Number 157 Spring 2014 $9.95
RFD 157 Spring 2014 1
Issue 158 / Summer 2014
Submission Deadline: April 21, 2014 www.rfdmag.org/upload
In April 1984 the Centers for Disease Control released official findings that the retrovirus HTLV-III, now commonly known as HIV was the cause of AIDS. In that time, the world has lost a great deal of people to the pandemic of the virus as well as social and political reaction / lack of reaction to both helping mediate the illness and work to find useful ways of promoting ways of preventing it's spread. As a community we witnessed a level of political inaction based on bias to the communities impacted by HIV while we rallied to help and nurture those in our midst impacted by both the virus and the community at-large's bias and fear. We're hoping to engage our readers in exploring some of the cultural accomplishments which came with facing HIV as well as considering the cultural losses which have left a void in our hearts. So we're encouraging people to consider ways of showing through art, photography, film stills and through writing how we engaged in responding to HIV and it's political impact as well as sharing work from people lost in those years whose work has been "lost." Many communities were and are impacted by HIV so encourage all of our readers to share this theme within the diverse community they are a part of to share those reflections with all of our readers.
2 RFD 157 Spring 2014 Photo courtesy NAMES Project
Roaming Foreign Dispatches Vol 40 No 2 #157 Spring 2014
Between the Lines Greetings from a snowy New England. As we layout out 21st issue here in the Northeast, we’re welcoming voices from around the globe sharing their experiences of bringing a fey spirit and sense of community to the world while also asking ourselves what we can do to create a more positive experience for all GLBTQ people in the world. With that in mind, we welcome the news from the collective working to bring us the Global Faerie Gathering this summer while also being thankful for the efforts to empower people throughout the world around queer issues and how our perspective has something to offer while the cultures of other communities also have significant opportunities to see similarities amongst the variety. We’re coming upon the fortieth anniversary of RFD this Fall and as our experience through the magazine has changed it also clear from these pages that RFD has also given people opportunities to create personal and change in their immediate environment, we welcome that feedback and hope everyone who has a RFD story to tell will consider ways of sharing it for our Fall 2014 issue. With that anniversary on our minds, we’re hoping the RFD community will consider helping us as we undertake digitizing our back issues to share with a larger audience and as we make our paper back issues available to archives and libraries. If you can help please be in touch with us. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the personal sharing across time and location about how the Radical Faerie dream is becoming real around the world in ways which reflect our hopes as well as our changing visions and as we welcome the diversity our collective tribe. Wishing everyone a splendid spring! —The RFD Collective
RFD 157 Spring 2014 1
Submission Deadlines Summer–April 21, 2014 Fall–July 21, 2014 See inside covers for themes and specifics. 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
Photo by Walt Cessna from his series of San Francisco fey
RFD 157 Spring 2014
RFD, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA 010350302 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.
On the Covers Front/Back: Efthimios Kalos
Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Art Director: Matt Bucy Editor: Paul Wirhun
Artists in This Issue Efthimios Kalos Walt Cessna Donald Rizzo
Covers, 40 2, 32-33 4, 47
Justime 8 Weston Pratt
CONTENTS 2014 Gatherings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 A Letter to RFD Readers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hammer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Why a Global Faerie Gathering? Liberation from Harry to Now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bill Blackburn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Using Our Queer Gifts For the Greater Good. . . . . . Ed, of all people. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Nothing to Fear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Swarm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 On the Front Lines of Homophobia in Uganda. . . . . . . . . Tim McCarthy and Pepe Julian Onziema. . . . . . . . . 14 How Africa Helped Me Find The Faeries . . . . . . . . . . Sweet Chi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Operation Sodom: Radical Faeries & the Pagan Revival in the Promised Land . . . . . . . . . . . Amichai Lau-Lavie AKA Superkali. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Interview with Hugglewrumpf and Teacosy. . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Once Upon a Time in Atlanta. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Some EuroFaerie History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Junis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 EuroFaeries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eilendes Wasser a.k.a. Trish-Trash. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Efthimios Kalos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Efthimios Kalos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 New Faeriespirit in Austria, Central and Eastern Europe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mata Hari. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Dear Fellow Faeries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Walteci de la sana. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Interview with Habibi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 The First Bali Gathering. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chas Nol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 India In Me. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arthur Durkee (Dragon). . . . . . . . . . 54 Planet Criers: Reflection on Recent Earth Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reverend Billy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 There are times when I believe they mistake my enthusiasm for ambition. . . . . . Gavin Geoffrey Dillard. . . . . . . . . . . . 60
RFD 157 Spring 2014 3
RFD 157 Spring 2014
2014 Gatherings The best place to get a quick feel for the available gathering options around the world is to visit www.radfae.org—it usually includes an up to date listing of gatherings around the world as well
as listing regional sanctuaries and communities. Other communities with gatherings and events of interest to RFD’s readers: The Billy Club thebillys.org
Didn’t Gay Used to Mean Happy? LoveSpirit Valentines retreat Oxfordshire England Mar 28-30
Earth Conclave Family Reunion Southwestern WI Apr 3-6 GSV Spring Retreat Highlands NC Apr 25-27
Betane Short Mt TN Apr 25- May 4 Saratoga Springs CA Apr 30- May 4 Beltane Amber Fox ON May 1-4 Spring Community Week Folleterre France May 2-9 Beltane Gathering Folleterre France May 10-17 Victoria Day Gathering Amber Fox ON May 16-19 BC Faerie Camp Squamish BC May 16-19 Generate Gathering Ukiah CA May 22-29 Walt Whitman Faerie Camp Destiny VT May 23-26 California Men’s Gathering Camp Shalom CA May 23-26 Rheingold Gatherette Folleterre France May 28- Jun 1 Sex Magick Dos Rios, CA May 31- Jun 7 “Desire” by Donald Rizzo
California Men’s Gathering www.thecmg.org
MidWest Men’s Fest www.mwmf.us
Easton Mountain eastonmountain.org
Sex Magick www.faeriesexmagick.org
Gay Spirit Visions www.gayspiritvisions.org
Sex Magick Folleterre France Jun 12-19 Family Gathering Faerie Camp Destiny VT Jun 13-16 Billy Club Jul Fourth Saratoga Springs CA Jun 30- Jul 6 Musical Creative Arts Gathering Folleterre France Jun 5-14 Summer Solstice Gathering Glastonbury UK Jun 16-22 Faerie Spirit Gathering Kawashaway MN Jul 1-6 Spiritual Gathering for Radical Faeries Wolf Creek OR Jul 3- 10 Jul Fourth Faerie Camp Destiny VT Jul 4-6 Faerie Witch Camp Faerie Camp Destiny VT Jul 11-13 Sex Magick Folleterre France Jul 12-19 Witch Camp Wolf Creek OR Jul 19- 26 Mid-West Men’s Fest McLouth KA Jul 22-31 Summer Community Week Folleterre France Jul 26- Aug 1 27th Annual High Summer Gathering Amber Fox ON Jul 30- Aug 4
Lammas Kawashaway MN Aug 1-10 SUMMER GATHERING Folleterre France Aug 4-13 Blue Heron Gathering Blue Heron Farm Aug 5-8 Summer Gathering Breitenbush OR Aug 13-17 Global Faerie Gathering and Symposium Ukiah CA Aug 25- Sep 1 Billy Club Labor Day Rancho Cicada CA Aug 28- Sep 1 Kink Gathering Faerie Camp Destiny VT Aug 29- Sep 1 GSV Fall Retreat Highlands NC Sep 18-21 Thanksgiving Gathering Amber Fox ON Oct 10-13 Fall Foliage Faerie Camp Destiny VT Oct 10-14 Sex Magick for Alumni Saratoga Springs CA Oct 20-27 Billy Club Halloween Saratoga Springs CA Oct 29- Nov 2 Sex Magick Sunshine Coast, BC Nov 21-28 Billy Club New Year’s St. Dorothy’s Rest CA Dec 27- Jan 1
RFD 157 Spring 2014 5
A Letter to RFD Readers by Hammer
ear RFD Readers, My name is Hammer, I am 57-years-old and I want to come out! This is my heart share. I want to come out as a global activist for queer liberation and organizer of our Faerie Tribe world-wide. This is my invitation and plea for your support and assistance. I have lived the most outrageously blessed life. I am blessed with relative wealth and freedom, like so many of us living here in the US, Europe and richer industrial countries. I have been blessed with clean water, decent housing, food, civil liberties, and access to economic opportunities. But equally or maybe more importantly I have been spiritually and culturally blessed by having lived most of my life inside the Radical Faerie Community. I live in a community that affirms and celebrates me as a sexual and spiritual person. A community that values the deepest essence of my being. In no way am I marginalized, shamed, abused, or threatened inside this community. I am loved. When I was 24-years-old I met Harry Hay at a Faerie Gathering at Harbin Hot Springs in California. One clear winter night we spent many hours floating in a warm mineral springs pool, our arms around each other, bodies held tight quietly talking. At the time I had little understanding of his significance as a gay rights visionary. To me he was an old man who had lived a long time as gay activist. I asked him questions about his history and our history. I was curious to know what his life had been like. I specifically remember asking, “Did you know anyone who had been imprisoned in the Nazi death camps during World War II? ” Yes he did. He had known of men who left the US and returned to Germany in an attempt to rescue lovers known to be in peril. He said, “We never heard from them again”. Holding living gay history in my arms made a big impression on me. I understood I was part of a continuous movement that went back many decades and would have many decades further to go. Thirty-three years later LGBT people still struggle for dignity and acceptance in the US and other western liberal democratic societies, especially young people and the most vulnerable. We Faeries know the limitations of gay “marriage” and “rights” to serve in the military. Today seventy-five percent of the world’s population lives under threat of government sanctioned 6
RFD 157 Spring 2014
punishment for coming out queer. Now there is a global movement for queer rights. The UN has initiated a campaign to make queer rights an essential part of human rights. It all seems to be moving in the right direction. But 76 countries still hold homosexuality illegal and 7 countries allow queer people to be legally put to death for this crime. In Russia, Nigeria, Uganda, many Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries coming out queer can mean long prison terms, torture, and death. We are living in a time that millions of LGBT people face barbarous consequences for expressing natural human expressions of love and sexuality. And all of this is occurring right now, in spite of such dramatic
increased acceptance of queer people in so many parts of the world. In the context of knowing what we know about the risks so many activists are taking across the globe for the most basic of queer civil rights, it has become impossible for me to not reach out to them. I cannot sit in complacency simply reading news accounts and watching internet video clips and not take deeper action. The deepest and most profound action I know to take is to invite the world into the Faerie Community. I don’t want to passively wait until others discover Faerie consciousness and the alternative vision of radical gay acceptance and celebration we Faeries hold precious. I don’t have time, nor do our queer global tribe who risk so much for the sake of fundamental human rights. As queers around the world struggle for rights Hammer, photos courtesy of the author.
We want to live in a place of health and wellness that allows us to make our fullest contribution to society and culture as queer people.
and liberation, I invite us as a Faerie community to go global. Sure we have sanctuaries in Australia and France, and gatherings in Thailand, Austria, and New Zealand, but do we yet have a Global Community? Are we in India, China, Russia, Brazil and Africa and Latin America? The vision of a deeper liberation of self that Bill Blackburn writes about in his article in this edition of RFD is missing in many gay rights struggles. We want more than “rights” and tolerance and to be left alone—and not tortured. We want a deep spiritually radical transformation of the self. We want to live in a place of health and wellness that allows us to make our fullest contribution to society and culture as queer people. Not simply allowed to coexist on the margins, looked down upon as broken, spiritually bankrupt, tolerated as pathetic and sick. No! This will not do. Freedom must include a deep and searching understanding of what is our worth as sexual and spiritual beings? Why are we here? What gifts are we allowed to contribute as individuals and a community held in honor and dignity. In all of my activism and searching I have never found a gay rights group that has a deeper sense of self worth, self love and inner dignity than I find in body of the Radical Faeries. There are Radical Faeries being born in fire all over the globe today. They are the ones stepping up in the face of deep resistance and demanding to change the status quo conversations that we are only worthy of belittlement or death. They affirm our love and sexuality is valuable, precious and holy. They risk ostracization, beatings, torture, and death. They step up because they have queer souls. They
put their physical lives on the line in a life and death manner because their inner queer compass is seeking a liberation of the heart, not just the body. The Global Radical Faerie Gathering in August 2014 is a call to deepen and transform our global Radical Faerie Community. Let us be conscious of our place in the world as spiritual seekers, community activists, shamans and healers, artists and cultural change agents. Please join us by attending the gathering. Please help us raise $20,000.00 for travel fund assistance for faeries to come from all over the planet. Please assist us in spreading the invitation internationally. Please host queer people from around the world whom we call to community for this week in August. This gathering will include a three-day symposium on three topics. Global Queer Culture, Global Health, and Global Political Rights. We invite you to sing, dance, deliver a paper, offer a performance or tell your story. May we witness your heart as well as your whole self; body mind and spirit. Thank you for reading my heart share. To become an organizer or participant of this gathering, please contact me: Terrypcavanagh@ gmail.com. w
RFD 157 Spring 2014 7
Why a Global Faerie Gathering? Liberation from Harry to Now By Bill Blackburn
here is a direct line from Harry Hay’s vision of the first Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries to our vision of the First Global Faerie Gathering that will be held in Northern California in August 2014. When Harry founded the Mattachine Society amidst the atmosphere of shame, criminalization and hiding for LGBT people in 1950’s United States, he envisioned us joining together to learn who were are as a people. He believed in us enough to know that we had great value in culture. His vision was of our liberation rather than merely petitioning government for our rights. Though he was the founding visionary, Harry was thrown out of the Mattachine a few years after as he was considered too radical for the conservatives who had taken over the organization, conservatives who then shifted the focus of Mattachine from discovery to advocating for legal rights. 8
RFD 157 Spring 2014
Harry pointed out that the word radical originates with the idea of returning to the roots or foundation. So in 1979, he joined with a few others “to Call the Radical Faeries out of the woods,” a new expression of his passion for our liberation. While both are important, civil rights looks to others outside ourselves for approval or permission to be. Liberation can be understood as a process of our flowering into our full potential. Terry Cavanaugh, who originally conceived of the Global Faerie Gathering, wrote in response to a draft of this essay: “the idea and promise of liberation is so much deeper and more healing and more self actualizing and self loving [than seeking rights from the outside]. And once we are healed and self loving and self actualized our rights will be a given because we will walk in dignity and no one will be able to take that away from us no matter how igno“Harry”, linocut by Justime
rant or afraid they are of us.” Harry believed that if we would join together in Circle to share our stories, we would come to understand what gifts we bring. When we would learn and embrace our special gifts and articulate them to society, he would say, it would be then that society would most willingly grant us our rights and dignity. I realize there are those who have issues with Harry. I myself bumped heads with him plenty of times. There’s a reason, afterall, that Stuart Timmons named his biography of him “The Trouble with Harry.” Yet his brilliant vision still shines with relevance. As we in the core organizing Circle of the Global Faerie Gathering survey the state of LGBTQ rights and liberation around the world, we see that rights are justifiably a focus yet the themes of liberation and discovery of our potential are less considered. We are therefore making Liberation one of the major subthemes of the GFG and its symposium. What gifts do we LGBTQ people bring? Harry was always careful to throw the question back to us but we can put forth a few theories to test. Could it be that men who love men have something to teach a world where men are conditioned to compete against or even kill other men? Though he would only speak of gay men, deferring to women to speak their own truths, might women who love women have gifts to share in teaching the world how to truly love and value women? What might we learn from those whose love and desire are not limited to one half of all humanity or the other? What important lesson is demonstrated by those who understand that gender is not determined by biology alone? What liberation is modeled by those who reject distinct sexual or gender identity altogether? In the late 70’s, I used to bemoan the fact that it was easier to get X½ inches inside a man than to make eye contact. Faeries changed that for me. Here were men who were eager to hug and make eye contact, to get to know me as a complete person. This was Subject-Subject Consciousness, one of the traits of faeries that Harry described. By that he meant an ability to experience others as subject rather than object. An example of that, he would say, is that our pleasure comes from experiencing the pleasure of others. Years ago, a group of faeries who were out walking in Ithaca, New York, noticed a group of women who were being harassed as they sought health services by a large group of people. Rather than directly confronting the shouting mob, the guys stood outside the clinic doors kissing each other passion
ately. Quickly, the scandalized protesters fled. Harry called that an askance action and said it was typical of how we can act creatively to confront power in a nondirect way. Harry would tell us that we could slip out of the “ugly green frogskin of hetero-normativity to discover the faerie prince or princess trapped inside.” To the degree that we free ourselves from the programming the straight world tries to impose on everyone, we allow ourselves to grow to our full potential. That to me is liberation. Many of us carry the gifts of compassion and empathy, a result of our sharing the journey of the wounded healer, a descent into suffering from oppression only to return with offerings for the tribe. Whether lover, friend, enemy or stranger, the world benefits when we realize that everything is connected and we cannot separate ourselves from any part of it. That journey is the source of one of the greatest gifts we can bring to the planet: reverence for the Earth and all its inhabitants. How better to explore this journey than with healers, shamans, visionaries, truth-tellers, artists, activists and edgewalkers from around the globe? In many places in the world, we Queer People still fight for our rights, our dignity, our safety and even our lives. There are places in the United States where that is still true, but the struggle is especially critical in some countries and regions. Therefore, we Call together all who wish to share the wisdom, skills and resources we have gained as artists, healers, and cultural change activists. We Call us together to share our healing hearts and minds and bodies, to weave meaningful, sustaining community among us worldwide. History shows that we Queer People were widely recognized as artists and wise ones, spiritual leaders and healers in many cultures and many eras. We have practiced these Arts over generations. We Call you to join us in reclaiming our birthright of dignity, freedom and expression. This liberation is a fierce passion for many of us, a liberation that works to support our movement toward full rights and justice everywhere. We Call LGBTQ people to join us this coming August for the Generate: Global Faerie Gathering to weave a global community. This is a Call to link our arms and hearts, our minds and creativity as we claim our rights and our spiritual and sexual liberation around the world. w
RFD 157 Spring 2014 9
STEP UP to support our freedom and security everywhere, for ourselves, and for our international family. The world is changing rapidly, even as we become more globally interconnected than ever before. Join hands and hearts as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people: healers, shamans, visionaries, truth-tellers, artists and activists. Empower individuals in our community through honoring LGBTQ ancestors, histories and contributions through the ages and in every culture. More information at: www.globalfaeriegathering.org. COME and explore who we are as a queer global tribe. Together we unite for an international gathering this summer, August 25 - September 1, at Saratoga Springs Retreat Center in Northern California. Join the Radial Faeries to celebrate the sacred earth and all life through sharing food, music and performance, heart circles and rituals. EXPLORE the state of LGBTQ liberation and wellness around the world. We are especially inviting people from countries where they are experiencing great oppression and, at times, threat of personal danger. Their presence is crucial to the success and spirit of our gathering and to the Symposium we are creating to help us all better understand the challenges and triumphs of our queer family around the world. PROVIDE financial assistance to international registrants within our community who may not have the resources to cover their cost of travel. They will participate, lead, contribute, and will return home to their respective countries motivated to support their LGBTQ communities. Together, as same-sex loving and/or gender-nonconforming people, we will deepen our connections and celebrate our many cultures. CONTRIBUTE to the Travel Fund at http://saratogasprings.com/wishlist.html. We need your financial support to help advance sexual orientation and gender equality and foster rewarding lives worldwide. 10 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Your support is essential to ensuring that we can host people from abroad who don’t have the funds necessary for international travel costs. Or, you can mail us a check to: Generate: Global Faerie Gathering, 10243 Saratoga Springs Rd, Upper Lake, CA 95485. REGISTER for the gathering and be sure to make an extra contribution to the Travel Fund. The additional dollars from you will help those participants most in need while also enriching your own experience through meeting others and exploring the state of international LGBTQ liberation. We will establish a vibrant network for further collaboration that supports a sustained global movement. DEDUCT your generous donation on your income tax return. Mail your check to: The Diversity Center. 1117 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz CA 95062. Or donate online at http://diversitycenter.org/ In either case, in the section “Purpose” or “Memo,” be sure to mention “Generate: Global Faerie Gathering.” Experience the multicultural richness of LGBTQ people from all races, ethnicities, beliefs, ages, genders, body types, nationalities, and classes by giving generously. SHARE your frequent flyer airline miles. Our international participants are most in need of offsetting their expensive flights. Success means that you help us create a global faerie gathering for 200+ people representing at least 10 countries. If you can arrange to help in this way, please email email@example.com. JOIN our efforts and come together to celebrate our love, lives and healthy sexualities while strategizing how to improve the well-being of queer people everywhere. Your generous support will help establish lasting connections to foster ongoing interaction as a global network and help bring justice to the whole planet. With deep appreciation, Akindele, Bill, Chas, David, Ed, Hammer, Jeff, Keystone, Michael, Muiz, Rajat, Stephen, and Vince www.globalfaeriegathering.org
Using Our Queer Gifts For the Greater Good By Ed, of all people
attended an HIV conference on Miami Beach last summer where, amongst several different plenary sessions, one focused on the challenges of HIV prevention with gay men. One of the panelists, a gay man himself, presented a paper highlighting the resiliency of gay men. He spoke about the skills and strategies and strengths required to get through, survive, and emerge from the AIDS epidemic as intact as we have. He suggested that prevention efforts within our community, HIV and otherwise, might be more effective if the focus was on the resilience of gay men, not their deficits. I had just come from a queer pangendered gathering at Saratoga Springs in Northern California called Generate: Evolution. We’d sat in daily heart circles, held workshops on everything from journaling to erotic touch, constructed a ritual that culminated with a phoenix literally arising from the ashes, held a Talent/NoTalent Show, and all the rest. It was glorious! And now here I was sitting in the ballroom of the Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach, listening to someone talk about the power of gay male resilience. At the end of the session, microphones were set up in the audience and the questions and answers began. Someone spoke about the need for more condom education, another commented about the split between older long-term survivors and young men who didn’t know a lot about the AIDS years. A social scientist got up and pointed out that we kept using the term ‘gay community,’ but that he wasn’t sure that there really was a community anymore, that we had splintered and moved on to issues of marriage and assimilation.
Projection of We Were Here, a film by David Weissman
I got up and stood in the long line, waiting to speak. When it was my turn, I told the group about the gathering I’d just attended and the community that had come together there. I talked about the faeries, our heart circles, and the powerful experiment we create, over and over again, when we come together for a weeklong intentional community. I described the giant bed that we erected, where faeries could lay down with each other and express affection, exploration, investigation and, at times, penetration. I disclosed that I’d attended a workshop called “Cunts for Fags,” where some of our sisters and trans brothers had educated us about their vaginas. There was some laughter, and a few of the participants looked up, but mostly the silence was deafening. After I spoke, issues like antiretroviral adherence and self-esteem were discussed. Someone got up and, in obvious response to my words, said something about Radical Faeries aside, (he used the word ‘radical’ like it was a diagnosis) there really wasn’t a queer community anymore. When the session ended, several people came up and thanked me for my comments and said they’d love to come to a gathering like ours one day. I do believe in and have experienced first-hand the creative resilience of faeries and of the queer community as a whole. From coming out, first to oneself and then to others, to navigating the complex worlds of HIV, of sex, of work, of money, of relationship and diversity, our community has had to come up with smart, effective and creative ways to survive and thrive, often without support from our families of origin or the larger culture. And since RFD 157 Spring 2014 11
we have these demonstrated skills and abilities, how can we continue to use them for the greater good? I’ve had the great honor and opportunity to travel around the world, both from working in HIV clinical trials as well as my involvement with David Weissman’s award-winning documentary We Were Here. What I have found, over and over again, are queer communities, often under great duress, who are using resiliencies of their own to work towards equality and freedom. When my friend Hammer shared his vision of creating a Global Faerie Gathering, where faeries and their friends and allies could come together to explore our gifts and inspire each other in the work we are doing, I immediately signed on. I’ve recently returned from St. Petersburg Russia where the hate and violence towards the queer community has become a daily occurrence and where, literally, the whole world is watching. I experienced first hand the courage that it took to host a queer film festival when the state and other homophobic organizations are constantly trying to stop you with violence, arrests and bomb threats. Last year I travelled to Kiev, Ukraine, and met with gay men and lesbians who were organizing to stop the passage of the gay propaganda law that is now creating such terrible oppression in Russia. I was asked to speak at a meeting, before a screening of “We Were Here.” I talked about Stonewall, Harry Hay, Harvey Milk, the HIV activism of the early years, faerie gatherings, and the efforts to achieve marriage equality. I saw men with KS on their faces in the audience and it brought tears to my eyes. Afterwards, a Russian Othodox priest came up to thank me. He told me he was starting to form an 12 RFD 157 Spring 2014
alternative church, one that welcomed everyone. I told him I so admired him and all the others in the room and wished I could do more than just share about my community and our efforts to organize and better our queer lives. He smiled broadly and said that it was so very important for them to hear about our story and how we came together to change things for our communities. “When we hear about the world you live in, it changes our world as well.” This, I believe, is one of the primary goals of our upcoming summer gathering Generate: Global Faerie Gathering: to literally change the world by sharing our stories, our challenges, our triumphs and our resiliencies with each other. More about at Edwolf.net., his trips to South Africa, Uganda, Zibabwe and Ukraine here: http:// www.positivelite.com/by-author/editorial-authors/ ed-wolf-senior-writer, and his recent trip to St. Petersburg Russia here: http://logger.believermag. com/post/69120242297/side-by-side. Please come and join us and support our efforts to bring international comrades to Generate: Global Faerie Gathering http://www.globalfaeriegathering.org/. w
Projection of We Were Here, a film by David Weissman
Nothing to Fear By Swarm
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” —Gene Roddenberry
have spent many long hours reflecting on the status of gay people in the world now and throughout history and have tried to contemplate just what it is in human nature that causes one homo sapien to hate another. Surely we are more alike than different. I have said on many occasions that what the world needs is an alien invasion to make us all come together—except that it would probably be to hate the alien species. In many ways, LGBT people are viewed like an alien species: something utterly foreign and strange, something different, perhaps deviant—something to fear. In reality, we are simply variations on a theme— and life certainly seems to enjoy variety. Out for a recent stroll through my neighborhood, I came across three people walking their dogs who had stopped to chat. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes—it is estimated that there are almost 400 different breeds. Present that day were a poodle, a Labrador, and a Dachshund. I marveled that these three dogs couldn’t be any more different and yet, despite their differences, people love them. Most people love dogs! Or cats. Or butterflies… My question being, “How is it that humans can have such an appreciation for all different kinds of animals and yet be so intimidated by the variety within our species?” Surely we are gay due to some unseen evolutionary agenda—engineered by the same force that created birds capable of running, flying or swimming. Yet there it is, ever-present, FEAR. What people fear, they try to suppress, outlaw, imprison or exterminate. I grew up in a climate of fear and it affects me still (decades after coming out). When my husband and I conceived of a series of performance art pieces about same-sex marriage, we wanted to include a piece that involved gay people, straight people and the viewer. We specifically wanted to challenge fear. We realized that it was still very difficult for us to walk around holding hands. And it was difficult for almost every gay couple that we knew whether they had been together 2 weeks or 20 years. So we created a piece called PDA: Public Displays of Acceptance.
Once a month for six months we invited gay and lesbian friends to be a part of our performance. Each gay and lesbian-identified person was asked to invite one straight-identified person of the same gender from their life, be it a friend, co-worker, or family member— one person even brought his straight male neighbor. We would pair them up as same-sex partners and then each non-romantic couple would hold hands and walk through a neighborhood or public space for one hour. The goal was 3-fold: (1) to give straight friends / family members an opportunity to walk in our shoes, (2) to force the audience into a minority position and challenge their assumptions—imagine seeing 20 “same-sex” couple holding hands and walking through your neighborhood and (3) it gave each gay and lesbian participant the experience of a public display of acceptance. It is one thing if your straight friend accepts you—it is another thing entirely to walk around in a public space holding hands. It was personally challenging for most of the gay men and women. There was a deeply ingrained fear that almost screamed, “You can’t do that in public!” Yet, by quite literally walking through our fears together, we began to overcome them. I became involved with Generate: A Global Faerie Gathering specifically because I hope to change the world. I believe that it is only fear of the unknown that holds us back individually and fear of the unknown that breeds hatred. Helping to co-create through intention, vision and hard-work, a Global Radical Faerie Gathering will open a new vortex. It will create space for strangers to come together, to share their unique experiences and to recognize their common heritage. LGBT people exist everywhere, in every country on the planet. We can recognize this fact both intellectually and experientially—this gathering will includeh a Symposium plus heart-circles and playful workshops. w
Swarm (left) with his husband, TT Baum. Photo courtesy of the author.
RFD 157 Spring 2014 13
On the Front Lines of Homophobia in Uganda by Tim McCarthy and Pepe Julian Onziema
Homophobia is the real import into Uganda not homosexuality. The western media has done a great job of reporting to the world on the kill-thegays bill which passed the Ugandan Parliament in January, minus the kill part. Now it is just life in prison for being gay. But no one is educating the Ugandan people, the ones who can truly stop it. Our project “Voices of the Abasiyazzi = Sharing Hope + Creating Allies” is teaching LGBTI Ugandans how to make and share their own messages. The project
creates very short positive videos that Ugandans can watch on the smartphones and in the privacy of the palm of their hands. Please support us http://www.cid.mimoona.com/ Projects/1427 These are excerpts from the updates I sent out from my last trip in May 2013. I am heading back there in March 2014 for Phase 2 of our project. My 14 RFD 157 Spring 2014
friend and Co-Director/Co-Producer is Pepe Julian Onziema, a Ugandan transman. He is the recipient of the Clinton Global Initiative Human Rights Award. And he is the Programs Director of SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda). SMUG is the group leading the fight for LGBTI equality. Thursday - May 2 - I love the smell of homophobia on a plane, to paraphrase Robert Duval from Apocalypse Now. No sooner had I settled into my seat on the plane to Entebbe, Uganda, then the British man next to me asked me how long I was going to be in Uganda. I said at least a month and asked in return about his trip. He boastfully proclaimed he was a Christian minister going to teach Ugandan pastors. I quickly asked his stance on the “Kill the gays” bill. He said he was a good Christian and didn’t know anything about it and that there could not be such a bill sponsored by Christians. Bluntly, I told him that he was ignorant and therefore dangerous. And that he was responsible for the persecution and murder of gays because he was teaching hatred of gays, as stated in his Bible, which the Ugandans were taking to it’s logical extent. Just like the Nazis used the Bible to justify killing Jews, gays and many others. He said he was not teaching that. I asked him what he thought about gays. He replied it is against god and the Bible. So I asked if the Bible was right about everything. He said yes it was the word of God. I quickly told him that the Bible was used by his church and ancestors for hundreds of years to justify their owning slaves. I asked him, was the Bible right about slavery. He admitted it was wrong. So I said if it was wrong on one thing it could be wrong on other things, to which he verbally agreed. Having said what I needed to, I went to my tablet book, a Dirk Pitt adventure, Atlantis Found. Sometimes I imagine that I am a gay Dirk Pitt. When the plane landed nearly 8 hours later I was not getting off without reiterating his responsibility to investigate how what he teaches in Uganda is used. I told him that if indeed he was a good Christian, then by his
Pepe Julian Onziema and Tim McCarthy. Photo courtesy of the author.
own God’s standards, he had a responsibility to ensure his teachings didn’t end up being used to kill gays or his own God would put him in his version of Hell. He responded that Christians were being killed too. I replied, like that justifies Christians killing gays. He just looked at me and I looked directly back at him without saying anything more. He quickly said he would investigate about Pastor Ssempa and Member of Parliament Bahati’s bill. All this nonsense was forgotten as soon as I saw Pepe, Frank and Richard waiting for me with loving arms! Friday - May 3 - After picking me up, we went shopping to buy me a bed net, coffee pot and a shower head that makes hot water, Pepe’s guest shower’s heater was broken. We went shopping for Muslim wedding outfits as well. Faridah (the Finance Manager for SMUG where Pepe works), her brother was getting married in a Traditional Uganda Introduction (wedding) Ceremony and Muslim Wedding. Pepe, Richard and I went and bought traditional Bugandan menswear for the ceremony on a street corner in downtown Kampala. People looked at us, but people always look at me and I always smile back, so I didn’t think anything of it. But Pepe mentioned that he, Richard and Frank never come downtown because people look at them angrily and say horrible things to them because they recognize them from TV and newspapers. But this was the first time no one said anything and indeed friends of theirs actually came up to them and greeted them in public. Pepe thinks it is because of my presence. Again, I look at people directly in the eye and smile and they usually smile back and become friendly. Pepe said the men were flirting with me and he couldn’t believe how they responded to me. I said men respect confidence and that they figured I must be confident to look and act the way I do! Sometimes being on the offense is best defense. Isn’t that what coming out is about? But don’t misunderstand their treatment of me versus Pepe. They are simply afraid of me because I am a white foreigner. Otherwise I am sure they would treat me like Frank and Pepe. When we returned home I got to meet another of Pepe’s friend, who is as lovely as could be. She cooked a fab dinner for us and I cleaned up afterwards. While she cooked, Pepe and I played electrician and plumber together so I would have warm showers. Butch bonding at it’s best! Then I slept for 12 hours. Saturday - May 4 - Traffic in Kampala is very bad. There are only a handful of traffic lights, so it takes a long time to get anywhere. Driving is like one of those thrill rides except this one is with real danger.
Never mind a ride on a Boda Boda, the small motorcycles darting in and out of traffic. We got to the appointed place to meet for the Introduction Ceremony but no one was there, so we waited. When the groom and his family showed up, they had a professional wedding organizer there to instructed everyone on what to do and how to act during a Traditional Ugandan Introduction Ceremony and combined Muslim Wedding. Bottom line there was a huge amount of waiting and false starts to us entering the wedding “space.” They told us to come and then when we got there, they told us not yet and to return to where were. Finally after several hours of this in the hot sun with nothing to drink or eat we ended up at the Gate to the Introduction (wedding). While at the Introduction Gate, the Groom’s Wedding pro and the Bride’s counterpart inside the space were asking back and forth ritual questions and giving ritual answers. It has always been important to know who you let into your family because your survival depends on it. The questions asked of us at the gate and then later on during the ceremony, as well as us being put through the discomfort of waiting in the sun was all part of the ceremony. It was to test the temperament of the groom’s family and guests. Were they able to deal with hunger and thirst and waiting to be a part of the bride’s family? Finally they fed us like royalty. We had all traditional Ugandan foods. Experiencing this and thinking on it, I couldn’t help but see the correlation between LGBTI Ugandans and what they are going thru and us in the groom’s party. All the false starts and waiting at the gate to be included, only getting rejection repeatedly in return. It became clear in talking with Pepe that our film will use the structure of the Ugandan Introduction Ceremony to convey the fact that LGBTI Ugandans want to be included in Ugandan society. Every Ugandan knows their Traditional Introduction Ceremony, no matter their tribe, religion or location. This is a way to reach Ugandans within a sacred Ugandan way. So much progress on just the second day. Thursday - May 23 - Demonstration Day for Press Freedom - Frank and Richard decided to join Pepe and I while Haji drove. The police had the roads blocked to cars. So we decided to take our phones with cameras and walk past the first police barricade. The police had several other barricades set up that blocked pedestrians after this one. So we were forced to take the back allies of the slums to get to the demo site itself. I assure you it was as much a revelation to Pepe, Frank and Richard, as it RFD 157 Spring 2014 15
was for me. The video I did capture as we ran thru is of clean laundry hanging, kids playing, laughing and saying hello to me as I repeatedly said “Hi, Hello” to them as I jumped over open sewers. Frank, Pepe and Richard started to be like a Three Stooges chorus saying “Hi, Hello,” in unison mocking me! All I could do was own up and laugh, only people who love would act that way! Besides it is great video! The slum dwellers were decent people making the best they could of their world, which was humbling for us. In the truest way as Frank says “these are the people we are fighting for.” Little did we realize exactly what that would mean in less than an hour from then. We arrived at the demo site and we all introduced ourselves and the organizations we came from. I introduced myself as Tim from Voices of
the Abasiyazzi. I assure you the word Abasiyazzi gets peoples attention. Frank pointed out that one guy reacted homophobically to me. Pepe said he changed his tune the next day and was supportive of us and what we did because we showed that we care for other issues than LGBTI ones. The group was to walk down the street to the next block where the police had a roadblock set up. We would reach there single file and then return up the hill. We did this the first time without incident. It was the second time we did this, that the attack and arrests occurred. Here is the video. https:// vimeo.com/66887187. The US Embassy, here in Kampala, is sharing this with the rest of the foreign diplomats here in Uganda. Amnesty International has it as well. After jumping the sewer and tripping on metal rods coming out of the ground, then ducking under a sign, I heard “Get the Muzungu! Arrest him! Ar16 RFD 157 Spring 2014
rest Him!” At this point in the video I have tripped and partially closed the camera lens so the video was blocked but the audio is clear. I was being arrested by three police officers. One was trying to hurt my left hand but at first I thought he was giving me a hand massage it was gentle and relaxing but then he twisted my wrist bringing me back to reality. That is when I cried out, “Please! Please!” He and the other officers faces were very confused. They clearly were very uncomfortable arresting me. My instincts said to take advantage of that, to flee in as a non confrontational manner as possible. I used their internalized racism to my advantage. I am a white foreigner, they couldn’t bring themselves to arrest me. As I scrambled away, I tripped again and the officer barking orders said finally, “let him go.” Here is the video of me after the incident. https://vimeo. com/66947132 I suffered cuts on my hands and arm. But not as bad as others who were there. Richard and Shawn were pretty banged up. Pepe suffered swollen hands and arm. One of the groups had a first aid kit in their van that I used to clean up with first. I had gotten cut near an open sewer and I was paranoid about infection. I am HIV+ after all. And then Haji brought the water and I had hand sanitizer that burned like hell on the wound but better that, than not! I am fine, thanks to quick attention, bordering on paranoia as you heard on the video! Haji drove us to the police station to see what was happening to Richard and Shawn, the transman who came to bring me the tickets was arrested as well. We waited there till about 9pm for them to be released. They had to report in to the police first thing the next morning. I went home to upload the video of the incident but we were out of internet. One hell of a day in Uganda! Lesson of the Trip -. How do I protect my humanity in the face of human need? This is the question I confront wherever I am in the world, even in the US. These are a couple of the ways I used in Uganda. On my fifth day in Uganda I attended Junior’s funeral. Frank asked me to give some money to Video stills courtesy of the author
Junior’s mother who had come over earlier to grieve with us, to help with the funeral expenses. I pulled out my wallet and took money from it to give to her in front of a gay boy, who then demanded money from me for his HIV drugs and food because of what he saw in my wallet. I was really shocked because he didn’t ask for it, he demanded it from me, guilt tripping me with his need in a brutally aggressive tone. Stunned as I was, I told him politely, that I couldn’t. I told him I knew where he could get the drugs and food for free and I would see that he got connected. Frank with his own personal funds had created a LGBTI clinic at Icebreakers. I gave the money to Junior’s mother and at her request viewed and photographed his AIDS ridden body thru the window in the casket lid. Quite a traumatic experience for me. I have co-habitated with HIV for over twenty-four years, but only started taking the antiretroviral drugs less than two years ago. Just as I left Junior’s body, I was asked to come and meet some other gay boys. After turning the corner, which isolated us, I was verbally assaulted by three more HIV+ gay boys from the slums, while the original one looked on, all this out of eyesight of Frank and the many other mourners. I knew exactly what was happening and I exploded at them. How dare they do this to me! How dare they think I can solve their problems, me just one person. How dare they tear into my humanity this way and make me admitted my helplessness to save them or the world. The first thing a life guard learns, is not to be pulled under by the person they are trying to help. To protect yourself, sometimes you have to walk away. At the orphanage, I sat in a small room with twenty-nine kids, from the littlest several month old baby to kids in their early teens. While looking into their eyes, I asked each of them their names. I remembered from my time as a boy in an orphanage, when someone singled me out I felt they really cared about ME and that little act nourished ME. I told them that others loved them and they had to
love themselves and each other and one day help someone else out like I was helping them out now. I told them I lived in an orphanage and how many people had helped me. Just as I was helping them now. I had brought over a months supply of the basic food stuffs with me and meat for a special meal that day. As I sat there talking with all the kids, a six-year-old boy to my right, leaned over and ask me to take him home with me. This just as my eye caught the littlest of them, a couple month old boy found in a public toilet, desperately grabbing at the cup of milk being fed him, for his dear little life. He couldn’t eat anything else of course. My eyes and ears were full of pain. I almost lost it. But looking at all the other smiles of the kids in front of me made me hold it in. I turned to look at the boy in his eyes and said that I was sorry I couldn’t take him
home with me. And that I was very thankful that he thought I would be someone who would take good care of him. It was an honor for me to be thought of that way. But I asked to be friends with him. He smiled and said yes. To protect yourself, sometimes you have to stay engaged. I protect my humanity and dignity by recognizing it in everyone I meet. Everywhere I go I look people, especially children, in the eye, smile and say hello. Almost everyone responds, stern faces broaden into very big smiles to match my own. To protect yourself, you always have to smile. w
RFD 157 Spring 2014 17
18 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Photograph by Weston Pratt
“Men in Bed, Jerusalem” by Benyamin Reich
RFD 157 Spring 2014 19
How Africa Helped Me Find The Faeries by Sweet Chi
frica helped me find the faeries? On first glance that might seem like a contradiction—isn’t everything we see in the media telling us that Africa is homophobic? It’s true—on both accounts. Here is a continent that has a reputation for being homophobic and hateful. With queer rights, most countries in Africa are where the US was pre-Stonewall: countries where it’s illegal to be gay, and queers face a mix of overt oppression and lack of safety from violence. It might be hard to imagine how it could have a place of healing to me, and even harder how it could have lead me to the faeries, yet that’s exactly what happened. I had spent the last year plus coming out, painfully, terrified of rejection, feeling angry and overwhelmed with the wounds coming to the surface. I felt depressed that my college communities were turning out to be unable to grow in the ways I was growing. I also couldn’t wait to get out of Bush’s America. So I went to Kenya, to get away from everything that wasn’t working, and experience a non-Western culture for the first time. Living in Barcelona was a catalyst for me to come out, and I hoped that living abroad again would help me to heal. Only someone with privilege could go to such a place, but there was no way I wanted to go and be a tourist in Kenya; I was sick of learning about poverty in Sociology classes, I wanted to do something, find a way to serve and connect with people during my time there. I got a job with Soteni—Swahili for “All of us, together”—attracted by the organization’s focus on community-empowerment and global interdependency in its development work. Boarding a plane, I flew to Europe and then to Nairobi. I woke up midflight and saw the plane was over the Sahara Desert. When I landed, Edward, my boss and later my mentor and closest friend in Kenya, welcomed me and brought me into town. Walking down the street, the immense vibrancy, people everywhere, African reggae and other music blaring from clubs and cars, he leaned back and said, “Welcome to Africa.” Soon after, I was on my way to the village. So there I was: twenty-two years old, just a cell phone to connect me with all that I’d known, no other Americans, a two hour journey from town in the the village of Mbakalo (the ‘m’ is silent) in Western Kenya. How did I find the faeries from there? Nairobi, the capital, was more friendly than the
20 RFD 157 Spring 2014
US, and the village substantially more so. I already stood out so much racially that I just owned it and said hello to everyone that walked by on my trips around the village. “Habari?” “Mzuri.” One of my co-workers told me I should be a politician, I said hello to so many people. It was such a relief to be in a friendly culture, where it was accepted people would acknowledge each other when we passed on a path. I also felt relieved to be a visible minority, to not have to think about whether or not people knew I was different—I just was. I learned so much about different ways of being in the world, and experienced social practices that felt more functional than what I was used to. For instance, gender paradoxes abound. Behaviors that might be considered effeminate or queer in the Western world—men holding hands, crossing legs, men sharing emotional intimacy—are perfectly acceptable for men in Kenya. I first held hands with a man in public in Mbakalo. It conveyed trust and connection in a non-sexual way I had never thought possible. Interestingly, I’ve been told this practice was also common in the US before the mid-1940s. Africa time—seeing time as moving organically and not basing everything around the clock—is one of the fundamental cultural differences with the West. For a recently graduated college student, no longer worrying about always being where I said I’d be was a joy. When I needed to take more time to have a conversation or to do self-care, no one challenged me, and in a work context this felt pretty radical. We would sometimes have Soteni meetings lounging in the grass outside of the Dispensary. As Kenya is right on the equator, the sun rose and set at the same time every single day, so I could tell what time it was just by looking up—the original clock. Kenya fills me with joy and gratitude just at the thought of it. It is the most heart chakra connected place I’ve ever been. There was so much laughter with my friends and co-workers, and a sense of community and spirituality I had longed for. I reveled in my newfound sense of wholeness. I opened my heart and felt honored and respected for it. In my work, I felt fulfilled by the impacts I saw from Soteni’s work, and validated for gifts that people in the US had not seen, like my ability to communicate across cultures and the fact that I was there at all. In retrospect I can see how many parallels there are between Kenyan and faerie culture, and how nurtur-
ing that was for me: the sense of faerie/Africa time, the realities of Bush stealing the election in 2000, the abundant heart and loving energy, the sense of mad cow disease, and US poverty was an eye-opencommunity, and shared experiences of oppression. er for a culture that has an overly positive view of These new ways of being and cultural practices were the US. We agreed that the negative stories get told things I felt determined to maintain. too often about Kenya and the positive stories told I played with my host Mama Anne’s grandkids too often about the US. There is a savvy political after work, running with them through the field of awareness in Kenya that I haven’t found elsewhere— sunflowers, their screams of delight to have their no one needs to go to school there to understand very own mzungu (white person) to play with. Her international power structures. What’s considered three-year-old grandson Ian named me “How are politically radical in the US regarding topics like you”, the only English he knew. I took flamboyantly economic inequality or political corruption is basidecorated bike taxis around the village, reveled in cally a mainstream opinion in Kenya—with so much the perfect 80-degree sunny weather almost every poverty, the dysfunctions and true motivations of day, danced around the house during the wild rainmaintaining the status quo are much more visible. storms, and learned how to Was I more effective than make chapati flatbread. I felt other Soteni workers? Edward clear I was living within the seemed to think so, praising healthy bounds of nature for my work in capacity building the first time, and it felt totally at the Dispensary, also telldifferent. There was someing me my (radical) political thing about the culture that knowledge was very unusual …there was a felt like I’d been there before. for Americans. How much did natural delight and Spending time with Anne and being queer and a Radical Fathe other African Mamas, erie play a part in this? When resonance I can’t there was a natural delight and the communities offered me fully explain that resonance I can’t fully explain gratitude for the work I’d done, was real and loving… that was real and loving. At they told me that I was not night, I would go outside to like other mzungus they had brush my teeth and end up known. As I built trust with standing there for a half hour my friends and co-workers, just staring at the stars, the they opened up to me about most spectacular I’ve ever their experiences in ways many seen, with at least one shootvisitors don’t hear about. To ing star every night. Many days passed in such bliss. me it seems clear that it was my experience as a That’s not to say it was any sort of extended holiqueer/faerie that helped me to connect more deeply day. Soteni’s Dispensary was founded to treat the with their experiences of poverty and oppression, to poorest of the poor from one of rural Kenya’s largest listen and offer respect for the pain they’ve experislums, offering free healthcare to those who cannot enced because I’ve experienced something similar. pay. Some of the children Soteni was sponsoring The longer I was there, the more in love I felt with through school had parents who’d died of AIDS, or the life I was creating for myself, and the more families who were subsistence farmers and essenempowered I felt by the changes I was making in my tially had nothing to show for a lifetime of work. My life priorities. friend Victor told me that Soteni was different from Leaving Kenya was so difficult. Saying goodbye other development NGOs in Kenya because we to Mama Anne was devastating, and so was leaving didn’t just drop a lot of money and leave. Its more my friends in Mbakalo, especially little Ian. I had radical approach—building long-term capacity from opened my heart and I had been loved and acceptthe bottom up—is a big part of why I chose to work ed. I had fallen in love with the breeze, the rolling for Soteni. There was no way this radical faggot was farmland, and the smiles that came from the bottom going to support patriarchy or empire! of peoples’ hearts. And yet it was time, because the In my spare time I would offer discussion groups village was not a place that could sustain my needs with co-workers or others in the community and tell and growth as a queer person—Kenya had given me them about what the US was really like and translate a transformative and healing community, but they it to culturally accessible language. Hearing about weren’t my people.
RFD 157 Spring 2014 21
Within three days of returning, a former Soteni employee first told me about the Radical Faeries. It took me some time to find my way. I felt depressed and directionless when I returned to the US, missing the warmth, the heartfelt smiles, the fulfillment of the work, the excitement of travel. How would I ever find these elements here? But just a couple years later, at my first faerie gathering at Breitenbush, I knew right away: I had found it again, this time within a queer community. The Radical Faeries are my people. To paraphrase Harry Hay, we need to focus on what we can offer the world, not on what rights the straights can give us. Whether those straights are in the US or in Kenya, as Radical Faeries we have something to offer them; as our brothers and sisters that share this planet, our only home, we are interdependent. This is especially true with our fellow queers and faeries in countries like Kenya. While there may not be many self-identified faeries in Africa yet, they are there like so many of us were before discovering this community, while also being on the frontlines of the gay struggle in ways that have long since passed in the US. This past January, Binyavanga Wainaina, one of the most famous authors in Kenya, came out publically. Supporting queers like him builds solidarity across continents. Is there homophobia in Kenya? Yes—cultivated by a mix of desperate semi-autocratic rulers and US-funded Christian fundamentalists’ neo-colo-
22 RFD 157 Spring 2014
nialism. And yet if I had focused on whether people were homophobic or not, I would have lost what has been maybe the most transformatory experience of my life. I just accepted people where they were, and they did the same for me. No one said any homophobic beliefs to me, and when I came out to Edward he accepted me unconditionally. I love and am grateful for all that the Kenyan people taught me. I saw there that I wasn’t alone, that my ways of being in the world and desire for heart-centered intimacy and community were shared by many people, and that Western cultural values were not in any way my only option. It seems to me that people who resonate in so many ways have a great deal to offer each other. To name just one example, there’s a great deal that the Radical Faeries and Africans can relate to about the plague. I invite you to open yourself to the same possibility, whether as a tourist or a longer-term resident, that the commonalities the Radical Faeries share with many non-Western cultures can bond us, heal us, and radically transform our world in ways that we might never have imagined at the start, and that we might be able to offer some of the same in return. If we choose to love and to serve, little by little we create the kind of world that I desire to live in. Blessed be. w Sweet Chi (Michael Nugent) worked for Soteni (soteni.org), co-founded the Radical Faerie Film Festival, and can be reached at faeriefilmfest@ hotmail.com .
Dhami Boo at Baba Dham. Photo courtesy Dhami Boo.
Operation Sodom: Radical Faeries & the Pagan Revival in the Promised Land by Amichai Lau-Lavie AKA Superkali
The first debate was over the name—how do you say ‘radical’ in Hebrew, a language defined by gendered binaries? Is it masculine or feminine and how do we do both? Even before knowing what Radical Faeries were all about, the Israelis who signed up for our first gathering in June 2013 had, of course, opinions on the matter. A compromise was found, decisions made, and changed again, and again. But by then it didn’t matter anymore. The circle was open. I’ve dreamed of fairy space in Israel ever since I first sat around the fire in Short Mountain, drumming, naked, fully home in heart and body. This was back in 1998 and over the years a few of us of Israeli origins who shared the vision (once labeled ‘Operation Back to Sodom’) would titter about how fab it would be, where and when it would happen, then pass the joint and wait for the right moment. Meanwhile, over this past decade in Israel, the time slowly ripened for feydom to arrive. The Israeli LGBTQ scene had been building strong, but missing from it were the elements that make fey culture so unique—the wildly spiritual, earth-based action, sex positive, shameless erotic, cross-boundaries-profoundly-playful, inclusive, affirming of all. What would it look like if this pagan queer vision would penetrate the Holy Land now ruled by patriarchal anxieties yet once the birthplace of some of the hottest pagan goddesses? The Goddesses winked when ready. One night, November 2013, I sat around a fire on the shores of the Dead Sea, not far from Sodom, visiting a pilgrimage for peace that was created by a group of Palestinian, Israeli and European activists. I was in Photograph courtesy of the author
a puppy pile with four other men, and the dream, poof, like that, became reality. Uri, whom I came to visit, had been to SMS a few years ago, was here with his lover, Akiva, and another couple, Mysh and Moran, were cuddling my other side, and the drums drummed and the tea served, and Uri and I looked at each other and remembered our talk on the knoll some years past and giggled and knew that there were enough of us all of a sudden to make it happen. Now. Erez had been pushing for it, and now Hagai came along with his vision for gay spirit, and by the time the Summer Solstice came along a few months later, forty of us gathered by a spring and the circle erupted in celebration of the most sacred night to the forgotten deities of Canaan. Welcome home! No memos were sent prior, no specific packing list - on the Facebook event page we wrote: bring camping gear, food to cook, something fabulous to wear—but glitter showed up, along with tarot cards, nail polish, a sling and a paddle; someone set up an altar under the Carob tree and a basket of condoms and lube packets set up in a large tent renamed ‘love temple.’ A suitcase full of high heels and moo-moos simply showed up. Our genes knew how to fey. As the sun was setting on the longest day of the year began we created a ritual to Dumuzi, the Sumerian God and his lover Enkidu. We were flying high, climbing a hill with torches, and it felt deeply familiar and totally new. Heart circles followed the next day, some dramas, real conversations about what it all means. The first gathering opened our hearts and the RFD 157 Spring 2014 23
fairies started meeting—the following weekend, and the one after. A second gathering happened in the Fall on the banks of the Jordan River and now seven months later—more than 190 have joined the group and meetings keep happening: heart circles, dinners, the beginning of activist projects. An energy is brewing. Where we can take it to heal ourselves, this society, our land? It’s still new, and we are still in awe of this emergence and it’s a really big deal, and here, I think, perhaps is why: We all need loving communities that welcome and shelter us—with all our colors and flaws, unique and gorgeous selves who fit or don’t in the boxes that define us as this and that. These days, with digital reality connecting and aliening us so drastically—we
need these face-to-face circles more than ever. Global gay culture, in Israel like in the rest of the world, is still emerging, and more of us are seeking more than Grindr, bars and the same old cycles that do not necessarily enhance or balance our body, mind and soul. But what I think is unique to Israel and why the fey emergence is so radical is the mythical sense of retrieval and repair. The Early Semitic Sumerian and Canaanite cultures of these regions worshiped gods and goddesses under trees and in caves, deeply linked to the magic and cycles of Mother Earth, celebrating Eros in fantastic ways that terrified some other tribes. Those other tribes are the ones that took over, gave us the Bible, crafted the Monotheistic Judeo-Christian canon, cut down the trees, banished the shamans, shamed the body, and forgot the faerie ways. Deep inside the Jewish wisdom hides this ancient memo24 RFD 157 Spring 2014
ry—who we once were and believed in. Bringing back this vision of the sacred body in all its beauty, drumbeat and demons, full moons and permission to love is a healing act of profound proportions—with ramifications, on some collective soul levels—that we do not even know. But we can sense it—hissing under bushes, groaning in the love tent, giggling as the stars come out and the chants of the old sacred truths are sung again. We look into each other’s eyes—made up and scruffy, some of us former soldiers, more of us (younger generation) refused to serve in the military, and when we say to each other ‘welcome home’ we are not just welcoming each other—we are welcoming the gods of yore. They need us and are here to help us whip up mischief, stir up trouble, challenge the status quo and do what we can to make this place a truly Holy Land of bright lights along all other nations. Look, I’m a rabbi, deep inside the Jewish machine in order to upturn it back to healthy pagan roots, in the service of the Mother and the universal truths. I have no doubt that deep inside the scarred and exiled Judaism that has evolved over the past two millennia there exists the wisdom of the wild side, the calendar of human growth, the legends and rituals of radical joy. Helping grow the fairie circle in my homeland is one way to be part of the revolving revolution to shake things up and reclaim the ancient. It’s complicated. But it’s gorgeous and it is the tribal truth. OK. Chill out. Pass the pipe, decrease the visions. Be here now. For now—it’s a slowly forming circle of fabulous freaks that are so happy to find each other and not always feel like the odd ones out. We’re here to make love to ourselves and each other, holding hands in a growing ripple that’s connected not only to the rest of feys all over the globe, thirsty for the deeper connection to our higher truths and deepest secrets—but also to the ones that came before us and the ones yet to come. Operating Sodom, alive and well is just beginning. An international gathering is in the works! Hisses and Kisses from a holy little land. w
Photograph courtesy of the author
“Bamby” by Benyamin Reich
RFD 157 Spring 2014 25
26 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Photograph by artboydancing
Interview with Hugglewrumpf and Teacosy by Franklin Abbott
Franklin Abbott: Please tell us what name you like and give us a bit of background about yourself. I’m Huggles now. Or, if circumstances allow, “Hugglewrumpf!” with naughty emphasis on the “wwrrr” (not so easy), the RUMP, and the spitty part: “mpf!” I was Gazza Gumdrops back in 1981, at the first Australian faerie gathering at Mandala, in the
to you fucking copper cunts”. Defended by Council for Civil Liberties. Guilty as charged. 1976 To London, lived at first North, then East London Gay Centre. 1980 To the US, stayed with Harry Hay at La Cresta Court in LA, Fred Brungard (Sr. Missionary Position then), Haight Ashbury then hitched around, Rocky Mountains Spiritual Gathering of
Northern Rivers of New South Wales. And interwoven from about that time, Mary Medusa, faerie-nun of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I was born in Sydney in 1947. Came out ’69 (at 22!) to parents, Chez Ivy (wine bar) and The Tap Room (Kings Cross). First disastrous fuck. First fabulous affair. 1971 Started Communal house: the Wellington Boot, Rozelle. 1973 Gay Liberation: Lived at the Gay Centre, Glebe. National Gay Pride Week, arrested along with 17 others. My lover Paul Foss, quite an intellectual, accused of addressing the crowd: “We are equal
RadFae and then with Dennis Melba’son to Short Mountain, Tennessee, before it was up and running, to Running Water, NC, then publishing RFD in his SissyVan (tripping) to LASIS (Louisiana Sissies in Struggle) in New Orleans. To Mexico, stayed three months with el FHAR (Frente Homosexual de Acciòn Revolucionaria) and Juan Jacobo Hernandes in Mexico City 1981 Returned to the Wellington Boot, joined Gay Waves Radio Collective, Broadcast fe Faeries, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, facilitated beginnings of same in Oz. 1981 Co-founded Men Opposing Patriarchy,
The sacred Cernuous Shawl, crotcheted by Dennis Melba’son as it was presented at the Second National Radical Faerie gathering, 1980. Photo by Gary Schliemann.
RFD 157 Spring 2014 27
Sydney. Bought beautiful remote land (1200 acres) for intended Faerie Community: Common Ground (Earthseed Farm) with Ian Gray and fellow Bootees. 1982(?) Co-founded Sydney Men’s Festival (still going) 1986 floundering after collapse of Common Ground dream/ AIDS at the Boot Dreamers Joining Hands initiative 1990 abandoned the Boot for Buddhist/ Green rural commune: Bodhi Farm (5 years) Co-founded community volunteer cooperative to establish Men’sLine and the AntiViolence Project I’d come home from Harry Hay’s Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries in the Rockies, brimming over with Starhawk and Arthur Evans’ “Witchcraft and the Gay Counter Culture”. We’d chant the names of the Goddess: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna! Sometimes for Aussiefication, we’d interweave “Thelma”, Sydney’s Goddess of the Western Suburbs. And or that sassy goddess Dilda. Straight and narrow life by immersing myself in Sydney gay liberation in the early seventies. What a blessèd relief to feel that camaraderie. Ho-Ho-Homosexual we chanted emerging floor to floor in on the escalators in fashionable department stores. We organised a nationwide Gay Pride Week of activities in 1973. Eighteen of us were arrested in Sydney, the old penal colony where “Rum and Sodomy” had long been the bane of the Governor and the British Colonial Office. The lash, and exposure chained to a rockface had been their archetypal response. What drew you to the faeries and where did you go initially for gatherings? My first faerie-esque Gathering was out of Sydney at Minto Bush Camp, 1978. It was Gay Men’s Rap, which emerged from our Fourth National Homosexual Conference that same year. . Then my gay communal household (the Wellington Boot) heard through RFD about the first Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries (Arizona, 1979) . It didn’t take me long to head off the US to be 28 RFD 157 Spring 2014
there for the second, in the tho Rockies. On my way I was fortunate to meet Don Kilhefner at the LA Gay Services Center, fortunate again that he took me home to meet John Burnside and Harry Hay. Harry was of course, a “trip”! And a worker: taking calls as we talked from young men struggling with military service. Harry had long been a war resister. After a few days stay, he directed me to friends in San Francisco, Haight Ashbury, where I woke on the morning of Gay Freedom Day 1980 “Freedom and Justice for All” to my first vision of Sister Missionary Position (Fred Brungard) swishing in with a habit for me. No one had mentioned I was staying in a nunnery.
How did you find other faeries in Australia and what was the process like calling the first Oz gathering? As I mentioned earlier, there was an outdoorsy and “camp” sensibility in our networks, such as Gay Men’s Rap. But it was Harry and company, Arthur Evans, RFD, and Starhawk’s “Spiral Dance” that inspired our first explicitly Faerie gathering at Mandala. I had a stint in our GayWaves Radio Collective soon after my return from the Americas. And I had the great benefit of a SFO radio-KPFA program about the Gathering in the Rockies, Fred Brungard’s lovely work. First fruit of that broadcast
Mandala Faerie Gathering 1982. Photograph by Gary Schliemann.
was Sydney’s DisOrder of Perpetual Indulgence. Mother Inferior (an already practicing Solitary), Mary Medusa (me), Sit-On-My-Face, Third Secret of Fatima, we were legion. A dingo-worshipping cult of feral nuns, chanting the Names of the Goddess. Sister Mae Call of the Wilde, a faerie Nun. Our Nunly relay team won our event, but were sady disqualified for our creative use of a 15” double-ender as a baton. Can you describe some of the highlights and some of the challenges of the first Ozfaerie gatherings? Re-immersing myself in the open heart space of our gatherings can be a terrifying pleasure. We all carry so much possibility of delight, and long to share it. Once we get some experience of group warmth and support for our individuality, despite fears of rejection, we can hunger for more. Faerie solidarity can allow us to about step outside the realms of conformity, “hetero-normativity”. And we love it. Perhaps our greatest challenge was gender. In the era of Gender-Fuck (the Sisters!) and institutionalised gay drag, we had quite some disquiet about including women in some gatherings. Sometimes, somehow, women seemed to some of us too confronting for our group identity. Can you talk about how the Ozfaeries have developed since the first gatherings and what visions you have for the future. Please talk a little about the Oz Faerie Sanctuary and how it was founded and how it is developing Ian Teacosy Gray: The first explicitly “faerie“ gathering in Australia was held in the Spring of 1982. It was hosted at Mandala near Nimbin by Lemuel and David, organised from Sydney by Teacosy and Huggles. Through the late 80’s and 90’s, despite the devastation to our community from the AIDS epidemic, the dream of a queer rural intentional community space was kept alive by many of us. Australian faeries were always there, reading RFD and our local magazine Gay, Sex & Spirit, visiting each other around Australia and also faerie communities in the USA, attending and playing key organising roles in the alternative gatherings such as Down to Earth Confests, Men’s Festivals and local Rainbow Gatherings. Over the years, an emerging group of faeries gathered for meetings and began thinking and dreaming about purchasing a property to create an Australian sanctuary in the Northern Rivers. Huggles and Shamus organised the first OzFaerie gathering “of the modern era” at the Rainforest Meditation Centre in 1998. Later joined by Teacosy, Phase, Sparkle and Phillipe, the search began for
land to build a sanctuary with so much support from the wider faerie tribe. In April 2002 “Faerieland” was purchased on the edge of the Wollumbin Volcanic Caldera in the NE corner of New South Wales. And the rest is a faeriestory as we say... and a very magical one too. Presently nine faeries reside at “Faerieland” as stewards of this beautiful piece of land. As is the way with such sanctuaries we regularly host many faerie visitors throughout the year-old friends and new-from faraway Europe and the USA, or down the road from Grafton and Lismore. Meditation Retreats, Sweat Lodges, Glitterballs, Summer Solistice Gatherings, Tree Planting Days, Drag Events and other impromptu performances happen here regularly as well as the all important heart circles, workshops, working bees, planning days, and resting in between- a rich faerie community life. Faeryland has several vegetable gardens and fruit orchards and produces a good deal of the food we eat. Our buildings and other infastructure grow each year. We operate as a shared communal house eating together each evening. The residents have their own bedroom cabins. Our annual Summer Solistice gathering attracts over 70 participants for a week of sharing and fun. Thelma‘s Drag Boutique is a bustling hive of glamorising whenever we need to sharpen up our outfits! As a community we are involved in a number of local activist campaigns at present including stopping “unconventional gas extraction”. A number of faeries have moved into the feybourhood and regularly visit and support Faerieland. We feel very connected to the faerie community worldwide. Our local faerie community has a high profile in the district and is mostly very much accepted. If I think how we impact on LGBT rights worldwide I would start by looking at our impact locally and see that the important work we do is to model alternative ways of living together in community, of exploring intimacy, of sharing work and play, of expressing sexuality openly, of challenging gender, of making our created rituals important in celebrating milestone events in our lives. We are being very radical it seems. Radical Faeries Down under are part of a worldwide faerie tribe. And “Faerieland” is one of your homes- come by and see us sometime. Join us on Facebook at “ozfaeries” or visit www.ozfaeries.com. Watch the documentary “Glitter” telling our story. firstname.lastname@example.org You Whoooooooooooooo w RFD 157 Spring 2014 29
Once Upon a Time in Atlanta by Franklin Abbott
came out twice. Once in college in Macon, Georgia, 1970. And seven years later in grad school in Athens, Georgia. I had never gone back in the closet but had lost community during a three year stint running a school for mentally challenged people in rural south Georgia. I knew no gay people at the University of Georgia and remedied that by attending events sponsored by the Committee on Gay Education, the campus LGBT group. CGE had monthly programs and monthly socials. The programs were easier to attend because I could slide in and slide out without the awkward task of socializing. Thus I heard the first out former pro football player Dave Kopay. I remember little other than he was very large and very blonde. The socials were designed to provoke my social anxiety. I made myself go and stay 45 minutes. At first I met no one and then a few of the old hands took pity and talked to me. I joined a subcommittee and having a task made it much easier for me to interact. If I had a role, name tag fairy or refreshments fairy, I could break the ice more easily. But things got complicated when Feygele ben Miriam was the speaker for one of the programs. I don’t remember much of what he said but he was the queerest person I had ever seen outside of a drag show. And he wore a little black dress for his talk. I met him again at the 2nd Southeast Gay Conference in Chapel Hill, NC that Spring. I met Charlie Murphy as well and a number of other radical faggots. I was drawn into the political aspect of being gay in a way that I had never imagined. I volunteered to work on the planning of the 3rd Southeastern Conference scheduled for the following Spring. In the meantime I moved from Athens to Atlanta to do a dual internship at a mental health center in an upscale district and at with a group planning the first helpline for gay folks in Atlanta. Gay politics in Atlanta at that time, mid ‘70’s, was a mess. There were no out gay doctors or lawyers in 30 RFD 157 Spring 2014
the community. The only organized gay groups were religious: Dignity for Catholics, Integrity for Episcopalians, Evangelicals Concerned (membership of 1). Radical lesbians were much better organized. ALFA, the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance had its own house which men were barred from. The committee to organize the conference was an odd amalgam. The gay Christians, the lesbian separatists, me and my fey friend Terry Barfield. When the women requested woman only workshops on lesbian sex the Christians were outraged. They said it was discrimination. Terry, later known as Ti and I thought differently and voted with the women. The Christians walked out and boycotted the conference. Ti’s partner, Leif Sanderson and I co-chaired the conference with Diana Gray and her partner Heidi Silverstein, a stalwart of the Worker’s World Party. The conference was held at the Georgian Terrace Hotel. The Georgian Terrace had been one of Atlanta’s gems at one time situated on the corner of North Avenue and Peachtree kittycornered to the Fox Theater. It had fallen on hard times. The meeting rooms were tawdry and the guest rooms were roach infested. A better hotel might not have rented to us. The Georgian Terrace needed our money. The conference brochure is in the archive at Georgia State University. You can view it online. It is a time capsule of gay life in Atlanta in the midseventies. So we proceeded. There were women only workshops and community circles that were, to say the least, intense. At the closing circle the women declared a caucus and left the room en masse. It was only gay men left in the circle. One of the more colorful fellows was Mikel Wilson, a weaver who lived in an old farmhouse on the upper slopes of Roan Mountain north of Asheville, NC. Mikel wore the robes he wove and carried a staff. He looked rather like an Old Testament prophet. Separated from the women we had for the first time our own circle. We were so moved and energized that Mikel invited
Franklin Abbott, Terchelling, Holland. First Euro Gathering. Photograph courtesy of the author.
us to continue the conversation a few months later at his abode, Running Water Farm. This is how the first Running Water gathering occurred.
here are many creation stories for how the world came to be and just as Genesis predominates the Judeo-Christian tradition, â€œThe Callâ€? to the first national radical faery gathering in Arizona in 1979 predominates faery culture. Mark Thompson, in his beautiful book, The Fire in Moonlight, includes my poem written after the first Running Water Gathering and calls it proto-faery. Harry Hay and I had an interesting conversation on one of his visits to the Southeast in which he asked if we had called ourselves faeries. We did. We called ourselves faeries, sissies, faggots, queer and gay. Was the first Radical Faerie gathering held at Running Water Farm on Roan Mountain? Might we question the question? In the early to mid seventies there was a radical conversation among gay men to assimilate or not. Those of us who were not assimilationist were radical. We founded RFD, Wolfcreek in Oregon, gathered at conferences in the Southeast which led us to Running Water and the national gatherings in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. We might call ourselves original faeries. Some of us have lived to tell the tale though it is not always the same story, it is our story about how we found each other and began this fey spiral that has become all of its parts
and then some. Running Water was the wellspring of Short Mountain and the haven for RFD for many years. John Ferguson who went on to become instrumental in the first Euro and Asian faery gatherings first found fey at Running Water as did Gary Schliemann one of the first Oz faeries. Running Water was not large or strong enough to hold the spirit of the gatherings and shifted its central/centrifugal energy to Short Mountain (and RFD with it) and became the source of initial funding and inspiration for Gay Spirit Visions now in its 25th year. I drove up to the first faerie gathering at Running Water with Raven Wolfdancer and Ti Barfield. We arrived in the middle of the night. My poem describes what happened in that moment of awakening and how I took it back into the world. It is a great solace to me and an ongoing fascination that the faerie spirit continues to emerge all over the world. I feel supremely fortunate that I was there in the beginning, again and again, at Running Water, Short Mountain, Terchelling, Gay Spirit Visions and from those beginnings the circle keeps growing larger, the magic keeps growing stronger and the Radical Faerie spirit is ever more vivid. Here is the poem that I wrote when I was 27 (below). I am 63 now. w
Ascent, Lament and Admonition
waking up the next morning the dirt of Roan Mountain still on my feet I let go of one long sigh not of relief but resignation to the fact I am back
there will my bothers hold me turn me loose, set me free there will I be heard, listen and in concert sing to the opening of hearts and the laying down of burdens
I lie on my bed allowing the city to soften and fade away beneath my closing eyes hastening my return up the moonlit mother mountain up through honeysuckle-scented, star-silvered hems of clouds to a morning of running water, birdsong and a bright sun climbing to its solstice
the telephone rings I have no charm to stop it and so I am dispatched to walk the city streets expected to be the same but I am now a better lover my gentleness refined, aligned and dangerous RFD 157 Spring 2014 31
Photograph by Walt Cessna 32 RFD 157 Spring 2014
RFD 157 Spring 2014 33
Some EuroFaerie History by Junis
n 1993 I finally decided to visit Short Mountain community in Tennessee. My long time friend and former lover Mattison from Florida who had already discovered the faeries had kept informing me about them for some years. Listening to his stories, with only half an ear, I had decided that this was a passed station, as a man from the sixties, effected and liberated by the sexual revolution, hippies dancing around a bonfire sounded like a revival of times I did not want to go back toâ€Ś But curiosity finally won and that winter we travelled north for a short visit. It had already become dark when we arrived, temperatures far below zero and after the car engine and lightâ€™s were turned off, deep darkness and deep silence kept us at one spot for a while. Entering the house a certain harmony struck me and I was overwhelmed by an instant homecoming. One person cooking behind the wood burning furnace and another three sitting unnoticed at a table in one of the darker corners of the room. Time stood still. Candles and oil lights created dim yellow spots that did not reach very far. The next morning, as if it was a daily routine, I found myself splitting firewood and going for drinking water since all containers and rubber hoses were solidly frozen. I realized very soon that these people were my tribe and I felt completely natural and at ease with them, no explaining, just taking things as they are. At home in the Netherlands living circumstances were somewhat similar, as an outdoor man I had my own little set up with my dog, a few chickens, a bee barn and a small cottage with a wood burning stove. The only big difference; I was living on my own. Community life, the sharing, the care for each other, the choice for a non commercial gay social rural life, the differ34 RFD 157 Spring 2014
ent self built houses on the land, memory hill with stones carrying names of deceased AIDS victims, it all made a deep impression on me. That summer Matt came to visit me in Holland and he introduced me to Habibi (John Ferguson) who had his base here while traveling around Europe, as an American musician and pianist. John and Matt had met at a faerie gathering at Short Mountain and discovered they both spoke Dutch which immediately formed a connection. John and I developed a friendship and during our meetings we were wondering if there would be any faerie activity at all in Europe, or at least some alternative gay spiritual activity. He suggested to meet Eilendes Wasser, or EW (Geert Oetken), in Bonn Germany who he knew he has been to a faerie gathering in the US. Later that year one Sunday the two of us hopped in the car after informing Geert about our intentions. That day things fell miraculously into place. EW showed us pictures from the island Terschelling just off the coast of Holland, where he had hiked before, showing a secluded farm house at the inner Wadden Sea, bordering a nature reserve. It seemed an ideal location, and in no time we picked up the idea to organize the first ever European international spiritual gathering for gay men to take place in the summer of 1995. That same day we wrote and sent off invitation letters to all major gay libraries and gay centers in Europe. The first step towards an European branch of the Radical Faerie movement was made. With hardly any idea how to set up such gathering we decided to invite Franklin Abbott to introduce North American faerie spirit and to lead us into the first heart circles. John had met Franklin
Above: Junis; Below: getting a feel of the land, after our first night ,Folleterre still closed,outdoor camping in march 2005. Left to right: Junis, Blanche, Beebalm, Deetale, Eilendes Wasser.
before and I kept reading what I could find about faeries and gay spirituality, also Franklin’s article about gay men living in nineties for instance inspired and continuing with a freshly published collection of stories in Gay Soul from Mark Thompson, which felt like a wake up call, illuminating the different spiritual dimensions of gay lives by several visionaries and gay elders. From 1995 to 2005 we organized a yearly EuroFaerie gathering on the island of Terschelling. And around 2000 we formed a foundation which could function as a legal body, not only to manage the income from gatherings but also to take personal legal responsibility away from us as organizers when inviting people from countries outside the European Community. This foundation made it also possible to buy our own land and house in France in 2005.
hrough the years I have seen many people come and go, some stayed and made precious contributions, talent- and skill wise. I also kept involved taking responsibilities and picking up organizational rolls. Now more in the background. The EuroFaeries became part of my life, with friendships that developed over the years and the many challenges that came our way: finding, buying, managing land and house for instance. For me, as a single person, connecting with a group has always been important because of the confrontations, bringing out my good and my bad sides. Something that happens automatically in a relationship. The ever returning heart circles always carry something in them that makes it valuable to attend. Maybe sometimes just one word, or one sentence. They form the core of a gathering, speeding up the process of community forming, which needs to be built up every time we come together. By being vulnerable we not only give others access to our emotions, but it also allows ourselves to be touched and to get hurt. It is a wonderful way to deeply connect with each other and at the same time grow as a person. I remember so clearly those very first heart circles, during which so much half digested pain was shared, damaged little boys, who finally talked. It made me insecure at the time, searching, without finding, my own heart pains. They only came out a number of years later..
Junis and Eilendes Wasser Terschelling 1997 or 1998
It is a choice, just as much as being a contributing elder can be a conscious choice. This is something that only last year dawned more sharply upon me. A personality is a complex thing, we form very positive characterizations and less positive ones during our lives. Both can be cultivated more, sharpened when getting older, It can be a very conscious choice which ones, to be more aware of them, to choose for the more empowering qualifications, understanding, lightness of being instead, passion for the natural world around us…and so forth. This giving and sharing, without the expectations of a favor in return, has always been important within and outside faerie circles, over the years, every time again it lifts me up when I experience this. But aren’t there any regrets you ask me, or expectations that were not met? Yes, there were, the realization of a permanent community for instance. My initial source of inspiration back in 1993 visiting Short Mountain. Giving up securities in insecure times prevented quiet a few to even give it an attempt. The beginning years of Folleterre were also financially so unstable and were lacking full faerie commitment and interest. The process that we as land finders had gone through over a period of four years still had to begin amongst the larger community. Over the last three-quarter years we have reached more stability and an almost explosive growth. A new generation has stepped forward with new energy and ideas. So who knows in which direction this all might move. Maybe it is better not to be burdened by the past, taking faerieness and gay spirituality for granted. It is just there to embrace and enjoy. For me there is always an extra dimension and motivation to stay connected; the sheer realization that what was started in the US and later in Europe, as the continuation of the gay liberation movement, expressed in the process of discovering a non commercial gay identity and gay spirituality, is absolutely unique in western history, a first time occurrence. But the train is still going, we do not know when we reach that final station, maybe there isn’t any. We are not an institution, but a development, to quote Harry Hay. We can only feel privileged, knowing that so many LGBTs are dealing with repression RFD 157 Spring 2014 35
and violence, stripped from their dignity and personhood. For them the Radical Faerie development is a far away luxury. I have tried to restrict myself and not wander off through too many side paths, but some of them might be of importance. Like the way we have developed as EuroFaerie’s, almost immediately dropping the word “radical” when referring to faeries in general. Starting as a gay men’s movement, very reluctantly opening up to gay women (busy as we were discovering sensuality, intimacy without sexual threat, and especially the male bonding part, something very new for many). After a year or three we did a poll: about 50% were in favor of a mixed gathering and 50% against. This very quickly changed in the last decennium. Lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals became finally more visible for society—still a minority at gatherings, but now seen as enrichment, completion. Within the first five years more faerie pagan influence was introduced mainly from the UK, more involved with spirits and forces of nature, drumming sessions and ritual ceremony. It gave the EuroFaeries their very own identity, connected with older European shamanism and rural dwellers. w
36 RFD 157 Spring 2014
by Eilendes Wasser a.k.a. Trish-Trash
he memory of the first Eurofaerie Gathering on the beautiful Dutch island of Terschelling is still very vivid in my mind. So here is my faerietale: “I was working in thte Twin Cities in the mideighties where I met a wonderful man who later became a faerie with the Northwoods faeries, his faerie name is Rocky. I guess it was August 1989 when he invited me and my partner Utzibär to come to a faerie gathering in Wisconsin at the St. Croix River, it was the last gathering of the Northwoods in Wisconsin, the year they found Kawashaway. We had no idea what a faerie gathering was, but while visiting friends in Minnesota we just went to check it out. Ribbons let us to the site in the woods. We parked our car in the wooded alley and carried our luggage to the gathering site, turned around the corner and were stunned to see twenty or more men of all ages shoulder to shoulder in a big circle. I think they were all covered with oil glistening in the warm afternoon sun exposing their beautiful behinds to us. We were in shock, starred at each other, shortly discussed going back to the car at once and leave but somehow were drawn to stay, and decided in the next two seconds to join the crowd. We enjoyed the most fabulous week, with heart circles, beauty parlor, hikes up a stream with body painting and pubic hair braiding, a sweat lodge, swimming and canoeing in the river, wonderful conversations and deep going heart circles and so much closeness to men, I saw the first time in my life. For me there was no doubt at all, it was coming home. I felt lifted, light, drifting on a cloud. And I drew from this feeling for years to come! Call it a miracle! This single experience was so intense that I wanted to perpetuate it, to enjoy faerie magic here in Europe. So I started to advertise in the RFD as the
“Rheingold faeries” contact address. Actually there was only me. After some years, I guess it was in 1993 Lekkerding, a longtime faerie from the States answered and in 1994 we and Junis, a Dutch faerie who went to gathering in the States before, met in Bonn, Germany. We did not think and talk a long time, but soon were excited to organize the first Eurofaerie gathering. By chance with some friends I went to Terschelling, a Dutch island in the North Sea for a New Year Party and very close to the place we stayed behind the dike we found the magical place “De Wierschuur”. Another little miracle happened when we discovered that the house was only
vacant for 10 days in 1995, the time we wanted to hold the gathering. Quickly came together again and sent out the call to organizations and bookshops throughout Europe. We were afraid whether it would work, having some experiences with gatherings but no experience at all with a gathering on the multilingual European continent. We had to invest our own money to rent the place, buy food, rent out twenty-five bikes. but we
Trish-Trash and Alexis during Carnival, Cologne. Photographs courtesy of the author.
RFD 157 Spring 2014 37
had no idea, how many faeries would follow the call. There was no faerie movement in Europe until then. But everything worked out just fine. The experience for us was I guess: NO FEAR! It turned out to be a magical gathering to which more than thirty faeries from all over Europe came, from east and west, north and south, from the US and even much further away. We were very happy and much more relaxed that Franklin Abbott came to support us with his long time experience and being a facilitator of heart circles and rituals. On the 24th of June 1995 we gathered in the barn of De Wierschuur and celebrated the return of the faeries to Europe. The gate of the barn was wide open, so the light from the vivid sky could enter, the wind blew in fresh air and you could hear the sounds of the sea and the seagulls. Time stood still. It was still dim inside but lit enough to see all the glowing faerie faces, each reflecting the intensity of the ritual. I felt a great field of energy somehow hovering above our heads, when we stood in circle joining hands. Every faerie went into the circle to call his or her name and to welcome the faerie spirit in Europe. I think we all felt then, that something new and beautiful had been created. Something, which belonged to all of us, something which made our hearts full, something which had healing power. For me it was a truly magical moment, I will never forget. The gathering was so beautiful, with long and intensive heart circles, enjoying the sun at the beach, swimming in the ocean, playing in the sand, riding our bikes and hiking through the beautiful nature of the island, being crazy. One very early morning some faeries rode to the eastern sea shore. We were sitting quietly in a small circle on the sand when the big red disk rose slowly behind the roaring waves into the shining blue still dim morning sky. Tears ran from my eyes, tears of relief and tears of joy. Since then we had many, many gatherings in Europe throughout the years. With ups and downs the faerie movement grew and it still does. Now we have faerie tribes in the UK, with annual gathering in the Featherstone castle in northern Albion, many gatherings in and around Amsterdam, gatherings in Berlin and the Rheingold area, in Paris. Recently another sanctuary in Austria was founded with a fabulous gathering happening in the Alps last summer. Faeries gather in Italy and now in Israel and there is a lot and constant exchange between all these tribes. Probably this is the first and only European grass roots movement, where people are meeting in heart space and I guess this is definitely true for queer beings. 38 RFD 157 Spring 2014
From very early times at Terschelling where we then met almost every year, we thought it would be wonderful to have our own sanctuary not to own anything but to be free at a place of our choice. After a landsearch of four years, which is worth another story, in 2005 we finally found Folleterre in the Vosges mountains in France. The name stems from the nearby wood called â€œBois de Folleterreâ€?, something like the wood of the crazy earth, well the name suited us as a name for our sanctuary, Folleterre. At this time we were already exhausted to undertake these demanding landfinding trips with all the hopes and disappointments we went through looking for this or that place. So really Folleterre came to us exactly at the right last moment. Setting Folleterre up, going through endless and repeated discussions, deciding everything in consensus was very demanding, but it worked and taught me a lot about letting go and to enjoy the chaos and the anarchic energy of the process, to accept Folleterre as a true playground. For me the path to sanctuary was sometimes stressful, I felt so - or better much too - responsible, so at sometimes it was very difficult for me to enjoy the faerie spirit, which was present, but I could not connect with. Thanks to the goddess, finally I could let go of my overwhelming feelings of responsibility. This process started when I was in a sweat lodge with over 80 years old Tuffolbird from Philadelphia. The lodge was guided by our sweat lodge mastress Franny from the Rheingold faeries. At some point during the sweat lodge in a highly emotional state I visualized a hand of light coming from Tuffolbirds side of the lodge across the hot stone pit gently taking away somekind of net, I felt tied into. In the dark of the lodge I then saw the outlines of my body glistening, felt relieved and cried. Franny told me that for him at this very moment it was like the blankets covering the lodge were torn opened so he could see everything. Still being taken by this very strong experience I went to a yoga session, Yuval facilitated, in Folleterres kitchen room, then changed into a circle room. The idea of the session was, to give us a joyful good bye at the end of the gathering, and what happened was, that everyone present became very silent and from many faces tears of joy ran in total tranquility and peacefulness. It was like being in heaven, or this is what I think heaven must feel like. Folleterre is still in the makingâ€”and always will be. In the last year, from spring to fall, we had residential faeries, who were a real blessing. Hopefully we will have a year round residency in the future
so that faeries can be welcomed any time they need to rest, rejoice and heal. Much has been done to improve the house and the land to make it a safer and more comfortable place. But already Folleterre in the middle of Mother Nature, is a good place for exploring us in a mindful and healing way, a safe place for play and sharing our hearts. The sanctuary is on a good path. ItÂ´s amazing to see, that faeries from all over Europe, coming from different cultures, speaking different tongues, are vivid parts of this anarchistic tribe, needing no gurus or leaders, not clinging to any belief system, not owning anything of it, and because of that are able to mindfully create Folleterre sanctuary every year anew. It is indeed sometimes a very very slow process, always demanding from our industrious egos, to let go, to become quiet, to sometimes forgive and to enjoy what is there right now, to accept the constant change of everything and everybody. But that is the very quality of it. That is, I think, what we should embrace. It is a place, where queer souls may find healing, where we can find energy to spread The author, 2013
when we are back in the so called real world. For me Folleterre as a sanctuary is something very real. I am very happy to have found a home with my partner, Hirondel, near Folleterre on our beautiful farm and in a rural vicinity in France with many people we like to meet and connect with. For me becoming a faerie and being with the faeries has definitely changed the path of my life. When I was growing up until 1969, when I was 16, loving gay men was still a criminal offence in Germany, still based on Nazi anti gay-laws. As a little kid I happily played with my boy friends, but growing up I felt very lonesome when I consciously realized that I love men. Virtually there was no one I could trust, no one to talk to. Gay friendly organization, help groups etc. were unknown. Of course it was impossible to seek help in the family. I was full of shame, guilt and self hatred. I had my coming out already when I met the faeries but becoming a faerie taught me to explore my gay soul, not only to come to peace with it but to enjoy being gay and to work with my gifts and I know, there is still so much more to discover. In the last years I try to meditate more and learn more about Buddhism as a school of mindfulness. Also in this process it is great help for me to be with the faeries. There is so much knowledge. My faerie names reflect a little bit my transformation from Trish-Trash, my first given faerie name, to Eilendes Wasser, which means Rushing Water, my partner called me some years ago and I am sure, there is at least one more faerie name to come. The faerie world in Europe will continue to blossom. I guess the tribes will grow more in the regions of Europe but coming together from all parts of Europe wherever gatherings may happen on the continent. When I returned to my initial faerie tribe in Kawashaway, now already more than ten years ago, after all these years it felt like coming home. So actually it is not so important where we gather, magic happens whenever we gather! I am hoping that the faeries are becoming more visible to the world, more politically active. I think this world really is in need of it. w
RFD 157 Spring 2014 39
moved to Paris from Chicago in early 1994. By then, I had already been to several Radical Faerie gatherings at Short Mountain, yet I considered myself a very inexperienced faerie. The deeper truth was, however, that I had already been a little faerie all throughout my childhood in Greece. Not particularly social and not interested in most of the things other boys were interested in, I was moved more by being in the fields, hanging out with trees, exploring overgrown gardens, or soaking up the wonderful energy of wild parts of the coast of the Aegean sea near my home. Even though the nature at Short Mountain and Chicago was very different than that of Nea Makri, I was still very receptive to it, especially when I was with the faeries. So at one point I brought my Greek background and my new surroundings together by facilitating a ritual to Persephone, the Greek goddess of natureâ€™s cycles of death, rebirth, and transformation. My first such ritual took place in Chicago the year before I left and it was based on a very ancient ritual in which an effigy of the goddess, made of seeds and plant matter, is buried in the fall and resurrected in the spring. I do not remember how John Ferguson contacted me when I moved to Paris. But he told me that he and a couple of other European faeries (Eduard van
40 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Koolwijk and Geert Oetken, both of whom had been to Short Mountain) were beginning to plan a faerie gathering in Europe. That fall John came to Paris from the Netherlands, where he lived, and we had our first European Persephone ritual. This took place in the Bois de Vincennes Park in a small grove of chestnut trees on the 31st of October on a beautiful and evocative foggy night. I like to think that the spirit of that first ritual, along with its corresponding spring ritual on the following 1st of May, have contributed to the rebirth of faerie energy on the European continent and beyond. As the Radical Faerie movement goes through its cycles and transformations, as it touches peopleâ€™s lives and transforms them in Europe and now in Asia, I continue to do my semi-annual rituals to Persephone. Though these days the ritual takes place in the shade of a beautiful old and sacred olive tree in my garden in Greece, Persephone has seen the maples of Chicago and the Chestnuts of Paris, whereas the faerie spirit has grown under the oaks of Featherstone and Terschelling, the coconut and cashew trees of Koh Yao Yai, the cedars of Gavdos, the lindens and birches of Bonn and Berlin, the pines of Folleterre and the Austrian Alps, the London plane trees, and even the mango trees of McGregor in South Africa. w
Photographs courtesy of the author
New Faeriespirit in Austria, Central and Eastern Europe by Mata Hari
ntil two years ago the Radical Faerie Movement did not come to Austria and the countries of Central Europe such as Czechia, Slovakia or Hungary. And this had a reason: Austria, a neutral country in the heart of Europe between the western and the eastern hemisphere was a rather catholic and conservative country like Italy and Spain, had a very bureaucratic system with thinking in clichés, categories and dogmas. Austria is a country where freedom and the respect of the other as he is do not have the highest value. That is also why gays and lesbians always had to hide for a long time. The legal equality came very late. And the countries east of Austria where behind the iron curtain for more than thirty years and they had other aims to reach than living in faerie spirit after the opening of the borders in 1989. Austria had historically been an important mediating function and provided always the spirit of prosperity and the upturn into the eastern countries. But faerie energy never reached and manifested in Austria till 2008. It was coincidence that I got into contact with a man in Northern California via the internet who invited me to come to Wolf Creek in Oregon and at the same time a friend in Berlin insisted that I should come to the first Wannsee Gathering in Berlin because “they also needed some Austrian charm” there as he explained. And as I entered this space it was for me like coming home to my real world, full of freedom, love and respect, the place I was searching my whole life and that I missed so much in Austria. I discovered that Faeries from all over the world loved the idea of having a gathering in Austria one day, the land of “Sound of Music”, Freud and the most beautiful landscape. For many years I felt like being the only Faerie in Central Europe as Faeries normally lead a secret life and do not come out as such. I only knew that there had to exist more Faeries like me. After four years of experiencing a lot of faerie gatherings around the world and finding my partner Red Rose we were ready to organize the first Austrian Gathering under the condition that we would find the ideal space in Austria, which was not so easy to find. But finally, after we have reviewed over fifty local offers we have found the perfect place in
Mata Hari. Photograph courtesy of the author
the Alps near Salzburg. In order to give the Austrians and the neighbouring countries the chance to take part at this unique gathering our dream was to bring the whole faerie movement to Austria and the central European countries. But how could our dream become true in a quick and effective way? We were all totally beginners in everything that had anything to do with marketing. A group of friends in Austria created folders, posters, a Eurofaeries Austria Website and a Facebook Group “Austrian Faeries” and we decided to take part at the Vienna Pride week and the “Rain-
bow parade” 2012. I also created regular Newsletters for the Austrian Faeries. And these were my experiences from this remarkable week: “The Eurofaeries have made their first appearance at the fringes of mainstream gay life in Austria—and at Vienna Pride on City Hall Square, no less—the most public place in Vienna, where the Lifeball—the biggest charity event fighting AIDS and HIV in Europe is also traditionally held. The public reaction was surprisingly positive. Most stopped briefly to gaze curiously, wondering whether they had read it right … “Radical Faeries”?—They had never read anything like that before. A lot of people checked us out from a distance— building a spontaneous, superficial opinion about who they thought we might be: a “travel agency” or a “partner club”, punks, hippies, transvestites, a sect, RFD 157 Spring 2014 41
an artist group, “radicals” or simply “three stupid sissies”. The Eurofaerie’s tent was different from the other conventional groups if not simply because of the altar made of simple gold fabric with the words “freedom, love, respect the faerie in you and in others”. The ones who gave in to their curiosity and entered our tent for more information and to have a look at all the photos soon had a spark in their eyes. “There’s something about the faerie concept, you are a really dedicated group, a great stand!” The history of the faeries and why we are called faeries got many people thinking. The thing the Austrian Faeries most wanted here was to give potential Austrian faeries the chance to discover themselves and other Faeries, to network among each other, to meet and say for once: we really exist! It is very important to us to have a safe, trusted place, to create a “Faerie space” where everyone can develop his or her unique self—which naturally can’t be where the public and the media are. But when the radio broadcaster FM4 interviewed us about what the Faeries really are that was OK. We thought it was a very positive sign that Vienna’s Deputy Mayor from the Austrian Green Party visited us and listened to us openly. We told her that we thought the reason why the faerie movement hadn’t made its way to Austria yet is because respecting the individuality or otherness of other people is not really anchored in the collective consciousness of most Austrians. The word “radical” also confused a lot of people, since it actually has negative connotations in everyday use—but the faeries use it more like the Latin “radix”, which means from the root or origin. We were struck by the superficiality of many people who walked by, who put anything unknown, like the faeries, into a box, without being willing to delve into its origin. This concept that “Outward appearance is the only thing that matters” is still far too prevalent in Austria. If you don’t fit into a “box”, especially most of the media outlets will immediately cancel out. But we still met a few really nice and open people, a few of whom even said they were actually faeries, too. We think it was a good start and a good showing of the faeries in Austria. We moved something in the minds of the people, made contacts, and started something new in the community. WE ARE PROUD TO BE THE FIRST AUSTRIAN FAERIES! The Austrian Eurofaeries also participated in the 42 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Rainbow Parade around Vienna’s Ringstraße as a small group for the first time. We specially thanked the extremely friendly Cubans, who permitted us to march behind their vehicle! We gazed into thousands of clicking cameras and believe that our simple and friendly appearance without any delusions of stardom allowed us to win over the hearts of many viewers. We also thought it was great when 50 to 100 young people stepped in behind our “Radical Faeries” banner near the Parliament and marched with us. To sum it up: The faeries showed their true colors in Vienna. Now also Austria knows that we exist!” At the Vienna Pride I also met El and she brought me to her garden and when I visited this marvelous wood at the border to Czech Republic, we both had the vision of creating a new faerie sanctuary in Austria specifically for the faeries in Austria, Central and Eastern Europe. Here is a creative paradise and we are all of good cheer, to create a true Faerie Space for the future here. In Vienna we also celebrate the festival of equinox in autumn and sometimes in spring as a combination of spirit, art and entertainment party bringing the idea of the “No talent Shows” to Central Europe. In 2013 our participation at the Vienna Pride in June 2013 was an even greater success for the Radical Faerie movement. We were established not only right next to the big tent of the Austrian Green Party in the middle of the Heldenplatz, but we also made friendship with the Homosexual Initiative— “Hosi Vienna”—the most important political representation of lesbians and gays in Austria, with whom we shared the tent and brought us a lot of attention by the daily visitors. Bastian had the idea that all visitors of our tent could help to shape our Faerie Creative altar for the Rainbow Parade and this idea was very well received—especially by the children who could let their imaginations run wild when decorating. Then we also officially signed up as the first Radical Faerie community in Europe with a start number for a CSD parade…and the response was tremendous! We all have probably experienced never before so much love, laughter and admiring recognition of tens of thousands of Viennese and tourists. Some of the organizers also said that without us the Rainbow Parade would not have been so fabulous because we were all so “photogenic”. Many also were thrilled that we have brought over so much of our Spirit
with incense and the procession with the wonderfully creative decorated altar. In this six days of holding tireless position in our tent we have met wonderful new people who have given us strength and energy to continue and accompany us on our journey “bringing the Faerie Movement to Austria, Central and Eastern Europe“.
fter this participation the official queer Vienna was fully behind us. The QWien “The Viennese Center for gay / lesbian culture and history” added the Radical Faerie movement to the queer history of Vienna and the local government of Vienna accepted to support financially a documentary film project of the university about the beginning of the Faerie Movement in Austria with € 3000. This short documentary will be presented in queer film festivals all around the world in the next years. In summer 2013 there were both temporary and a new permanent manifestations of faerie love in Austria. Europe is about to be home to a second faerie sanctuary, eight years after the inauguration of Folleterre in the Vosges mountains of north eastern France, came the Kissing Awake of Wienviertel Sanctuary, a new faerie home in Austria, generously opened up to us all by the landowner. Ceremonials to kiss awake the new land happened 15-16 August 2013. The secret paradise at the end of Austria will be a real Faerie sanctuary in the coming years … the ideal gateway at the Czech border to the Faeries of the eastern part of Europe - is the little sister of the big European Faerie Sanctuary’s in Folleterre in France and is already the natural meeting place for faeries in Central Europe, where we were celebrating wonderful Summer Solstice Weekends. At the solstice, the sun is worshiped to ensure that it gives us the desire for life, sexuality, creativity, energy, health and wishes. Starting with the Kissing Awake 2013 it will
A view of the sanctuary. Photographs courtesy of the author
become the meeting place of the Faeries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Faeries all over the world, when they can share time and life stories at Faerie space and talk about finding inspiration and self-worth. People lit up their hearts from the calm and loving acceptance of the Austrian Faeries. For this purpose three Community Workweeks will be held here in the year 2014 where everything necessary for the conservation and making alive of this “silent paradise at the end of the world” is done and thus can stay enough Faeries here. The Kissing Awake of our new Faerie Home in Austria was a little gathering of some cute faeries from all around the world to open it…I had the idea to name it “Kissing Awake”, when I woke up one morning and was considering what can we do with a sleeping beauty? Maybe Inauguration sounds too sacred, but kissing sounds human and sexy at the same time. Kissing is good for human souls, for trees and animals. And kissing was always a taboo for me when I was young. So I also wanted to break a taboo in me and among the faeries. It is not necessary always to name everything “holy” in a sanctuary. It should also be a blessed, beloved and loving place. And you can best show love externally if you kiss somebody! I really would strongly hope that everybody involved deeply incorporates this spirit! It is a real chance to get a new life! The event started for me and Fauny with a serious and intensive talk about the views of “Folleterre” about the new sanctuary / faerie homes in Austria and about our views of Folleterre in general. Are we all still very close to the roots of the Radical Faerie movement in Europe? Should we open up to new ideas? Is the whole thing getting too commercial? Many questions in our heads! Fauny was the faerie who also led the inauguration in Folleterre eight years ago, so he knew definitely how to do it! We talked about the program of the ceremony and we RFD 157 Spring 2014 43
had a delicious meal cooked by a lot of faeries. But before the ritual started around the fire, there came a big surprise. Some new faeries in beautiful masks arrived at the Sanctuary accompanied by two American Faeries from California who some years ago met Harry Hay personally and one of them told us that Hay was the reason to encourage him to his coming out as a gay person. Then we were all ready to start the unique Kissing Awake Ritual with a little heart circle around the fire. When it was dark the procession started and we walked one after another to the four corners of the sanctuary with burning candles in our hands. A candlelight procession to get to know all the secrets of the land. But before we asked for protection for the land and that it would allow us to be safe and gentle and spiritual to it and we promised to be good to the land and take care for it! Then in every corner we asked for the spirits of the four hemispheres. In the second corner we asked for the spirits of the animals for blessing which was my task to do so, because I specially love the animals in this sanctuary! In the third corner we were finding our way at the land through the darkness by waiting at our own imaginary altar and then going back creating a spiral with our candles as a symbol for creation—the founding of a new sanctuary. At the forth corner finally we did the real kissing awake ritual where we gathered around a beautifully red and orange decorated bench in the wood and we all started to kiss another faeries one after another at the bench. The kissing ceremony was just amazing and very touching for us all. We all were very grateful to have this wonderful moment in our lives. Yes and from now on also the Sanctuary was kisses and sacred. Then the performances started on our stone stage. Red Rose and Mata Hari performed the modern but wild interpretation of Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre de Printemps” which we thought was perfectly representing the idea of this special event. This twenty minutes fight between the tribes of the world which was led with soil, plants and honey, the sacrifice of the virgin ended up with the crowning of the fire in nakedness. Till midnight our two Faeries from California gave us 44 RFD 157 Spring 2014
a wonderful time playing beautiful songs at the guitar and we all hoped that this romantic and warm summer night would never end. In the morning we started building a shrine for the sanctuary and we had our first real heart circle “kissed awake” in beautiful sun under shady woods. On the occasion of the ceremony the circle started by presenting nice little gifts from Folleterre to the Austrian Faeries. The gift touched us a lot and with tears in our eyes we all spoke from the heart. I must admit that I did not want to leave this space at this moment. Everything was so calm and gentle. I could not imagine that tomorrow there should start the first full ten days Gathering in Austria in the Alps near Salzburg. But we had to face the reality—the faerie reality! And we started the faerie trek west across the country to the Sound of Music territory of Salzburg where sixty-three faeries met for the first full ten-day international Austrian Gathering.”– Not knowing what was expecting us—but with my only real intention—to have an open heart for all and to feel and bring and spread GOOD ENERGY!—To LET IT FLOW in Austria! And as all the reactions worldwide show us—yes!—Everybody appreciated that! The movement is spreading step-by-step across Europe and it is heading eastwards. Friends from the Czech Republic and Slovakia like Matty the Deer wanted to know more about the Faeries as they admire their values and way of life. Since that summer Matty the Deer has been meeting them, attending small events like heart circles and exhibitions and closely observing the attempts to create a sanctuary in a neglected, yet beautiful piece of land—which happens to be a walking distance from the Czech borders. In August 2013 Matty the Deer got the chance to take part in the first international Faerie Gathering that took place in the Alpine region of Austria. He was a participating observer and was fully accepted into the circle. The outcome of his time with the Faeries was his research Study for the Czech University in Brno about “Lifelong Learning Potential within the International Movement Radical Faeries”. Yoohoo Faeries! We are approaching the East and we will never give up! w Mata Hari. Photo courtesy of the author.
Dear Fellow Faeries by Walteci de la sana
see and realize how much amazing work has been done by strong people, supporting and fighting for LGBT rights around the world. Today I live in Germany, Central Europe, and see that the acceptance of gay love has reached a point, where many people don’t even make a big fuss of it. Within younger people, I see a lot of openness and hugs even between straight guys. Just shortly, for the first time, a German soccer player had the courage to come out publicly, tackling one of the last kingdoms of ‘masculinity’, and just before, I saw a son falling in love with a guy in a modern version of Austrian “Heimatfilms”, those movies playing in beautiful alpine landscapes and telling heart-warming, simple stories of family and love—generally very appreciated by rather traditional audiences. This movie somehow really touched something inside me. Something I had always been dreaming of. Just coming to the point where it is simply natural for two guys to fall in love with each other ... without needing to hide in the big cities, without needing to be engaged in any drag shows are whatever. I was happy to see these two guys just being side by side in the parents lake side house, somewhere in rural Austria. This simple, shallow movie filled my heart much more than the many depressing gay movies I had seen in the years before. I grew up in a family very connected to nature. My fathers work forced us to move many times in my childhood, including South Africa and Belgium. South Africa inspired me deeply—wild landscapes, traditional tribal cultures, and always warm enough to spent all these three childhood years outdoors, swimming, gardening, playing, discovering nature. My fascination for nature and outdoor life grew, so I developed into a real nature boy. After returning to Germany, I had to reach the age of 16, before I first felt this special feeling inside. My first discovery of attraction. And it was a guy! By that time, I barely knew anything about being ‘gay’—all I knew where some clichés, something about gay life being bound to big cities, about HIV/AIDS, about superficial, sex-based contacts in bars, about loneliness. I started to strongly resist this feeling inside me… me gay? No! I just felt, it is not my life, not my
future. I still remember this tall handsome guy in my class, I just convinced myself of him being a stupid fool, just to make it easier to ignore this attraction. You can imagine, how this suppression of feelings and sexuality creates a weird development inside, leading to periods where I didn’t dare to take off my shirt or where I felt forced to wash myself far too often. Hopefully, a time of change came—it was a special encounter online, on a platform about meteorology, where at some point someone told me about his sexuality and attraction to guys. Although this made me break the contact in the first moment, being confronted with what I then had suppressed quite a few years—he helped me a lot to suddenly realize: With being gay, it is the same as with spirituality. You can be a spiritual being, but you don’t have to join a religion because of that. You can be gay, but you don’t have to become part of gay culture. This insight really made me suddenly feel free to be a guy who loves guys! Actually, very quickly I started to imagine myself being side by side with a lovely guy, sitting outside in the garden and enjoying the sun. I felt some kind of pride inside, that is something really beautiful to feel love and to share touch between two men. For me, the frightening idea was never, not even in the very beginning, being attracted to a guy. Nor was it being afraid of not being accepted in society or in my family. It was the fear of needing to lead my life in a culture that felt very weird to me, very distant to what I felt inside. I can tell you now, eleven years after I had my inside coming out, which was very quickly followed by an outside one—this feeling still has not changed. In a way I am happy that I never gave up being true to myself ... that I never really thought about moving into a big city just to meet other gays. That I never tried to satisfy myself with consuming anonymous sex, although I always dreamt of a deeper connection between people. For me, love and sexuality always felt very much like something magical, very powerful. If a deep connection of soul and body joins together, every little touch is like surfing in a tropical ocean. This is not about monogamy, it is not about relationship, RFD 157 Spring 2014 45
it is about allowing yourself to really dive into sexuality with another person, or even more than one person. Feeling this way, which is even not very common in straight love relationships, it appeared to me as completely non-existent in gay contacts for many years. I was often talking to my female friends about those magical and intensive experiences they had made, and I felt a deep sadness came up inside me. Listening to them, describing their experiences, I felt, that I could only refer to it from what I felt inside myself, yet it seemed like a world I could never enter. When gay friends, even faerie friends started to talk dirty about sex, I felt hard to take it easy and just make fun of it. Often, sadness came—I don’t mind, if people prefer it that way, but I did suffer from finding very few to talk about the other ways. I developed from a nature guy into a hippie nature guy, and met very beautiful people on my way, although I grew into a world where it still appears very rare to find a man who’s not completely straight-identified. So I kept switching between the experience of being with nature loving, outdoorsy, creative people, and although deeply enjoying my time, feeling a little separate with my attraction to guys…and you might imagine how hard it is, to be on one of those rainbow gatherings and looking into the shining eyes of a wild suntanned long-haired guy, not feeling free enough to give him a long, strong, intensive hug, although I would have loved so much! The discovery of the faeries in 2007 appeared like a little enlightenment to me. It seemed a dream, when I spent time on a gay chat, not giving up there might be some gay nature guy online, and suddenly someone who sent me a handwritten invitation to a ‘nature lovers gathering’. It was three days ahead of the gathering, 900 km to drive, but never was I more clear about my decision to go! Being in Folleterre Faerieland changed my life…not that I immediately fell in love with the magical, mystical landscape of that region, which I started to call the ‘Hobbiton of Europe’, I was also so deeply inspired by the colourful, dancing, naked sunbathing faerie tribe. Yes, I felt like I had found my tribe. I felt, for the first time, I need no longer to separate between my hippie life and my gay life—with the latter until then just consisting of desperate tries and searches! Folleterre became a second home to me— moving to Freiburg, a German town only 150 km away from the sanctuary, I was there nearly 46 RFD 157 Spring 2014
every gathering and especially in the community weeks, where I could feel the faerie spirit deepest. Working together on the land sometimes made it possible to imagine, Folleterre would be a permanent community. I strongly supported and deeply enjoyed heart circles, as to me, sharing from the heart is one of the strongest foundations of egalitarian communities, and with the faeries, I have seen it happening! Yet, part of me sometimes even felt lonely in faerie space. I realized—most people coming there do come from a history of gay city culture, and only a few of the faeries would really share a deep connection to Mother Nature, or could in fact imagine living in a faerie community somewhere far away from a urban center. It was mirrowed in the appearance of long-haired guys, which you can’t escape within the outdoor people, hippie and eco-gatherings, but yet still seem a minority in Faeriespace. Still, I have never felt closer to my tribe than within the faeries, and never closer to home than in Faerieland.
hen I now look back on my history, and when I see the development today, I often get the feeling, society is now fairly ahead of gay culture. To me, the unattractiveness of mainstream gay culture always caused some resistance inside me to fight for LGBT rights. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable on a CSD, visually supporting a way of life I simply can’t refer to inside. It is a culture of loneliness, superficiality and consumption, that often filled me with anger—especially when I thought about how it felt to me, when I was young, and what it might do to other young gay guys still needing to discover their unique way of love and sexuality, and not last, also their preferred way of living. It appears to me, that mainstream gay websites offer the idea of quick, dirty sex as if it was, what everybody prefers, and if not, its just prudity. It appears to me, that anal intercourse is still seen as the zenith of gay sexuality, although love between men can be expressed in so much different ways. Often enough, while resisting gay suppression in society, it is simply overlooked what damage this might do to some guys who dream of a magical, soul-tosoul encounter with another guy. And I am sure, it is not just me. In a way, although it is not really what I dream of, I feel thankful for the existence of online dating sites, as it offers alternatives for young guys to gay clubs and gay parties. Via online dating, it is
now even possible to live in remote countryside locations and still meet other guys. Yet, if you are not lucky enough to grow up in a supporting family or in a lovely circle of friends to talk to, online dating can be quite a frightening, lonesome and weird thing to start with. This is where I am so happy to have found the faeries. To have found a tribe of people where you can discover your sexuality, feeling supported, feeling inspired, welcoming people of different ages, appearances and origins. Where you can feel free as a queer person, in the big cities and in the midst of wild nature. I wish for more faerie sanctuaries to grow
“Union Square” by Donald Rizzo
around our planet, as I see that - especially within us queer folks - it feels very good to find a family and a tribe, to enjoy and give support and love, when we are young and need to find and discover ourselves, and when we are old, and don’t want to spend old age isolated or lonesome, and - just as much—in all the time between. I also hope for more faeries to discover the joy of outdoor work, self-sufficiency and adventurous outdoors activities, which can be such a healing balance to hectic, scheduled city life! And ... don’t be afraid to let your hair grow! Aho! w
RFD 157 Spring 2014 47
Interview with Habibi by Franklin Abbott
First, what do you want me to call you? The old guard will know me as John Ferguson and/or previous faery names, so present me as John Ferguson now AKA Habibi (darling in Arabic). I am a pianist and cultural diplomat working to train and unite youth through hip hop, classical music, Broadway and jazz/rock in nations such as Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Thailand. What drew you to the faeries and where did you go initially for gatherings? The silent hand of the goddess got me to my first gathering—I had just started my first job near Asheville, NC and a friend in Raleigh had met someone (cruising) at a street fair and that person Carl Smith told him that there would be a ‘gay camp out’ in the woods near Roan Mountain and that he should go. So my friend called me and we were off to what was then the home of RFD and the only faery community in NC, Running Water. I wore my first dress at that gathering, met faery luminaries such as our dear departed Faygele Ben Myriam, Sister Mish, STV and so many more, and took to faeries like a duck to water. What I especially remember is all the hugs and sweet lightly erotic physical contact that had been completely missing from my gay world up to that point. The rituals mystified me, but I was not repelled and my first fashion/talent show was a hoot and a half….I really felt like I had somehow walked into the home I never had before. From that point on I got quite involved with Running Water and spent lots of time with Ron Lambe working on RFD, environmental issues and gay issues. Eventually with Crazy Owl, David Hylander and Bob Toth we bought adjoining land. Running Water did not last long however and once it had dissolved there was a brief flirtation with community at Willow Hollow near Wilkesboro and eventually I got more involved with Short Mountain Sanctuary and travelled to gatherings such as Blue Heron. All of this was 1984 to 1988 and back then the faeries seemed like such an established tribe but now I see how young and new it all was back then. How did you find other faeries in Europe and 48 RFD 157 Spring 2014
what was the process like calling the first Eurofaerie gathering? In 1989 I moved to Europe to continue my studies and ended up on a track to an international performing career thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall that same year….. After two unhappy years in Paris I ended up being whisked away to Holland by a slightly crazy Italian farmer and cheese-maker, Alfredo. I found myself living on one of Rotterdam’s last old-fashioned dairy farms, lived in a converted horse stall, had a huge garden, gay farming couple neighbors and felt like I had finally found my Eurohome. However, Holland’s ‘tolerant Calvinism’ started to wear on me quite quickly and I was really really missing faeries and gatherings. Thanks to RFDs contact letters I met Geert of Bonn, Germany AKA Trish Trash and through Matt of Florida/SMS met Edouard van Koowijk of Zeist, Holland and the three of us, all missing our faery and gathering experiences from the US decided we MUST create faery space in Europe. But how? Northern Europe was a crowded place with little wide open space and the gay community was very suspicious of anything gay+spiritual+drag+ritual. for the longest time we just couldn’t get the pieces of the how-to-call-agathering puzzle to fit together. Then one New Year’s Eve, Geert travelling to the windy, cold, Dutch island of Terschelling during a hike found a For Rent sign on a huge and isolated old barn right on the tidal flats. With no neighbors and a huge expanse of nature including an enormous bird sanctuary we had found our home. So we bravely struck out advertising our summer solstice gathering to a very difficult community of Euro-queers who thought we were promoting everything from satanic rituals to brain-washing. Really, the amount of suspicion of our motives was unbelievable. But back then, pre internet, we did a mass mailing to organizations and to book stores and reached out to the Edward Carpenter community in the UK in particular and found about twenty five to attend our first gathering, a mix of US faeries and Euro—faery—virgins. From the first Yoo Hoo at the opening arrival circle it was pure magic.
Habibi at the Asian Faerie Gathering, 2004. Photo courtesy Habibi.
The scariest thing about organizing the gathering was the worry that the ‘faery spirit’ would not ‘be there’ at the first circle. I felt the gay Europeans lived so much in their heads that they would have trouble opening up to all that a gathering could be. In desperation we turned to our wise mentor, Franklin, to join us in establishing the open and welcoming space we wanted from the very start. Franklin was a most welcome and soothing presence and what we found was that those who attended really got it and were there for all the right reasons. About half were experienced gathering attenders and the rest completely new to it and curious at the least and raring
birds, the continual ebbing and flowing of the tidal flat which was buzzing with life and then we all had bicycles to go to the beach and explore the island. After years away from faeries and after the long cold, wet, windy Dutch fall/winter/spring, the summers were glorious. Seeing guys new to the faeries find and spread there wings was also deeply rewarding as an organizer. And our outreach to guys from deep Eastern Europe and former USSR (Estonia, Belarus, Azerbaijan) was rewarding. Hopefully one day we will see faery gathering in Minsk and Baku…. Another personal highlight was my wedding day, my faery name at that time was Lekker Ding (foxy
at the bit in some cases (Tinkerbell). From our first pre-dinner circle to the very end, it was a wonderful, intimate gathering that took place in an astounding and inspiring natural environment. Can you describe some of the highlights and some of the challenges of the first Eurofaerie gatherings? The continual highlight of the first Euro gatherings, for me, was that amazing space and natural location we had. At that time of year you have 18 hours per day of daylight, hundreds of thousands of
thing in Dutch) and my husband to be had the name Mr. Ding (Andre—a farmer boy / construction worker from Gouda). The wedding was a day-long affair that had rituals, parties, events all over the tidal flats, the house, the forest, etc. I will never forget our high priestess Efthimios speaking the wedding vows hidden high in a tree above the other and the naked reception we had on the tidal flats at lowtide—the only rule was to feed each other—with fresh fruits and natural delicacies from the island—
“Full Moon”, photograph courtesy Habibi
RFD 157 Spring 2014 49
blackberries and so forth. Well, the marriage lasted two years, interrupted by my move to Thailand, and the relationship continues on at a ‘higher level’. The main challenges were: 1) Numbers, we could only accommodate around forty five in that house and beyond that we were very cramped and when bad weather came the all-day puppy piling lost some of its allure. The movement wanted to grow, so we started gathering in Bonn area, a neighboring Dutch island and in Berlin as well as a winter gathering in northern Holland and nearby Germany. I think Terschelling remained our most popular gathering however. 2) Cultural dissonances: The British faeries were often at odds with the continental faeries (mostly Dutch and German at that point) about process and decision making and attempts to codify appropriate and inappropriate behavior. We all basically just bumped down the road together on these points and as Folleterre emerged as a community the Eurofaeries drew close together in vision and spirit. 3) Keeping the energy going between gatherings—we had trouble in Holland keeping circles and solstice / equinox events going between gatherings—it took a long time to grow into the more dynamic events that take place now in Amsterdam and Berlin for example. I think Folleterre has given the Eurofaeries a lot of focus and practical goals to reach, so from the outside, it seems that the EuroFaeries are really in a good space these days. Lots of gatherings and events all over the continent. Lots of new, young faeries coming in from France and Switzerland for example. As a world traveler and self described faerie missionary can you talk about some of the unlikely places you have discovered faerie energy? The Middle East…….and Southeast Asia…..The Middle East projects an external image of danger, intolerant religion and angry populaces, but my experiences there were just the opposite. Men, straight guys, bi guys and gay, practice a kind of intimacy I never knew in the US or Europe outside of gatherings. Since the genders are often separated in the Middle East, there is nothing more natural then a group of men spending all of their time together. As I am a pretty public figure in places like Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Sudan, I have been impressed how my straight students and colleagues accept my gayness and my faery-paganness as who I am. If you are someone’s friend, that person will accept you as your are, in most cases. So, I experience a kind of deep tolerance and embrace 50 RFD 157 Spring 2014
there that I find almost nowhere else in the world. I am generalizing here, but the way I see it is that for Arabs sex is an appetite, like hunger, that needs to be sated. There is no guilt attached to sex acts, but there is shame if you are caught/exposed outside of marriage. There are consequences for sating that appetite outside of hetrosexual marriage, BUT there is also an acceptance that men (its not fair to women, I know) need to have their sexual appetites sated. So often, sex is done in a friendly comraderie that involves more ‘getting off ’ then romance. And this very friendly, open, touchy-feely atmosphere among men is something I enjoy. I like to call it Habibiism—habibi means ‘dear or sweetheart’ in Arabic, but men address each other this way all the time, even when they do not know each other well. Southeast Asia: I live in Bangkok now and
have noticed everywhere in the region (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia) that lady-boys and ‘Toms’ (butch girls dressing and speaking as men) are widely accepted despite what religions may say. Thailand in particular has a famous acceptance of gender ambiguity and also a very ‘take it as it comes’ attitude towards life. They focus on ‘sanook’ (fun) and taking pleasure in life and ‘not thinking too much’. There is lots of massage and physical contact here too. So, daily life is in some ways like a gathering as there is a cultural imperative to accept others as they are and not criticize or try to change. What was your process in calling the first Asian Faerie gathering? The first faery gathering in Thailand happened almost by mistake, again the silent hand of the Goh on the beach. Photo courtesy of the author.
Goddess was steering things behind the scenes. The gathering was in February 2004 and I finally got the publicity started in mid-December, so it came about mostly by word of mouth. I was really expecting a ‘soft opening’ of a gathering and was hoping for twelve to fifteen. As this was 2004, everything was done online with Yahoo groups and posting on websites. What was surprising was how many people came from USA, Europe and all over Thailand and Malaysia to this gathering. Somehow the concept of a tropical gathering on a remote beach on a remote island resonated all over the faery diaspora and we had fifty-five. Our capacity to host that many was stretched to the limit plus the gathering seemed to attract a few rather demanding experienced faeries that were hard to satisfy with our rudimentary accommodation. We were not cooking our own food or controlling our kitchen and that raised issues. It took us a few days but we eventually got everyone settled into tents and bungalows and it turned out to be a mostly sweet gathering and an important meeting between East and West. The island, Koh Yao Yai, is a very sparsely populated mostly Muslim fishing island off of Phuket. The locals LOVED us and given the lack of any entertainment, there were tons of fishermen and their families hanging out at our fashion and talent shows. We did generate some buzz on that island…. they are used to us now and don’t flock to our shows like they used to. Can you talk about the Asian Faerie gatherings and again describe some of the highlights and challenges? We are in our 11th gathering this year, hard to imagine, and the numbers have never again reached as high as that first gathering. One reason for this is that it is very hard to attract Asian participants - the Thai never like to plan ahead and have a hard time getting more than one or two days off from work. Getting to Phuket is expensive for many, though we Group photo, 2009. Photo courtesy of the author.
have a scholarship program, and like I mentioned earlier Thai daily life and religion is already a lot like a gathering. The other challenge we have found is that at the beginning many of the Asian guys come because they want to find a western boyfriend and live happily ever after. This has only happened a few times over the past 11 years, and we don’t guarantee to anyone that they will find a boyfriend or even have sex. There is often an expectation that the gathering will be full of group sex, sorry it doesn’t get much more exciting than evening puppy piles on the beach. So, Asian expectations and Asianfaerie reality are often at odds. Language is often a barrier, even with translation, and in general SE Asians are not comfortable with speaking about themselves and any problems in particular, in circles. In Thailand if you are considered odd if you talk to much about personal problems, ‘focus on sanook (fun)’ is the mentality here. That said, the gathering are small and intimate, and the upcoming one, Feb 2014, is shaping up to be different as it is being organized by Indonesians and we expect about fifteen there and numbers around 40 to 45. Just as the EuroFearies had on Terschelling, we have a beautiful island on Koh Yao Yai (Big Long Island in Thailand) with many unspoiled, uninhabited beaches, beautiful vistas and sunsets and lots of nature to explore. We have a great resort, Heaven, that we take over for ten days, renting all fifteen bungalows, right on the beach. What we don’t have is our own gathering space or any plans for one at this point. Events between gatherings are extremely rare and big noisy cities like Bangkok don’t really lend themselves to them. So, as in the early days of the EuroFaeries it’s hard to keep the momentum going and the Austrian Faeries are spread between the US, Europe, SE Asia and Australia/New Zealand. If you were to initiate gatherings in another part of the world where might that be? Continued on page 62 RFD 157 Spring 2014 51
The First Bali Gathering by Chas Nol
n 1996, living in Jakarta, Indonesia, I found myself missing my Faerie friends. Jakarta then was, and is, a very polluted and congested city of twenty-plus million people. I was there working for an American company, living comparatively well. In fact, I was definitely experiencing a feeling of being the part point-one percent living in a ridiculously large home with a household staff, car and driver. I had lots of gay friends both native Indonesian and foreigners living there temporarily. I was comfortable with the gay social scene which centered on spending weekend days in any of the gleaming gigantic multistoried shopping malls and weekend nights at the single night club that had a section for the gays in the back and upstairs. It was not unusual to fly off to Bali whiling away the weekend, in a bamboo hut at Artini Dua, a mid-range rice-paddy resort in the artists’ enclave of Ubud. 52 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Spending the week peering out of the tinted windows of my air conditioned car at the endless stream of Batavians—the common moniker for native Jakartans—struggling through their day, fixing cars on the street, recycling found metal, selling goat sate, cleaning windshields or just begging in the stifling heat nurtured a pernicious and persistent feeling of guilt and anger. Being a “have” in this largely “have-not” society required a powerful willful ignorance or forced compromising long held beliefs in social-economic equality. Even acknowledging the stress of feeling sad felt entitled and self-indulgent. One incident sticks with me even now eighteen years later and forced me to confront my overly idealistic values. My driver and I were making our way on the freeway for the hour-long commute to my office outside the city. The one and only freeway was
Kaleo Kaluhiwa at First Bali Gathering 1996. Photo courtesy of the author.
jammed as usual. It was not uncommon for there values so violently confronted would also impact the to be grisly accidents where traffic regulations are psychic states of these visiting Faeries. One of these enforced on those who can pay the expected bribes visitors was my boyfriend, at the time. He, being and auto safety standards exist only when automakespecially sensitive to the people around him, had a ers find it cheaper to include them than to make an noticeably difficult time adjusting to the underlying unsafe car just for Indonesia. In the early morning chaotic nature. Others needed more space from the darkness, the commute was longer than average. group. Still others were challenged by the inability We suddenly came upon the cause of the congesto solve problems quickly and sometimes with just tion being a cow that had been hit. It was still alive a little coin. and moaning in wrenching pain, trying to stand up The time was not all stressful. There were many but its hind quarter had been crushed by whatever highlights to the gathering with heart circles by the smashed into it. As we drove around the doomed pool and hikes through terraced rice patties, bathanimal, I began to tear up feeling helpless and lost. ing in hidden waterfalls, cavorting with the fearless Trying to maintain some monkeys and being a part stoicism, I said to the driver of one of the largest and how I felt so bad for the spectacular funeral procesanimal. Half acknowledging sions in Bali in many years. me, he said he felt bad for The gathering was not what My privileged western the farmer, who has lost a I had wanted, and it was perspective knocked out vital part of his livelihood. what I needed. of place by the reality It was an instant reality The take away for me, check for me. My priviand a lesson I learned time that millions of people leged western perspective and time again at later gathare struggling daily knocked out of place by erings in Thailand, was that the reality that millions of replicating the Western nopeople are struggling daily tion of Faerie gatherings in in incredibly challenging Asia requires an awareness and difficult circumstances. and acceptance that they It was as if the farmer had been run over, rather will be fundamentally different. The assumptions, than just the cow. expectations and values we Westerners silently So, fleeing to Bali for weekends seemed emicarry with us will be fundamentally challenged. nently justifiable. The Balinese seemed less harsh There are core characteristics that are constant and more comfortable, economically and socially, including heart circles and the beautiful transformathan the Javanese. Still, I pined for those deep emotions that can take place in them. At the gatherings tional connections I had with my Faerie brethren in Thailand, I frequently heard men heralding from in the USA. So, why not have a Faerie gathering in Thailand, China, Malaysia and Indonesia speak Bali? I had organized many before in my years in of the joy of finding their tribe among the Faeries Los Angeles, so it seemed easy. Just find a place and and discovering a new and robust acceptance of convince enough US based Faeries—I hadn’t, yet, themselves. been in contact with the emerging Euro-Faeries—to I am encouraged that despite the culture shock make the 19 hour journey. and challenges Faerie gatherings in Asia are alive The place was easy and cheap enough that I ofand well. The gatherings in Thailand continue now fered to subsidize the accommodations to anyin their 11th year and consistently draw men from one who came. And to my delight fifteen Faeries around the planet. There was another gathering responded with enthusiasm. In December 1996 we in Bali last year. As farfetched as it might seem, a had the first Faerie gathering in Asia I am aware of. gathering in China is possible. While the logistics of planning and putting on It’s been four years since I’ve been to a gatherthe gathering were easy and the Balinese were only ing in Asia and I’m ready to go back. It takes a bit too eager to help, what I was utterly not prepared of courage for me to get there—not to mention the for was the difficulty of having to host a bunch of practical considerations. And I do miss the tenderwesterners, many who had never been to Asia, in ness of the sweet men that show up. They continue close quarters for ten days. It never occurred to me to brave a frontier in our spreading Faerie conthat the very same dynamics of having my personal sciousness. w
RFD 157 Spring 2014 53
India In Me by Arthur Durkee (Dragon)
ecause my father was a mission doctor sponsored by the Lutheran church to practice and teach medicine, run a hospital, and train nurses, I grew up in southern India, in a town in Andhra Pradesh. This early experience in a very foreign culture, and the attitudes and experiences it created in me, are central to why I ended up identifying as a Global Nomad, a Third Culture Kid, and a Radical Faerie. There’s no doubt that spending my earliest childhood in southern India was life-shaping. All my earliest memories are of India, the sunstruck land, the tropical nights, the monsoon. Each time I’ve returned to the tropics as an adult, these earliest childhood impressions surge up again, triggered anew by sights and smells. When I lived and studied in Java, Indonesia, on a Fulbright grant to study gamelan music as a composer, I had many flashbacks and memories of India. It’s fascinating how much memory is tied to scent. The smell of rotting fruit under a tree by the side of the house. The hallucinogenic perfume of enormous, sensual, sexual tropical flowers in all their glory, their scents being carried even more powerfully when the air is heavy with humidity. Whenever I visit a tropical room in a conservatory here in the Upper Midwest, that rotting-vegetation smell, sometimes like old bananas, sometimes like eucalyptus mixed with fig and freshly-turned humus, takes me back. My friends might turn up their noses, but to me it’s the scent of home. When my family returned to the USA, I was almost seven. Suddenly I found myself in Michigan, where I was born but where nothing was familiar. I was beyond disoriented. It spun me into a shock to the system so profound that I was numb. My par54 RFD 157 Spring 2014
ents said we were going “home,” but it was a place of which I had no memory. I felt no connection to it, at first. I often still feel like a foreigner rather than a native American. In fact I’ve spent much more of my life overseas than the average American. That shapes both perspective and attitude, existentially and politically. My innate spiritual impulses are more animist, Hindu/Buddhist, and shamanic than Judeo-Christian. Although I was born here, I often feel like a naturalized immigrant. Years later, I found words to describe this: like many children who grew up in similar circumstances, I was a Third Culture Kid and a Global Nomad. A child of two cultures, not having a sense of “home town,” comfortable almost anywhere she might travel, but rootless. In truth, Third Culture Kids have more in common with each other than with their friends who never lived abroad. The Great Lakes climate felt cold to me, even in late summer. My body still prefers languorous tropical warmth to winter’s bitter cold, and luxuriates whenever I can have a sauna or sunbathe shirtless or nude on beach sand or granite boulders on a searing late-summer afternoon. I spent my remaining childhood and young adult years in Ann Arbor, at our house on the very edge of town, roaming wild each summer, riding my bicycle for miles on the dirt roads north of the last stop sign, wearing as little clothing as I could get away with, almost always shirtless, tanning each year by summer’s end to penny-brown. I was a sensual naturist at heart, long before I’d ever heard the term. While the Upper Midwest can get terrifyingly cold in midwinter, it also gets very hot in summer. I glory in the summer heat. My bad knees stop clicking when I climb Photographs courtesy of the author
stairs. The sweat rolls down your ribs and thighs like baptism. How do you separate out what’s innate and what’s environmental? Was I already a painfully shy boy when I was thrust into the American public school system, finding it hard to make friends, wanting to be liked but too self-conscious to be confident? Or did I become shy because I felt so alien? Nature or nurture? I was already socialized with adults by that age, as I had no friends my own age in India. So I was always more comfortable talking to adults than to my age-mates, a feeling that endured into my twenties. Was I already an introvert? Probably. But making school friends was doubly hard because I was dropped suddenly into this alien world, and had to figure out how to adapt and survive. What I loved about school was learning new things; I was a knowledge sponge, absorbing everything at superhuman speed. The school library was my safe space. What I hated about school was the people I had to interact with, many of whom I couldn’t figure out how to trust. They were aliens. It wasn’t long before I was the target of bullies, which became my daily reality for ten years. To say I was a misfit is an understatement. Imagine, if you will: You’re approaching seven years old. You’ve never in your life seen a television set. You’ve never heard commercial radio. Your parents are both musical, your mother professionally trained in classical music, your father a gifted amateur opera buff; so you’ve heard mostly classical music and opera on the antique wind-up Victrola record player, usually during and after dinner. Pop music? What’s that? You have nothing in common with your so-called peers in your classroom. Not even your language, since you grew up in a relic of the British Empire, surrounded by Canadians and Brits and Indians; your vocabulary is Anglo-Indian, and you drink tea. Soft drinks were a marvel, a world of nose-tickling fizz never before explored. You played tennis in India, when the family was in the hill country, but you’ve never seen a softball or basketball before. You love to swim, love to be in water, but you’re otherwise not much interested in sports. It’s not that you’re physically uncoordinated, there just isn’t the interest. How can you take seriously a game like American football where the ball doesn’t even bounce properly? Boxing still seems too vulgar to call sport. You’re pretty good at volleyball, though. What do you do? How do you make friends? Who can you talk to who can understand you? Shared experience is the root of empathy. How do you learn to empathize with aliens who have no
idea what you’re talking about? And then the school teachers single you out as one of the brightest kids in their classrooms. No wonder you got beat up and bullied for so many years. Being the teacher’s pet was only part of it. School was a glorious trauma for years. The bullying didn’t cease until high school, when for reasons unknown the captains of the varsity football team decide that they like you and suddenly you are under their full protection. You get invited to the popular crowd’s parties. People say hello to you in the hallway, rather than slam you into the wall. You marvel at this change in fortune. Meanwhile, you had already learned to avoid the bullies by crossing the fields rather than taking the streets home after school, which led to a love of nature, cemented by visionary experiences out in the woods and fields and sun and wind. This childhood trauma of coming “home” became a psychological and spiritual wound, that forced me to go deeper inside to explore my own inner landscape, to find touchstones where none were provided in the outer world. I was a misfit among misfits. (Exactly as being a misfit in most of gay culture eventually led me to the Faeries.) It was long an inarticulate wound. I still don’t believe that most of my friends really understand this, so I don’t talk about it often. A great deal of this wound has been salved. Healing came via that soulful spelunking that was also necessary refuge. There remain scars. I still sometimes get stuck on acceptance, on wanting to be loved, even in situations where that is toxic. And because the bullying went on so long, and the adults and authority figures never stopped it, or even seemed to have a clue, to this day I’m instinctively mistrustful of figures of authority. Now combine this otherness, this foreignness, with the growing awareness that you like to see other boys naked. Spice it up with being a “soft” boy, not effeminate but who’d rather read than play sports. Who is aware of cultural relativity well before puberty, and does not comprehend why same-sex naked play should be wrong. I still don’t comprehend, expect as intellectual knowledge of the beliefs of others. So I’ve never really felt like a born and bred American. I often feel like an immigrant rather than a native, a little alien and disconnected. I feel empathy for immigrants, for refugees, for displaced persons, many of whom have survived far harsher circumstances than you or I. As I formulated for an academic paper in grad school on ethnomusicology, I am an insider/outsider, always walking that borderline without ever feeling completely in either RFD 157 Spring 2014 55
camp. The Faerie perspective of both/and rather than either/or is my native worldview. I have an affinity for the Hindu gods of southern India. I feel closer to Shiva and Ganesh than I do to Christian saints. I am post-Christian, raised in a rather intellectual Protestant faith, but I feel closer to the bhakti poets with their songs to the Lord of the Meeting Waters. I’m more drawn to individualistic spiritual explorers than to mass worship of any kind; more drawn to monks and mystics than megachurches. I carry an image of Ganesh in my truck, in his role as Lord of the Crossroads and Remover of Obstacles. The truck feels naked without Ganesha’s presence on board. My personal altar in my living room has on it Russian icons of the Sacred Heart, a Green Man, a painting of Mahakala, meditating Buddhas, and a large statue of Shiva Nataraj, the Lord of the Dance. And yet, the land of Turtle Island North America itself welcomed and rooted me in its beauty and power. Escaping the bullies by trekking through the woods and wheat, I felt at home. I am strong in Earth magick, to the extent that I almost almost majored in geology. This land of the Great Lakes region nourishes me as my home. The mountains of Wyoming and New Mexico whisper of another kind of spiritual home; as does the Pacific Ocean, whenever I am near. The Pacific and the Indian Ocean intermingle; I can stand on the shores of California and feel my way across the long water to those beaches near Madras where I surfed as a boy. I have photos of myself surfing in quiet shallow waters on the east coast of the Indian peninsula; had we stayed near an ocean, rather than the Great Lakes, when I was a child, I might have continued surfing. When the tsunami struck Madras in 2004, it was horror to my family because that was our familiar home; those drowned beaches were ones we knew. What’s the thread that ties all this together? I believe that it’s India in me: an eclecticism and openarmed approach to spirituality and sexuality that is experiential rather than dogmatic. If you consult the historians and anthropologists you come away with the impression that India is a muddle of thousands 56 RFD 157 Spring 2014
of local gods, each pointing towards something huge behind their local face-masks. Hinduism is both decentralized and local. There is no One Creed, one set of ultimate truths that everyone can agree to. It’s a collection of accumulated local faiths that grew and overlapped while still remaining local and personal, both small and large. Different versions of the same gods, arising in infinitely varied manifestations, scattered across the landscape. A dynamic eclecticism that breeds tolerance of variation. An awareness that there is One divine being behind all the variations that are the “masks of god.” My Faerie name is Dragon. There was never any question, I was Dragon before I first camped with the Faeries at my first Short Mountain Beltane. In my soul I’m an Eastern Dragon. Not the Western beast slain by the warrior-saints, rather the nature spirit of Eastern myths. I’m a Japanese dragon, or a Sanskrit naga spirit, earth and water. I’m the imperial Chinese five-fingered Black Dragon, the tea-drinking scholar who the Emperor sometimes consulted for advice. Dragon is not my totem animal, it’s an identity. This is who I am. An early boyfriend, a Japanese-American college almost-lover, once said that I was more Asian at heart than he was himself. It’s the Earthpower that connects me to Turtle Island. Some places have such strong spirits. As you contemplate a mountain, it looks back at you. The bluffs above a glacial lake seem charged with electricity. Viewing the sunset from a natural stone bench above the ocean, trying to catch the green flash, is charged with portent and meaning. It’s like the Japanese Shinto kami, the gods and spirits that inhabit specific sacred locations. Is my worldview more inclined to see the local gods because of my childhood in India? I do believe that my India experience opened in me an awareness of possibility. I don’t claim to have been enlightened by my worldwide travels. And yet India was where I had my first visionary experiences, liminal events that rang through my life. “Vision” is an inadequate word because the experience is all-encompassing, somatic, spine-tingling, incredibly sensual, and involves your whole body, “Dragon Gambuh” by the author
your whole spirit, your whole being. It is always, for me, full-sensory, kinesthetic, smell, taste, and hearing—never just “sight.” The common thread that has run through all my visionary experiences, throughout my life, is the presence of overpowering, actinic Light. And silence, in one form or another. Rilke wrote “Beauty is but the beginning of terror,” and this is true. There’s a reason many visionaries don’t talk about what they’ve experienced: words fail utterly. Even the old Celtic bards knew that there were things their word-hordes were unable to convey. Some simply go silent. Yet, struggle as I do with the inadequacy of words, I am a poet, hard, songwriter, composer, and I keep singing about what I’ve Seen. I must. Because I’ve seen the look in the eyes of the silent ones, that look haunted with light rather than shadow, that you’d miss unless you’ve shared the numinous experience of being immolated by the Light. Someone needs to talk about it, for those who can’t or won’t. Even so, my shaman song is provisional, and Mystery will always be a deeper sea. I was a boy of five in India when I first started having visions. My first connections to the natural world; hearing the mountains thinking; seeing presences that no one else could see. In India, the world started to open up around in me in ways beyond understanding, expanding and enveloping my small life in something very large. I remember that afternoon, when I was supposed to be napping in my room after lunch, when I snuck out of the house and went over to the laundry area—cement basins and tubs and wash areas, where the maids for all the houses in the compound pounded clothes and linens. It was a hot afternoon in the dry season. I snuck into the tubs, where a little soapy water still dampened the stones, and I took off all my clothes, to feel the heat of the sun on bare skin. It was sensual, hot on my front where
I lay down, the stone cool under my backside. I was blasted with light. Gradually I felt enveloped by bright white Light. Time seemed to stop. All the sounds around me seemed to recede into the far distance. The Light became everything. I felt tingles of energy all through my body, and I felt everything on my skin, the air, the sunlight, the cool damp stone under me. And in the growing silence, which seemed to last a very long time, I sensed something like a Smile standing behind the Light. It lingered a long time, then everything faded back to normal. I sat there flushed, feeling very tired and still. Eventually I put my clothes back on and snuck back into the house, and laid on my bed and eventually had a genuine nap. Very little clock time had passed. Everything was changed. I remember walking down an aisle of stone statues carved from huge blocks of living rock, a sacred aisle behind the temple of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, on the coast of southern India. Life-size statues of elephants strolled down the aisle, in between miniature temples, palm trees, and more, carved from boulders and outcrops in place. It was dusk. I ran ahead of my parents, down the aisle to its end, then turned to look back and waved. For a moment the light seemed dark and dense, and I couldn’t see or hear anyone; as if they had gone down another path, and I was alone. In the indigo twilight, the stone elephants came to life, and walked forward. Then I blinked and the vision was gone, my parents were there again in the aisle, several yards away, and sounds returned, and the light of dusk returned to blue rather than purple. I was about six years old. Once these visions began in India, they stayed with me even after we returned to America. I began to realize I was experiencing things other people weren’t. I also learned to keep mostly silent. I was already being bullied at school for being different, Continues on page 62
Planet Criers: Reflection on Recent Earth Actions by Reverend Billy
ur Stop Shopping choir donned their extinct toad attire, and sang for 15 minutes in a bank that finances CO2 emissions. In short order we found ourselves charged with War On Terror crimes by the District Attorney of the City of New York. That’s the gist of it. The prosecutor accused us of “Riot” and “Menace” and of being out of town protesters who make money this way... with “criminal stunts.”
The courtroom scene was Monty Python with wringing hands instead of laughs. Stern men in suits urged the judge to take the pranksters to a prison located on an island in the East River, known as Riker’s, for one year. So for 11 weeks, Nehemiah Luckett, our music director and myself faced a year in prison. Our unasked-for concert was in the lobby of RFD 157 Spring 2014 57
a “Wealth Management” Chase Bank, investor of billions in coal fired power and other disasters. The Golden Toads sang a song that is from the point of view of threatened living things (“I’m a frog, I’m an aspen, I’m a wolverine”). We handed out information from BankTrack.Org about bank money and the coal industry - and I preached a sermon about their profit-center called extinction. We told them it would be over in a few minutes, and it was. In early December, we faced a near-comic retreat by that same District Attorney. City lawyers continued in their stentorian tone, but then as Nehemiah and I stood there with our jaws dropping, they told the judge, “based on our study of the surveillance tapes, your honor, we adjudge this performance a musical presentation.” What? So the DA is a music critic now.
Riding a wave We’re riding a wave of Earth activism, and all I can say is Earthalujah! 2013 is the time of the Arctic 30, of Yeb Sano and the Filippino delegation at the Warsaw Climate Conference. Gezi Park, playing the piano allnight for the 606 trees. Idle No More backs down the Canadian government with drums and incantation. Tree sitters in Texas block the Keystone XL Pipeline from the gulf. Families swarm fracking sites in West Sussex. The Knitting Grandmas Against Gas add their jolly elderly presence in Australia and abroad. Climate Ground Zero’s Mike Roselle places a Ball jar of coal dust on the dining room table of the West Virginia Governor, before Christmas dinner. With our Keystone Kops vs. Extinct Toads affair published and posted like an unstoppable Dr. Seuss book, we found ourselves in a three-month-long international conference call with many of these same pranksters. Talking, we always came back to this: Why does what we are doing excite such incredible official response? (Even as I type these words in Brooklyn this morning, I see on the news-reel that our alphabet soup of post 9/11 agencies, the DHS, NSA, FBI and TSA - are using a new charge on banner-droppers in Oklahoma City. Two activists in the “Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance” are facing charges on perpetrating a “terrorism hoax” - an heretofore unknown idea, that a protest can excite certain morbid fears, or possess a certain aesthetic, and so become a national security matter.) In last fall’s conversations we meditated on this power of Earth activism, in its mysterious duet with the storms and floods. 58 RFD 157 Spring 2014
A Strange Silence In the West, there is little or no stage performance responding to the Earth’s crisis. For social movements in the past, comedians and singer-songwriters were the heralds of change. Now, as a super storm of science reports exclaim that the Earth’s tipping point has tipped - there is an excruciating silence of the lambs at the microphones of progressive show-biz. (Russell Brand being the exception…) And yet all this outrageous citizen volunteerism goes on. The microphone and stage is soundchecked by the police, who deliver fame and glory to ordinary people who disagree with poisoned water and bio-engineered plant-life. The old gauntlet of police permits for entering public space is ignored these days. The Earth gives us inherent rights. We know that the corporatized mental environment, full of screeching and moaning products, doesn’t let us run up a quiet High Street crying “There is terrible Emergency! The planet! It’s too hot!” And so our citizen performers make up new ways to be heard, often quite playful, and find themselves surrounded by riot police. Now I’m thinking of the flo6x8 flamenco dancers in Seville, who have made the Bank of Spain into an Andalusian harvest festival. Many of these Earth actions have a dream quality, seemingly innocent. (Jesusa Rodriguez’ children in Chiapas, in the costumes of organic maize, battling the muscle-bound GMO corn.) And dreams jangle meaning. Dreams start meaning over. Our conversations with our fellow pranksters sometimes have long silences, because our actions, like dreams, both invite and defy analysis. We see before us the parliament of the Maldives holding their meeting under-water, in scuba-gear. We paint each other for the Eco-Sexual moon weddings. And late this fall— we witness the liberating of the Tate Modern of its BP money by activists who seem to jump straight out of the paintings. A traditional political organizer might get impatient with all this. An organizer wants to sign people up, get this movement going! Except that the Climate Movement defies those marching orders. The most organized NGO’s with the most money and the biggest databases, seem the least effective. These activists, in their unpredictability, more closely resemble the chaos of nature, the evolving species of life that they are defending. So how do we encourage younger activists that there is a glorious tradition that they can join? How do we prepare? Can it be found in teachings of the Dadaists, or Augusto Boal? The Situationists? Reclaim the Streets?
Edward Abbey? Mahatma Gandhi, (but Gandhi with a touch of ACT UP?) Well, we get our teachings where we get them. The President of the Maldives may not know Magritte. What the Spider-women who climbed London’s tallest building, to hang their SAVE THE ARCTIC banner, have in common with the surfer activists in Kauai who stopped the landing of the Super-ferry with its 500 tourists - is the same thing that Rosa Parks shares with the lovely women who grew taller than the police in the Stonewall tavern. And that thing is what the kayaker citizens on the Fualeufu River in Chile have in common with CODE PINK, as those radical ladies revise gas station signage. And the flower man in front of the Tiananmen tank has it, too.
What The Actions Have In Common An activist event is a impacted story, and when it is released it has great power. It always features a struggle between two great opposing forces. In our case, the Earth fights with a super-species, a tribe of the top predator. Some call it the corporation. We call it the Devil. The Devil insists that the surface of the planet is entirely subject to his markets. Property lines are everywhere. Every single feature of the landscape, every mineral, gust of wind, salamander and invisible bacteria has a price tag. Everything is privatized. our deepest thoughts, our children’s upbringing, and the North Pole. One theme that these Earth activists share is the belief that “I’m fighting for life and so I go where life goes, which is everywhere.” This is where we resemble the floating bodies of illustrations of Crazy Horse or the loving flying people in a Chagall painting. When you place your body in the stream of an ecosystem you are 1) weightless like in a dream and 2) quickly illegal. (Those property lines are everywhere.) Think of Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd fleet - his six boats that seem to sail out of the haunted pages the Ancient Mariner - floating out in the waves, piercing the jurisdictions, daring the harpoons of the whalers. The most important Earth activism at this time starkly reveals this battle of natural life and the ubiquitous price tags. Activists know the lines and walls are everywhere and they look to trip a certain wire, climb over a wall, break a border, like a coyote named Hal in Central Park, like Guillermo GomezPena the border griot, like Pussy Riot, like teenagers singing “Freedom Road” in the paddy wagon. When you hit it right, a great story with Haiyan winds
releases through all of us. To the power elite the story says: “You don’t own what you think you own, not really.” The 1% suddenly has no real estate, no nation, no power. So to paraphrase the action hero, we are not just a dream, We are your worst nightmare.
Earth as Leader The Climate Movement doesn’t seem to issue from a great revolutionary text. We get our instructions from the Earth. Well, that seems like a surreal statement. Yes, that’s the kind of movement this is. The people most comfortable with this notion are citizen activists who are rising up for the first time. And these Earth-lovers don’t fit in an existing progressive structure—so they are welcomed by the outsider activists who have always been reviled by the middle-class environmentalist organizations. We recognized our own approach in this volunteering new wave. We know its creative innocence is much more dangerous to business-as-usual. The Climate Movement’s performance wing must have the rigor of lucid dreaming. We fly from threatened eco-system straight into the subconscious of the predators behind the riot-gear, flags and dollars, behind the suits and ties and regimented hair. Like the weather, we are not noticed in the landscape until our river carries us all away. The Earth is our leader and teacher. We can revolt anywhere because we believe that the bio-sphere has invited us to ride life, where-ever life goes. And if a government is aroused to press charges against an Earth prank, then it will undoubtedly start with “Trespassing.” You crossed the line. And what line did our extinct Golden Toads hop across? How did we get the system to show its paranoia for a couple months? We sang our animal song in a “Wealth Management” bank. We interrupted rich investors quietly staring at graphs and charts with their bankers, at a top fossil fuel bank. Chase insisted at the first court appearance that the singing frogs threatened the customers. Chase claimed that we would “come back and eat them.” The bank was searching for a feeling worse than an ordinary robbery, so dismayed they were that instead of obedient consumers in their lobby they faced extinct glowing amphibians. If I see a future, it must be where more and more young people look for a way to save their lives. We have teenagers coming into our choir. They give us a fierce look, and say, “I want to be an Golden Toad!” “I want to work for the Earth!” Another Planet Crier. Earthalujah! w RFD 157 Spring 2014 59
There are times when I believe they mistake my enthusiasm for ambition. I am almost sixty and have been a poet my entire life. You call that ambition? I avoided higher education because I believed it would pervert my voice; I’ve gone for decades without reading prose for fear it would stifle my rhythm and musicality. Ambition? Call me eccentric, yea, but not ambitious! I had constructed my first volume of koans and couplets by the time I’d reached first grade; it wasn’t ambition, I was still remembering previous incarnations as a Zen monk, as William Blake, and as Ono no Komachi before that; it wasn’t ambition, it was all I could do, I was simply inept at anything else. Later in life I spent ten years married to the wealthiest and most powerful man in Hollywood. I never asked for money. I never asked for employment. I wrote poems; I never expected anything more from myself. And now I write for classical compositions. My monthly royalty checks don’t cover the phone and internet bills; it is all I know to do. And in death, I presume, I will go on writing poems. It is what I do. Ambition? nay; though I enthusiastically await what is on the other side. Were I ambitious I would be running toward God’s golden door. But I am happy to wait in line, scribbling as ever, for the next poem; for the next Joy. —Gavin Geoffrey Dillard
Gavin has published eight collections of verse, two anthologies, and his infamous Hollywood tell-all, IN THE FLESH: Undressing for Success. 60 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Photograph by artboydancing
RFD 157 Spring 2014 61
Continued from page 51 We had a plan in 2011, a beautiful fantasy plan, to hold a gathering in Jordan in the Bedouin area of Wadi Rum (google it, its amazing) but I was there with a huge project and could not devote time to organize it. Basically in Wadi Rum the local Bedouin tribes will set up a huge tents for you, bring food twice a day and leave you on your own to do what comes naturally. In all of the Middle East, this is the one area that seems to lend itself to gatherings. Anyone out there interested in help making this happen?! We did have a brief and rather volcanic gathering in Bali that resulted in a scattered and divided local community on Bali (long story) but hope to see gatherings expand in Indonesia and hopefully other countries in Asia. I am just glad to have been just one of the many channeling the faery Goddesses missionary spirit and hope to see it all continue to expand. As LGBT rights become more and more recognized around the world, many are wondering ‘whats next’ and I think gatherings and heart circles are the best way do come out on a more deep level and continue growing on your gay path. w
62 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Contined from page 57 and this would have just made it worse. At age thirteen, trying to understand what I was experiencing, and dissatisfied with the religion I had been raised in, I began to read comparative religion, to find and understand some context for my visions. My studies eventually lead me towards panentheism, towards earth-based spiritualities, wherein I finally felt validated. Poetry and music remain the best means of sharing my visions. This is India in me: a constellation of the divine, a direct experience both immanent and transcendent, particular and local yet universal and omnipresent. In India, I witnessed temple festivals and ceremonies in which people were fully engaged, fully participant. Not abstract nor intellectual, but visceral, direct, personal, touching. Dancing, as does the Spirit that moves in all things. Did India make me a visionary, or would I have had visions at that young age no matter where I was? Nature or nurture? I believe that my childhood in India opened a door in my awareness. It provides a conceptual framework that intellectual Lutheranism does not. India may have made me more open, aware and available to that Light. There, it could happen anywhere, anytime. The very land is infused with millennia of sacred action, sacred music and dance, temple worship. The air and ground are so alive there. Vision and this multicultural spiritual path drove me towards the Faeries, eventually, as the only gay subculture that seemed like it could embrace me, all of me, as I am. Even then, there have been rough waters. Even in Faerie space, the land of misfit toys, I still don’t always fit in. I still feel like an immigrant outsider. Yet I carry India in me, an open and inviting door. I carry many local gods around in me, as Masks of God, familiar versions of the Light. The memories last beyond time and place, and connect as one this land I live on with that land I once lived on. I see the same forces everywhere I go, the same patterns and powers. What is universal is very particular, and what is very specific to Turtle Island partakes of what empowers stone elephants to walk in indigo dusk. It’s the oneness that is made up of the many. The many emanations that arise from the One. The light of India is India in me. w
GENERATE a global faerie gathering
an international gathering of
GENERATE an international gathering of
Natural Bed & Breakfast Retreat Tantric Erotic Massage Have fun in the Arizona Sun! Call Marc 1-888-295-8500 email@example.com
ALL: A James Broughton Reader GAY SPIRIT: Myth & Meaning OUT SPOKEN: A Vito Russo Reader Reel One and Reel Two www.whitecranebooks.org/catalog.html Coming in 2014: A reissue of Witchcraft & The Gay Counterculture with previously unpublished materials from the original lecture series, Moon Lady Rising.
RFD 157 Spring 2014 63
A diffEREnt AppRoAcH to MonEy wEllnEss Build a financial world that works for you and those you love, for Radical Faeries and their friends.
Advertise in RFD It really helps keep this magazine in production! We offer affordable rates and a growing subscriber base. If you have questions about advertising, please contact Bambi at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.rfdmag.org/advertise.php.
Back Issue Sale!
20% off for Five or More
RFD Wants Your Help
In days of yore RFD used to be carried by the major magazine distributors. But the distributors were notorious for not paying, so as a way to stem the losses we stopped shipping to them. Sadly, distributors do not share the names of shops that carried us. But that’s where you come in. If you can help us get back into your local gay friendly shop then be in touch. Our rates are simple a 5050 split of the cover price with a 120 day payment policy. We accept returned whole magazines or the covers. If we are able to establish an account with a shop we’ll give you a year’s subscription of the magazine!
64 RFD 157 Spring 2014
Issue 159 / Fall 2014
THE FULL FORTY
Submission Deadline: July 21, 2014 www.rfdmag.org/upload
Remember, Rejoice & Renew! When did you pick up your first copy of RFD? Who introduced you to our radical read? Have you been one of those dedicated subscribers all along? Did you just discover us and send us your first poem, your thoughtful essay, your expressive art? Is that bookstore where you first found us still around? What issue uplifted you the most, really got you stirred up? You have never written us? Now is the time. For forty years this has been your reader-created journal. Your words, your images, your experiences, your desires, your grieving ––– they have been our reasons to exist, to print, to connect. You are US We are U So Do it Now Do IT Again Submit to RFD! The upcoming Fall Issue is our official 40th Anniversary. We marvel at forty-filled years of continuous publication. We honor the memories of so many: Stewart Scofield, Rick Graff, Cal Witman, Faygele benMiriam, Candor Smoothstone, Arthur Evans, Raven Wolfdancer, Michael Mason, Crit Goin, Dwight DeLight Dunaway, and so many more dearly departed comrades-in-arms. (Tell us whom you remember and why!)
We praise the intrepid dedication of a great many more: Donald-Engstrome-Reese, Ron Lambe, Franklin Abbott, Raphael Sabatini, Jan Nathan Falling Long, Tom Seidner, Steven Riel, Bo Young, Jim Long, Dan Vera, Dancing Mane, Vaughn Frick, Stevee Postman, Myrlin, Gabby
Haze, Daz’l, Sylvan, Jombi, Lapis, Leopard, Ha!, John Wall, James Creagh…and the list so much longer. So much appreciation given and due. Matt Bucy, Bambi Gauthier and fellow feys in New England have revived our aging publication and are propelling
us into this new century with a format returning to its comfortably handheld, radical roots and they have added fullcolor bleeds off the page! Ours is a unique and vibrant chapter in the history of gay publications. One not pandering to the gay gene for trendy consumerism but emanating form the Whitmanesque compulsion to self-celebrate and make comrade connection. Come, Rejoice in these forty years with us—with a renewal or first time subscription and with your thoughts and images —to keep active this forty year dialogue with one another. —Sr. Soami for the RFD Collective
ue t iss
l , Fa
RFD 157 Spring 2014 65
RFD Vol 40 No 2 #157 $9.95
66 RFD 157 Spring 2014
a reader created gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity
Published on Mar 21, 2014