Number 171 Fall 2017 $11.95
Issue 172 / Winter 2017
KEEPING THE CENTER Submission Deadline: October 21, 2017 www.rfdmag.org/upload
“Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks that happiness consists in not having toothache.” —George Orwell, Can Socialists Be Happy
We’re asking our readers to reflect on how we delve forward being inclusive—but inclusive without being dogmatic about how we do that. Getting at the purpose of self-direction and autonomy with an open society, how do we meet the concerns of those who feel marginalized while also being able to speak to the needs of the larger community, agency and purpose? How do we speak from our own core values when
those values do not seem to agree with the current models of intersectionality, safe space, and inclusivity? If the goal is community that allows for difference, then how do we challenge emerging orthodoxies, challenging ourselves and others when need be, but also being aware that being uncomfortable is different than harm, and that fear is not the same as violence?
Reverberating Funny Days Vol 44 No 1 #171 Fall 2017
Between the Lines
So obviously everyone here at RFD wanted summer to never end. Our apologies for the late issue but with a small crew and difficult schedules and life events we’ve been delayed. So we hope you enjoyed the summer issue some more while waiting. So we asked you to consider ways of taking us to your happy place. The reaction has been varied and shows the diverse impressions of our readers. So we offer you essays, poems, photography and artwork, short stories and an interview. All in their way reflecting what a happy place looks like, feels like, what delving into happiness is about and how record our happiness and our struggles. RFD is as most of you know a small enterprise and recently we sold a cache of RFD back issues to Virginia Tech after they saw only one copy of RFD from the 70’s. We’re hoping we can inspire you to share your experience of RFD with others – share your copy, gift a subscription to someone, recommend a bookstore to carry us, and if like a generous donor you are able to give we’d highly appreciate it as we’re hoping to match their amazing gift of thousands of dollars to fulfill undone projects: our archive scanning project to digitize our back issues as well as publishing a chapbook of Michael Mason’s poetry. All with our usual printing of the magazine we’re trying to economize on things but we’re facing challenges – old computers, higher costs for software and increasing fixed costs – storage space for back issues, internet and postage costs which seem to go up each year. We’d love feedback on the magazine and we’d love to hear your ideas for future issues – send comments, ideas to us via email@example.com or send us a letter! RFD Press PO Box 302 Hadley MA 01035-0302. We hope you enjoy the issue!
—from a sunny still New England The RFD Collective
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Submission Deadlines Winter–October 21, 2017 Spring–January 21, 2018 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 RFD, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA
01035-0302. Non-profit tax exempt #62-1723644, 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. First class mailed issues will be forwarded. Others will not. Send address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org or to our Hadley, MA address. Copyright © 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.
On the Covers Front: Painting by Timo Elliot Back: Graphic by Josh Turk
Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Art Director: Matt Bucy
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Images by Josh Turk
CONTENTS A Call to Faeries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Damien Rowse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Dancing Blind. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dragonfly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Life Reimagined: Chaos to Simplicity . . . . . . . Gregory T. Wilkins (a.k.a. Equus) . . . . . . . . 7 Happy Place / My First Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tim Evans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 If You See Yourself Going Through Hell, Keep Going. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph Morairty / Equus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Joe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leo Racicot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Punatic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James Schwartz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Am I a Radical Faerie? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Don Perryman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Chris Moody. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18, 39, 41 Deluxe Bologna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . e.c. patrick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Shivian Morgan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22, 23, 49, 52, 63 Interview with Jay Stratton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bambi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Josh Turk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back Cover, 2, 24 Daniel Nicoletta, Photographs & Book . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Ananda: A Day In Queens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bambi Gauthier. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 The Secret of Jude MacDowell . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meghan Bell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Timo Elliot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Front Cover, 43, 46, 54, 58, 60 James McColley Eilers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 The Choice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lilly Moore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Duermevala. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Amalgam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leah Dugan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 A Hike. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mark Ellis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Hymn to Pan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rob McCabe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Women from South Georgia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Forrest Evans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Silver Paws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Fleming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 At The Timeâ€¦ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maximillan. E. Romo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
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A Call to Faeries by Damien Rowse
A Vision of Three-Year Retreats for Rainbow and Ally Couples, supported by Faerie Sanctuaries. Join our Facebook Page, “Three-Year Faerie Meditation Retreat for Couples”. In Memory of Bernhard Nobis who died in 2017. We experienced the truth of reality beyond birth and death while we lived on retreat together for six weeks in 2016. In Bernhard’s memory I wish to share this knowledge with the Faerie lineage.
e dreamed of the day when any Faerie Sanctuary that wanted it would have the knowledge to support any couple to organise a three-year meditation retreat for themselves. Of course it makes sense to do shorter retreats first but this was the long-term vision. The Radical Faeries were born out of the meeting between the Gay Rights movement and the Two Spirit lineage of the Native American Nations when Harry Hay and John Burnside lived with the Tewa Nation of New Mexico in the 1970s. They learned that as in most indigenous cultures, the Two Spirit lineage retained the knowledge that we are a different gender whose power and beauty stems from our having male and female spirit in the same body. In the Two Spirit lineage we have always had a place to stand. Bernhard and I learned much from the time I 4
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lived in India, spending time with a Swiss yogi who had lived on retreat for many years both alone and with his wife. On our overcrowded planet we come together after centuries and millennia of some European minds having partially obscured the knowledge of who we are, to help lead the human species to liberation. The easiest, most loving way to achieve this is for a couple to retreat into a secluded hut or cave and simply lie down together. The Light at the centre of the universe is an infinite, eternal ocean of Light brighter than a hundred suns. Its nature is infinite compassion, infinite love and infinite knowledge. It is our true nature. The Light is dreaming the soul plane, from whence souls return into human form again and again. The entire universe is a dream created by the human mind. Allow the illusory mind to be absorbed back into the light of the soul inside the innermost chamber of the heart. From there allow yourself as the soul to be sucked through the wormhole-like tunnel across galaxies faster than the speed of light to the Light at the centre of the universe. The soul burns up instantly and one need not come back again for another lifetime. When a baby is born it exists as soul consciousness abiding inside the innermost chamber of the heart. Through exposure to human minds the consciousness voluntarily closes shut this innermost chamber as an act of self-protection. The thought ‘I’ travels down from the head and embeds itself into this clenched-shut tissue… over time the child believes this ‘I’ is its true nature but this is not so. The consciousness shifting up to the head is unnatural. The mind is meant to be there only for emergency problem-solving such as storing food for winter. It is overcrowding that has created pressure on the human internal ecosystem that has resulted in unusual and sustained mind-centeredness. If one’s consciousness is mind-centered, every single thought embeds density into the organs of the torso. This density is harmful, obscuring the natural Light that shines in these organs when we are born. Bernhard and I found that just by lying together with chests and tummies touching, no books or technology, the energetic emanation from the torso nourished the other. The heart, solar plexus and torso gradually let go of the density stored in these Above: Bernhard and Damien, June 2016. Photographs courtesy author.
organs through a lifetime of thoughts. We wept each evening as the organs purified themselves. The chambers of the heart gradually unclenched; when the innermost chamber unclenches the illusory mind is sucked back into the light of the soul therein. We became unimaginably strong, doing weightbearing poses. We naturally gravitated towards eating more and more of the most stable, potent nutrition: raw grains and nuts. We rented out property so that we could retreat properly and have food supplies delivered. Eventually the internal organs shone with Light in their original and natural glory. Then and only then were we ready to sit up, all the organs supporting each breath in full power. A rod of solid energy extends from the crown of the head down through the innermost chamber of the heart and down to the groin. This is the soul. With more love and rest the soul itself is then inexorably sucked back through the tunnel to the Light at the centre of the universe. Your true nature yearns for this to happen; every force in this dreamuniverse is propelling and encouraging you to return Home to your true nature of infinite light, infinite love, infinite knowledge and infinite compassion. Forever and always and right now this second.
Dancing Blind by Dragonfly
ne of my most powerful learning moments happened while dancing blindfolded with a hundred naked men. At a gathering of Radical Faeries, community members hosted a wild ecstatic dance. A bacchanal event that I hoped would be super sexy (and it was!) but it also opened my eyes. With no light stimulating my optic nerves, I had a chance to look at men with other senses. Revealing attractions and judgments to which I had been blind. Imagine a hundred naked blindfolded men dancing together. Imagine gnats swarming in a beam of sunshine. Short lived dances of blind mating. Crashing into each other until a connection allows them to complete their mission. Sight gives us the gift of knowing we are near
others while allowing us to maintain distance. I know that I am surrounded but as soon as my blindfold is in place, I am amazed at how I feel alone. It doesnâ€™t occur to me to just dance and enjoy the music like I usually do. Instead, that feeling pushes me to seek a partner. We are all blind. As I wander in my darkness, elbows, backs and warm bodies brush up against me. Even without sight, I can tell if the body that bumps up against me is already dancing with someone else. And although I could attach myself to these duets, I feel I must look for someone who is free. As time passes on my own, I begin to take my solitariness personally. The idea that everyone else is connected and I am left out crops up. I know this is ridiculous because no one around me can actually RFD 171 Fall 2017 5
see me or each other. We are all in the same boat. did, I was a bit thrown. It was someone I had known I am a bit of a loner. I’ve spent more of my adult for years. Someone I had kept at distance. life as a single man than in relationships. But noneHe is about my age, darkly tanned, really muscutheless, this curious personal angst emerges in me lar with dyed hair and lots of tattoos. The prominent in that space. tattoo of Papa Smurf on his shoulder stumps me. When I do find someone, we explore each other My mind has created a story that he is too tanned, rudimentarily. Our hands feeling the contours and too muscular, too tattooed for me. And the hair coltemperatures. The hair and the skin. Gathering data. oring with the tan is a visual disconnect. But I don’t And once a flimsy sort of commitment is in place, know him. I distance myself from knowing this man we begin to learn the way our energies will play with my eyes open. But with my eyes closed, I want together. him close. The relief of finding another body willing to stay My initial thought is to pull away, now that I with me however briefly in this chaotic world is knew who it is. Then I think why? I can not unsee palpable. The first time it happens I feel immediately him. And the intimacy and pleasure we feel can not grounded. And with it comes the new story that all be unknown. Other parts of our embodied intelthe other naked men are now dancing around me ligence do the work of learning about each other. and my new partner. I am now Blindfolding ourselves allows a sun. No longer a lonely planet a connection to happen that orbiting through space. vision normally prevents. Each connection After a song ends or my inSo there in that music filled I discover creates terest begins to fade, I let go of space surrounded by a hundred the star I’m with and immedinaked dancing men, I do battle a unique dialogue. ately, I am a million miles away with myself. To recognize that Part me. Part from contact. Even though I the judgements my vision this other person. know he is only inches away. inspired are not truth. I have to Without words or I feel as though he completely honor the truth of a beautiful ceases to exist. intimacy that my body is now images, it’s mindEach connection I discover holding. blowing to discover creates a unique dialogue. Part As the dance continues, how instantaneously me. Part this other person. I float between a few more we find our groove. Without words or images, it’s partners but keep my blindfold mind-blowing to discover how firmly in place. To revel in the instantaneously we find our body centered exploring just a groove. Whether its playful or sensual, I am curious little bit longer. And when the music stops, I am sad how much of me is in each duet. as vision based reality shifts back again. I believed in I dance a little on my own in my own personal the absolute authority of sight and as I remove my darkness but feel foolish. There are community blindfold, I am no longer sure I can believe my eyes. members around the edges of the space watching Looking around the room, I seek out the man I and taking care that dancers don’t hurt themselves. have the powerful connection with and again, the The awareness of their gaze keeps me self aware and same judgements crowd my mind. But they are less seeking others. powerful, less believable. And for the first time, I I collide with now warmer, sweatier bodies. can see the shadow of my vision. Sight offers a layer Until once again I find a new partner. This man has of reality. thicker, more sculpted muscular padding and we An interpretation of reality. move in sync beautifully. We dance together for a Clearly, not the truth. long time. I let him go to the tips of our fingers and At least not the whole truth. then reel him in to nuzzle and embrace him again. There are so many gifts from this blindfolded I begin to feel my cock come alive but this world is adventure. Without sight, the fear of being alone is sensual, not sexual. I welcome the aliveness in my never so palpable. The grounded, centered feeling of body and let it be. connection never such a relief. And in order to see After awhile, the intimacy deepens. The touch, truth, at least more truth, I needed to close my eyes the play is communicating a soft creative beauty. I and feel for it. had to peek. I had to know who he was and when I 6
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Life Reimagined: Chaos to Simplicity by Gregory T. Wilkins (a.k.a. Equus)
am leaving the country if tRump is elected”, are the words that rung in my ears during the tRumpapocalypse fiasco. Will leaving the USA truly solve the problem? No. (It will only follow you; it’s like a sexual transmitted infection that never goes away.) My Facebook feed is littered with snarls, memes, and emojis that try to bring some resemblance of cheer, awareness, or anger in these uncertain times. Sitting at the lunch counter with friends and colleagues, the dialogue circles back to how we will manage as a community of educators, activists, scholars, and queers that want to engage, while enraged, creating and shaping a place that we hold dear, as we challenge others (and ourselves) on topics such as “the wall,” immigration, Betsy DeVos education “reform,” and healthcare to name a few. In Minnesota, social change warriors rallied allies together at the Unitarian Universalist Church as well the local mosque and other houses of worship for dialogue. We explored ideas on community building, shared resources, and local activism strategies that would bring awareness and engagement to the hearts and minds of fair-minded Midwesterners. We would not be silenced by fear, aggression, or a life of negative what-ifs. Activists and allies recalled that Minnesota was the first state in the United States where the people voted for queer marriage by defeating a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. We held house parties, music gatherings, free speech protests, and social justice marches. This foundation set the tone as to how we would move forward in these now unpredictable and uncertain times. We created a web presence where members could
Phoenix Rising Number 2, by the author.
inform the community of concerns, network, and reach out to one another. We developed a phone tree should U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement disrupt our neighborhoods, places of business, and worship. Our local communities supported one another as places like Minneapolis and St. Paul
became sanctuary cities, telling the federal government it cannot coerce local governments into doing its work. While all this is well and good, the tRump fog finds its way into our daily life; it creeps into everything. The national pulse of tRumpapocalypse can become mentally, spiritually, and physically exhaustRFD 171 Fall 2017 7
ing. How does one escape the onslaught and find peace…away from the media, daily conversational grind, and propaganda? The answer lies within. For me, I settle into my art; it is my escape, my retreat, my Shangri-La. I turn off the world and focus on my breathing, paint strokes, and the creative process. Pressing, international, news may swirl in my head, as I push forward to regain focus and balance on topics that are also important— personal reflection, appreciation of unknowing, innovation, and peace. In the resolve, I find calm amidst the storm. The words of His Holiness the Dali Lama ring true, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you know; when you listen, you learn something new.” Beyond my daily art-filled repetition, I reflect how I may be an ally for others. As a Radical Faery of privilege, I am afforded the opportunity to transcend nation states and visit countries around the globe as well as local towns, cities, and villages
in the United States. By volunteering locally and globally, I am able to live my personal vision statement, “creating a life of change impacting the lives of the one or and many”, while learning about others different from myself and dispelling the myth of what some believe it means to be a United States citizen, a Radical Faerie, a gay man, or queer. By doing so, I find joy in the quiet moments with others who once were strangers, leaving as brothers and sisters united. In these uncertain times, desolation can conquer the spirit. Know the discomfort, feel the syringe’s poison, and chose to rise up in glory despite the anguish. Circle your friends and lovers close. Find inspiration in simple words, actions, and deeds. Among the midst of clouds, relish in knowing the sun and moon shine brightly. Reimage a life well lived, moving from chaos to simplicity. And as always, shine on!
Happy Place / My First Poem Bike riding, happy place, Vermont Warm air, sunshine through the trees, sparkling lake, bike path, level route Breeze in my face, feeling of flying, feeling of being totally present, no past, no future, just now Heart pumping, lungs breathing, legs pushing, muscles working, keeping balance, harmony Stop to catch breath, drink some water. Move on and see the flowers, trees, birds, sky, all open, feel it all around me. Bike riding, happy place, California Fresno Woodward Park, sunny, hot, strange trees, but getting that old happy feeling of flying back. Monterey Bay, sun and clouds and fog, don’t forget a hoodie Bike path, level route Pacific Ocean is right there. John Steinbeck, Cannery Row, sea birds, magic, Salt smell, wind, I’ve come a long way! —Tim Evans
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If You See Yourself Going Through Hell, Keep Going by Joseph Morairty / Equus
t all began in Key West while we were traveling the mainland. My father met us there for a short visit. He enjoyed himself and invited us to come back to Maui to his home. After he left we decided to accept his offer and moved expeditiously back to Maui. All was well until we moved out to Lower Nahiku in Mauis’ wild and wet north shore rain forest to restore and live in a hundred year old house on an old cacao farm. My husband Albert did all the restoration work while I helped gather materials, did some landscaping I got some income from a job in Hana ,the small town nearby with a famous hotel, the Hotel Hana Maui. The first disturbing occurred when my older brother came the fifty miles out to retrieve an old koa wood couch Albert had restored and received from my mother. He took the couch away and my mother said there was nothing she could do except maybe pay Albert for it which we found unacceptable. The whole family then visited us and brought their own ham even though we were vegetarian. We moved from there after our two year work/ trade lease was up (even though we’d been assured by the owner we could stay as long as we wanted) so the owners daughter could move in with her family and relocated to a thirteen acre hui outside of Hana, Charlie Butterfly’s land. Albert built, dismantled and rebuilt three beautiful homes on that beautiful piece of paradise in the hilly terrain adjacent to Hana. We stayed several years until I found work back on the leeward dry side of Maui and Albert discovered he was eligible for a housing rental voucher through the HUD Section 8 program. He could now rent any place for thirty percent of his SSI pay. Keeping our place in Hana, we searched for landlords willing to work with Section 8 housing, there weren’t a lot. So we found several different compliant apartments up and down the leeward coast from Lahaina to Kihei until we settled into a beach front apartment in Kihei at Charley Young Beach for twenty years. We maintained both places until I was elected as a state representative for South Maui for two terms (2006-2010). Relative relations really deteriorated after I was hospitalized after two seizures that the doctors ascribed to toxoplas-
mosis brought on by AIDS. Albert stayed with me at the hospital and aided my subsequent recovery at home. My family reacted with revulsion and rejection to my ideas, creating a distance between them and us. This included exclusionary events—birthdays, holiday celebrations and newsletters to mainland relatives with no mention of my marriage to Albert or Albert as son-in-law. The siblings maintained their on and off niceness, sometimes welcoming and other times dejecting, always with sarcasm and put-downs of my husband (Do you shave your genitals? Do you drink your own pee?) We put up with such boorish behavior (cloth wiped napkins smeared in my nephews face because of a haircut my husband had given him) and four hours in a sweltering car taking father to the clinic and to run errands for him. No invitation to refresh ourselves with a shower or a glass of water when we returned to their apartment. We finally had had enough of this while staying in a makeshift area between two houses at my brother’s place. My father continued his intrusion. into our lives even there, so we used a new program through Section 8 HUD (Albert had quit his participation earlier) and got an apartment in downtown Hilo within walking distance to the health food store and the Hilo farmers market, all bordering the beautiful state park around Waiakea Pond. What really saved us was the basic core of our relationship—a profound difference in the way we viewed the world with a positive ennui brought on by firm belief that showed this reality as the reflection of a projection that has enumerated from a central source that established an unchangeable pattern that needs to be followed without attachment to the process or the result, only to rise above it all. Watching all with a dispassionate eye while keeping in conscious awareness of the source that created all, remaining enveloped in unconditional love. We must keep this foremost on our mind screen and stay in the calming love at the center as the only way to move through this movie without being dragged down to a negative level just to communicate with this world. Yes we cannabis! RFD 171 Fall 2017 9
10 RFD 171 Fall 2017
by Leo Racicot “A friend, as it were, is a second self ” —Cicero
y all natural and academic laws, I should have been starting off high school freshman year at Lowell’s prestigious and very Catholic Keith Academy. Other than a C in sixth grade science (I still don’t warm to anything scientific), I earned all As and Bs throughout grade school and I aced Keith’s entrance exam but was denied entrance. My mother called to complain. The Saint Patrick’s School principal, Sister Clare Cecilia, called to complain. And my eighth grade teacher, Sister Mary Jeanne, marched over to Keith to demand an explanation for my non-acceptance. My father’s dying wish had been that I continue in Catholic education. But the higher-ups would not explain. To this day, no one understands why. But the cosmos works in mysteriously weird ways; had I gone to Keith instead of Lowell’s public high school, I never would have met him. Him is Joe. This is how we met.
was sitting in Frank Finnerty’s first period History of Ancient Civilization class with my back turned to the left when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked to find a boy with sly, green, fawn-like eyes and a shiny sweep of Beatles mop top hair across his forehead smiling at me. “Aren’t you in my Phys. Ed. class, third period?” I said I didn’t know. In those years and for many after, I was supremely shy, thought this kid looked odd, just wanted him not to ask any more questions. Go away! I thought. I hated having to be in this rough-and-tumble public school. Mr. Finnerty entered and we opened our books. Cut to three hours later—I am standing, post gym class in the boys locker room, naked, trying to hurry out of there as I did not like gym and did not like being naked with other boys (that was to change in the years ahead!) when, again, I feel a tap on my back. I turned to find the same kid, bone-ass nude, with a dong “down-to-there”, smiling that same smile. He beamed, “See! You are in this class!” His delight was so funny, his features so open, his stare such a surprise. I thought, “I have known this kid for a million years.” We instantly got along.
Photograph courtesy author.
or my part, I found him charming. Joe never says hello or goodbye. I, at first, found this ill-mannered until I realized it means there is no beginning or end to our times together. They simply flow like the flow of a river. We know we will see each other again. I find this pleasing, especially when, for example, after not seeing each other for a long time, running into him by accident on a city bridge. Unsurprised to see me, he gazed below and said, enchantingly, “Look, Swans,” and pointed out the white wonders dipping their bills playfully into the water. We watched with awe for a long time and then Joe walked away without a word. Or when he demonstrated how much he liked popping the buds of Hosta plants. He took such pleasure in it, cocking his ear to the little explosions Or the time Boston Common pigeons, when we were kids, flew to his open hand simply because he extended it out to them. I was afraid of pigeons; his fearlessness made me quiver. Adding to his charm was the charming oldtimey, homemade candy store his parents owned and operated—The Blue Dot. Sometimes Joe would take me there. It was fun watching his father make the candy. Samples were offered and I loved Joe’s hard-working, witty, attractive family: three pretty sisters and a brother, his twin. Joe’s mother, Josephine, was hilarious, in a not-deliberate way. I ate up her malapropisms, her oddball mispronunciations of words—mezza-leen for mezzanine. Eggs Benedic-teen for Eggs Benedict. Soap-een. Everything was “een.” A classic fretter, her classic line we still giggle over was first heard at a holiday party. She was a nervous sort, always that way, hopping here, there, wanting everything to go right. Guests were bustling about, chatting, catching up—no one was going for the food, settling in. Josephine’s voice rang out, “Somebody cut the cheese!” We all roared laughing at the double meaning and ever since, when someone farts, wherever we are, Joe and I look deep into each other’s eyes and scream, “Somebody cut the cheese!” Coming from Lowell, we like to think we are as sassy/saucy as Bette Davis, as bright and firework-y as a James McNeill Whistler painting, as lunatic as Jack Kerouac (all three also Lowell natives). Growing up in Lowell, I swear, infused us with KerouaRFD 171 Fall 2017 11
cian craziness. We both can look like just-off-theboat altar boys but there is in us a wild side that knows no bounds. Take the episode at Kerouac’s grave. Visitors to the famous author’s resting place often leave little gifts behind—beer cans, half-smoked joints, poems, prayers and promises, tchotchkes of various colors and kinds. Joe wanted to leave “something unique.” We were kneeling at the grave, being very reverent and still when all-of-a-sudden (maybe I had little something to do with egging him on with cars passing only a couple of feet behind us) Joe released his monstrous Eastern European cruller from the calaboose of his blue jeans and began flailing like a shaman possessed by madness or strong, good peyote. I cheered him on. A vital radiance flushed through his hand and his almost-ridiculously big balls swelled to the cherry red blush of summer fruits. I could see Kerouac’s great, desiccated, hungry face rise up out of the sleepy ground to take that viscous, delicious, white worship that was Joe’s offering. The sexual energy threw Joe back onto the grass breathless, spent, his hair snaky with release and freedom. He accuses me now of prettifying the incident with poetry but I have never forgotten how the sun shot luminous through his hair in the split second his cum cannoned out. I thought of the ripeness of first sexual explorations and felt reborn. I think Kerouac, too, that day knew life again as if Joe for those few mad minutes was fucking him back into existence.
oe and I are Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Mary and Rhoda. His wit is legend, his knack with puns relentless, amazing. We love punning. We never quit, not for long. We do crazy things. We’ve had more than our share of drunken tom-foolery but we don’t need liquor to fuel our misadventures. Constantly on-the-prowl for intrusive photo ops, we once climbed inside the city’s Christmas manger— what we nickname “the Creche-mas Creche”—to strike Hollywood poses beside The Three Wise Men, wrap our arms around Mary and Joseph, simulate bum fun with the sheep. We came this close to mounting Baby Jesus but thought that might get us a ticket on the Straight-to-Hell ride. We were always pushing boundaries, going where propriety and civility dare not show their faces, challenging the iconic lions of religion and pretense. (Irony of ironies, Joe has attended Holy Mass at least once a week for most of his life). We are, at the age of sixty four, still children in many ways. It might be as co-dependent as all getout. What I like so much is that we can talk about 12 RFD 171 Fall 2017
anything and not shock the other whether it be our scat fantasies, our love of extreme BDSM porn, our belief (at least in theory) that all mean people should be smothered with a pillow. No topic is offthe-table. The freedom of this is incalculable. Even if it is only we who agree on this, ours is one of the great friendships. I hate to say it but gay men are not famous for long-term anything. We do not know of anyone among us who has been together for half-acentury. This, for me, gives our union a championship aspect way beyond marriage. If we had married or lived together, our relationship would have lasted a year, if that. We let each other “be.” We are not a bother to each other. We laugh. God, how we laugh. Laughter has been our marriage.
t is impossible to catalog all the fun of fifty years. We have drunk Manhattans in Manhattan (in Sardi’s, no less, surrounded by Al Hirschfeld’s wonderful caricatures of famous Broadway stars, a theater queen’s dream of heaven). Joe loves Broadway. Did I tell you he could sing, from start-to-finish, the whole score of Sweeney Todd—a three hours plus wonder of Sondheim-ian intricacies? Astonishing! On a New York City trip (our first), green as grass, we bought tickets from a Times Square scalper for Tommy Tune’s Nine. We paid seventy five bucks each (a wildly high amount in those days) thinking we had scored plum seats. Imagine our volcano of horror/laughter when the usherette led us up to the very last row, second balcony! Still, the show was a dazzler. This was also the trip where I (with Joe’s assist) climbed to the top of The Statue of Liberty on crutches (dislocated knee). Nine remains one of our favorite musicals. One time, we each took separate buses (because of schedule differences) to meet in the theater district to see Daniel Radcliffe naked in Equus. Yes, his performance was electric but who are we kidding? We screamed like little girls when Daniel skipped onstage, nude as the day he came out of his mother. A revelatory experience, never to be forgotten. Daniel Radcliffe’s junk. Yum! And naive as shit, we walked up to the box office window of A Chorus Line, a show that was setting attendance records worldwide, and innocently asked for two orchestra seats. The box guy busted out laughing, “You have got to be kidding?!! Darlings, this show is sold out through the 23rd century!”
oe and I have exchanged hundreds of letters, postcards, magazine and newspaper clippings even though at times, we lived only a couple of Photograph courtesy author.
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miles from each other. If we were able, we talked on the phone every day, during work hours, even! We somehow found the nerve to crash a fancy Paul Theroux gathering at some posh Beacon Hill mansion, venture into buildings we want to explore that say NO TRESPASSING. We figure if places are verboten, they must hold fascinating, interesting sights and sounds within. And usually they do.
ne of our favorite things to do is eat out. When our stomachs were younger, we would hit the Southeast Asia Restaurant, a post-Vietnam eatery run by a gruff ex-soldier (also named Joe) and his Vietnamese no-name wife. Nice gioza and a super hot pork dish we called Fat Prick (Phat Prik) needed endless bottles of Tsing-Ha to cool our tongues off. Completely hammered, we’d make our besotted way across town to Toni’s Place where we would feast again, grease up on scrumptious onion rings, cheese steaks and more beers. We ate and drank ourselves into a stupor while ogling and rating the hot male customers. How we made it home on foot after Bacchanals like that is still a mystery.
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ur term together has weathered affairs and infatuations we have had for other men, romances born and aborted, other friends, geographical separations (Joe has traveled a lot but has lived most of his adult life on Beacon Hill; I have lived on Cape Cod, in Las Vegas, in Cambridge but other than the odd hiccup, we have been joined at the hip like Siamese, if you please). I never get tired of Joe. His energy is atomic, his curiosity, too, for gay fiction, for architecture, for theater and TV sitcoms, for the tiniest dandelion puff, for the bodybuilding beauty of men. He will read this and say, “Oh, God, Leo,” but Joe has been and is my happiness. The sight of him today is the same as the thousand sights of him through the years. It is always new. It delights me to see him. I don’t know what it is but I accept it and am thankful for it. We complement each other. What we are lasts. From the day we met on that history class morning, we have never stopped being intrigued by each other, amazed, silly, occasionally vicious, interested. Yes, Interested. That’s it. Plus we haven’t shut up in fifty years! “Love,” wrote Truman Capote, “is never having to finish a sentence.” My favorite memory of us is this—countless times, we found ourselves linking arms skipping, drunk as monkeys, down Beacon Hill, after a night at the gay bars, singing Fanny Brice’s “I’d Rather Be Blue” I’m crazy about ya, without ya. For you, I’m strong. I can’t live without ya. Oucha-ma-goucha! Don’t be too long. I need a little ah, little ooh, little oh and I’m knockin’ on wood. Honey, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, It’s so hard to be good! I lift a glass to you, Joe, and to more fun times together. Happy 50th! Photo courtesy the author.
By James Schwartz
Unshaven face? Check. Yesterday’s clothes? Check. Baggy Punatic pants? Check. My first bicycle ride in ages and my bones creak like the bamboo trees in a storm. The six miles from Kapoho to Pahoa curves through the jungle both uphill and down. The road into Pahoa is very downhill and rather than slow down I throw caution to the trade-winds and fly full speed ahead, pants billowing around me. “You see that guy, how he looks ghetto? He’s local.” A passerby remarks to his companion as I billow by. I’m an official Punatic.
Photos courtesy the author.
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Am I a Radical Faerie? by Don Perryman
ver a decade ago, my good friend Doug explained to me that he was one. Or rather he tried. You may have to be one to understand. It was all about gender-bending and nature worship and over-the-top antics—and it convinced me I was definitely not one of those. (Hah!) Some years later, after I’d mellowed into a happy retirement and loosened up a bit, Doug took me to Short Mountain for the May Day celebration, which I came to know by its pagan term, Beltane. I packed my camping gear, along with a few other things I never would have taken on any ordinary camping trip, and we headed north from Atlanta to Liberty, Tennessee. One of the first surprises when I entered that amazing Sanctuary on a nearby mountain was a greeting from folk I’d never met: “Welcome home!” And it soon was a home like I’d never known. Oh my! In my high-school Latin Club toga and tunic held over from high school, I took to the big celebration, as one elder up there commented, “like a duck to water.” The first day of May dawned like a rainbow miracle after a week of drizzle and mud. Yes, yes, I was ready to shout to the blue heavens, I am indeed a radical faerie. Yes, I am! And oh what a frolic, and oh what an education it was—and is. I didn’t miss a Beltane or a Fall Gathering for years. I’ve even been up there when it wasn’t such a carnival, and I enjoyed quiet, equally satisfying times with a much smaller, laid-back group of folks. Which is not to say I’m all that much of a radical faerie. It’s more like the way I became a belated hippie. At Short Mountain I dipped voraciously into that sensuous smorgasbord of celebratory costuming and counter-culturalwhoopee embracing everything from vegetarian meals to skepticism about all major political affiliations, to visits to the Chapel (the communal privy that always has plenty of great reading material, including RFD of course). I celebrated the hedonism of free love that was more sincere and satisfying than some of the trickery I’d encountered in Atlanta, daily heart circles where one could share the most intimate details and be supported, the mesmerizing drumming and dancing at the fire circle every night, the openness of joint-tokes and random hugs 16 RFD 171 Fall 2017
and gropes in front of God and everybody, the invitations to explore and practice every spiritual pursuit known to humankind – and some that were unheard-of until dreamed up on the spot. I was particularly struck by the option of unselfconscious nakedness where the worst that could happen, I finally realized, was that mine would be blithely ignored—and supporting all of that, two simple rules: “Be nice or leave” and “Wash your hands!” Then, nice and happy as I may have been and nice as others had certainly been to me, I would take my gear, my memories, and my photos—and leave. I’d go back to my more-or-less comfortable neighborhood life north of Atlanta, which isn’t that bad really, but, well, to be quite honest, less authentic in a crowded world of locked doors, traffic, fast food, cell phones, computers, police, and countless lost souls who have no idea what it would be like to behave radically—or even to be gay in the broadest, most fabulous sense of the word. I wouldn’t leave happily, though, satisfying as the experience always was. When anyone said, “Back to the real world, huh?” I was quick to reply: “No, I’m going back to the UN-real world!” Then as my car wound its way down the dirt road off Short Mountain, I shed happy-sad tears for all I’d appreciated and all I’d miss back in my usual home. But when I did return and approached that amazing place again where no one is turned away for lack of funds, or for lack of anything else except common decency, tears would begin to well in my eyes for a very different reason. And I’ve never been disappointed, no matter how many unexpected personal issues popped up in that quaint haven, prompted by the challenge: “What is your intention here?” But no—I guess one doesn’t become a Radical Faerie by making faithful trips up to Short Mountain, or to any of the other sanctuaries around the country and the planet where such gatherings occur. Or maybe one does. Maybe the designation of radical faerie is amorphous and broad enough to encompass in theory every human creature here beneath the sun and the moon, whether we ever get it and gather or not—only far too many poor,
lost bastards out there in that greyer world have no real idea that such a potential exists within them. After all, I didn’t, for decades. Sadly, Thoreau was right: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” My first night there as I watched a naked man gyrating to those hypnotic drums in the golden glow of the firelight, I thought of a phrase of poetry I’d found years earlier: “the pure dance of a person becoming himself.” And when we dare to celebrate that way and make the most of the precious time we have to become our truest, freest selves, we are being radical, simply because that fundamental commitment to life’s possibilities strips away so much that’s superfluous and false and opens up a space within and around us for miracles. Miracles like knowing I couldn’t make a fashion blunder up there if I tried, sporting the gaudiest garb that had waited in my closet for years, somehow escaping the Goodwill collection—or maybe throwing together something fabulous or foolish from the colorful, musty resources of the Goat Boutique in a corner of the old barn up there. Like walking up to a stranger on the knoll and speaking candidly to her or him assuming it’s a friend I just haven’t met yet—and finding out it is. Like washing endless stacks of dishes after a good meal at the cabin and getting surprise hugs from behind for doing them. Like helping to make new benches and tables for the deck there or joining a wood detail to keep the home fires burning. Like watching a no-talent show of performances that ranges wildly from the beautifully sublime to the delightfully ridiculous—and even beginning to wonder what I might get up to say or do. And I finally did get up—to read three poems I picked from my huge bale of unpublished stuff after trying to guess what might appeal to such a gathering of diverse spirits—only to find that it did appeal—or I did. And I’m sure it had much less to do with being some great poet and more to do with being a regular, flawed fellow among friends. I took the chance of being naked in that verbal, emotional way—before a crowd of listeners I thought I could trust. So I did, and I was rewarded beyond ordinary hopes. There’s more to all this than sharing and celebrating, though. For instance, the solitary strolls I always take out Memorial Ridge to where roughly inscribed stones remember faeries who’ve gone beyond in body but stayed right here in spirit, many of them wasted by the plague that raged so in the 80’s and 90’s. As I gaze at the trinkets and kitsch and bat
tered photos and loving words in that silent space, I realize what a close-knit tribe this is, how sweet it would be to belong and be remembered so sincerely, so unpretentiously. In a colder world where ageism often seals us older gents off from the youthful smorgasbord that passes for gay life, this love and respect for elders is a blessing I appreciate more and more as the years advance. On one visit to the Sanctuary I watched a small plane fly overhead, scattering the ashes of one who’d lived and loved there, and been loved, and finally cared-for round-the-clock (and even made love to) until his dying day—and would be from then on. His clothing, poems, and more of his ashes were offered to those of us who wanted some tangible remembrance. I think of him when I put on the sweater I took—even though we never met. And, among those still very much alive in body, mind, and heart, I continue to form deeper friendships, truer intimacies, fresher insights, and a better glimpse of a unique realm that most people ignore and of which they are therefore ignorant. I ponder how so many things matter in the outside world that don’t matter there—secrecy, traffic, conformity, fear, conspicuous consumption, clothes, profit margins, “development” of the land—and how so many things are treasured and celebrated at Short Mountain that hardly are anywhere else—candor, kookiness, home-grown vegetables, courage, diversity, solar power, vulnerability, community, paganism—and who knows what next! I still marvel at an incident during an early visit down to the communal bath house (yes, one of my favorite haunts). As I opened the door to the sauna where naked faeries and free-spirited friends of faeries gather to stoke the wood stove, pour dippers of water on the hot rocks, steam, sweat, chat—and, yes, play if we want, I saw a beautiful young woman sitting on a high bench, obviously quite pregnant. As I stepped in she gave a little “oh!” and I asked, “Did the baby kick?” “Yes, she said, “Want to feel?” And without hesitation I lay my hand on her slick, round belly and felt a lively poke, thanking her for an experience I hadn’t known since decades ago in a former life when my own were on the way. I think about that baby’s eventual coming out and the liberal, loving world she or he was likely to have come out into. And what if more children could be born to all this? So, am I one of these amazing folk? Yes, indeed, I surely am. After all, a Radical Faerie is not so much something we are—but rather someone we continue to become, if we dare. RFD 171 Fall 2017 17
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Photograph by Chris Moody
Deluxe Bologna by e.c. patrick
The Bologna Ballet I don’t travel the Mountain Parkway in eastern Kentucky much since I stopped travelling for work, but I will certainly make the trip every now and then when I need a spoonful of sunshine and a bucket full of juicy gossip. My closest friend resides in those hills, and once a year her daughter delights the crowds of beaming parents and family in the town’s local dance school’s recital. The ever-eager participant, she was to be featured in four dances this year and was the star of her class. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Guncle more beaming. En route, I had zoned out among the curves and passes under the sounds of an ambient radio when I noticed one of those typical road-side restaurant signs proclaiming menu items meant to entice a quick stop for lunch or dinner. Beaming at me from this particular one (as if it were smiling at me with a slightly sadistic grin) were the words:
Deluxe Bologna! In bold black letters against a dusty white background. Now, this would seem to me, at first, to be an oxymoron of the highest order having never met a bologna I liked much less considered “deluxe.” Snapshots of horrid day-care lunches on endless repeat filled my synapses followed by the unfortunate, if not rib-shatteringly hilarious memory of a Fischer’s garlic variety consumed by a college roommate who later knocked out half of a classroom with a sweeping cloud of gas fed so disastrously by its contents that it was nearly unbearable to breathe. It was the stuff of bologna legend to be sure (and perhaps something the company had become aware of as I’ve not once seen a package of it since). Whether the tongue spits out balonya or baloni, there is just no dressing it up no matter how many Doritos you stick in that sandwich to give it that spicy crunch.
Yet, despite my disdain for it, here I stand in an age when “deluxe bologna” could easily sum up the way I feel about the current state of our entire political system—a metaphor for a country suddenly turned into something of a joke. It would seem that my ideals and thoughts on how life should be are now under daily attack by a suddenly increasingly less tolerant world. Two steps forward, one step back, only it feels so much more personal this time. Perhaps the word I’m looking for is frustrating. We are in a moment of uncertainty, and it pains me to feel like we cannot continue to move forward at the same pace that recent years have allowed. It is in these moments that I have to let myself laugh (maybe vent a little to like-minded friends), to find a pocket of ‘happy’ wherever I can, even if it is on a road-side sign in the middle of nowhere beaming at me with impossible truths and flat out correct ones at the same time. In this case, I did laugh and thought about the flower bouquets and candy baskets that would fill those little dancers’ arms in congratulations for their efforts, the cherry ice we’d be sure to get afterwards at the local Dairy Cheer (highly recommended if you ever make it down to those parts). In that young heart that so meticulously calculated her moves to tunes from Charlotte’s Web and Goosebumps, I was forced to see that there are maybe brighter things to think about right now than mystery lunch meat or its metaphorical equivalents. Hers is a heart without judgement or hate, one that cares more about costumes and pirouettes than who I choose to love. She represents an ideal still innocent and alive, even if that ideal suddenly feels a bit stifled elsewhere—one that would let today’s political bologna sit on the shelf right past its inevitable expiration date. At least in this country I still have a choice, a choice to let the noise and hate out there consume me or to live the life I earned despite of it.
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Interview with Jay Stratton by Bambi
RFD’s office has been a buzz about a new book by a longtime Radical Faerie, Jay Strattan (BlueJay). The book, Pomona’s Lost Children, is a wonderful collection of antidotes and lore about twelve heirloom fruits. It delves into how to find these rarities and contains pages of recipes for each. RFD: BlueJay how did you come to write this wonderful book? It so reminds us of old RFD articles from our back to the land days of how to propagate, tend and use foods in our lives. BlueJay: How did I come to write the book? I have been a subscriber and contributor to RFD ever since the 1970s and the “back to the land” ethos is just a part of my life. It helps that I have always lived in the country for summers and now half of each year. I just wrote about the fruits that I have tried to grow on my farm. RFD: Much of the book is you talking about each fruit, how it came into your life and how you’ve chosen to take an often ignored fruit and grow it and use it. Where did your interest in plants and the wild (as many of the fruits are native species) take root? BlueJay: My interest in these plants dates back to my childhood in many cases. My earliest memories involve quince, for some reason, back even before I knew that it began with a “Q”. I have long term relationships with these plants through childhood memories and through my heathen spirituality. It seems more as if these old-fashioned fruits have chosen me and not the other way around! 20 RFD 171 Fall 2017
RFD: You use lore and historical information to give a narrative of how these heirloom fruits were cherished in lean times. What’s one of the more interesting elements you came across while researching the book? BlueJay: The most interesting fruit to me was the medlar. It was new to me but the more I found out, the more fascinated I became. How and why did a sex-positive fruit get remade into a sex-negative thing, complete with fag jokes and the cult of female virginity? I have not yet located answers in the lore to my questions but where there is smoke, there must be fire. What is the goddess lore of the medlar? RFD: You chose to focus the book on currants, black currants, quince, blackberry, persimmon, medlar, gooseberry, jostaberry, saskatoon (forever serviceberry here in New England), pawpaw, cornel, and elderberry. Which of these is your favorite fruit to grow and use? BlueJay: I’ll claim the medlar as my favorite fruit as well, even though it is laborious to produce. The lore sells it! The taste is not at all bad, either, especially when prepared in the recipes which I largely invented. Good luck finding any. Here’s an aside. Since the book came out I have met people who have shad runs in their area and call “serviceberry” by the name “shad” or “shadblow” as in “shad run in the water at the same time as the blossoms on this fruit.”
RFD: You list a multitude of recipes in the book. What one can you recommend to RFD readers? BlueJay: Best recipe? Good luck ever finding medlars for sale! Try for an orange quipple pie (quince and apples and dried fruit reconstituted in Gran Marnier). RFD: Another fun element of your book is how some of these fruits have pagan or early historical relevance which is now lost on the average person. For example I often use elderberry tincture but I’ve never had elderberry juice or seen the plant until we planted some at Faerie Camp Destiny. What fruit do you think we should all try to grow? BlueJay: What to grow? Quince are still available in season, so I’ll suggest you try to grow elderberries as these are not available in commerce except as dried fruit or as jelly. Elderberry is so sacred that the goddess Huldra is said to live within her branches, and also the souls of the ancestors. She is also the
RFD: Many RFD readers may remember you from hosting Ganowungo Gatherings in upstate New York. Can you tell us a bit about the land there? We understand you’ve put it into a land trust. BlueJay: The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy now has two preserves (five parcels of land) in the Chautauqua Gorge of westernmost New York due to the efforts of Radical Faeries—the CWC East Branch Preserve of Chautauqua Creek and the Oxbow Preserve—forty four acres total. All of the gorge lands (but not my cabin) are now in the landtrust. This is the place where Ganowungo Gatherings happened for twenty five years. RFD: BlueJay thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions for our readers. How can people find your book? BlueJay: Pomona’s Lost Children is available for $14.95 on Amazon. Thanks for the interview!
Orange Quipple Pie
Good/Bad Faerie Godmother of the fairy tales. She is said to accompany Odin on the Wild Hunt. Elderberry is a good plant to grow for food, both the flower and the berries, and for medicine and for the pagan lore that comes along with it. RFD: The theme for this issue of RFD is “Take Us To Your Happy Place” it seems from this wonderful book that your are happy out in the fields cultivating interesting fruit crops and learning the lore and usefulness of plants. What makes you most happy these days?
¼ cup dried quince and / or apple set to reconstitute in ¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur 2 apples 2 quince, minced 1 cup sugar ½ teaspoon dried orange rind ½ teaspoon cardamom ½ teaspoon orange oil (optional) 4 tablespoons tapioca flour Set the dried fruit to soak for several hours in the liqueur. Prepare your pie crust of choice, generally 8 tablespoons of shortening with 1 ½ cups flour, pinch of salt and only enough water to bind the dough. Cut the quince much smaller than the apples and be sure to avoid the fibrous core. Addition of the dried fruit helps soak up the liqueur and the juices as the pie cooks. Bake for one hour at 375˚F.
BlueJay: Of course my “happy place” is my farm and my land at the edge of Chautauqua Gorge. Photographs courtesy author.
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Photographs by Shivian Morgan 22 RFD 171 Fall 2017
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Daniel Nicoletta, Photographs & Book
aniel Nicoletta is a freelance photographer who began his career in 1975 as an intern to Crawford Barton, who was then the staff photographer for Advocate Magazine. Nicoletta also worked in Harvey Milk’s camera store in the heart of the burgeoning lesbian gay bisexual transgender mecca in the Castro district of San Francisco and he was involved in Milk’s victorious election to public office on one of the first openly gay political platforms in the world. Nicoletta’s body of photographic work maps his long romance with San Francisco and it’s people, especially the lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender communities. At lower left is Nicoletta’s new book cover on which Harmodous and Hoti appear from 1975 in front of 529 Castro, a commune of significance in terms of early Radical Faerie identity. Dan didn’t know Harmodius and Hoti (aka Anthony Rogers and Crit Goin) at the time he took the photo but eventually became close friends with both men over the years. On November 7, 1978, three weeks before Harvey Milk was assassinated, Hoti and Dan ran 5,000 postcards of the image and once those cards with “Faggots are Fantastic” emblazoned on the front started to make their way around the world, the demand for them increased tenfold. The first run quickly sold out, yielding enough profit to do a second printing which was designated by Crit as a fundraising vehicle for the then seminal non-profit “Fruits of Cernunnos” (formed to help foster and sustain the as yet unnamed radical faerie culture that was emerging). Nicoletta’s work has been featured in numerous settings: books, periodicals, films and collections, including The New York Public Library’s Wallach and Berg Collections and The Bancroft Collection at University of California, Berkeley.
Top: Daniel Nicoletta working at Castro Camera late summer/fall 1976. Photo © Harvey Milk. Courtesy of the Harvey Milk/Scott Smith Collection at the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center, San Francisco Public Library. Bottom: New book cover, details in article.
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Readers can purchase Daniel’s book directly from the publisher: www.reelartpress.com/catalog/edition/100/lgbt:-san-francisco For US purchasing we recommend working with your favorite local small bookstore and asking them to order the book for you to pick up there. The distributor is DAP/Artbook.
SFLGBT Pride Parade, Cirrus and Frederick 06/28/1992
Lily Tomlin, Divine, Sister Ed and Cockette Pristine Condition at an autograph party for Divine at the Bakery 1975 RFD Cafe 171 on FallCastro, 2017 29
Club Chaos and Klubstitute float in the SFLGBT Pride Parade, June 25, 1989
John Burnside and Harry Hay with the Radical Faeries, SFLGBT Pride Celebration June 30, 1996 30 RFD 171 Fall 2017
Willie and Sylvester, Gay Freedom Day Celebration, Golden Gate Park, June 1976
Harry Britt and Milk friends campaigning for Harvey Milk during the second supervisorial campaign. Waving to morning commuters in what became known as a human billboard, circa 1976
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White Night Riots, SF City Hall, May 21, 1979 RFD 171 Fall 2017 33
Angels of Light show - Inferno Reason October 1975
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Anne Kronenberg driving newly elected Supervisor Harvey Milk in the SFLGBT Pride parade, June, 1978
Leon Lott, December Wright & Larry Williams, Castro Street Fair, August 1976
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Ananda: A Day In Queens by Bambi Gauthier
n Sanskrit the word Ananda means extreme happiness, one of the highest states of being, for me happiness is a state of knowing the contrasts between what makes me unhappy and the that which opens me up to ananada. In these tumultuous times, I am struck my how happy I can be while being clear about the uncomfortable circumstances we find ourselves universally surrounded by. But I am so aware that unhappiness is a state of not knowing, doubt, the unknown. So knowing that which is uncomfortable to my mind—homophobia, racism, sexism, classism and religious intolerance makes it clear where I am in proximity to those challenges, gives me a position to act, a place to do my own growing and allow me rest from these challenges. Being a gay man raised on the tit of feminism and radical politics, coming of age in the era of Reagan / Bush and sowing my oats in the midst of HIV and it’s reaction—ACT UP and Queer Nation, I feel I’ve often done my heavy lifting in terms of reacting to unhappiness—working on pride marches, running a GLB youth group, organizing local for the March on Washington, taking in protests against the dirty wars in Latin America, being anti-nuke and anti-war, helping start a faerie sanctuary in New England but I’ve often let that lift take place in absence of my own happiness. My mind always allowed me to think the “good fight” was a path to happiness. I was in illusion. Happiness is often as simple as looking up, seeing the wondrous sky. But deeper connections to happiness for me have often involved me taking an inventory of creating practices which allow me to shine 36 RFD 171 Fall 2017
enough to smile. So chanting to Shiva or Ganesh, praying to the Blessed Virgin as the Great Mother, or walking in the woods looking for the intricacies in the moss, the bark of the trees, the complex leaf. But sometimes I need more to ground myself in joy. I used to meditate as part of Transcendental Mediation, I had a mantra from a guru in South Fallsburg. I chanted the Guru Gita but illness and openness brought me to a realization that like most “organized” religions I felt something missing for me as a faggot man. I took pieces and bobs and left. But I found a few places where organized faith still works for me. My local Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts and the Ganesh Temple known more formally as the Hindi Temple Society of North America, in of all places Flushing, Queens! I first encountered the Ganesh Temple sometime in the 90’s as I fondly remember going there with a fellow ACT UP member who did needle exchange on the Lower East Side. He was stunned that such a place existed so close to a gritty place like the East Side of New York. As a white guy I often felt outside of “belonging” at Ganesh Temple and some Brahmins were okay with my sense of things. Yet there was a wonderful woman who often helped me, guided me from behind the counter. In those days the Temple was a place for me to let go of grief, to pray for understanding and to see bliss through practice. Being a former Catholic, I was always deeply aware of the power of ritual, seeing it come to personal power via paganism reflected in Radical Faerie circles and seeing it in the strong women who filled the community where I lived in Northampton MA made the ritual at Ganesh Temple Above: Priests in front of the silver chariot. Photo by Aditya Ghosh. Right: Aditya and Bambi. Photo courtesy Aditya Ghosh.
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very resonate for me. Having also chanted, meditated, seeing the importance in their being Gods and Goddesses made that sanctum all the more powerful for me. So I often make pilgrimages to New York to see the Temple, to make offerings of prasad to the various deities and to observe the rituals of a community strongly rooted in knowing Ananda. I was there recently with a new friend attending the Ratha Yatra, Ganesh’s trip in his celestial chariot. I was so aware of why I love that place—the smell of incense, the colorful saris and dhotis people are wearing, the smiles of most everyone. I’ve been ill over the summer and I have a dear friend, Angela Magra, dying of cancer and this trip to Ganesh Temple was about letting obstacles fall away or come into some focus. So it was a trip of devotion and seeking solace. Being with Aditya, my new friend, and entering a place where I am most familiar was such a joy. Often in places I found myself crying, tears can be both of sadness and joy but they are mostly a release. Hearing the moola mantra—Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Glaum Gam Ganapataye Vara Varad Sarvajanjanmme Vashamanaye Swaha—gave me a connection to Ananda and as the Ratha Yatra began I could see that I should walk the circuit of the chariot, walk amongst the devotees, take in the bliss, to allow darshan to enter into me. I have a lot to still deal with. I am not so young, I am not so healthy, my enthusiasms are more simple. And I have a burden of dear friend crossing over but I have the ability to allow new friendships and as I walked behind the beautiful silver chariot people approached me, I was by now “alone” as Aditya had to head back to work, and I saw that I was surrounded by “friends” in these fellow devotees, each time a man walked up offering me a soda, or a woman offered me sweet rice ball treats, or as another person brushed passed me and smiled I was filled with happiness. It was tiresome though this happiness—I’d arisen at 6:30 am to make it to Temple in time to bear witness to the Brahmins cladding the Ganesh with his golden armor, to sit during the chanting of the moola mantra, gathering in a line with Aditya for the purifying flames of Agni, the one who acts as an intermediator to the Gods, as I allowed Aditya to put a tilak on my forehead opening me up to the spirit, much like as I used to do on Ash Wednesdays—so I 38 RFD 171 Fall 2017
was hungry and surprised the Temple has a huge offering of food for people to eat, I was sated but tired as I got back on the bus to the subway. As I sat on the subway thinking, I saw that people were looking at me in my bright orange kurta with a tilak on my forehead. I must have been a sight, all worn and tired but the openness was there and I laughed deeply as my goal was achieved as I took a small pomegranate out of my bag and offered it up with my hands raised toward the chariot and the Brahmin shouted for me to hand the pomegranate up, across a sea of people six deep—all holding a sacred rope symbolically pulling Sri Ganesha’s
chariot, they handed my pomegranate up to Him and the priest laid it at Ganesh’s right side and he took a handful of flowers from a beautiful garland and barked to hand them across to me. I was open, happy and the obstacle of my own health and my dear friend’s decline in hospice was muted in the prescience of seeing the divine in everything and allowing for sadness is a way of seeing the deepest of happiness. So I could easily laugh off the unknowing eyes and lo they smiled too! Angela Magara passed away September 15, 2017. Above: Hindu Temple Society, Queens NY. Photo by Bambi.
Photographs by Chris Moody
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The Secret of Jude MacDowell By Meghan Bell
ude always had something to hide. He took over his father’s farm when the old bastard croaked on account of old age. People said ever since then that he had done it. I wouldn’t have blamed him—Jude put up with a lot from that old fucker. Rumors—all rumors. Jude had mourned along with everyone in the family. One by one, they all left him, and their estrangement became a leading cause of the townsfolks’ chatter. His sister Jamie moved out of state to go to college and become an environmental lawyer. His mother, Holly, took up with some big shot from town who ran a whole franchise of fast food places. She said she liked the financial security. Really, not much more to it. They moved on. Jude stayed on the farm. He liked getting up early, on most mornings at least. I stayed too. I moved to the farm as a young man, eager to get out into the world and work. I wanted to get my hands dirty, as I had told the now-deceased patriarch. “You’ll do fine, son,” he had said, nodding, and handed me a hoe. The place had been my home and my livelihood ever since. The operation shrunk a little since the old times. These days we grew corn, enough to feed the cows, and a smattering of other things—enough to feed ourselves. Couldn’t keep many chickens— something always got to them—but the cows did fine, and gave good milk that Jude made into artisan cheese and sold expensively in fine grocery shops in the city. Jude and I often amused ourselves by picking at the old banjo that had belonged to his grandfather, one of us plucking out a tune and the other slapping our knees and singing along. “If you ever go out to Wooley Swamp son, you better not go out at night,” Jude crooned. I plucked at the banjo confidently, having gone over and over this tune many times. I knew it was one of Jude’s favorites. I knew more about Jude than most. Once a month, he took a trip. For his health, he told me. Drove out into the middle of nowhere just to be one with the world. Today was one such day. He’d toss a bag into his pickup and tear off down the long dirt road that led to our farm, long gone by nightfall. As I began setting our places for dinner, I saw him lugging a heavy duffel bag down the hallway. They were always grey duffel bags, but I noticed that every now and then, he’d have a new one. Nothing 40 RFD 171 Fall 2017
fancy, but the size or color or design would be just a little bit different. “Need any help?” I asked. I always asked. “No,” he said. He always said no. “Staying for dinner?” I asked, hopefully. He turned away, and continued toward the front door. “I’ll get something on the way,” he said. I stepped quickly after him to make up for his long strides. “In town, at the BigBurger?” His mother’s beau owned the place, and had told us on one rare Christmas visit that we could eat for free at any BigBurger location, any time we wanted. I couldn’t think of a time Jude had taken them up on the offer. “Nope.” A simple response. Final. I stopped in the doorway and watched him haul the heavy bag across the lawn, then toss it into the bed of his truck. I had asked to come with him several times before. He always answered the same way. So this time, I didn’t ask. In a spur of the moment decision, I shut the door and ran to the kitchen. I switched off the stove, where a pot of boiling water intended for my dinner bubbled. Quickly pulling on my coat, I slipped out the side door. Soft grass muffled my feet, and I moved swiftly across to the road, just behind the truck. Jude sat in the drivers seat, rolling himself a cigarette for the ride. Quick as a whip, I hitched my boot up on the bumper and hopped into the back of the pickup. I huddled near the back of the cab, careful not to make a sound. Just in time—seconds later the rumble of the engine shook the metal under my legs, and the truck started to move. The road that led to and from our farm was graveled and course. It took a good five minutes just to reach a paved road at all, and I clutched at the duffel bag beside me in an attempt to keep out of sight. Instead of soft clothes or bulky camping equipment like I expected, the contents of the bag felt… lumpy. Not soft, but squishy. I let go of the bag, opting instead to keep myself flat against the truck bed. Once we reached paved road, I sat up to unzip the bag and take a look inside. The smell hit my nostrils before I saw anything. It smelled like the butcher section at Peggy’s Grocery. My stomach turned, and I released the bag. Raw meat. I recognized the large, bloody cuts of beef we got at the grocer’s when we were going to make a stew. There
Photograph by Chris Moody
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were two or three of them in the freezer in the shed “Oh my god, Toby! This is bad—you have no for when we got snowed in. There had to be at least idea—” He looked over his shoulder in horror tothirty of them, raw and fresh, in Jude’s bag. ward the rising moon. “I don’t have time to take you I zipped the bag up quickly, forgetting to be back now!” quiet, then cursed at myself under my breath. I cov“You don’t have to take me back!” I scrambled to ered my mouth with my hands, trying to muffle my my knees. “I won’t be a bother, I promise, whatever breathing, and chanced a peek at Jude through the it is you’re doing out here—“ I jumped out of the rear window. He stared straight ahead, watching the truck bed and reached a hand out toward him. He road, whistling along with the radio. pulled away, stepping back with large strides. I got the feeling he wouldn’t be stopping for food. “Stay away. It’s too dangerous.” He kept glancing We pulled off the main highway on a mountain toward the horizon and the slowly rising moon. road I didn’t recognize. I had a few camping spots I shook my head. “Dangerous…?” and swimming holes I liked to go to in the summer Jude’s head snapped to face me. “You don’t get around here. Jude would come along, of course. I it!” He spat the words out. He was trembling. He loved watching him try to keep a straight face as I held out a hand. made a fool of myself in the water. We always had a I reached out for it, but saw that his fingers had good time on those trips. elongated, his nails grown into claws. I reeled back, I had never gone this gasping. “What the hell?” way before. The steep, “I’m a werewolf, Toby.” winding road churned my Jude said. His eyes were “Oh my god, Toby! This stomach. As we climbed cast in shadow now, but is bad—you have no further up, the light drizzle I could see tufts of hair of rain turned to snow, idea—” He looked over his on his face where there and the truck fishtailed had been none moments shoulder in horror toward treacherously. Jude kept on before. I could only stare at the rising moon. “I don’t at a normal pace. I hated him, mouth agape. have time to take you it when he drove like this. “I wanted to tell you, but He stopped doing it after a back now!” you would never believe while, when I made a fuss. me,” he continued, breathIn his mind now, though, I less. “I come out here, wasn’t there to complain. When he put no one but far from the farm, to keep you safe. To keep our himself in danger, he did it freely. That I knew about animals safe.” Jude. I reached out to him again, and this time he He finally pulled off the road and into deep recoiled. “Jude…” I implored. “I would have believed snow. His truck moved slowly, but he drove a little you.” ways through the tall pine trees and into a clearing. He just shook his head. “Get in the car, and lock When we stopped, the panic set in—surely he would the door,” he said. He fumbled in his pockets with discover me. I could think of nowhere to hide. And his clawed fingers, finally pulling out his car keys. of course, I thought, in a daze, he would want his He threw them toward me, and I caught them in duffel bag full of meat. both hands. I could see his teeth growing, right in Night had fallen, though the full moon peeking front of my eyes. Jude’s eyes, normally a dark, soft over the horizon provided a little light. My black brown, were now glowing yellow, big, like saucers, coat, I thought, could blend in with the truck bed, with round, black pupils staring right at me. perhaps. Jude took the keys from the ignition and “Get in the car! Now!” His voice had a quality, a opened the door. I rolled on my side, facing away growling bite that made my skin crawl. I scrambled from him, and curled up, hoping feebly that he into the truck and locked the door, making sure the wouldn’t see. I held my breath. I could feel the duffel windows were rolled up tight. bag slide past me as Jude lifted it up and out of the Jude put his clawed hand up to the window, and car. I reached mine out to meet his. “I’m sorry,” I said, “Toby?” sincere. I shut my eyes tight and swore under my breath Jude just growled back. The moon had fully again. I turned around, my face beet red, and not risen over the horizon. Jude’s now elongated face just from the cold. “Hey,” I said with a meek smile. grew dark and he gnashed his teeth. His wolf-nose 42 RFD 171 Fall 2017
Painting by Timo Elliot
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twitched, and he lunged at the window, making I shouted. I threw my hands in the air. “Please, don’t threatening sounds. I reeled back, breathing heavshoot him!” ily. But the next moment, he was gone. I heard the The man lowered his gun, and a crooked smile sound of canvas being ripped to shreds outside. spread across his face. “What the fuck are you doin’ That explained the revolving door of duffel bags. I out here?” he asked. He turned to his friend. “Ain’t hoped the meat would be enough. that the farmhand?” Then both he and his drinking The sounds of flesh being rended just outside buddy froze, eyes wide, and stared past me. From made my stomach, already queasy from the ride, just behind, a piercing, high-pitched howl rose into gurgle unpleasantly. Good thing I hadn’t had dinner, the night sky, sending an involuntary shudder down I thought. I wished I had just stayed at home, made my spine. myself spaghetti and meatballs. “Fuck!” shouted the redneck, and dropped his The gnashing of teeth and squelching of meat gun. Both men scrambled into their truck and drove came to an eventual end, and I sat, shivering and off, flinging mud and snow in their wake. I gulped, breathing as quietly as I could, as Jude paced on all and turned around. fours, around and around the truck. Once or twice Jude, in full wolf form, loomed over me. He had he stood upright, gnashing at the windows, staring grown from his usual six foot frame to at least seven me down, and I avoided feet tall standing upright. his gaze. His elongated jaw hung I must have sat there open to reveal two rows of for hours, listening to long, sharp teeth. Jude just outside, pacing I was frozen. “Jude,” I Jude, in full wolf form, and growling and once in started, but at that moloomed over me. He had awhile sniffing around the ment, those teeth flashed duffel bag, finding some in the moonlight as Jude’s grown from his usual six hidden morsel. Then, at jaw clenched around foot frame to at least seven maybe 1 o’clock, lights my shoulder, long fangs feet tall standing upright. in the rear view mirror sinking deep into muscle. His elongated jaw hung caught my eye. I cried out. The world Another truck pulled seemed to swirl around open to reveal two rows of into the clearing, a big, me. I pulled at the fur long, sharp teeth. gaudy thing that just around Jude’s neck, parscreamed “Asshole”. I had tially to ease the pain, and seen it around town on partially to keep myself upmany occasions. It had right. Blood ran down my floodlights on the top that shirt in a slow, hot trickle. were lit up bright, and Jude scampered behind the I sank into the snow, my vision blurred, and Jude’s pickup. yellow eyes were the last thing I saw before falling The lights shut off and the engine stopped. into icy darkness. “There it is!” a voice rang out, clear as a bell in the night. I recognized it from around town. One of woke up on the farm. At first, I thought it had the townsfolk always whispering about us when we been some strange dream, or that maybe I had went on our grocery runs. “There goes Jude Macrun a fever and hallucinated. I lay curled at the foot Dowell. Offed his old man, you know,” they would of Jude’s bed, which seemed like a strange place— say in only mildly hushed tones. Tonight, though, he though it was not unheard of for me to stay in his shouted to another man, someone else in the truck. room. I didn’t seem to be in much pain, though, “There’s that thing that keeps killing my chickens!” which I took as promising. I peered into the mirror I peered out the foggy rear window at the men. in Jude’s bathroom. Shockingly, I discovered two They looked drunk, their eyes drooping, noses deep scars on my left shoulder, just below my neck. bright red and gaits sloppy. The one who had been They looked old, though I had never seen them speaking held a shotgun. He raised it, pointing it before. Not a dream, then, I thought. How long had straight at Jude. I been out? I pulled the lock and threw myself against the I finally found Jude in the barn, spreading hay on door, stumbling out into the snow. “Don’t hurt him!” the dirt floor. I took up a rake and joined in.
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“So,” I said, after about five minutes of silent labor. “Care to explain what happened?” Jude did not look at me. He took down another bale of hay and snipped the ropes with his pocket knife, then flaked off about half of it and tossed it in my direction. We worked in silence for a few moments more, then Jude said, “I bit you.” I shrugged my shoulder, which smarted a little, but otherwise felt fine. “I can see that,” I said. “But then what?” “You turned. When we both came to, I drove us back here. Don’t recall much else.” He paused, leaning against his rake pensively. “You saved my life.” His eyes flashed as they met mine. “Thank you,” he said. The highest form of praise from Jude, I knew, was a direct, no holds barred thank you. He reserved it for few occasions. I looked down. “What was I gonna do, let him shoot you?” I said bashfully, kicking at the hay around my feet. Jude got back to his work. “You’ve got it now,” Jude said. “Werewolfism, whatever you call it. When I bit you, you changed too.” I nodded. Strangely, I felt unfazed, as though “Werewolfism” were a word I had expected to hear this morning. I recalled, though vaguely, an overpowering, feral hunger the night before, and felt a pang in my still-empty stomach. “Well,” I said at last, “On the bright side, I can come on your trips with you now. Right?” Jude smiled at that. “I’m gonna have to buy twice as much meat, you know,” he chided.
Painting by James McColley Eilers
I grinned back. “I can pitch in.” We both laughed, strangely giddy, and got back to our work. When we finished, Jude approached me, slapping a hand to my back in his usual gesture of acknowledging a job well done. But this time, he let it linger there, looking at me carefully. His eyes were back to their usual soft brown, and for that I was grateful. “Toby,” he said. “You know, I’ve been… holding back.” I held in my breath, heart racing. I couldn’t speak, so I nodded, hoping he would go on. “I’ve felt the need to protect you from this. But now…” he trailed off, dropping his eyes. Then, finally, he said, “You’ll struggle with it, as I do but— we could struggle together, from now on.” He looked nervous, an expression I seldom saw in his features. I found it strangely charming. I nodded, lifting a hand to touch his face. “Of course,” I murmured. He kissed me then, too hard, maybe—his tooth caught on my lip, and a thick drop of blood pooled between our mouths. He pulled away sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said. “You’ve done worse,” I said, and we laughed. Though I knew he felt guilty for the bite—and, as I assured him, the wound on my shoulder had healed extraordinarily fast—he seemed lighter somehow. The burden of keeping this secret, I supposed, from everyone—even me—had weighed heavy on his shoulders. Finally, I thought, giddy still from the kiss. The secret of Jude MacDowell was mine to keep as well.
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Painting by Timo Elliot RFD Painting 171 Fall by 2017 47 Timo Elliot
The Choice by Lilly Moore
ucia felt lonelier and lonelier. It was already differently? As she skipped from cloud to cloud, late and the sky was dark as she strolled Lucia pictured a happy, carefree life where she had through the deserted streets. Being friends with a group of friends with whom she went on advenpeople you don’t like and merely passable acquain- tures. They would pretend to be detectives searchtances with the ones you do isn’t the best way ing for clues, play football in their backyards and to spend life. Days passed by, more and more coin- explore the forest behind their school building. cidences occurred, until she could barely tell what Maybe then, she could have at least been friends was reality and what was a dream. with Beth. Lucia could picture the scene clearlyIn an ideal world, everything would be all Beth in her usual black sweatpants and that grey right. You’d do what made you happy so long as fluffy hoodie which had the texture of clouds, with it wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Sadly, in this one, her chestnut brown hair tied back and swinging in there were a million other things to beware of. the wind, joyously frolicking through a field, and Classmates who whispered herself, in that outdoorsy behind your back, famnavy jumper that she liked, ily members who would with a miraculously spotAnd so it was that never understand, so-called free face and long golden a happy friendship friends who readily told hair, running along beside others all of your secrets, her. They could have spent had grown into a people who bombarded every single day having fun glorious time of joy and you with questions about together. As it was, the few excitement and color, morality and psychology memories of adventures only to be interrupted and the meaning of life that they had were few and without ever giving you the far between and all that by secrecy, putting on a answers. precious time that they show, lying, pretending, And so it was that a could have spent together being Secret Agents, happy friendship had grown now seemed forever lost. whatever people wanted into a glorious time of joy There had been that day and excitement and color, when school had ended to call it, it didn’t only to be interrupted by early and they had gone matter... secrecy, putting on a show, round to Beth’s house, lying, pretending, being lounged around in armSecret Agents, whatever chairs and talked. Norpeople wanted to call it, it didn’t matter because mally, trying to hold a conversation with someone all it did in the end was diminish into nothingness. she wasn’t close to meant awkwardly fishing for Great, you managed to fool everyone around you, remarks to make, but here, the conversation only to end up doing what the others had wanted flowed and what started as joking about schoolof you in the first place. work had turned into properly talking about her She came home with her head slightly spininner thoughts and feelings. Beth had been so ning and sat down in her snug armchair. Maybe if nice, as always. Kind, sweet, patiently listening she didn’t have so much to do for school and she to everything that she said. She should’ve stayed could relax…but she knew that the only thing the friends with her, at least. After all, there had been summer holidays ever brought her was boredom, so many opportunities to uphold whatever they tediousness and yet more of that awful loneliness. had had, but she had never seemed to have time to Almost out of habit, Lucia switched her comfix whatever had been broken. puter on and went on Cloud Dreams, the game But maybe being too studious wasn’t the true that she had been playing for the past few days. source of all her troubles. There were, after all, What would have happened if she had done things plenty of moments when she could have gone up 48 RFD 171 Fall 2017
Photograph by Shivian Morgan
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to Beth. They could have talked during breakconstantly tied up by at least ten different ropes. times, chatted on Facebook, even passed notes Leave it, she told herself and scrolled down during class. There was no reason why she hadn’t to photos of old bookcases, colorful gardens, bothered to do any of these things and had instead happy, caring families (some people had all the let their relationship slide. Maybe it could be luck) homemade jewelry and satisfyingly solved argued that Beth had stopped caring...but if Nicole puzzles. Beth had always been good at those kinds was to be believed, she hadn‘t. of things-Sudokus, riddles, number puzzles-she Lucia jumped off the cloud too late and fell could solve anything in an instant. Of course, Beth into the depths below. “I give up” she thought, and would never admit to that and would always just closed the tab. That game had been too depresssay that she loved working on them. ing anyway. So she sidled over to Instagram Maybe that was where they had gotten lostand started scrolling through photos of dreamy, Beth was fine with keeping their relationship a far-away Scandinavian secret, so long as there landscapes, impeccable, were secret codes, notes scrumptious-looking with cryptic meanings, desserts, detailed, special hideouts, double colorful paintings and agent messengers, chestnut brown cocker keywords which only No, the Queen of Gossip and spaniels. Passing by a they knew the meaning photo where a boy and of and goodness only Drama and Not Minding girl were cuddling on knew what else. But it Her Own Business had told a swing, she couldn’t all seemed to have dried everyone exactly what had help wishing that her up…until now. gone on between them and life could be like that. It had been quite Some people got to have an innocent question, finished the show by turning everything that they really. Nicole had been round and saying “I don’t wanted. The girls at her bragging about a party know why you’re ignoring school were constantly she had gone to and her now, though. She talking about their Luke had asked whether boyfriends—Chris who Beth had hooked up obviously still wants you.” had amassed a small with any guys there. fortune ever since he “Beth…she leans tohad started investing at wards the other side, if eleven, Luke, who would you get what I mean.” one day surely become And Nicole hadn’t a famous singer, Michael, who was mysterious and stopped there. No, the Queen of Gossip and rebellious and didn’t even bother coming to school Drama and Not Minding Her Own Business had most of the time, yet still managed to be incredtold everyone exactly what had gone on between ibly polite and friendly. They were all so happy and them and finished the show by turning round and their lives had just slid together effortlessly. She, saying “I don’t know why you’re ignoring her now, for some reason, was left pursuing a far-off dream though. She obviously still wants you.” How would relationship that would never happen…that could Nicole even know that? It was all so confusing, so never happen, to be fair. exhausting and impossible. Why did some people Of course, Nicole had posted a photo of her get to lead such lovely, careless lives when she acceptance letter which had arrived that morning, was left out in the rainstorms of unhappiness and and of course Niole had been accepted to all her loneliness and why was the world so unfair? dream colleges. What right did she have anyways, It took a lot of strength, but Lucia managed to to tell everyone about her and Beth? Nicole had close the Instagram window. It was too much. Jourdain, the stunningly beautiful law student Vrrrrbrrrr. She was pulled from her thoughts from France who was apparently a part-time mod- by her phone vibrating. She had halfexpected to el while also running his own successful business. see Beth’s number on the screen, but instead it It was just so unfair that some people got to be was Molly. happy and do whatever they wanted when she was “Yeah?” 50 RFD 171 Fall 2017
Well, she had wanted something to happen. Just not exactly this. “Hi! Oh wow, you won’t believe what just happened. It was so weird, I guess? But also really, really amazing. I can’t believe it-” She had long ago learned that Molly would never get to the point that she was trying to make and if she did, it would be incoherent amid giggling and squealing. This was just life, wasn’t it? Sitting at home, listening to nonsense, reminiscing on what might have been. “-and he said it in this really deep and beautiful voice, melodic almost-” How silly to analyze someone’s tone like that. Besides which, it could never be as nice as Beth’s soft, flowing, tingly voice. “-and then he said we should maybe go somewhere else so as not to disturb all the people in the library, but really, who cares about them? I bet they were glad to see us having fun, I think they all secretly wanted a distraction from learning. And then-” Why should she care about other people? They could live their lives in whatever way they wanted, but if they had nothing better to do than to judge other people all day long, then maybe they were the ones who were living life wrong. Well, they weren’t going to drag her down to their level. And did they really care? Her family seemed to, and all those faceless strangers who seemed to be sure that what she was doing was wrong, but apart from that…her mind flashed back to that scene with Nicole and to Chris, Luke and Phil’s reactions. “We knew that.” “Yeah, come on. Did you really think we didn’t know?” “That was, like, so obvious.” “-so I thought, why not go for it? You remember that really weird guy we met at that picnic in the park who told us that he would rather regret what he had done than what he hadn’t? And we agreed that that was actually really clever and wise-“ Maybe he had been right. Who in the world knew what was right and what was wrong? All she knew was that she wanted to be happy. She didn’t want to wake up in twenty years, wondering what might have happened if she hadn’t stopped ignoring Beth. Suddenly, it all got too much, and in that wretched state, she had to do something. So she laid her phone down, and she went on Facebook.. With trembling fingers, she put in her e-mail
address, her password, and went on the profile page that she had been stalking constantly for the past three years. Only this time, holding her breath and biting her lip, she clicked on Message. The pop up chat appeared and she started writing, putting down what she truly thought. The words flowed quickly, she had kept these thoughts bottled up inside her for too long and now they were ready to pour out. “Hi. I guess I needed to tell you some things. This is probably going to sound really weird. You might not get all of it. I keep wondering how much of it actually happened because sometimes it feels like this was all just inside my head. But I thought I should tell you…seeing as we don’t have a lot of time left together what with high school ending soon and all that. I wanted to thank you for always being there for me. For helping me and supporting me. For being nice to me when I started ignoring you. It feels so strange to say this, but I guess I love you. Whatever love is. For so long, I couldn’t accept it. I don’t really know what I want now. But...I guess I would really like us to be friends. For the time we have left together.” She couldn’t even bear to read over it again. What a pile of rubbish that did no justice to her true burning feelings. She pressed the delete button and watched the letters disappear one by one. Then she let the key go and typed in two letters. “Hi” So normal and boring…but it was a start.
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Duermevala A disbelief in magic can force a pour soul into believing in government and business. â€”Tom Robbins there is some golden place I am still looking for I have seen it in dream after dream I have seen it shimmer on the surface of the water shimmer in my aura in the mirror I can hear it between ticks of the clock tic-toc in the mist between me and the dark it barks and falls silent again and again it is in between all my molecules I am it opening as a flower to the sun
Photograph by Shivian Morgan
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54 RFD 171 Fall 2017
Photograph by Timo Elliot
Amalgam A man’s gait A boy’s smirk A woman’s eyes. And I’m in love again. You are the alchemy of my dreams The beautiful being I imagined But never quite allowed myself to hope for the existence of. But you do exist. I know because I have touched, have tasted you. You are as real as anything. You are as human as any human I have ever had the pleasure to pleasure. And yet, somehow, you are more. More human than human More man than man More woman than woman. I part your thighs and there lies the gates to the divine. I kiss you and entire expanses of flowering gardens bloom. You touch me deep and with every shuddering sigh, somewhere, somehow, a star supernovas. You are fire You are warmth and light, You are comfort. I am air. I stoke you. When I breathe into you, you burn bright enough to scorch the sun. —Leah Dugan
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A Hike You walk down the ridge, trees canopy above, changing everything to green except your companion as you tell him your story. He tells you about the spring under the rock where he used to get water, the limestone wall that runs all the way to Wytheville and the plants, ginseng, wild flowers-fairy wands, logging trails like the lane in your dreams running through the forest, grass more green than the pond in your dreams like the place where you see your mother but yet not like it-a difference you cannot place. At the bottom is a valley, a house, a yard, barns, he asks if seeing naked men bothers you, his friends, some you have met, some the lost boys blowing clouds. Late and they start to cook; you decide to head back through the woods. A day, a season, a time all pass away. The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence. A companion asks to go along, helping you up the hill opening the drawer taking out your dreams, closing the drawer on your sacrifices. Once in the clearing, the two of you stand, showered by hailstones. â€”Mark Ellis
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Hymn to Pan Hail to you, oh mighty Pan. Hail to your Spirit singing in the woods. Hail to your fiery music played from your syrinx. I invoke you. Come to me, from the forest, from the furrows, from the fields, and live. Hail to thee, oh ithyphallic God. Fill me with your hot seed of inspiration Fill me with your woodsy, musky fragrance. Take me to unknown heights of ecstasy. Fuck me hard and deep with your huge, hard cock. Cum deep within me. Empty into me. Fill me. Fill me. Fill me. Io Pan, Great God Pan Come to me now!
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Painting by Timo Elliot
Women from South Georgia I wish I could paint our love in the colors you highlight in my sky. You’re the brightest star and have illuminated my skies and nights. Long talks about old rivals and PWI’s and how we want our kids to appreciate Lisa Leslie and the Atlanta Dream, entertaining dreams I can’t let go of. Am I supposed to love you through my intentions to be a better woman or find another to appreciate my blue after the rain? Who can I turn to with these sensibilities? Who’s going to love the clean lines and jewel tones in my sky when you’re gone? I walked away and thought you’d return but love’s no boomerang— Still paying an invoice of something I did not contribute to— but accept all that you were, and still possibly are— so, who are you now? I wasted no time pawning memories, and things I cherished, into publications and I hope you realize you’re still the brightest and loveliest thing in my sky. Regardless if references to architecture in Hamburg, the hills in Tennessee, the canyons in Arizona, or the serenity in Georgia— you are the still the pinnacle of all the goodness in the world. Proving a memory and cherished love I’m interested—and still here. I’m trying to leave with you, a memory or with the address of your new place.
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Painting by Timo Elliot
Silver Paws by Robert Fleming
ather’s seventy inches, toe to pec, to scalp, closed arms around his boy’s chest. The house’s roof, twenty inches above father’s head kept father’s head hair dry. Pizza on paper on paper plates and lessons on the table. All was right for a boy with hair on his head and under arms. The boy ate the last piece of pizza, leaving a box. While boy slept, father walked to the river. He cut a branch off an elm and pealed bark off with a knife. Tying a cord to the branch end, father attached a hook and stones for weight. Under a rock, father found two worms and attached them to the hook. Pulling the rod behind him to front, father put the hook in the river. As a squirrel threw three acorns from a branch, to the ground, father said, by the next full moon, I will be alone. The stick bent. Father pulled the cord from the river to shore, hand over hand. The fish moved its tail back and forth with halfworm in its mouth and halfworm hooked. Father grabbed the bass by the fin and reached the hook. The bass looked at father and sucked in more of the worm. Father put the bass on a stump, held it in his left hand and raised a stick in his right hand. Your hair will color from black to silver. You will be alone. Put me back in the river. When your boy is a man, you will know him, said bass. When my boy leaves, he will not return, said father. Take one of the stones from the rod, put it in my mouth, and then throw the stone in the river, said bass. Father did. The river turned silver. Put the other stones in my mouth, take them, and return me to the river. After your son has left you, you will see him again. Place the stone in his hand and you will know him, said bass. Father did as bass said. The bass got the stone from the river, put it in his mouth, and the river turned black. As the day got hotter, father caught more fish, but the fish were silent. Father walked from the river to the roof. The door was open and the boy was not under the roof. Father stood in the door and looked out. There was a head with black hair, hairless back, and legs full of hair, getting smaller and smaller. We have more lessons. When I fall to the ground, I need you to pick me up, screamed father.
Just silence. Even after putting on his glasses, father could not see boy. Everyday father went to the river to find bass. When do I see my boy? The water blew, snow fell, rain fell, and water dried, again, and again. Father returned to the river. Father’s hair colored from black to grey to silver. The river rose to the house. Leaving the roof, father saw a splash and heard, Remember the stones. Father returned to the house, put the stones in his hand, and left the roof. Father opened his hand. His skin was pink. Father’s hair turned white in the woods. For shelter, father built a roof in the woods out of branches and leaves. To hunt, father cut oak branches, shaved them with a knife, to a point. He tied together other branches to make a bow. With bow and point, father caught squirrels and birds. Father did not go to the river. There came a day, father fell to the ground and sunset came, but father stayed on the ground. The next day, father crawled to a tree and pulled up to stand. Should this be my last day, I shall return to the river. Father cut a branch four feet high and walked to the old roof. He slept under the floor remains. He rested a day and walked to the river. He cut a rod and fished. He caught many fish. Silence. He put the stones in his right hand, raised them above his head, pulled them back, and lowered his hand. Father saw a three foot high, four legged, brown bear run down from the bush to his fish. The bear put the fish in its mouth. Father took his fishing rod and hit the bear’s nose. The bear reared onto its back legs to eight feet high. As the bear extended his paw toward father’s face, father put the stones in the bear’s paw. The bear’s paws turned silver. The bear sat down on a log and looked at his paws. Father sat on the same log. What’s a bear’s life Eat fish raw, grumbled bear. Boy, I left a roof in the woods, do you want it? said Father. No father, I will stay at the river, until the fish leave, then I leave, said bear. Bear dropped the stones and ran into the woods. Father picked up the stones and threw them into the river. A bass jumped out of the river, caught the stones in his mouth, and fell back into the river. RFD 171 Fall 2017 61
At The Time… by Maximillan. E. Romo
ason never knew why he was drawn to Jay. Was it his defined cheekbones, mysterious eyes, maybe his height (which was far above average). All Mason knew, or thought at the time, was it was a shame he would never see this man again. Jay was his point of interest, which was odd, considering his point of interest should have been the airport security line. “Dude, are you going to go?” the guy behind Mason angrily snarls. Snapping back to reality, he quietly apologizes and walks forward. Jay was two spots in front of Mason in line, but noticed his stares. The seemingly younger man intimidated Jay with those blue eyes of his. They were piercing through his skull like a lead bullet, but Mason’s soft smile calmed Jay’s nerves. Jay had never been flirted with. Was Mason, the unnamed man staring at Jay, flirting? Jay didn’t know. He wasn’t. Or at least, he hadn’t meant to. Yes, Mason found Jay equally as attractive as he was intriguing, but Mason was never a flirt. A long hour later, Jay sat in the window seat on a flight to New York. It was said to be a full flight, but no one sat in the two seats next to him. Gazing out the window he saw the land he would soon leave. It was exciting, but almost as intimidating as the odd man’s blue eyes. Once again, Jay’s thoughts strayed to Mason. Until, he saw the man in the isle of the plane. Mason saw Jay, and the two empty seats. He contemplated walking past him, but decided against it. He wanted to sit down, and he wanted to know the dark skinned man he was intrigued by earlier. “Is anyone sitting here?” Mason asked Jay, his thick British accent sticking out as much as his eyes. Jay shook his head, no. Mason put a suitcase in the upper head compartment and sat down. Mason had two bags, as did Jay. A suitcase and a backpack, as anyone brought for a trip. “Where are you going?” Jay asked, kicking himself for asking such a stupid question to such a beautiful boy. Mason turned to face Jay, and admired his smooth voice. “I’m going to The Big Apple, New York, New York, The City To Be. Whatever other names it goes by, I live there.” Mason laughs. He was never one for small talk, but he desperately wanted to talk to Jay. 62 RFD 171 Fall 2017
Shocked at Mason’s extended response, Jay answered back a simple “Me too.” That was scary to Mason. Not because they were going to the same place, they were, after all, on the same flight. He was scared he would grow attached to the man on the plane. “I’m Mason. Mason Knight.” Mason says, offering his hand to Jay. “Hello Mason. I’m Jay. Jay Dun. It’s a play on my father’s name, Jaden.” Jay responds. He cringes at his own words. He hates how his anxiety causes him to say too much. “I like that.” Mason laughs. Caught in conversation, the two boys didn’t seem to notice that the aisle seat was still open. They sat close, Mason in the middle and Jay at the window. “Would either of you like anything?” a perky flight attendant asked. They nodded her off and laughed at the fact that they missed take off. “So, Mr. Knight, what is your occupation?” Jay laughed, half way at his word choice and the other half at the question. “I’m a pilot.” Mason tells him. A lie. “How ironic?” Jay chuckles in response. “No, not really. I’m a lawyer. Currently in a training program.” Mason brags. “Fancy. I’m an ordinary therapist.” Jay says. Mason blushed at the thought of a cut man like Jay in a suit working out his problems. He had many. Such as being disowned by his parents when he came out. “Does that mean you can tell what I’m thinking?” Mason joked. He hoped Jay couldn’t tell what he was feeling. He needed to keep this plane friendship as “normal” as possible. If Jay turned out to be homophobic, or a psychopath, he could lose a friend entering New York. Mason internally sighed at his thoughts, he was only, after all, over-thinking. Jay stared at Mason. In a friendly way, of course. Well, actually, in a romantic way. But Jay thought it could pass as a playful stare. Jay wanted to know what Mason was feeling, but being a therapist didn’t make you psychic. Jay hoped Mason was feeling the same thing he was; an innocent crush. But, that seemed wrong to tell a stranger. “You are thinking ‘There is no way you know what I’m thinking.’” Jay confidently states, trying not
to burst out laughing. “How did you know?” They both finally burst into tears giggling. Mason knew this to be another lie, but this time, the truth wasn’t closely following. The thought of his romantic feelings for Jay would remain between him and the empty halls of the house that was Mason’s mind. They talked for about ten minutes more, before Mason passed out on Jay’s shoulder. This was not planned. In fact, if Mason were to wake up right now, or find out, however he were to find out, if it were to happen, he would be quite embarrassed. Jay blushed up Mason, stopping himself from stroking his hair. He wanted to, doing it felt like something he should be doing, but he didn’t. He just sat there, slowly dozing off with the boy on the shoulder. “Do you have any trash, sir?” the same flight attendant asked, obviously attempting to wake one of the sleeping men. She did. Jay woke up to the loud woman’s voice. “No ma’am,” he responded. He rubbed his eyes only to open them to Mason still peacefully sleeping. He was sad to see Mason off his shoulder, but happy to see he was getting some rest. Before he died, Jay’s dad was a lawyer. Law school was hard on him. Mason snapped awake after the plane hit a bump of turbulence, just in time to see Jay push up his glasses. Mason had a thing for guys with glasses. “Good morning,” Jay laughed, eyeing Mason’s messy hair. “Fish. Did I really fall asleep?” Mason asked. He wondered if he had said something stupid in his sleep. “Yes, but don’t worry, I did too.” Jay responds, taking off his glasses and putting away his book; human nature. Mason stared at Jay, and Jay stared back. There was an overwhelming feeling between the two. The feeling that both their lives changed when they laid eyes on each other. “Can I ask you a crazy question?” Mason asked. He had hoped to ask a very different question, but instead this came out of his mouth and into the warm air. Thinking for a second, Jay decided to respond with an answer equally as daring as the one Mason had wished he had asked. “Yes, I would love to go out with you.” Mason’s heart beat fast to the sound of Jay’s voice. That answer, Jay’s answer, started something beautiful. Photograph by Shivian Morgan
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Issue 173 / Spring 2018
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So like anyone else these days, we’d rather hear from you through your art, your poetry, your prose, rather than see some Facebook post, an Instagram pic. But we’re hoping you’ll open up and tell us about your first time… Not just sexually, but any transition from one level
of experience to the next. We’re looking for ways to connect to our stories and experiences. So tell us about a first love, your first garden, a trip away from home, your first Pride or protest, your kinky side or when you fell for Broadway. Tell us about your first spiritual awakening, talk to us when you
found a new friend, tell us all about that house project or how you got into being an artist. As always please feel free to share this call with others who may be interested in submitting something. RFD exists to tell our queer stories, so dig deep and share!
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RFD Vol 44 No 1 #171 $11.95