in our qualities of life. only recently been willing to Faeries, like all of society, bring it to heart circle or into have a huge uneven access to “Faerie Space” because of my fear of looking un-cool money and resources, yet we rarely talk about this. or un-faerie. I’ve been embarrassed about being We are a community that accepts massive disengood with money. And feeling at times shame about franchisement. We are more of a social commumy successes as well. nity than an interdependent living community. Of course there are some exceptions to this. In certain Collective Capital and places Faeries do band together financially for betCollective Response ter qualities of life. But this is a small percentage I posit the collective use of money and financial of what the Faeries are about. We could be more resources is a far more radical, alternative, and non- powerfully bonded amongst ourselves, more deeply assimilationist stand than what most of us Faeries engaged, and more influential as a voice to the are currently doing around our ethos of money. outside world, if we had more consciousness raising Most of us continue to just get by and struggle in a discussions about money, literally shared more of dog eat dog capitalist world, with occasional life-raft our wealth and resources with each other, and plothouseholds, and happen-chance oasis’s of cooperated ways to create a stronger Faerie Commonwealth. tion. Many Faeries find it shocking, but it is not As Radical Faeries we could transform our well unusual for me to be at a Faerie event and look being and expand our power and influence as an around the gathering realizing that within the group anti-assimilationist group by re-defining capitalism assembled, the collective net worth may be over ten and socialism for ourselves here and now. Harry or twenty million dollars. Some may find this inconHay understood this and fought for this most of his ceivable or exaggerated. But I know this is true. I 34 RFD 153 Spring 2013
Collage by artboydancing
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know enough Faeries and have enough understanding of wealth to make this estimation. But of course this is never a topic of conversation. Faerie culture chafes at the idea of dealing with money in direct and frank ways. A Faerie workshop at a gathering called “managing and sharing our wealth” would be edgy, suspect, and controversial. It would also be very powerful. If we love each other, and we love what the Faeries stand for in the world, why not take it to a more concrete level? What if the faeries generated workshops to empower each other to be financially skillful and capable? What if we created a Faerie Coop that gathered capital to lend and share with those seeking land for Faerie Sanctuaries, or low cost, easily accessible loans for the development of Faerie land projects, such as solar power systems, clean water systems, sustainable land and agricultural practices? What about affordable collective housing for old Radical Faeries who are truly fragile and in need of care in their final years? What if there were right livelihood businesses Faeries could operate if they had the mini-loans needed to get started? This list of “what ifs” is endless. Each starts with an idea, progresses to a sustained conversation and eventually it is fueled with money. The lack of collective funds in the Faeries’ hands is very disempowering to us as a community. But the lack of community funds is a result of our own limits of consciousness and wisdom.
The Radical Faerie Commonwealth Union Beyond Giving—Living in Financial Community I propose we create the Radical Faerie Commonwealth fund. A simple idea, among many options. It would take energy to get started and maintain it, but the benefits might be endless. This is how it might work. A small core of 8 to 12 financially savvy and trusted Faeries would become the steering committee of volunteers to set it up. Here are the steps in the plan. We recruit about 100 faeries to contribute $15.00 per month to a collective fund. This Commonwealth fund would be saved and grow to a mass of capital that could then be lent back to various Faerie collectives and enterprises as the fund grows. It operates like a credit union. The funds contributed would be owned by the each contributor and held in their own accounts, (unless they choose to donate them to a greater collective.) So funds deposited by Faeries with modest incomes could remain a part of their own long-term 36 RFD 153 Spring 2013
savings and funds contributed by more wealthy faeries might strengthen the funds’ grant making capacities. Nine trustees would supervise the funds. Three of these trustees would be voted in every year, and no one would could sit on the board longer than 4 terms without getting termed out a minimum of one year. Trustees would come from active participants in the fund. Management and record keeping would be by skilled volunteers of the fund, but an independent accountant would provide a quarterly financial statement. Earnings and dividends booked quarterly. At a cash flow stream of $1,500.00 per month, the fund could begin providing loans of up to $50,000 in as short a time as thirty-six months. By 6 years we could provide $100,000 in community funds, and by 10 years of active growth we may be able to be provide a half million dollars of affordable low-cost funds to places like Short Mountain, Zuni Mountain, Destiny, or other Faerie initiatives.
hile this might seem challenging for Faeries who have not yet done well with collective financial efforts and are naturally skeptical of institutions, I believe this is very attainable with the right leadership, transparency and community commitment. As many of us grow older and mature individually and collectively I assert it is time for us to grow wiser, mature financially, and think about a legacy for generations to follow. The forces of Capitalism seeking to enslave us want nothing more than for each of us to be on our own as little consumers; vulnerable, independent, and non-unionized. As a Faerie Tribe banded together we can create a permanent union for mutual financial strength and interdependent wealth and wellbeing. We could extend the best of Faerie wisdom and consciousness further into the darkness of the corporate dystopia that threatens to enslave us. w Hammer January 2013 Hammer (Terry Cavanagh) is a financial coach, social worker, and realtor in Santa Cruz, CA., who is starting a West Coast Faerie Financial Coop in the Spring of 2013. firstname.lastname@example.org
To Give? Or To Receive? By Robin Hartman
iving can be such a wonderful thing. I’ve always felt that giving without receiving was one of my best qualities. Giving physical objects such as money and gifts is the most common form of giving. It is a wonderful thing. But I like to give on a more personal level. I’ve always been giving emotional support to my friends and family. Giving some one a compliment or consoling them when they are in need of an uplifting; is to me the most beautiful thing one can do. But for once my story isn’t about giving. Selfishly I’ve decided to write about receiving one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever been offered. With my guardian being sent to prison on a sentence of 11 years for reasons that shall remain anonymous, I was in need of a home. At the ripe age of 16, I was given a second chance at a family. My best
friend had spoken to her parents about what had happened to me. Being the kind hearted and beautiful people they are, they contacted me and offered me a home. These people that I had hardly known for years were able to open their home to me and give me a chance at a family and yet they asked for nothing in return. Their kindness will always stay in a special place in my heart. I love my biological family, I really do. But I consider these people to be my “other family.” My true family are people whom loved me, cared for me and gave me a chance to grow into the beautiful person that I am. Through their kindness and acceptance I’ve learned that giving can evoke great potential in others. I will for ever be in their debt. Thank you. w
Offering Sexual Service By Dylan Norton aka it
or whatever reason I have been blessed with a body that some men still find desirable into my sixth decade. Determined some time ago that letting men use it for their pleasure was a service I can provide. The fact I enjoy it, too is secondary to a degree. I do in fact pretty much have sex with any man who asks! Do not discriminate on age, height, weight or physical appearance. Everyone needs a little sexual release and if I can provide it, it is my pleasure to do so. I am serious about this. Many of the men I have slept with the last couple years have not been physically attractive to me in the least. But I have offered myself and let them use my body for their pleasure. It will not last forever. It is the height of impermanence. But it gives me no suffering as I have no expectations in it and accept each encounter for the
experience it is and nothing more. Have thought on this considerably and perhaps I am being self delusional in order to justify my ego desires but have yet to see where it is causing suffering or loss. As long as it is given in service, with no expectation of return or of future escalation or even repetition I do not see that any sexual misconduct is actually involved. Sex is a natural part of our existence. When shared with love and kindness it embraces total awareness of the moment and contact with all our senses. It is the essence of impermanence for the moment and for the long term. I will not remain desirable or physically able for much longer. It could be halted immediately by any number of circumstances. But to deny it in the here and now is a waste of one of life’s greatest gifts. w RFD 153 Spring 2013 37
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“adam dot net” by Cory Peeke
Giving is Living By Rosemary for Remembrance
have always felt—well, almost always, as I write below—that it’s very important for me to give back to my community, and I define my community as covering the full range from local activities and contributions of money here in San Francisco (or wherever I’ve lived in the past) to the world at large. This may have something to do with my Jewish upbringing and the concept of tzedokoh (charity), but it is also strongly connected with my Zen Buddhist practice of today. And, besides, I find it always feels good to give! In my early years of long ago (I’m 67 now), my parents and grandparents set an example for me of being both charitable and active. My father’s parents supported their orthodox religious organizations. My mother’s parents were socialists who were very active politically, supporting Eugene V. Debs in his campaigns for president and as a founder of the Socialist Workers Party; they not only contributed what they could afford to, but also marched in the streets of Boston, MA, took part in rallies, and educated their neighbors. My parents supported their conservative religious organizations with charity, and my mother contributed time teaching Sunday school. An uncle of mine was an attorney in Boston who served as a member of the Boston School Committee and City Council, and he represented Jackie Robinson pro bono in becoming the first African-American major-league baseball player in 1945 (see http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1945_Boston_Red_Sox_season ) a few months before I was born on what’s now World AIDS Day. So, it should be clear, that I learned from a very early age the value and joy of giving. Of course, like almost every young child, I wasn’t always a “giver.” I had a very clear sense of what was mine and I would defend it as best I could and, yes, even throw a tantrum to support my infantile sense of right and wrong: what was mine was mine, and what was yours might rightfully be mine, too; but, happily, as I grew up I developed morality and came to separate what was yours from what was mine and to share what was mine with others. Fast-forwarding several decades, in graduate school, while working on my Ph.D. at Cornell University, I volunteered at a peer-counseling center
named Open House in Ithaca, NY, and helped both myself and others to deal with our psychological issues. One Monday I was finishing an all-night shift when in bounced a man named Jim who had become a friend and who was in by far the lightest, happiest mood I’d ever seen him in. I asked him what he’d done over the weekend, and he told me he’d taken part in a TORI community in Amherst, MA, run by a humanistic psychologist named Jack R. Gibb. Jack had developed a theory of community building that took a group of people who (usually) didn’t know each other in advance and would very quickly build them into a community that might last anywhere from a weekend to two weeks. The four principles (in order) that made up such a community were Trust, leading to Openness, leading to Reification (or making Real what one wanted), leading to Interdependence, the foundation of a community (see http://www.katersutherland.com/inner-work/ trust-is-the-foundation-of-healthy-groups-andeverything/ ). I signed up for the next TORI community Jack was doing in Amherst, and had a very, very profound experience. The most important part of that weekend for me was recovering my ability to cry, both for sadness and for joy—something my father had told me (at about age 11) in no uncertain terms was something men did not do, and an ability I’ve treasured ever since I recovered it. The community that weekend had helped me bring about one of the biggest gifts I had ever given myself! After I came out as a gay man in 1978, I took my first long-term lover John to a very, very large TORI community taking place the weekend before an Association of Humanistic Psychology meeting. Just as I was about to stand up in this group of over 400 and say that I had recently come out as a gay man, another man near me stole my “thunder”—he did exactly what I was about to do! Before long we had a gay and lesbian caucus of about 35 and we were giving to each other: trading experiences back and forth at a fast pace and building a community within a community, and one that was totally accepted by the larger community. We gave to them and the straights gave to us by, at the least, accepting us as nothing out of the ordinary. John moved to Lawrence, KS (where I was an AsRFD 153 Spring 2013 39
sociate Professor of Computer Science at the Unin the 1980’s, as AIDS swept through San Franversity of Kansas) to be with me with the promise cisco’s gay community, I became convinced that that within a year we would be in the San Francisco whatever was wasting and killing our friends and Bay Area. How I was going to make that happen, I neighbors was sexually transmitted, so at the end had no idea, but, as it turned out, I didn’t have to do of 1982, John and I reversed course and closed our anything to make it happen! Out of the blue I got relationship, thinking we had escaped the “plague.” a call from the chair of Computer Science at U.C. I spent much of my spare time from then into the Berkeley asking whether I could take a Visiting Asmid-1990’s doing massage for men who were wastsociate Professorship for the next year. I jumped at ing away and I held several of them as they died in the gift, we moved to the East Bay in August 1979, my hands. John and I also gave large sums of money and I stretched the position to two years. Suddenly, to Nomenus, with no strings attached. Toto, we weren’t in Kansas anymore—we were in In 1986, John and I discovered that we were Oz! John and I decided we wrong in thinking we wanted an open relationhad escaped HIV when ship, so we both had many, he began showing early many casual sexual encounsymptoms. We both started ters and barebacked each taking AZT as soon as it beWhen I rang the bell, other also. As the two years came available, but for John down the steps came a came to a close, I resigned it was too late. He died on beautiful 25-year-old my position at Kansas and 9 August 1988 having come went into the computer inhome from the hospital the man whom I’d never dustry in Silicon Valley, and day before after being told seen before. I looked we moved into the City. by two doctors there was into his eyes, and was Soon after we moved to nothing more they could do instantly scared out of the East Bay, we saw posters for him. in San Francisco announcThree days before John my wits! I said, “Hi. I’m ing a Spiritual Conference died a Faerie friend named the milkman.” for Radical Faeries. We saw Daffodil was in his hospital a mirror of ourselves in the room with me and got a principles expressed on the phone call asking him to posters and figured that, as bring a gallon of milk home well, we’d probably make to the Faerie household he some friends from the Bay Area. We registered and was living in. He didn’t particularly want to carry spent an incredibly high five days near Benson, AZ, the milk between his knees on his motorcycle, so I, and we were hooked by the burgeoning Radical feeling that John was in good hands and it was time Faerie movement and made several friends, as we’d for me to take care of myself for a while, offered to hoped. We took part in the next two national gathbring the milk there. I did that, and, when I rang the erings, got involved in Nomenus, and I’ve long since bell, down the steps came a beautiful 25-year-old lost count of how many gatherings I’ve taken part in, man whom I’d never seen before. I looked into his though I’m sure it’s over 60. Each of them has been eyes, and was instantly scared out of my wits! I said, an experience of giving and being given in return. “Hi. I’m the milkman,” thrust the gallon of milk into For me, heart circles at Radical Faerie gatherings, his hands, and ran to my car. Just after John passed, which (as I’ve written before in RFD—see issue No. I was joined in his room by two Faes from that 141) are the beating hearts of Faerie gatherings and house and Eric,who was visiting from Boston and are very much like mini-TORI’s. They, at there best, was the man who had accepted the milk. The four of are communities that develop very quickly, with us locked arms and Eric was across from me in this only a few basic principles, and they are always extiny heart circle. I looked into his eyes, and now saw periences of giving and being given, providing both a deep well of compassion that I could easily lose insights into others’ lives and my own. They are myself in. always experiences of growth, even when the time Two days later, I was invited to a Thai feast at the is monopolized by one or two people who describe Faerie household for which Eric was the chef. I cut how their evangelical upbringings have colored up all the chili peppers, and we talked as we worked. their whole lives. That was Thursday. The next day I called Eric and 40 RFD 153 Spring 2013
asked if he could spend the day with me on Sunday. He said “Yes,” I picked him up, and we had an indescribably wonderful Sunday together. That evening I went to the supermarket near my house and soon felt like I was walking about a foot off the floor and smiling beatifically. When I got home, I called and got Eric’s host and told him I had had a very, very wonderful day. He said “So I heard!” but he wasn’t talking about me—Eric was telling him the same thing! Thus began Eric’s first long-term relationship that has now run 24½ strictly monogamous years that has been beyond wonderful almost all the time. In the first year or so of our relationship Eric gave me an essential and very wonderful gift: the space and time to adequately mourn John. We have a third person who is an adjunct member of our relationship, a wonderful gay psychologist named Mark whom I call our “tag-team therapist.” At times Eric sees him, at times I do, and sometimes we go in together. Eric and I continually give to each other, and Mark gives to both of us. Perhaps most importantly, Eric has learned not to be afraid to fight in our relationship, as long as we do it fairly. I’ve done very well with my HIV disease. Eric’s still HIV-negative, and I’m certain his love, along with working with three excellent and caring HIV specialists at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco (KP SF) have made all the difference in my continuing to be basically healthy. Eric and my doctors have given immeasurably to me.
’m 67 years old, and I retired 15 years ago. During the last twelve years I’ve added more and more local, national, and international HIV-related prevention, treatment, care, and cure volunteer activities to my life starting with the KP SF HIV/AIDS Advisory Board (a partnership of patients and healthcare providers) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s HIV Research Section’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) to three other CABs and the National Institutes of Health’s HIV Vaccine Trials Network’s Global CAB and Scientific Working Group. It’s almost always been joyful giving and, occasionally, joyful receiving: I’m the only patient member of the KP SF advisory board to have been
honored for my contributions with plaques, and not once, but twice. I’ve also given, with Eric, money to many of the local, national, and international HIV/ AIDS and other organizations from Maitri (Sanskrit for “compassion”—another form of giving) AIDS hospice in San Francisco to Médecins sans Frontières. I’ve also long been a Faerie volunteer, starting with my involvement with Nomenus mentioned above, and continuing more recently with being Queen Registrar or co-Queen Registrar of three Breitenbush gatherings, writing and maintaining a Manual for Queens Registrar of the Breitenbush Gatherings, and being keeper of the original Faerie Shawl given to us by Dennis Melba’son in 1980, and usually arranging for it to travel to gatherings I find out about in RFD and from http://www. radfae.org/gatherings.
t should be clear by now that much of my life has been devoted to giving back to the many individuals and communities that have enriched my life. I’ll finish with one totally unexpected example of giving in my life. I do our grocery shopping every Friday at the large supermarket where I was walking on air (see above) that’s in a neighborhood about three miles from where we now live. I’ve developed a working relationship with a woman named Maria in the deli whom I can tell in just a few words what I want for lunches for the week, go do other shopping, and come back to her in a little while and she’ll have my order ready. The week before last I told her I wanted five slices of turkey “sliced on three” and a pound of cheese. For the first time she goofed—instead of slicing the meat on three, she sliced it on five: almost twice as thick as I wanted and almost twice as expensive. I didn’t notice the mistake until Sunday, and the store is too far away to get one thing fixed. When I went in last Friday, I told her about her mistake. She said she was sorry, I left her my order, and when I came back to pick it up both items were free. That’s just another small but important example of giving. w
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gifts from the dirt By Nadja Bederven
there are knives in this world that are not knives but still they cut, open passages to worlds that exist out of sight, subterranean, clothed in tender darknesses. lay out the knives of your life, the tools of liberation, gifts from the dirt: a note with a loverâ€™s script, a ragged grimoire written in fingerprints. lay out the small refusals of repression, the talismans with which you undo yourself. there are knives in this world that are not knives. but still they cut.
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“Flower Bed” by Cory Peeke
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TWO NEW FILMS Big Joy! The Adventures of James Broughton A film by Stephen Silha and Eric Slade
The luminous life and work of James Broughton is coming to the screen. Big Joy: the Adventures of James Broughton provides a humorous antidote to the cynicism and materialism of our age. Led by journalist and futurist Stephen Silha, who had a mentorship relationship with Broughton for the last 10 of his 85 years, the Big Joy project brings together the skills of many artists and media-makers who have been influenced by Broughton. Award-winning filmmaker Eric Slade, is the film’s director. He is especially known for creating the PBS documentary “Hope Along the Wind” on the life of gay rights pioneer Harry Hay. The film will be a journey through the life and works of the exquisite poet, a vibrant lover, innova-
44 RFD 153 Spring 2013
tor, and role model. Most importantly, those people who knew or worked with James will share their stories and insights into the life of this master of visual and verbal images. James’ story shows what it means to be yourself, how making art can keep you from losing hope, and how you can find true love–and yourself–at age 62, or any age. w Screenings South by Southwest World Premiere! March 9, 10, 13th, 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival March 25, 27, 2013 www.bigjoy.org
Joy! Portrait of a Nun By Joe Balass, filmmaker
y first exposure to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was as a teenager watching the televisio news years ago: In full nun-drag, these angry gay protesters from San Francisco were demonstrating their opposition to the Pope’s policies on homosexuality and the use of contraceptives. They remained mythic figures in my mind as I matured into adulthood. Then, when I was presenting my film, The Devil in the Holy Water at a festival in San Francisco, a smiling gray-bearded nun came up to talk to me about it. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this rather personable nun, was none other than Sister Missionary P. Delight, one of the founding members of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence. Sister Mish told me about how the Order of Perpetual Indulgence became his way of perpetrating good deeds while playfully combining political activism and religious drag. We became instant friends and eventually discussed the possibility of working together on a film about the Sisters and also their connections with the Radical Faerie movement. Much of the Faerie movement is predicated on the notion that gay people have generally different perspectives on the world, and bring particular tendencies. Harry Hay, one of the Faerie founders,
wrote that gatherings are about “bringing gay men together in a circle, exploring what specific gifts are that we bring—things that the larger culture needs. And once you have that consensus as to what those gifts are, to set about letting the larger culture know exactly what it is that they are getting from us. It is in that way that we will be given respect and acceptance...” When I first started talking to Mish about the work of the Sisters, it was very exciting to think about how wonderful it was to follow a philosophy of promulgating universal joy and expiating guilt. As I’ve gotten to know him and some of the other Sisters and Faeries, I have also started to think about how the expiation of fear is a logical next step on the path of enlightenment. JOY! is also as a continuation of my work around the crossroads of spirituality, sexuality and community. It is also an opportunity to further explore the notion of history and identity which is an important part of my documentary practice. A phrase that has resonated in my mind for many months now, was made by a historian who said, “To be interested in history, you need to feel like a part of a community. And a community is a community because it shares a common history.” I hope JOY! will help give the viewer some insights. (continues) RFD 153 Spring 2013 45
Spiritual sanctuary, sex, sisterhood and a gathering of faeries. A bearded nun. Through an intimate lens, this feature documentary takes us on a journey with Sister Missionary P. Delight, one of the founders of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In 1979, Mish, as he is affectionately known by his friends, created an Order of gay male nuns to promote a philosophy of promulgating universal joy and expiating guilt. Both he and the Order have come a long way since then. Today, the Sisters are spread out across the globe, and Mish lives in the middle of the woods of the Deep South, in a community of Radical Faeries. JOY! follows Mish and his community over a seven year period, along the way we discover the history of the movement and the highs and lows of his own personal journey.t w
This Boy By Conrad
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Lying in This Bed Lying in this bed I can feel you. I can smell you. Pressing hard against these sheets Trying to suck you into my lungs. I'm searching for you in these woven threads. I'm searching for your touch. I'm searching for your taste. I'm searching for your kindness. This one little fragrance left behind, I inhale you into my chest. Your sweet man smell envelops me and becomes me. You are inside me. And then with my next breath it's gone Or was it even there? Maybe it was all in my mind. I don't care because I know you were here We were here. Lying in this bed I still feel you. â€”Mateo Olson Photograph by Chris D. Lallman
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Interview: Yolo Akili By Franklin Abbott
Yolo Akili is author of the upcoming book, Dear Universe: Letters of Affirmation and Empowerment. He is a poet and activist on many fronts. From his website www.yoloakili.com : Yolo Akili Robinson (known as Yolo Akili) is a performance artist, counselor, Iyengar yogi and social justice worker. His career and work emphasis has been on black masculinities, gender & LGBTQ rights, HIV & AIDS, and emotional/spiritual wellness. Yolo is the former Regional Training Coordinator for Men Stopping Violence, where he served as the lead designer and architect of Mercury, an online education platform for men on violence against women. He is the co-founder of the pro-feminist queer men’s group: Sweet Tea: Southern Queer Men’s Collective, and has worked as an organizer for SPARK! Reproductive Justice, The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival and United 4 Safety. Yolo is a vocal proponent of Emotional Justicewhich calls for an analysis of wellness and trauma in the context of social justice. He is a spiritual teacher and a licensed 200 level Iyengar Yoga teacher (RYT),having studied and graduated fromYoga of India Yoga School, in Sandy Springs Georgia. His work has appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Aquarius Magazine,The Crunk Feminist Collective, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Voice Male. He is also the author of the chapbook “Poems In The Key of Green” and the spoken word album “Purple Galaxy.” He has been a keynote speaker, panelist and featured performer at many universities and conferences including Vanderbilt University, the National HIV prevention Conference, Columbia University, Fordham University, University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana, The Texas Council on Family Violence, Northern Illinois University, Baruch College, Agnes Scott College and much more. He has been awarded the Creative Leadership Award by the Feminist Women’s Health Center Atlanta, A ZAMI award and the “Unity In Community Award” from Unity in Christ Fellowship Church. Yolo currently resides in New York, New York.
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1. How young were you when your Grandmother taught you how to talk with plants? My grandmother never explicitly taught me to talk to plants. She more so showed me through her example. She would get up and water her plants and just be out their chatting it up with them. She never said “this is how you do it” though she did tell me that they liked it, and to my young mind, it seemed like they did! (Laughs). Later in my life I started talking to my own plants (which disturbed my neighbors). I actually do feel that in their own way, they respond. I also feel like it helps me to remember the sentient nature of all life. When I talk to them, it helps me remember that it’s not just all about humans on this planet. There are other kinds of people here too, who deserve life and balance. 2. When did you begin to channel Wonderwoman? (Laughs) I don’t know if I channel Wonder Photo courtesy Yolo Akili
woman so much as I like some of the ideals she represents to me. Particularly that she is a diplomat for both her country and gender relations in the United States. I think my fascination with her began when I was in middle school. Even though she was white (and there were not a lot of white women in my world at that time) she still seemed to represent so many of the women who I felt empowered by. She was smart, balanced and beautiful. She knew how to express her feelings and at the same time balance that with logic and foresight. In that way, she was like so many of the black women I loved in my own life. She really is a symbol of my love for the black women who raised me. 3. What inspired you to bring Sweet Tea* into being? Sweet Tea was really inspired by my experience in the Black Queer Women’s communities in At-
lanta. Within them I saw a dynamic of both political and personal connection that I felt at the time was lacking in queer men’s communities. So I wanted to help create a space for queer men who had a politically queer lens. A space where we could also cook together, emotionally support each other and also create critical work. 4. How do you and the Universe resolve your disagreements? That is a funny question lol. I believe I am a part of the universe, so any conflict I have with the universe Is a conflict I am having with myself. Most times, I surrender to the Universe. It’s too big to fight! (Laughs) I spend time in meditation, or just sitting down breathing and being still in order to try bring balance. But yeah, I try to be in flow with the universe if I can. Though it doesn’t always work out that way. (Laughs) w * sweetteaqueers.wordpress.com
The Fairy Buddha of Pasadena By Franklin Abbott
for Yolo Akili on his 28th Birthday the Fairy Buddha of Pasadena isn’t a big fella, he smiles a golden smile he could look out the window if he opened his eyes his old friend Yolo is sitting on a stone bench in the garden under the umbrella of a princess tree watching the purple flowers falling down floating on a gentle California morning breeze smiling too at the few who come and go the Fairy Buddha has wings but he doesn’t fly away wears a crown but has no queen no court, no means of support a long time has passed since a pilgrim pressed gold foil offerings into his eyes or nose or folded hands
he sits in the little museum passed by by an occasional lost tourist or two or a gaggle of school children out on a field trip once in awhile he is dusted lovingly by an elderly Asian docent who thinks she hears him humming he smiles as he dreams his fairy buddha dreams he smiles as once in awhile a camera flashes on his faded golden patches while his old friend Yolo sits under the umbrella of the princess tree watching purple blossoms floating down she after he on a gentle California afternoon breeze
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Grandfather Rock We climb to the top of the mountain for clarity, for perspective. Even on a chilly day, the hike is laborious and sweaty: steep, zig-zagging paths lined with fallen tree limbs. My three companions— lithe and bare-chested, slick and glistening by the time we reach the stony peak—pass around a joint as we all sit on top of Grandfather Rock, the Vermont valley gold-green and innocuous below us, beneath a cloudless sky. Precipitous incline of trees dense with underbrush, early yellow harvest of the year, remains untouched by us, only occasional, nimble deer. I stand up to take a piss that arches a thousand feet down to the base of the rock-face, into fallen leaves that nestle against the mountain’s spine, slumbering and wide awake.
Photograph by Mark Hufstetler
— Jason Roush
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Interviewed by Mercury Aquarius
Who, or what even, inspires you and your work? I find inspiration in many different things. Music is my life, and artists like PJ Harvey, Kate Bush and Bjork helped to put the performing fire in my belly. PJ Harvey did a series of solo shows and I think that was when I realised the power of solo performance and that one person can create drama and theatre on stage. Frida Kahlo has always been a big inspiration, she made herself her art, her body became both the site and the tool of her exploration of the human condition, there’s an unflinching bravery in her work that has such an emotional impact. My first solo show The Cosmos, The Cosmetics was inspired initially by the fact that the Ancient Greeks used the same word for the universe and decoration of the skin, I thought this was so beautiful and set out to explore via a personal story how we relate to the world by embellishing our appearance. How do you feel your art reflects being queer in the modern era? 52 RFD 153 Spring 2013
I think as queer people there’s an ongoing negotiation with mainstream culture, both straight and gay in our lives that we can never really get away from. We can rebel against it, reject it, dabble with it, but we’ll never really be part of it, we can just react to it. The Cosmos, The Cosmetics was a personal account of that negotiation and the pain and confusion it can bring, particularly growing up queer in a straight context. But otherness has increasingly become something I feel I want to celebrate both in my work and in my life. Well there will always be difficulties in being Other, and it’s important to explore and acknowledge those, there’s such a freedom and power in being on the outside and taking your own path, I think my work is increasingly reflecting that. There’s also a playfulness in my work that allows me to be fluid with gender, persona and my body in performance. Your body in a sense becomes the canvas when you go on stage. When did you begin to create and Photograph by Nick Field and Holly McGlynn
shape the world around you through art and spoken word? I think it’s something I’ve always done, without realising it. I grew up in a tiny village in rural England and while the teachers at the little village school I went to were quite hostile towards me because I was a bit of an oddity, I remember writing a poem when I must have been ten or eleven that won a competition. I was asked to read it out in front of my class and it was the first time I was really listened to, that probably sowed the seed. After university I became a playwright because I loved theatre, but I got a bit tired of writing on my own for other people and started doing small, tentative performances around London about four years ago. It was so artistically liberating and I loved being able to have an immediate connection with an audience and use spoken word, stories and poetry combined with physicality to make performances and create a world on stage. It’s grown from there and been an amazing journey so far, with much further to go which is really exciting. I find your hybrid of performance styles very intriguing. Do you have a particular process to create and develop your work? My work often comes out of a story I feel compelled to tell. The story is always my starting point. Once I have that, I begin to question why I want to tell it, and that’s when the themes behind it start to become clear. For example in my last piece Midsummer, I started from a point of wanting to tell a story set in an alternative vision of a world in which being queer is considered sacred. As I was working on it, I realised I was exploring the idea of what it means to be different in a society that favours conformity. I generally start work on a piece by writing a script, for me the text is the foundation and then I can use that as a launch pad to explore how to create the performance. The really fun bit for me is going into rehearsal and trying lots of things out, playing about with the script, seeing if singing a section works best, or if part of it can be told most effectively through movement. I’ve played the harp since I was fifteen and I’m starting to bring that into my performance now, as well as playing it with my electro-folk band Waterpuppet. I love experimenting with my palette of performance styles and creating a shape to the piece, but ultimately the performance has to serve the story. Audience engagement seems to be very important to you. Can you tell us a bit about how you channel your energies to bring the audience into the fold? It’s so important in my work to create a connec
tion with an audience, I always think of it as a conversation and that I’m working with the people who are present. Each performance is influenced to some extent by how that conversation unfolds. I think it’s about being real and in the moment and people respond to that. I also tend to strip back the staging, it’s not all multi-media bells and whistles, it’s quite raw. There’s a vulnerability in my performances that I think audiences can empathise with. I try to create a really good energy in the space and that tends to draw the audience in. I love it when people come and tell me stories about their lives after a show, that’s when I know it’s worked. As a personal fan of the Romantics, such as John Keats, what was is like being poet in residence at the Keats House? It was a truly wonderful experience being a poet in residence at Keats House. It’s such a beautiful museum and arts centre in a very historically and artistically rich area of London. There is a kind of magic energy about the house that is so inspiring. Just being able to sit and write under the plum tree where Keats wrote ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ was evocative and delightful. I also loved meeting and talking with visitors from all over the world who had all been touched by Keats work and were coming there as a kind of pilgrimage. I wrote quite a bit about that in the poems I made during the residency. I also taught poetry writing workshops there for inner city school kids, which I was quite nervous about as I thought they’d eat me alive, but I found that they were taken with the romance and tragedy of Keats’s story and produced amazing work in response to it. It’s a unique and special place. Is being a queer artist important to you? Do you have a political viewpoint that you want to express through your work? It is very important, it’s part of who I am and part of my experience and so a queer perspective is always present in my work. I really think it’s a gift in terms of being an artist. it gives me a freedom and range of expression that a lot of performers who are tied into a persona don’t have access to. It’s important to me also in terms of the community and how queer networks have enabled my work to emerge. The Eurofaerie movement really helped me find the confidence to start working as a performer. I am a political person, but I’m more concerned with questioning and exploring themes than expressing a personal viewpoint directly. It’s much more exciting to play with an idea than to set it in stone. w
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Ezekiel at the Brook Everyone’s swimming but me. I’d rather sit on a moss-speckled rock, dangle my legs in the rushing water, swift momentum of three months’ post-winter snowmelt cascading down the shady side of the mountain. In my cargo shorts and t-shirt, I gaze occasionally at their bodies, unclothed, as they wash and relax in the stream’s summer coolness. Foreign as the pale undersides of fish, they don’t seem remarkable to anybody except me, especially when I see Ezekiel appear on the bank; he sheds his shorts and tanktop, tosses them into the tall grass, his immortal form inherited across centuries, yet standing here right in front of me. He wanders downstream, apart from the others, his beauty its own dimension, and lays himself flat in the water, his back upon the cold round stones, lets the water flow over all of him— a greeting, a cleansing, a submerged levitation—before he stands up again, glistens in the slanting, dappled light: the boy I never was and cannot be, oblivious to the silence deep inside the mountain, and far beneath its core, the grinding chaos that forced this mountain up from the ground.
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A Story of Nothing I once loved a man who didn’t love me. When I brought him armloads of lilies I gladly left with my basket of nothing. The heart was a llama pacing its corral. Poems I wrote him hummed like bees. My body lifted when he held my hand. He held my hand whenever he pleased. His body was the marble of an oceanic god. His eyes were bays filled with torn nets. The ship he sailed he sailed alone and cached his riches in the hold. I stood on shore in worship and in awe. I gave him Sun, and — Yes! — and Now. He welcomed my love like the sea to the rain. If I ever knew joy then heaven was this: “Let the first hundred years begin with a kiss!” Delphiniums bloomed purple in my hands. Fear called him every night, and he listened. When he left I awoke as if from a dream. Indeed, he had lost the all of me. I wandered home, unpacked my shirts. Toothbrush, heart, garden, poems, a belief in love in a world of men. I have them still. And that is something.
What Loves You What loves you plods stumpily out of the swamp, like a lump of rotten clay, all frogbelly moonface, spittle foam, and need. This is not what you wanted. Not what you asked for when you tossed the cherry petals into the stream, turning three times round in your white Easter dress, murmuring, “Love, love, come to me.” What can you do as it follows you home, the dogs whimpering in retreat, the smell worse than grandma’s kitchen offal. You grab a broom. Beat it back from the porch: Thwack-thwack-thwack. “Get out of here. Go on. Get!” What loves you howls and shudders under the blows, old wounds splitting, oozing blood and foul infection. You stand proud — strong at the threshold as it stumbles into the yard, drops to its knees, and weeps. —Jeff Crandall
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cayenne and ginger by v
romance and intimacy without romance and intimacy (in the ways that they are often defined), yet still romantic and intimate, possibly more raw and honest. our backs covered in cayenne and ginger, warm bodies, nesting, like the birds we are, except for the moments i am stationary.
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Collage by artboydancing
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Review: Gay Press, Gay Power By Bill Glover
hile there have been several books and efforts to discuss the publications in the LGBT movement/community, finally there is one that contains the basic research so that now there is in one place the basic facts, names, and information of the magazines, newspapers, newsletters that recorded that history which they also helped make. The book, Gay Press, Gay Power (Prairie Avenue Productions and Windy City Media Group) covers all publications from the start in the early 1950s to 2012. It contains new information, corrects some misinformation and gives us information on journalists who worked on the publications. To put the history in context there is a discussion, with examples, of the horrible coverage the media gave homosexuality until about the late 1960s, when coverage exploded after Stonewall. The publications started with the movement to gain equal/civil rights for homosexual Americans, and thus this civil rights movement is documented by the very people who were active in the effort. A historian or researcher trying to see how coverage changed from the 1950s on could see the evidence by looking through editions of the Readers Guide to Periodicals Index. Baim has done this for the reader. The first publications are discussed in full in a chapter by C. Todd White. They started during the worst of times, the McCarthy era when homosexuals and Communists were considered to be allies and were labeled dangerous to the nation’s security. The first publicly available publication (1953), ONE Magazine, suffered from the same problems all early ones did, little income, people afraid to have their names as subscribers to a homosexual publication, businesses afraid to place ads, no authors or journalists willing to let their names appear in the publication. And a problem few other causes had, there were homosexual people in hiding who tried to keep their sexuality from being questioned or discovered 58 RFD 153 Spring 2013
by loudly protesting the existence of a publication discussing homosexuality objectively. Many such people later were arrested for homosexual acts and still refused to support the effort to educate the public and change laws. But ONE was successful, and was joined by the Mattachine Review and then The Ladder-aimed at women. ONE fought a legal battle with the Post Office to protect its right to publish and mail a magazine with the homosexual viewpoint, and won only at the U. S. Supreme Court level in 1958. These three magazines were slowly joined by others each few years and together they planted the seeds that are the major media the LGBT movement/community has today. The early publications were supported by an organization. Today most are independent. The book has pictures of most of the publications covered-a great help as it shows the progression from early publications to those of today. As a writer says, they are time capsules of their era. One “clue” to how things changed is the term used in the three eras-first they were called homophile publications, then homosexual, then gay and now gay and lesbian or LGBT. There are short biographies of some LGBT journalists who helped make the publications successful. The index shows the large number of people covered, and lists the names of hundreds of current LGBT publications. Many people may gain a sense of of pride knowing the history of the LGBT “media’s” growth from ONE to hundreds of publications, currently giving the community the news, and views, entertainment and education, continuously revitalizing those who seek to make life better for everyone and to make this a more perfect nation, for all citizens. No historian or journalist can write on the subject without knowing the contents of this book, because the history of publications is also the history of the movement. w
Dhandi (December 8, 1965 – December 6, 2012)
onald W. Hudson (“Dhandi”) 46, died at his home in Las Vegas, NV on December 6, 2012. Donnie was a successful photographer, painting artist, model and also worked various positions in the motion picture industry including producer and directors assistant. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on December 8, 1965 to Ivan (“Don”) and Karen Hudson (Calahan) of Festus, Missouri. He is survived by his mother, Karen Hudson (Calahan), and brother and sister, Jeanette Hennemann and Joshua Hudson, of Festus. Aunts Patricia Koch and Sharon Koch of Fenton, Missouri, Vicki Wade of
Pawhuska, OK, and other aunts and uncles, friends (family) Gerald VanSlyke of Las Vegas, NV, John Spencer of Great Barrington, MA, Anthony Carro of New York, NY, Sue Murdoch of Aspen, CO, Barry Shils of Santa Monica, CA, Andrew Leopard of Liberty, TN, and many other close friends and family from around the world. Preceding him in death was his father, Ivan (Don) Hudson of Festus, and friends (family) Howard Brooker of NY, NY, and Randy Murdock of CO. Memorial services will be held in Liberty, Tennessee and near Vieques, Peurto Rico starting in the Spring. w
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Prison Pages Edited by Myrlin
“A Company That Runs Prisons Will Have Its Name on a Stadium” As I write this column I woke up to this headline from the New York Times. Florida Atlantic University has just completed a deal to have their stadium named “Geo Group Stadium.” I urge the readers of this column to check out the entire article: http://readersupportednews.org/newssection2/318-66/16137-a-company-that-runsprisons-will-have-its-name-on-a-stadium. Private prisons are big business in the US and trade regularly on Wall Street. Unfortunately the income for these companies come not only from fees paid by the states and federal government but also from fees extracted from inmates for hygiene items, medical visits, clothing needs and food items obtained by inmates from the prison canteen. Under this system it is possible for inmates to incur huge debt burdens causing any money coming in to an inmate to pay off these debts first before being available for purchase of hygiene or other items at the commissary. As a result many, if not most, inmates are forced into demeaning situations. It seems sad that a company benefitting largely from the incarceration of the poor and immigrant populations would be able to be honored with a Stadium in it’s name. The Brothers Behind Bars pen-pal program sponsored by RFD Magazine has attempted to bridge the divide between inmates and the free world by providing a means of establishing friendships between inmates and non-inmates. As such we receive mail from inmates who then place ads
up to 30 words in length as ways of introduction. Our program serves the gay/trans/bi male inmate population. The list generally containing about 300 ads is sent primarily to other inmates rather than to people in the general population. Many institutions do not allow inmate to inmate mail, thus leaving many in the program with never finding a friend to share thoughts and ideas with. As a result I would encourage all RFD readers to consider adopting at least one pen-friend. To obtain a copy of the current quarters list, just send a $3.00 to $10.00 donation to BBB, PO Box 68, Liberty, TN 37095. I have been the editor of BBB since the Winter 2002 issue of the list and will most likely be completing my term as editor shortly. So get on board now! One of the joys of receiving all of the mail for this program is getting to know some incredibly talented and interesting people. I receive many examples of poetry, prose and art giving a glimpse into the trapped talent that exists behind the walls. Whether coming from the hearts of people who have committed heinous crimes or those being held for drug and immigration problems, I am honored to have been given the trust of those sharing these gifts. I don’t know if I would judge all poetic utterances as great literature but rather I get to see the soul that is trying to bust out and be free. I will take time now to share a few examples of these poems, descriptions and art.
Bi-Sexual “Guyrl” I’m a Bi-sexual “guyrl” in the Texas prison system. I read about you in a book called “Drawing
Some of the men you will meet in BBB.
Chris Anderson (WI) 60 RFD 153 Spring 2013
Eddie France (OH)
Jessee Galloway (KY)
Van Martinez (OR)
Down the Moon.” I’m a Berdache, I walk between the worlds and have now shame in it. I love men and women, the same yet differently. I tend to like male lovers and female friends. Being in prison and being seen as a girl is empowering to me because it affords me space I’d otherwise not have, the shuns to me is a empowerment, it gives me focus to study my own inner self, yes there have been times of fear yet no harm. —David Scott #1183705, Jordan Unit, 1992 Helton Road, Pampa TX 79065
Out-Law Hopeless Romantic Looking for pen-pals to meet on the dark side of the moon, To meet at the mountain of happiness and picnic at the river of smiles. I am a Love Life kind of person, 5’9”, 170 lbs with green eyes. Look to paint you an horizon to tip the scales of friendship. There is chemistry in what destiny brings. I’ll climb a mountain of sunshine for pen-pals. I make penny wishes with only Time with little pieces of heart, my soul of glass, you are my favorite. I will gently smile hand in hand up another mile. There is a glimmer of hope with mathematics of hue. I look out and only shadows look in. I am looking to make a friend. Tell me your dreams, hopes and problems. I am a good listener with good advice with words measured in the shape of tears. I am in lockdown 23/7. I write poetry, bible studies, exercise and build motor cycles out of soap. I am rich in Kandy Kane Kisses, Silver Pennys with ruby laces. I am looking to write with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls and sometimes in pain. If you saw inside my heart you will see I hide my loneliness with smiles. Pen-pal you’re the reason I believe in wishes. To the perfect you all possess beauty with broken fragments of my soul. I piece them together with my tears. All I am asking is for friendship. I will talk with you. When times are hard and troubled within your day, I will give you strength to make another day. I promise to always put you first. Everyone is welcome! Thanks you. —Antonio Serna 41860, PO Drawer 1325, Los Lunas, NM 87031
dows. The outside cold air so badly wants to come into this room and I so badly want to come out of hiding and be myself. Years ago I stood at the portal of making a decision to turn back in fear or go forward in steadfast faith and courage. Because I chose to venture into the unknown, my life has become so much richer, not with money or property, but with understanding of mind. A few months ago, on my way back from the bathroom that I share with forty-four other prisoners, I looked at them all still sleeping. Twenty-four other lost souls, most of whom still have no clue that they are puppets manipulated by the strings of their life’s scripts that were written long before they were born by many other generations of people. Today, I am still physically a prisoner. In the world in here and the world out there, I am still not free to be me because of homophobic pathology. But today, I am freer than I ever was out there because most of my puppet strings have been ripped apart by the tragedy of circumstance and by my own volition. I still have to use a mask to deceive those around me and the world at large, so I will not be shamed further by their intolerance of my god given needs. But that is okay because at least now I know it is a mask I use for survival and within myself I now unconditionally accept and love all the facets of my true self. —12/22/2012 (The Whole Me)
Knowing 5:14 am. A train whistle blows in the distant darkness. Rain drips from the eve. I watch Mother Nature’s tears fall from the warmth of my bed while the wind of a drizzle misted sky buffets the win Art by Jamahl Blanks & Chris Arrington
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“The Hills are Alive, With the SOUND OF MUSIC”... “Edelweiss” … “Climb Every Mountain”… Every faerie knows and loves these songs… but have you ever been on the mountains where the musical was filmed? Well, here’s your chance! We are thrilled to announce Austria’s first international FAERIE GATHERING in the AUSTRIAN ALPS near Salzburg, August 17-27, 2013. We welcome Faeries and friends of all genders from across Europe and around the whole world for 10 days of summer love, light and laughter on the beautiful Hochkönig mountain, 1,300 meters up in
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FA E R I E S
Gathering in Austria, 17-27 August 2013
the heart of the Salzburg Alps. Join us to create a safe space in a comfortable and private typical Alpine style hostel near a mountainside forest. There are rooms for four, six or eight, bathrooms with showers, a big kitchen, a dining hall / ballroom and small group rooms. If you want more privacy and like chilly nights, you can set up your own tent. You might also enjoy sleeping in one the cosy cottages nearby. Check out our new website www.eurofaeries. eu/austria for the latest news about the first faerie gathering in Austria.
Issue 155 / Fall 2013
JAMES BROUGHTON Submission Deadline: July 21, 2013 www.rfdmag.org/upload
I can be far out and I can be way in, and both are germane. I can be proper and I can be improper, there is no opposition. I can be shabby and I can be glamorous, they define each other. I can perform, and I can keep absolutely quiet. —James Broughton in his journal from the 1960’s
This is an invitation to “follow your own weird” into a special edition of RFD honoring the 100th birthday of faerie filmic elder and poetic inspirer James Broughton (1913-1999). RFD invites your own “weirdness,” whether you knew James or not. If you did, send your inspirations and memories. If you did not, please go into your own weird and send us what inspires you. The new documentary BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton is a gift from the faeries to the dominant culture. It invites aliveness and allness. Ripen!
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Photograph courtesy James Broughton papers, 1895-1999. Kent State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives.
a reader created gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity
RFD Vol 39 No 3 #153 $9.95
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Published on Mar 21, 2013