RFD 178 Summer 2019

Page 1

Number 178 Summer 2019 • $11.95


RFD 178 Summer 2019 1

Issue 179 / Fall 2019

BETTER ANARCHY! Submission Deadline: July 21, 2019 www.rfdmag.org/upload

Can we do anarchy better? As we celebrate Stonewall 50, we are reminded that ten years later the first “official” gathering of Radical Faeries met on Labor Day weekend at an ashram in the Arizona desert. Recognizing that many circles had already formed and explored fey consciousness earlier, this date is a marker in creating large gatherings and sharing new vistas of consciousness. Where have we come since then? Circle process and consensus politics are the cornerstones of anarchist communities. As we have used these technologies to grow and nurture our communities, urban and rural, permanent and transitional, how have we molded these approaches to meet our own needs? Where have we failed each other and these ideals through these past four decades? What have we learned along the way? We are seeking an honest and robust discussion that shares experiences within our sanctuaries, urban cohousing spaces and collectives. How have we used circles to advance our cause—and/or hurt each other? Do we really know how consensus works? As our community grows, welcoming members from new generations of qweer folk who have grown up in a manner different from oldtimers, how do we honor and pass on our legacy while folding in new ways of thinking brought by fresh faces. How do we walk while holding hands as we work together to build a brighter future?


RFD 178 Summer 2019

Rebellion Feels Delicious Vol 45 No 4 #178

Summer 2019

Between the Lines We remember Stonewall by dedicating issue 178 to direct action: that is, to a mode of civil disobedience that seeks a better world directly, whether through demanding immediate change from those in power or through self-empowerment outside existing systems. Dale Corvino interviews accomplished man of letters, Bruce Benderson, about Stonewall and the values that have motivated his resistance. Maytag Dishwasher calls out callout culture. Jacques Servin, a leader of the Yes Men, gathers with climate organizers Dami Feral, Laurel Maccurdy and Patrick Robbins to talk about direct action, Occupy, Standing Rock, and the methodology of resistance. Others offer poetry, lots of poetry: on the uses of Stonewall, on the direct action of bodies in love (and lust), on the moment when the cork pops and the water starts to flow. Politics might seem so hopeless in this time. We are up against spreading state capture, grand corruption, and populisms fueled by climate fears and propaganda. How important then to recall: Stonewall was a riot; so was Compton’s; so the White Night. We would do well to remember Mario Savio in 1964: “one thousand people sitting down some place, not letting anybody by, not [letting] anything happen, can stop any machine, including this machine! And it will stop!!” All machines will stop, all tyrannies finally come to an end. So it is, so mote it be. Wishing you a summer of health, freedom and queerness, —The RFD Collective

RFD 178 Summer 2019 1

Submission Deadlines Fall–July 21, 2019 Winter–October 21, 2019 See inside covers for themes and specifics.

On the Covers

Front: “Death of Maddie” by Doug Sandelin Back: “Torso” by Mark Everett Sanders


Guest Editors: Jesse Oliver and Nikita Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Art Director: Matt Bucy

For advertising, subscriptions, back issues and other information visit www.rfdmag.org

Visual Contributors in this Issue

Images or pieces not directly associated with an article. 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


RFD 178 Summer 2019

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 submissions@rfdmag.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.

Artboydancing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42,44,48,50,54 Bertrand Le Pluard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Blackbird. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Chris Moody. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,7 Donald L. Engstrom-Reese. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Doug Sandelin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,17,20,33 Joseph Minutello. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,46 Keith Gemerek. . . . . . . . . . . . . Rear Inside Cover,10 Richard Price. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38.40,41 Richard Vyse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,23,29,55

“Fight For All of Us” by Josheph Minutello

CONTENTS Announcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Bruce Benderson on Stonewall at Fifty. . . . . . . . . Dale Corvino. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Subtle Settles Stonewall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Woodworth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Call Out Culture Is Fucking Gay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 “To go on is victory”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Qweaver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Stonewall”: Memory and Meaning. . . . . . . . . . . . . Notre Dame des Arbres. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Stonewall Heels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Fleming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 the window. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jordan Eby. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 My Summer of ‘69. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 A Conversation on Direct Action. . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Ancestor Circle at Hickory Hollow . . . . 25 Fanning the Flames. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Walter Holland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Balance of Power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D. Scott Humphries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Jesse James Rides Again. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D. Scott Humphries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 All the World’s a Stage: Jussie Smollett and the Performance of Victimhood. . . . . . . . . . . . Arsalan Haq. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Portraits from the 21st Century Book of Faeries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Richard Price. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Splash. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Hightower. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Springmelt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rowan Smith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Steven Cordova. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Decanter of Endless Water. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marzipan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Yin and Yang Activism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hammer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 The Evans Symposium: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture and Moon Lady Rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Donald L. Engstrom-Reese. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 A Moment of Fear, A Change of a Lifetime . . . . . Randy Goeke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Conjure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blackbird. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 False Eyelash on a Bar Napkin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. James Keels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

RFD 178 Summer 2019 3

ANNOUNCEMENTS 2020 Visions Inter-Sanctuary Stewardship Summit Hosted at Zuni Mountain Sanctuary, New Mexico August, 2020. Specific Dates to be announced.

Calling All Stewards—Past, Present & Beyond. A bell is being rung to step through a visionary portal. The Stewardship of our Sanctuaries is a precious and ongoing legacy...The 40th Tranniversary of the First Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries approaches. Since 1979, and our auspicious collective inception in Arizona, five interdependent Sanctuaries have been birthed in the United States, alongside others across the world, and our global Queer culture has erupted, evolved and diversified. As 2020 nears, we vision forward and ask the questions: What is our collective herstory? What is sustainable stewardship within radical community? What will be the inheritance of our Sanctuaries for future generations? We gather to listen, re-member and strengthen our courageous relationship to community and our ethos of Sanctuary. This Summit will be a sacred skill-share to refine our processes, deepen interpersonal connections and cross-pollinate: a new intention for gathering, a convocation of communities, a Summit for Stewards past, present & future. Contact 2020VisionsSummit@gmail.com to envision with Usssssssssssss.


RFD 178 Summer 2019

Spanish Gathering On October 4, 2019 we’re going to gather in the beautiful Crystal Inn in Cartama in the south of Spain for a gathering of eight days where the Faeries are invited to explore their lives and community connection through the guidance of Abuelita, Grandma. I summon up a deep spiritual lessons from the mother of the jungle to heal us as individuals and to our community with the request to meet our queer ancestors. The gathering will contain: - Kambo Cleansing - Three Abuelita Grandma Ceremonies - Heart Circles - Cannabis Ceremony - No Talent Show - Workshops - Medicine Wheel Ceremony - Relaxing time in nature The price for the gathering is 550 Euro including everything. People who are willing to pay more are invited to do so and it will allow people who need a discount to be helped by them so we can pay for the place and the services. Bring your creative and beautiful Clothes to the Crystal Inn so we can have a variety of Drag to enjoy from. To find more details contact me please, Bellaco Caspi through my profile: www.facebook.com/dududavid. About me: A student of Avito, head of the Camino Arcana tribe. Practicing and Facilitating Abuelita Ceremonies as part of the Camino Arcana Tribe. The ceremony involves teachings by Peruvian, Canaanite, Queer Shamanism and Non Violent Communication. There will be no sexual interactions in the gathering as part of the tradition of Camino Arcana. The idea is for our community to meet on spiritual level respecting the tradition of the Culture of Abuelita. So this is a call for brave light warriors to join in and send queer healing to ourselves, to our community and to our queer ancestors.

Bruce Benderson on Stonewall at Fifty Interview by Dale Corvino

DC: 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, which I understand was a long weekend of fighting back against police brutality, led by bar patrons, gay street kids, drag queens, transgender folks, and hustlers. The way it’s been commemorated has morphed over the years. Last year, I was at a meeting where a young organizer from Heritage of Pride (HoP) presented proposed changes to the parade route. I asked him if the NYPD had been involved, and he confirmed that they had dictated the proposed changes, and HoP just accepted this, in the name of safety, security, and minimizing disruption. This anecdote brings to mind your observation about the gentrification of the gay rights movement. So, fifty years later, how should we reflect on Stonewall? BB: Well, one thing you didn’t mention is revisionism. I feel that the identity of Stonewall has been revised. Stonewall was a mafia-run bar, it’s true. Though drag queens were not always well treated, it was incredible, the most popular bar in the West Village, packed every weekend. It had dancing. You could dance any way you wanted; sometimes people slow danced. When the lights blinked on and off it meant the cops were coming, and you just separated for about 30 seconds, and then went back to what you were doing. I know it’s perverse to say, but the mafiarun bars in New York were some of the most enjoyable, lively, sensual, sexy, festive places, my favorite bars. I didn’t know at the time they were mafia run, but that’s why they were so much fun, because a lot of the rules were suspended, such as male-on-male dancing. There was a certain amount of gay freedom at the Stonewall. Other bars didn’t allow dancing, certainly not close dancing. I always had the most wonderful time there, and never once did I feel like the sort of homosexual who had to shrink off into a corner, or that I’d get arrested. The cops were probably paid off, because the lightblinking episode would last less than one minute. I’m sure the transvestites had it much worse than I did. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember seeing them, although they must have been there. When the rebellion started, there was a law on the books against cross-dressing. I don’t think that the rebellion started because we were repressed gays being exploited by the Stonewall owners. It started because the cross-dressers were being harassed by the police. And now that whole Bruce Benderson. Photo by Bertrand Le Pluard, ©2019

thing has been revised; there have been movies about it in which Stonewall is this dreary, intimidating place and you’re hiding in the shadows and you could get arrested at any moment. That’s not how it was. The revisionist tendency is that Stonewall’s history involved gays who had been repressed, punished, and exploited by that bar. It was the opposite. Stonewall was a banquet of sensuality and opportunity. The mafia was probably making a lot of money, but it was not a negative experience for the customers, and it’s been revised as practically like a prison, a punishing place where you were in danger of ending up in jail or being beaten up by the cops. The pleasure that we had

there doesn’t exist in the history books, but it doesn’t exist anywhere today, that pleasure that comes from a mixing of the tribes. The reason that no clubs are enjoyable today is because there’s much less mixing of class and race. As an example, take Studio 54, which was exciting not only for its celebrities, but because it was a class democracy. Inside you could see a black bicycle messenger dancing with someone like Liza Minnelli. Every class and race and sexual orientation and gender were welcome, if they looked interesting, and looking interesting could involve something very eccentric. Once you got in, you were free to relate to everybody from every economic level, every race, and that’s what created the party at Studio 54. The moment Reagan was elected and Times Square got gentrified by Mayor Giuliani, the races and the classes were torn asunder, poor people were pushed to the peripheries, and real estate was bought up and RFD 178 Summer 2019 5

renovated. This ended that festive atmosphere of which the Stonewall, Studio 54, and even Julius’s were incredible examples. DC: You have argued that marriage and the military—the two high-profile issues of the gay movement of recent times—are essentially conservative institutions that we should want nothing to do with. You make the case that marriage exists as a conflation of church and state. BB: Yes, right. And I thought that the constitution guaranteed the separation of church and state. People

want to be bound together into couples, to raise children, to insure inheritance, all the other things you get out of marriage; but all of that could have been realized by domestic partnership, which has absolutely nothing to do with religion. In the 60s, during the early days of the gay liberation movement, communes formed in which there was no central family authority—twenty people living together who all had the same agency—who raised children as a collaboration. It was more like an Israeli kibbutz, a communist idea. When gays are allowed into these mainstream institutions like the military and marriage, there’ll always be that segment of gays—like me—who can’t relate, who were already alienated from the construct of “community” before, and who are now doubly so. We won’t even have our gay brothers and sisters any more, we’ll be weirdos, the new spinsters, old maids, in fact.. I know it’s a big dream to end marriage in the United States and allow—in legal terms—only domestic partnerships, and let people add whatever religious ritual they wish. It seems like an impossible change. Well, guess what else seemed impossible? Gay marriage. Gays openly serving in the military. Why didn’t they 6

RFD 178 Summer 2019

work for these other goals that would have improved society so much more and been more in tune with social changes? Marriage is not working. You want to get married? Marriage is falling apart. Marriage as an institution hasn’t worked for a millennium. Marriage has been defined and redefined, as I discussed in my book. Marriage as the result of romantic pairing is historically recent. My grandparents, from Russia, were in an arranged marriage. And guess what? There were almost no divorces at that time. I’m not saying it was an open or free system, but marriage for love is a volatile formula. Why should gay activists promote it? DC: Now that we’re at this place where we have gay people getting married, being married, is there the potential to redefine marriage in some ways? Even hope that our participation might cleave the state institution from the religious? BB: I think the state will cleave us. What I think will happen is those liberal heterosexuals who welcomed us into the community of family will discover—especially when it comes to two men—that we do not follow the same rules they do, and when they discover it, they will be astonished and possibly so disgusted that—well, maybe it’s an exaggeration to say it could lead to a new Holocaust—but it might lead to even more rejection of gays by the general social body. When they find out a man with children goes to peepshows to suck the penises of strangers? There will be a backlash when they find out about those things because obviously no one’s talking about peepshows, or promiscuity in general, when they talk about marriage. How will they react to the discovery of those married gay men who still go to peep shows, have three-ways, have open relationships? DC: As for your case against the focus on military service, is it coming out of pacifism? BB: Yes. Don’t join the military, dismantle the military, or change the military. Instead of fighting to be a member of the military, fight to end unjust wars, right? Like they did in the Vietnam era. The 60’s gay liberation movement didn’t want to join the military, they wanted to stop the war. Do these new militant gays even believe in the wars we’re involved in? And why does that issue never seem to come up? DC: I tend to agree, but then I think of poor and working-class gay people who see the military as the best of very few options for employment and/or “Glowing” by Chris Moody

access to education.

purpose of the US military? I more or less doubt it.

BB: That’s a very good point, and the same could be said for service on a police force. As for openly serving in either, I have nothing against that. What I’m against is making those two things—marriage and military service—the major political goals of the gay movement. Working-class gays in the military, police, or fire departments should have freedom to express themselves, and laws protecting them. But the more important goals are those we started on in the 60’s, which have been cast aside. What really disgusts me is that we are begging those who hated us to accept us. These are the people who put men like us in mental institutions, who arrested us and put us in jail, sometimes falsely, for corruption of a minor. Is that really the major goal of the gay movement? How about being for better education for working-class people so that they have more choices? I find the new social goals for gays very cynical goals, because they’re all about inclusion. We want inclusion from people who rejected us, from people who tortured us. So that we can be just like them? Well, they were horrible. It reminds me what happened to the feminist movement. When feminism first started, I thought it was great; they were challenging masculinity. But guess what many of those feminists wanted? They wanted male privilege. They wanted the most oppressive male traits. They wanted to be CEO’s, to be lawyers, heads of banks. The goal should have been to dismantle the male paradigm around those occupations and change them, not just let a woman join the company and be just as big an asshole. Hasn’t it always been change we’re after? Not merely inclusion.

BB: I’ll be even more nihilistic: I do not believe there’s a homosexual identity. Back when homosexuality was oppressed, we developed a very rich defensive culture that was full of parody, irony, bitterness, mockery. That was homosexual culture, a culture of oppression. Once these oppressions got lifted you began to realize–and you can see this in the current vapidity of gay magazines, that perhaps there is not a profound gay identity.

DC: Maybe what our movement (and other movements) need is working from within and from without to effect change? I wonder if open service for gay and trans people can have an impact on the mission and “Dino Club / The Stonewall Inn” by Chris Moody

DC: Circling back to Stonewall, with respect to your challenge to the notion of gay identity. We’ve commemorated this incident of fighting police suppression one hot weekend fifty years ago as central to gay identity. We’re at a point where there’s HoP, which is criticized for being heavily corporate, for letting the very body that oppressed us dictate the parade route. Now a second organization, Reclaim Pride, is countering those tendencies. Where do you think that leads towards understanding gay identity such as it is, and the movement? BB: A second group that opposes this whole event? Well, you have to tell me more about them. Sounds good to me. DC: On one hand, you have the official group running a corporate-sponsored parade, providing the NYPD with buy-in and hours of overtime pay. It’s a tradition, now overrun by police concerns of safety and security. On the other, you have a group that’s looking to honor the notion of resistance, willing to raise difficult truths, in particular the sore point that the NYPD has never apologized for its violent oppression of gay people. We ourselves are at this cleaved state about how to commemorate Stonewall. BB: Well, I don’t know how much change this splinter group will be able to effect or how much power they’ll have, but I certainly like the idea. This isn’t the first time that splinter groups have tried to influence gay commemorations and gay history. In ‘86, NAMBLA members wanted to march in the LA Gay Pride Parade, and Harry Hay supported them. We can’t decide who we want and who we don’t want, whether we approve or not, because they’re part of homosexual culture and the movement, and Hay spoke up in defense of them. So of course, they weren’t allowed to march. There have been splinter groups opposing the mainstream before. RFD 178 Summer 2019 7


RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Sister in Gold” by Doug Sandelin.

Subtle Settles Stonewall Donald Gallagher interviewed by Robert Woodworth


onald Gallagher, aka Subtle, was invited to speak on his memories of the Stonewall riot at the Google offices in New York City for the Stonewall National Monument Archive. Here is a section of his musings down memory lane that pertain to this event, beginning with an experience of another bar raid he had also witnessed. Robert: Were you in a bar when there was a raid? Donald: Oh, very much so, yes. Just a few months actually before Stonewall. It was the International Boy Bar I think it was called? Or was it the International Club? It’s a restaurant now, it’s on Charles and Greenwich…It was a very hot bar. It had one of the first back rooms where they actually just had a big black curtain…you just went in, it was totally dark and anything would go on. And they [the cops] came in, they rounded up the whole joint. And marched us all over, and it was a big crowd. It was a lot of people. They marched us over to the Ninth Precinct, which is now a condo. It’s on 9th Street, but it’s down further. But it was just down the street in an oldfashioned precinct house. Everybody standing up front, waiting on line to go in and get booked! People were all talking about what’s…like god what’s the wife going to say? What’s the job going to say? You know, anything. Say about anything. People are really upset, and really nervous. In fact, that one went so badly in that there was a young man from Columbia [who] actually jumped out the window and killed himself! And we’re standing on line. This happened right in front of us. And why? It turns out he was the son of the ambassador to the UN, I think it was Colombia, I’m pretty sure it was. Robert: Argentina. Donald: Yes! Okay I’ll buy it. Robert: He impaled himself. Donald: Yes! Robert: But he did make it, they had to cut him out. Donald: Yeah, but there was blood all over us. Cuz’ we’re under it. Robert: You were nearby? Donald: Four feet away. Robert: Holy shit.

Donald: No, it was one of the most shocking things ever in my life. And you ask: why? What was the point of this? Why? Why do they think they could do this to anybody? And like threaten, and make you feel just so belittled, and so terrified that they’re going to tell somebody. This is going to ruin your life, or just make your life really, really difficult. And who knows what that poor child was thinking. He was just a young guy. And I bet kids from his culture, Argentina. I’m sure this would not be acceptable! I’m sure he felt like he was dishonoring his whole family, and his country, and whatever you know. But yeah, dreadful experience you know. I think that had a lot to do with what happened at Stonewall. Cause I never went there, I never went to that bar ever. Robert: Well then, using that you were booked then? Donald: This is how bad it was with the cops. There was another night, we got hijacked. We didn’t have any money, as we’re poor as dirt. I mean—we had no money at all. And I think maybe we had a dollar? Maybe. Between us, you know; in change. And two guys get us with a gun. They approached us with a gun. Right on the corner of Judson. Third and Fourth you know, right by Washington Square. Right there. With a gun, a real gun. But we didn’t have any money. So we didn’t get robbed, but it was scary. It was really scary. We went and we found a cop, and we just told him that. So he takes us in, he takes us in. He doesn’t even go to look for the guy. He just takes us in, and like gives us the fourth degree about like what were you there, what were you doing, what were you looking for? Did you make passes at the man? That kind of like questioning. It was so disgusting and enraging, enraging. Just such a rage, I was in such a rage. It was amazing I didn’t get arrested because I was in such a rage. Cause I could get very loud. My training is such that I could become quite grand if I wanted. Robert: Well let’s move this into the summer of ‘69 and Stonewall: where were you? What did you hear? Donald: At this time, we lived over on Saint Mark’s Place late ‘66. We got a beautiful apartment RFD 178 Summer 2019 9

there that was a sublet. Very frequently after the day we would walk all the way over to the West Village and go to the trucks, go to the piers and whatever. We knew the route, we knew a lot of the people to be walking back and forth between the West Village and the East Village. It was like a migration, from one to the other, people going back and forth. [That night] I got a call from a good friend of mine who lived on Sheridan Square, in an apartment right across the street. He calls up saying: “you gotta come over. You won’t believe this riot that’s going on. There’s like all the drag queens are fighting the cops off. And they’re winning.” I was like WHOA—what’s that about? How’s that happening? Immediately got on the phone, called several people, I think probably eight, right off the bat. Just called people that I knew might be interested. And then [I went] out in the street and ran into close neighbors. So I had three people with me. And then as we were walking down the street, anybody new, or anybody who [we] thought might want to do this. Be queer and just like... and we’re also just pissed off at the cops, and just tired of it. So many, many people jumped in. Each one would tell other people, and other people would tell other people. And this wasn’t just me doing this. This is like all over downtown. This is people calling each other up. You should know, I’m not taking any kind of credit here you know. It’s midnight by the time we get there; we were going down Waverley Place, and 10 RFD 178 Summer 2019

I think the cops pretty much thought it was over. Because they were just kind of hanging around and talking and relaxing. And there wasn’t really anything going on. But then suddenly, this huge crowd of people come surging in; yelling and screaming and throwing “dirty coppers” (pennies) at the cops.

There was a chant of course. Probably will come to me at some point, but I don’t recall now. Anyway, so we go in. Then they were pulling parking meters out of the sidewalk. Oh geez, and like cobblestones and throwing them through the cop cars. It was very liberating. “Donald” Photo by Keith Gemerek

Robert: How did it feel? Donald: It felt great, it felt great. We didn’t feel scared at all. I didn’t give a shit. I shouldn’t say that right? Robert: No— Donald: I don’t care, I don’t care what they say. I mean I’m mad, I’m up to here with these cops. I’m up to here with them. And thinking they run us, and they run the place, and we can’t have anywhere. We can’t have anywhere to go, even though we know it’s all mafia run and probably the cops are getting a cut. It’s not even honest of them to be like really on our case. It was just like a very emotional, exciting thing. It went on until it petered out, just faded, went home. And then, it happened the next night again too. Then way more people showed up. And it became this circle. It became this wonderful building thing, and by Sunday it was as if you couldn’t even get to there. The whole area was closed off with humans. At one point there was a rush out onto Seventh Avenue, and everyone just sat down and closed Seventh Avenue down. It was thrilling, it was absolutely thrilling. It was kind of like okay, we’re not gonna put up with this anymore. And this is what you can expect. This is what you can expect from us,W if we have more incidents like this, this is what you can expect. You can expect this to happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Because you’re not gonna know where it’s gonna come from, or where it’s gonna happen. And that’s just what happened. That’s just what happened. It took a while, it took more than one of those kinds of incidences. There were several. But it took a while. The other thing was like they got all kinds of disparate type people together, all kinds of radicals, and hippies, and you know lawyers, and just all kind of people. All layers of society were getting together and talking to each other for the first time. Instead of just going down to the trucks and having a good time. Where the piers never really discussed talking, or the bars you know. This loud. But this here was, we could really talk to people and find out what was going on. And so, the organizational type people organized. And got to the fire house, and GLAAD, and GLIDD, and all those other little organizations that occurred. It was quite an extraordinary moment of consolidating forces, realizing that we’re not going to be able to do this on our own. We can’t do this just as individuals; It’s not going to get us anywhere. And all this had probably a peripheral

experience with either the civil rights movement, or the anti-war movement. We were already kind of prepared for how to go about doing this. How do you do it? We make telephone trees with those you know, you communicate with others, you write essays, you write pamphlets, you write to the papers, you write. You read, you call people up, you talk to people. It was really the spark. They really kind of pulled it all together. It was quite thrilling, it was really exciting, you know? It was so clean, and honest; I mean it was political. But at the same time, it was more personal than political. It was political in the sense this is my life, and I’m taking charge of it. In a way that I wasn’t before because I didn’t feel I could. It’s not because I didn’t’ want to. But it just felt like how am I going to present myself to the cops, how am I going to stop them from belligerent behavior toward me? I can’t do that by myself. It’s never going to happen. But if there are people together, then it all works. Robert: Did you think at that moment, that this would continue on? Or it was blip— Donald: From my point of view, and like most of the people I knew—my closest companions and friends, straight and gay were absolutely behind us. This is a new beginning. This is new. This is not going to change. We’re going to go further, and we’re going to get things that we haven’t had before. We’re going to be able to have our own bars. We’re not going to have the mafia bars, we’re going to have our own bars. We’re going to have that. You’re going to keep your hands off the baths, you’re going to get out of there. You’re going to let back rooms occur, you’re going to leave them. You cannot stop us at the trucks, Acceptable! But you’re not going to stop this at the pier. Once they got that message, hands were off then. For quite a while you know. Hands were off until like ‘85 really.

Editor’s Note: After this interview, Donald found out that the “International Boy Bar” police raid actually occurred in 1971, two years after Stonewall; yet his memory had conflated that horrible memory as part of the rational for queers being angry with the cops—leading toward the Stonewall riot. Interesting how memory serves to create a story, or not! RFD 178 Summer 2019 11

12 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“I Remember You” by Richard Vyse.

Call Out Culture Is Fucking Gay By May


t is a truth universally acknowledged that a disrespectful person must be publicly called out on Facebook. You know that post: “This man on the train was MANSPREADING when there was an ELDERLY HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR needing a seat.” Or, “This is my EX. A PREDATOR.” Say the wrong thing these days--or the right thing in the wrong way, or the wrong thing in a right way, or the right thing in the right way but at the wrong time--and you risk getting your photo posted online as PREDATOR OF THE DAY, RACIST OF THE WEEK, CIS BITCH OF THE MONTH, TERF OF THE YEAR, or worse, A MAN. “Why do you need to say those things to begin with?” you may say. “Well,” I reply. “Because sometimes it’s funny.” Here’s a story. My roommate once invited his boss over for dinner. “She’s very Chinese,” he warned me. “And very Christian. So please, please be on your best behavior.” “You have my word,” I said. When I walked into the house that evening, my roommate was cooking up a storm. “Mmm,” I said innocently, “something smells good.” My roommate’s boss, the prim Chinese lady, tried to make a joke. “Thank you,” she said. “It’s because I showered this morning.” “You must have douched,” I said. My roommate turned from the stove, jaws open. There followed several seconds of silence. I went into my room, closed the door, and laughed for about six months. These days, I would be called out. EVERYONE KNOWS DOUCHING IS BAD FOR VAGINAL FLORA! I love hearing and saying inappropriate things. To me, not being able to be slightly inappropriate is like holding in a fart. Something’s going to slip. I don’t mean saying things are are totally and pointlessly offensive, but things tossed off, as Mae West might have done, with a bit of style and wit. A few years ago, at a gathering in Berlin, a big burly Faerie wandered into the room and announced, “I don’t believe in consent. I’m handsy. I’m from the

90s!” and wandered back out again. “I love Berlin,” I thought. As comic Jim Jefferies says, “My whole skill in life is being able to say horrible things and still seem likable!” He adds, “There is a big fucking difference between things that I think, and things that I think are funny to say.” Mostly, however, people are just awkward. When I was in Europe, a number of Faeries came up to me and said, “I hope this doesn’t sound racist but—” “Go on,” I say, pulling up a chair. “I’m all ears.” What followed was usually some innocuous memory about an Asian lover they once had in Thailand, or maybe a little joke that features an Asian accent. I’d laugh gently and say, “That wasn’t racist at all. Racist would be asking me if Asians have small little dicks, or if we’re all money-hoarding cheapskates with small little dicks.” I don’t, as a general rule, get offended by much. My strategy in life was always to laugh at myself before anyone else could laugh at me. Self-deprecation made me strong. “I hope you don’t mind my asking,” people often tell me, “but are you Japanese?” “I’m Chinese,” I reply. “Are you sure? Because you look Japanese.” “I’m actually Taiwanese,” I say. “Hmm,” they say, narrowing their eyes. “Your face shape is very Japanese.” “I’m not Japanese.” “And you’re so tall,” they say. “Japanese are the tall ones.” “Are they?” “Yes. “Fine,” I say. “I’m Korean.” Now, this is the point in the story where most people would reach for their phones to take a surreptitious photo which they’ll post to FB under the heading, “THIS PERSON!” But me, I smile and ask, “Now tell me about you. What’s going in your life?” And then, what usually happens, is they’ll tell me about their grandson who has autism or their recipe for Hollandaise sauce. It’s a nice thing, you know. Most people who say slightly weird things to you are really just curious. RFD 178 Summer 2019 13

They’re trying, in their awkward way, to let you know, “Hey, I know a little bit about where you come from,” even if they think where you come from is Japan. A few years ago, I started to travel. I showed up in a lot of places—small towns in Spain, grocery stores in the West Bank—where people wouldn’t expect to see a six foot plus Asian with long lustrous hair. It’s like walking into a village in Namibia and seeing Dolly Parton. So I get that people are curious about me. I love that they’re curious about me. I will tolerate quite a bit of awkward poking and prodding before I say, “Enough now, buddy. You only get to talk to me that way if you pay me.” Yes, yes, I know there is such a thing as real abuse. Once, a lady on the street screamed Chinaman at me several times for no reason. (It’s ChinaPERSON,” I should’ve replied.) In school, where I was the only Asian, kids made slanty eyes at me and chanted, “Chinese, Japanese, Whatever-nese!” I’ve also been called faggot, cocksucker, and faggot-ass bitch by more random people than I can recall. Twice I was beaten up by teenagers on the street, once punched so hard that I lost vision in one eye for several hours. I know what it’s like to live as a skinny Yellow sissy. But it never occurred to me that I was a victim of racism or homophobia in any permanent way. It never occurred to me to stop laughing. Tim was one of my best friends in college. He was born without his right eye; there’s just a smooth socket there where he’s popped in a glass eye. During one of our early hangouts, he blurted out, “Whatever, Skeletor!” “Did you just call me Skeletor?” I said. We were still getting to know each other, and certainly not at a point where we could openly insult each other. “I forget, Tim, how do you spell your name again?” I asked. “With one ‘i’?” He looked at me shocked. It could’ve really gone either way. Then we both started laughing. From that moment on, we were best friends. Sometimes I’d reach over when he wasn’t paying attention and try to poke his fake eye. He sent me articles about anorexia. It was a fun thing. A few years ago, a white high school student posted a photo of her prom dress: a traditional Chinese cheongsam. The response was, sadly, predictable. A Chinese-American dude swam out of the depths of 14 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Twitter and replied that his culture wasn’t a fashion to be put on and taken off. A shitstorm followed, with people calling out the poor girl for that high crime known as cultural appropriation. The girl replied that she loved all cultures, and wanted to highlight something she found beautiful in Chinese culture. “It’s a fucking dress,” she tweeted. She’s right. And she looked gorgeous in it. How the fuck did we get to a point where only Chinese people get to wear Chinese dresses, and only Black people can wear cornrows, and only transgender people can talk about gender? How the fuck is it that Yale almost turned into Palestine over the issue of wearing sombreros on Halloween? I have a friend who says, “Sometimes it’s a history of cultural appropriation by a dominant race, and sometimes it’s just a pretty dress.” This is a fun game. You try. Sometimes it’s ___________, and sometimes it’s just a drunk person who forgot your pronoun. Sometimes it’s ___________, and sometimes it’s just an intersectional queer theorist who likes to smell their own farts. A friend of mine was facilitating a workshop for young artists of color. He wanted to establish a few ground rules so they can have a better process, but the young people protested. “We don’t want to call them rules,” they said. “We are uncomfortable with the vertical power structure that that implies.” “OK,” my friend said. “How about guidelines?” One of the guidelines was for those who spoke often to “step back,” and those who speak less to “step up.” This obviously well-intentioned attempt to encourage parity was met with more protests. “While all of us here today are able-bodied,” they said, “there are those in the world whose physical limitations prevent them from being able to ‘step up.’ We ask that you recognize the ableist privilege behind this language.” You cannot. Make. This shit. Up. Sometimes I’ll see a minority person say, “It’s NOT MY JOB to educate you!” Do you notice that people who say this actually LOVE to educate ( lecture) others? I don’t mind educating others. I like to explain the difference between Koreans and Chinese and Japanese to non-Asians. “You see, Koreans have wide faces, like the moon. And Japanese have two extra ribs. Just count them if you’re not sure! And the Chinese, we marry Jews.” “Oh,” they’ll say. “Thank you for that brief and

conclusive lesson.” “But I’m SO TIRED of explaining myself to every man/white person/heterosexual,” says my fictitious exhausted minority person. “I’m traumatized.” As my friend put it, progressives are increasingly becoming a people in search of a trauma. Ah, the T-word. What a beautiful thing it is. Invoke it, and you have grabbed the conch to speak uninterrupted. Trauma, like ‘sexual assault,’ has grown more diluted in use and meaning than an airport cocktail. I know that real trauma exists. But it certainly doesn’t come from people forgetting your gluten allergy. “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” the old saying goes. But the opposite is also true. When you think you’re a nail, everything looks like a hammer. Micro-aggressions are just that, micro. If we want any kind of future as a queer people, we’re going to have to get a tougher immune systems. And immune systems are fortified by repeated exposures to potential allergens, bacteria, and viruses (read: triggers). As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt observes, avoidance of triggers isn’t a treatment for trauma. It’s a symptom. Ain’t that the fucking truth. White people aren’t the problem. Men aren’t the problem. Straight people, neither. That guy manspreading on the train, not the problem. The people who forget your pronoun, not the problem. Those accused of micro-aggressions are usually well-meaning liberals who look like a Wallace and Gromit character. “I deeply apologize if I hurt anyone,” they stammer, “I will try, moving forward, to be a better ally,” before squealing, “CHEESE!” To which the accuser’s usual response is, “Fuck you! Fuck your apology! Die!” As Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed points out, the outrage ovipositor on the internet doesn’t want you to apologize. It wants you to die. We live now in what Jonathan Haidt calls a prestige economy. In an age of social media, liberals get social currency, or ‘prestige,’ by publicly calling out those they deem aggressors, however minor the aggression. It’s basically a game of I Spy, but more boring. In one infamous episode in San Francisco’s poetry community (what a sad beginning of a sentence that is), one poet was accused of rape publicly. Months of outrage followed, with poets taking sides on social media, calling for the poet to be banned from readings. And anyone who supported him, or

asked questions about the facts, were deemed rapists themselves. The facts, when they came out, presented a case much murkier than anyone wanted to believe. Well who cares. He was a man. Who cares if a man gets ruined? Meanwhile, real white supremacists and homophobes are trying to legislate away abortion rights, voting rights, housing rights, access to clean water, adoption rights, government transparency, medical care, discounts at Sephora, and the thirty-eight other things on the progressive agenda. Trump, for example, just banned transgender service members from the active military. Abortion rights are under attack in several states. Same with voter rights laws. But we busy liberals are worried about whether Margaret Atwood, author of the fucking Handmaid’s Tale, might be a bad feminist. Would ACT UP have gotten Reagan’s attention if they’d been on social media all day debating if they should pour ashes on the White House lawn because some poor non-union immigrant would have to clean it up? Would the Montgomery Bus Boycotts have happened if the organizers had to fend off accusations of not supporting Israel? What the fuck did we gain as a movement when we pressured San Francisco’s legendary drag revue TrannyShack to change its name because ‘tranny’ was suddenly off limits? (As I wrote at the time, “Due to community pressure, TrannyShack is changing its name. It will now be known as TrannyHut.”) Fifty years after Stonewall, let’s remember that the drag queens who threw the first rocks would not just be rolling in their graves right now if they heard all the queer pearl-clutching. Those queens would be rolling their eyes. Hard. They were fighting a society where cops dragged queers out of gay bars and beat the shit out of them with clubs. Other queers live in cultures that stone gay people to death. Our fight, it seems, is stopping RuPaul from using the phrase, “You’ve got she-mail.” The stakes could not be lower. Most people I talk to think political correctness has gone too far. Not all of them men. Not all of them white. None of them will speak out against it. They are afraid. Leftists, feminists, queers, and vegans have become a cult that controls the speech and behaviors of others through fear. It’s gross, and I’m calling you out on it. Now give me my prestige.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 15

“To go on is victory” Title from Ana Mendieta, Cuban artist-activist

Dreams mirror us. For some with light, for others much shadow. We all have their company if not their comfort. One way to tame them is deny them: better yet, drown them cell by cell in the ready river of holy hate. Then smash lash bash anyone who might rouse the truth inside. Others must defer their’s, settle them carefully down with what’s left of a body broken, murdered, for just showing who they are. But when we look each death full in the eyes When We Find The Strength Somehow To Look Each Death Full In The Eyes we find those dreams, so painfully laid down, are still beating. While I have breath I’ll lift them up, carry them as best I can to every god-wielding, hater hauntthe blazing testament of who you were – of who we are. Every step, another victory.


16 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Idylliic America 12” by Doug Sandelin.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 17

Stonewall”: Memory and Meaning by Notre Dame des Arbres


in no way saw me take a lead in- or even join- the budding Radical Faerie movement. I had, however, started living in Manhattan and relishing all the delights that big box of sweets offered to an outwardly conservative Englishman discovering how to live- as I thought- as a gay man in that era of supreme hedonism. AIDS was still some way round the corner and life on Christopher Street, in the bath-houses and on the Island was (now wince-makingly!) absolutely as described in the late great Larry Kramer’s “Faggots,” A revelation to me, having shed the shackles of an officer’s Commission in Queen Liz’s British Army. I did not realise then how much I was benefitting from the frustration, rage and spontaneous heroism of the Stonewall riots a decade earlier. Sure, there were clubs and bars in London and elsewhere—and my first sex with a man had been shortly before my sixteenth birthday…around the same time as “Stonewall.” But as a Cambridge History undergrad, Stonewall meant the brilliant Confederate General Jackson; nothing more. What was enabled by the riots was an unparalleled freedom to explore life-styles on behalf of a minority that had hitherto known oppression, suppression, exclusion, ridicule and condemnation. The atmosphere resembled that explosion of possibility and brief years of living a dream that had a great epicentre in the London of the 60’s—an era that I was precocious enough a teenager to have tasted as a natural liberal (don’t ask me why I joined the Army later!) Basically, I was confronting my demons and maybe wanted to prove to myself and the world I could be as “manly” as any while still throwing my legs in the air or following some cute male ass all the way home. Is it perhaps ironic that today we date the end of “The Summer of Love” to 1969 and the Rolling Stones’s Altamont Concert…

18 RFD 178 Summer 2019

and at the same time a new beginning was made on Christopher Street, heralding the decade of being “Out and Proud.” How can I describe to young men and women today the wonder and joy of being a part of a tribe focussed on Greenwich Village? Of being free to walk hand-in-hand with a lover or connection of a few minutes, to kiss on the street? To revel in a feeling of safety and comradeship? Freedom, they say, is an illusion. But in a Proustian way, I can still taste, still savour, that elation today, four decades later. I cannot honestly say I knew enough to pay my respect to the heroes and martyrs of 1969 in ’79/’80

before moving to Westheimer, the Houston, “gay ghetto.” Yet the vibe stayed with me and gave me courage to fight—now as a civilian, on new battlefronts. Vividly I recall letting my lover, Rickie, fall asleep in my lap on a Greyhound bus heading for Texas from New York in 1980. A young girl of colour sitting behind whispered: “You can’t do that…this is THE SOUTH!” Well, maybe that was the societal behavioural norm, but like Tommy’s disciples “we ain’t gonna take it!” The rednecks of Houston with their pick-ups rear windows piled up with fire-arms (I had laid down mine, remember) and hostility, that out of sheer defiance, I “nellified” Photo courtesy author.

myself up, carried a man bag, wore high-fashion designer clothes and swished and sashayed just to annoy them and to say “I can”. Walking toward Mary’s Motorcycle Club (bar)…out of one such truck a lug-wrench was thrown at me that whistled just past my head and embedded in a palm tree. I chased that truck up the street. Three guys got out, armed. They had pulled over right across from the bar. But before I could either crazily try take them on, or they gun me down…the whole bar emptied out and surrounded us. Those guys sheepishly drove off to jeers from the “muscle-Mary” crowd of drinkers. Suddenly, I, the crazy Brit, was feted. For months after, recalling that episode would earn me a long tall Bud and shot of peppermint schnapps. Rickie, however suffered from his wit at first entry to that bar; “Look at all these muscles…and not a man in sight!” Somehow the spirit of Stonewall was passed (“Bring out your night stick, honey, and I’ll show you where you can put it!”) Without Stonewall, we could never have hit the subway to go out at 4-5am in Manhattan all dressed up to start our evening at the Anvil and walked east across the (real) meat-market arm-in-arm as folk were going to work. Not enjoyed the Saturday gay dances at Columbia (to avoid the out-of-town crowd at the big clubs), had sex at the piers all day in summer. The city authorities would never have tolerated “The Mineshaft.” On arrival in NYC it was explained to me by co-owner of gay guest-house “The Ossi” what happened at that notorious locale: “Take the concept of a back-room fuck bar…and put it in the front!” What follows this little article is a kind of manifesto I wrote while co-composing a call with my good sister (yes, of PP), Foxy Deux Mille, for Folleterre’s Great Circle 2019 Gathering. As you will see, this will embrace not only our faerie business, review of activities, stewardship etc, but also commemorate the Stonewall anniversary…and that of forty years since the first Radical Faerie Gathering. Maybe some of you have been saying to yourselves that this piece merely relives the new-found sexual expression preceding the AIDS pandemic. But there is something that links all. While (forgive me, Texans!) “exiled” in Houston… I carried with me also a notion of brotherhood- of tribe, years before reading Two Flutes laying or meeting Andrew Ramer at Gay sort Culture Summit at Garrison, NY years later. The freedoms of Manhattan in 1979 were not exactly reduplicated all around the country—and I had yet to visit San Francisco and missed its heyday. As indicated, there was still much

homophobic violence in Texas—maybe little islands of comparative safety in Westheimer and also Austin. So we learned to really look out for one another. In the same way that my half-Puerto Rican lover, Rickie, had taught me to look out for the vulnerable young gay kids on the street. Our illegal sublet apartment, at 10 Liberty Place near the World Trade Centre had always been a place of refuge for waifs and strays—kids looking to crash or a meal after a night at the East side baths. In Houston, the streets were teaming with young guys being exploited by rich older johns—having come in from all over the States…being picked up at the Chicken Coop (yes—the name says it all!—a sleazier version of the Village’s Ninth Circle (“the Hole”), or cruised on the street. So my apartment above Don’s “le Patois” restaurant on Westheimer, where I became the chef, was open house to drag queens, trannies (as we called them then) and underage gay boys. I gave jobs in the kitchen to as many as possible to earn some legit dollars chopping veggies and doing KP. For a time set up a briefly successful catering co-operative so these guys could earn money without being used for a mattress by predatory older men…until closed down by the City Fathers, some of whom we later learned were married men enjoying sex with boys for a few bucks or just for being in a house for a night and not on the street. So I learned something about tribal connection that years later ignited as a flame with the Faeries. In 2001, I got a job as senior housing and homelessness advisor for young gay men and lesbians in London…with “Stonewall Housing.” The circle was turning. From there I set off for San Francisco to represent the Edward Carpenter Community of gay men at Harry Hay’s memorial service at Glide Memorial Church. I met faeries like John Burnside and members of the Circle of Loving Companions. In 2004, at that GSC “Summit,” I met 134 others—many faeries and others prominent in gay and queer spirituality. I’d left work, started studying Jungian analytical psychology in Zurich and training as an Interfaith Minister. In 2005 “Folleterre” was founded and I started then my long and loving service of this first Faerie European Sanctuary. To quote again The Who’s rock opera, Tommy: it has been “an amazing journey”. Now in my 65th year (how did that happen?) I am glad to have shared it with many and to share it with you now. We are witnessing the birth of new Faerie Sanctuaries in Europe—they are needed. There are still battles to be fought—the small matter of a planet to be saved. Blessed be! RFD 178 Summer 2019 19

20 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Idyllic America 9” by Doug Sandelin.

Stonewall Heels Dressed as a man, I’m taller, than a woman, but wearing heels, I’m so much taller, and that matters. What hurts more? My soul against a shoe slope? no my calve, no beaten with a club. Officers, so hot in porn, but at Stonewall, fist after fist, and club after club, and no lub, hitting my back and my face, not even 1 slap on my butt. At Stonewall, a heel became more than a shoe. Drag queens, so fierce on the runway, but at Stonewall, no after no, and heel after heel, first catapulting heels, then holding a strap and lashing the officers, until my heels and mascara were blood. Now, I walk with a walker, and wear flats – 2 inches or less, when I walk no more, I will be ashed with my Stonewall heels. —Robert Fleming

RFD 178 Summer 2019 21

the window crystalline and dawn-lit in that summery scrape of sunrise its blood stained shards peppered christopher street to the steady rhythm of determined feet and limp wristed hail mary’s prayers for today in here together behind the pane we dance for mourning hips slapping cops across the face whose boots and bricks once split us to shards carried back together by the sweet scent of sweat and latex as the morning warms us bursting through that solid pane —Jordan Eby

22 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Queer Moment” by Richard Vyse.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 23

My Summer of ‘69 by Franklin Abbott


efore I get to the conclave let me say a little more about Jacques DeMolay and the order that was founded a hundred years ago in his name. DeMolay was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, a group of knights who fought in the crusades that became independent and powerful much to the dismay of the pope and the king of France. DeMolay and his chief lieutenants were accused of all kinds of awful crimes (including, gasp, sodomy), refused to recant or betray each other and were burned at the stake in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1314. A bronze plaque commemorates the spot which I found by accident on my first trip to Paris in 1991. The Knights Templar were an inspiration for latter day Masons. DeMolay was, according to “Dad” Land, the ideal man in his values and his dedication to his brotherhood. His martyrdom figures prominently in the secret rituals of the order. So do the Seven Cardinal Virtues: Filial love (the love of parents), Reverence for sacred things, Courtesy, Comradeship, Fidelity, Cleanness, Patriotism. The virtues were taught in one of the initiatory rituals and were embodied in jewels that were attached to “The Crown of Youth.” The rituals were carried out in Masonic lodges which have four sides and an central altar. The counselors or officers of the DeMolay chapter sit on the four sides and the preceptors who impart the wisdom of the virtues are on the periphery. The counselors wear the robes. The robes were black satin on the outside and red satin on the inside and floor length worn in the style of a cape. From the time I was initiated I wanted to wear the robes and as I rose through the hierarchy I was rewarded. I was Master Councilor of my chapter, of my region and ultimately Junior Councilor of Tennessee, an office which came with a silver necklace with a silver state of Tennessee medallion dangling from it. This was the closest thing to drag I could wear and I could wear it in front of my parents. No one said a word. So it was as the Junior Councilor from Tennessee that I was selected to attend the International 24 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Conclave in Kansas City where all the states and a number of Canadian provinces and foreign countries were represented. In my memory it was the first International Conclave but records suggest there may have been two smaller ones in the years previous. 1969 was the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the order, Kansas City was the world headquarters and the grand lodge in Kansas City was grand indeed, nothing like the neighborhood lodge my local chapter met in. The other Tennessee delegate was a sour fellow from Memphis and we didn’t much like each other. Fortunately I was assigned to room with the two delegates from British Columbia right across the hall from the two delegates from Alabama. We would get into extraordinary trouble with each other. The boys from Alabama were sissies. Not in the most obvious ways. They dressed and groomed conservatively. But they had musical voices, laughed too much and swayed a bit as the walked. One was a diabetic. I had never seen someone self inject before and it fascinated and horrified me. The boys from British Columbia were cute and spoke with what sounded to me like soft British accents. One was very cute and I got an immediate crush on him which both bothered and excited me. Our camaraderie was entirely due to the serendipity of our room assignments in the downtown hotel proximate to the grand lodge. The trouble came when we were all mutually outraged by a rumor that one of the delegates from Nova Scotia had been sent home because he was black. Now there may have been men of color in the Canadian chapters but the ones in the American South were strictly segregated. We knew there were African American masons and like everything else in our segregated world it just seemed they way things were. It is odd that Southern delegates, me and the boys from Alabama, were among the ones to question the segregation policy. In 1969 times were changing. I think it was the diabetic fellow from Alabama who raised the flag of outrage but the other four of us were absolutely complicit. We drew up a proclama-

tion against segregation and presented it, to the horror of our chaperoning “dads”, to the main assembly. We were declared out of order and that was that. The conclave was almost over. The International Master Counselor and his court had been elected and we all went home. I was disillusioned. I knew that my friends and I were right and that we should have been listened to and the injustice we spoke about should have been addressed. Nothing further was said. I went to college that Fall in Georgia and wouldn’t be active in the order much longer. I stayed just long enough to make sure the sour fellow from Memphis was not elected state Master Councilor and then I pivoted to the future and never lived in Tennessee again. I would still see my old DeMolay friends when I returned to Nashville. We would get drunk and stoned and parody the old rituals but that got stale as time passed and life became more interesting. I never joined the Masons and unlike Bill Clinton, Walt Disney, Peter Rose and John Steinbeck was never inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame. It all became remote to me until I happened upon the plaque commemorating Jacques DeMolay’s immolation on the square in front of Notre Dame. A friend took my picture there. I had a look of mock horror on my face. I lost track of the boys from Alabama and one of the fellows from British Columbia. I did correspond with my crush for a number of years. When, at the

beginning of my sophomore year in college I mistakenly received an induction letter from my draft board and went into panic mode, Ross, his name was Ross, and his family invited me to come and live with them in Canada. I was deeply moved by their compassion. It was weeks before I got things straightened out with my draft board and I stayed in college safe from the war in Viet Nam for at least the time being. Ross and I corresponded for another year or two but I think he did not feel about me the way I felt about him and after a while he stopped writing. What I learned in the Order of DeMolay lay dormant for a number of years. The Virtues in the Crown of Youth are pretty universal and I didn’t need an initiation ceremony to know I should take a bath and be nice to my parents. I learned how to run a meeting, how to put on an effective ritual, how to organize on a local and state level. All things that have come in handy again and again for one or another radical cause. I didn’t attend Judy Garland’s funeral, throw a rock at the cops at Stonewall (not to minimize the sacrifices made by those who rioted or to justify throwing rocks at anyone) or trip my ass off at Woodstock. I wish I had but I wouldn’t give up my summer where I got to stand up in front of an assembly of white men in a grand Masonic lodge in Kansas City and tell them that their racism was shameful. Maybe I did learn a little something from Jacques DeMolay after all.

A Conversation on Direct Action 4/30/19, The Ancestor Circle at Hickory Hollow


urrounded by songbirds and still-burning candles from ritual, a few of us gathered here to have a conversation on direct action. Jacques Servin, known for his work with the Yes Men, joined climate organizers Patrick Robbins and Laurel Maccurdy, as well as collectivists Dami Feral and Jesse Oliver. Nikita facilitated and offered some framing questions. Nikita. What drew you to direct action? What are some of your influences? LM. I got hard core into birds when I was about thirteen, and they were the gateway drug into butterflies and trees and then I started looking at the world around me, and it was like if someone comes into your house and threatens your mom. You stand

in the way. I’ve been involved for the last ten years in the Tibetan freedom movement. Tibetans just by culture and nature tend to be very queer-friendly. And they demonstrate the ability for a small number of people to challenge an entity the size of the Chinese communist party with nothing more than dignity and stories. Against impossible odds, they’re perpetuating a culture. China had gotten the Olympics and they were going to do the biggest torch run. So we went to Mt Everest and snuck into the Chinese climbing party and did an action broadcast live … it effectively wrecked China’s publicity stunt. Tibet isn’t free, probably isn’t going to be, but there’s now a whole new generation of Tibetan youth activists … just really heartening. RFD 178 Summer 2019 25

JS. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, in the desert. Mainly, it was coming out and discovering the world of sexual freedom, in combination with caring about the environment and other things. Discovering sexual freedom led me to San Francisco, eventually. I wasn’t a core participant in ACT-UP at all. I went to a few protests, maybe a meeting, but it was inspiring to me. In this totally lethal situation, such brilliance, the spontaneous and the planned, the leaderless and the leaderful, coming together into a large number of creative actions that dovetailed with more white-collar action. It was the epitome of an amazing, smart, brilliant successful movement turning grief into rage. They really did that without having a plan to do that. PR. The experience of being queer helped acquaint me with the notion that the culture where I grew up could be egregiously wrong. If they can be wrong about something so basic as sex, maybe they’re wrong about lots of things. I watched the Twin Towers come down from my high school. I was fifteen and three blocks away watching people jump. In the aftermath I really wanted answers, and there weren’t any on offer, which was horrifying to me. I kept going to these anti-Iraq-war marches, and they were really dispiriting because it’s hard to be part of something if it isn’t part of a larger strategy. I want to overthrow the empire, I want it to happen in my lifetime. DF. I guess the real roots of my direct action experience started through Anti-Racist Action, mostly with other drunk anarchist kids rebelling and fighting. And then I really cut my teeth through animal liberation stuff. And then I started making the connections between factory farming and the treatment of the indigenous, colonization, racism. LM. I will say, because you probably won’t, Jacques, that the Yes Men represent a totally different way of piercing the corporate veil using creative, ridiculous, very entertaining tactics to expose that everybody gets, but it’s done in a way that’s very different from marching through the streets. Impersonating Dow Chemical and knocking billions of dollars off their stocks by pretending to be them doing the right thing, a thing that everybody who’s not Trump would think they should do — it’s a spark, it knocks people off balance in a way that is really exciting. And I know people are constantly coming and asking, could we do this, and you reply, you could! It’s not patented, it’s an invitation to go 26 RFD 178 Summer 2019

get creative and fuck things up. Just do it, go do it, do it wrong, learn from it, and do it again. 80% of the things the Yes Men have done people have never heard of, but the 20% inspired millions of people. JS. I think ACT-UP had the same feel of throwing spaghetti at the wall. The CDC takeover: will this work? Hey, let’s try it. We need more spaghetti. [General laughter] Nikita. When I think about Adbusters, they are a classic spaghetti thrower. They threw out so many ideas, most forgotten, but then this call to occupy Wall Street started to gain more and more momentum. The call was more focused than the movement. When you get thousands of people to come together and discuss, maybe you can’t come up with a single demand. Maybe that’s a strength. JS. The whole thing happened chaotically. They didn’t plan to go to Zuccotti Park, they planned to go to some other place, and then they were blocked, so they thought, let’s go over there. And through some legal loophole they were allowed to stay there. We tend to make these narratives in retrospect but none of it made sense at the time. It just happened. Nikita. That’s true with Stonewall too. For people who were in New York, or came out of New York, it was the key pivotal movement. For people in the rest of the country, it wasn’t. But because people in New York decided to do this commemorative march, and had access to publications and a lot of publicity, it came to be this key symbol. I was reading stuff from people in other parts of the country who would talk about their protest and pushback against the police and never mention Stonewall at all. It’s a usable past, a usable mythology, but who is it useful for? To which ends? Now the conversation is over racial exclusion and reparations, Sylvia Riviera and Marsha P Johnson. Stonewall has become this mirror in which we can see our desires and strengths, and our flaws. JS. But there’s also a lack of usefulness to it. It’s useful to have these stories, we can say them and get excited under the banner of Stonewall, but to believe our own stories disempowers us. Nikita. What sets direct action apart from more conventional forms of political involvement, and what do you think its importance is?

PR. I’ve heard two roles attributed to direct action. A power to force a conversation in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be happening, and a power to directly model the world that you want to see. Those two goals are not necessarily aligned. They can be even contradictory. So it’s useful to think about which of these you are working toward. LM. Often we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish at the time, whether it was preventing the logging of timber land or the sale of resources. We lost, and it was incredibly dispiriting. But actually, if you look back, our actions were really important. Whether it was changing hearts and minds, changing government policy, or catalyzing transformation in young people, there was always something that was incredibly worthwhile. Radical resistance is collective and contagious, and it produces things that are worthwhile even if they aren’t the pragmatic, practical thing you were hoping to achieve. DF. It’s special, organizing with other queers. Doing Trans and/or Women’s Action Camps really shifted shit for me, because we were like, having fun. Our issues had nothing to do with being queer. But the solidarity I felt was amazing. It had more flair. JO. What has changed, if anything, in how direct action is happening now versus the way it was happening twenty years ago? Which tactics are Black Lives Matter and Occupy pursuing and how are they similar or different? DF. One obvious difference from twenty years ago is the Internet. You don’t have to put your body on the line. We used to do actions at shareholders’ meetings, but now they don’t hold them in physical places. So I guess the future is hackers? We have to rethink how we’ve been doing it because it’s such a different world now. LM. Twenty years ago climate was one cause among many but now it is the umbrella under which all other causes exist. This is about the future livability of our planet, an unprecedented emergency that our psyches are not even structured to absorb. We all know it, on different levels, intellectually, spiritually. The world is going to react in order to survive, but the people suffering the most are those who did the least to cause the problem. We have to re-envision capitalism, technology, the whole structure of our society. It’s really exciting but also terrifying. We

are not going to elect our way out of this problem. It’s going to be mass mobilization by people taking action. It’s the only route we’ve got. LM. The moment feels very pregnant. The seeds of it are there but it is not there yet. Maybe it should be the Radical Faeries. The Extinction Rebellion is doing its thing, there’s the Sunrise Movement, but none of it yet feels like it’s the spark that’s gonna end capitalism. Maybe that’s looking at it wrong, that it’s going to be one thing, but it does feel like there’s a cohesion that’s lacking. All the ingredients are there but the spark needs to be lit, they need to be catalyzed. There’s a lot of sentiment. People understand the stakes but don’t know what to do. There’s not an accessible pathway. PR. I think that’s the biggest barrier, despair. JS. But on the counter-despair side, this might be what the civil rights movement looked like. Everything failed. This started and then it fizzled out; that started and then it fizzled out. It’s only historians looking now who can say, “this was a movement, and it started twenty years before it achieved its first victory.” The anti-globalization movement recohered into Occupy which recohered into the Bernie Sanders candidacy which is now recohering again. LM. It’s important to see what does work. Giant pipelines used to just happen, they just went through a rubber stamp process, and now it costs billions and billions and many years to even consider. It’s still happening but the landscape has been fundamentally altered as a direct result of all the resistance. Standing Rock was a watershed in unification and empowerment of American indigenous groups. That genie’s not going back in the bottle. JS. The civil rights movement did achieve a lot along the way, but it didn’t look like it was going to change anything until decades later. DF. We have so much rage. I’m so disgusted by what I’m seeing now with Stonewall, the police leading the march. To them we’re just the gay market. Living around [Hickory Hollow], I’ve looked through the old issues of the RFD and they’re fucking radical. The Radical Faeries today, are they still radical?

RFD 178 Summer 2019 27

Fanning the Flames (Stonewall: “the birth of the modern gay movement”) There were other fires, indignities that fueled angry blazes, sparks of contempt set by self-conflicted hands. Incendiary words that lit the world in terror—Magnus Hirschfeld, his Institute Of Sex, his library of deviant writings— letters, papers, in defense of being homosexual. Explaining how in nature it’s normal. The torch touched him as well: his stately mansion ransacked, a bonfire consuming a life’s work. And, long before, the burning irons used to sodomize young men, befouled by their prurient desires, sinners made as examples: seared, cauterized from within, as the sharp piling bored up their bodies. The molly houses where lads in rakish drag wore necklaces and rouge, suffering for their “ungodly acts,” branding the skin; marred beyond recognition for their crime. The Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans where gay men gathered to escape the lies—few of them survived, the cause, an arson. The past still suffocates, those rooms exitless, the corpses still pinned between fate: hide, come out, or perish. —Walter Holland

28 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Out Proud” by Richard Vyse.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 29

Balance of Power Early in my shift, pinned in a corner out of camera range, your shoulders immobilizing my upper body, massive legs firm in front of my own, completely against me, face in my face, touching the tips of our noses, black eyes ripping into mine the way your erection could tear into me if you strip and spin me around – I am not afraid. You scared me last week in the day room, grinned and grabbed my thousand-dollar trifocals – thin as matchsticks in your redwood-rooted hands – put them on, mused aloud perhaps you’d keep them before removing them from the engine of your face. I never let on. Like now, backed into this corner as the stench of your exhale blows in between my parted lips. I do not writhe or twist my wrists trapped in the vice-grip of your fist, the flow of blood into my own hands cut. I can still extend my tongue – the only body part left moving – into your mouth, surprising and devastating, silencing your tongue as I wrap them together, mixing our thick and gray saliva before pulling out. I can remind you: I know, each time you drop your sweatpants in the lunch line dragging your index finger through your ass crack then holding it under another youth’s nose until they squirm away disgusted – that someone stronger, somewhere, has already turned you in this trap. Revenge cannot erase this. One raw and ragged word is all it would take to wreck you. I chose this line of work. You will not make me scream. —D. Scott Humphries

30 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Jesse James Rides Again I. The rain comes as sage smoke on the wind and seems to be part of a plan to muffle your hoof beats these many years and let you slip in close to my life. Behind my eyes a message I tried to telegraph long ago, a patchwork union, you and I, some unsorted sepia history, off a windy plain deep in Sioux land, contested and stolen. When the railroads meet from east and west, we are there to drive the golden spike together. You have been many years and guises: cowboy, Indian, trucker, teacher, redneck, brother, villain – in straw, in hay, the barn, rolling, tossing, running as real as the rain, as planned, as impertinent, impermanent, forever, forever, forever. II. My grandfather collected rainwater in old barrels at the corner of every shed on his homestead – clear brown, rust-red, cool to the touch, taste of iron. He carried a bit of us inside in that water, rippled. You became real so I could touch what I’d only imagined. I had to pull out, p ull back, pull apart, pull away, put back, reassemble, remake. I’m not done yet. On another range, we ride off into yet-again, atop one horse this time, one stride. The scouts see only one form, one body, finally. There are many we have not met but they have been here with us always. Listen: one of them howls the desert night, waiting. —D. Scott Humphries

RFD 178 Summer 2019 31

32 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Sister Rosemary Chicken, The Odalisque” by Doug Sandelin.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 33

All the World’s a Stage: Jussie Smollett and the Performance of Victimhood by Arsalan Haq


n the last few decades, an ethical turn has come to define our present moment in which violence, in all its ugly forms, is taken to trial by the very voices it aims to suppress. In the American context, grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too have spotlighted the cultures of aggression and institutional violence, as well as the systemic erasure and silencing of victims from all across the marginal spectrum—Women, persons of color, queer and trans folk, the undocumented and so on. With voices of the marginalized and persecuted finally taking center stage, a new kind of academic and popular interest has shaped around the categories of victimhood and vulnerability. And although even a cursory look at history books will confirm the existence of victims across time, there is something unique about the modern victim. The visibility and recognition afforded by present-day media channels have recast “victim” as a category. Not only has there been a shift in attitude toward victims from one of suspicion to immediate sympathy, there is also a shift in their status. Because of its various mediatizations, representations, and narrative twists, victimhood, I argue, has indeed

34 RFD 178 Summer 2019

risen from the trenches but bearing traces of social distinction, occupying a moral high ground that is simultaneously precious and precarious. Focusing on the alleged hate crime hoax perpetrated by television celebrity Jussie Smollett, I endeavor to read the complexities and inversions that victimhood has so recently and rapidly undergone, and the percolating risk of it devolving from a socio-cultural practice to a staged performance. On January 29th, 2019 Jussie Smollett reported a hate crime. He was walking back to his Chicago apartment at two in the morning when two men in ski masks jumped him. They hurled racial and homophobic slurs, and declared America “MAGA country” before hitting Smollett and wrapping a noose around his neck. America was horrified. News of the incident sparked a firestorm, with support pouring in from celebrities, politicians and fans alike. In a since-deleted tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the attack “an affront to our humanity.” Cory Booker dubbed it a “modern-day lynching.” Pressure mounted on Chicago police who assigned at least a dozen detectives on the case. On February 1st, Smollett issued a statement, thank-

apply to everybody else.” For the former mayor of ing his supporters, and insisting the events were Chicago, Smollett’s celebrity status played a key role “100 percent factual.” The next day he even gave a sold-out concert in West Hollywood, channeling the in brokering his easy release. The bizarre conclusion to this messy drama left many scratching their persona of a survivor, triumphant and unbroken, heads, especially since the State’s Attorney’s Office claiming “he couldn’t let his attackers win.” Still, claimed they found nothing wrong with the police there were some on social media who remained on investigation. The question, however, still looms: the fence; Smollett’s story had all the ingredients of Did Smollett orchestrate the attack, and if so, what a sensational drama similar to Empire, the musidid he hope to gain in its wake? The police investigacal soap he stars in on Fox. By mid-February two tion that had led to earlier charges pointed to salary suspects—brothers of Nigerian origin—were in disputes; Smollett was apparently dissatisfied with custody. They divulged new information that led earning $65,000 per episode. But this is not what Chicago police to doubt Smollett’s original account. interests me. Nor am I interested in who will bear On February 20th, Smollett was charged with filing a false police report. Frustrated with constant media the brunt of the alleged hoax. I wish to focus on Smollett the actor, and dissect his actions, if they respeculation, the Chicago police chief sternly and ally were fake, as a performance, a performance that unequivocally condemned Smollett, confirming that there was substantial evidence against the actor employed the rhetoric and experience of victimhood in the age of trauma to attain for staging a phony racist and heightened visibility far supeanti-gay attack. The country rior than the one his celebrity was horrified once again. Supbestows. port for Smollett was hastThere is consensus In their book The Empire ily revoked. Democratic 2020 among theorists of Trauma, anthropologists hopefuls declined to comment. that the recognition Didier Fassin and Richard Rapper Cardi B even blamed Rechtman suggest that trauma him for single-handedly ruinof vulnerability and victimhood have become ing Black History Month. The undergirds the embedded in our everyday whole stunt, as The Daily Show identity of victims. language where these terms host Trevor Noah determined, Vulnerability, as an have acquired a kind of popular “screwed over everyone,” status—what’s new is not the including the gay commuexposure to physical experience of victimhood or nity, black community, Trump or psychic trauma, is trauma, but rather, the currency supporters and Democratic a condition that can and weight these terminologies candidates. be, paradoxically, enjoy. Contemporary western In early March, in what culture, they note, is domiappeared to be the final act of both disempowering nated by the “trauma paradigm” this curious case, Smollett was and empowering. where the social, political and indicted on sixteen separate institutional attitude toward counts. But on March 26th, trauma and abuse victims has in an astonishing reversal of evolved. Before, the experience of victims was put events, all felony charges against the actor were under severe scrutiny and their trauma viewed as a abruptly dropped and his record expunged, with suspect condition. Today, trauma, as wounds in the vague explanations. According to the Cook County individual or collective psyche, generates sympathy State’s Attorney’s Office, the decision came after for the victim and merits some form of compensaexamining facts, and while Smollett was not exactly tion. By highlighting vulnerability, Fassin and Rechtexonerated, he was not considered a threat to man suggest, trauma and victimhood narratives public safety either. Smollett, who has maintained reveal our common embodied humanity, and equal his innocence throughout the ordeal, hailed the susceptibility to suffering; such narratives, in short, dismissal of charges as a victory and vindication. legitimize the victim. This legitimacy, however, is However, Chicago Police and the city’s mayor at the contingent on social visibility and recognition of time, Rahm Emanuel, suspected foul play. “Where the victim’s experience which complicates matters. is the accountability in the system?” Emanuel asked. Sociologist Gabe Mythen reflects that “Being or “You cannot have, because of a person’s position, becoming a victim is not a neat or absolute journey. one set of rules apply to them and one set of rules

RFD 178 Summer 2019 35

victimhood as a wholly marginal position, for to be Acquiring the status of victim involves being party recognized is the highest form of privilege. to a range of interactions and processes, including It is not surprising that mainstream and social identification, labelling and recognition.” media outlets have done as much damage as good There is consensus among theorists that the recin bringing attention to victimhood. Viewed as ognition of vulnerability undergirds the identity of noble and irreproachable, the victim identity, argue victims. Vulnerability, as an exposure to physical or psychic trauma, is a condition that can be, paradoxi- sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, has contributed to an upsurge in victimhood cally, both disempowering and empowering. It is culture. They explain that “A culture of victimhood disempowering in an ontological sense because it divests humans of autonomy; the susceptible self is a is one characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance construct of constrictive forces—social, sexual, culon third parties. People are intolerant of insults, tural and political. It can be further disempowering even if unintentional, and react by bringing them or perhaps even detrimental if the victim, despite to the attention of authorities or to the public at baring all injuries, is not granted visibility and, as a large. Domination is the main form of deviance, and result, denied their humanity. Judith Butler explains victimization a way of attracting sympathy, so rather this squarely in In Precarious Life: The Powers of than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, Mourning and Violence. She writes: “A vulnerability the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social must be perceived and recognized in order to come marginalization.” Campbell and Manning further into play in an ethical encounter, and there is no suggest that victimhood has guarantee that this will hapbecome trendy and competipen. Not only is there always tive in Western cultures esa possibility that a vulnerpecially on college campuses ability will not be recognized The increased visibility and social media where and that it will be constituted of victims is not what’s individuals readily publicize as the “unrecognizable,” grievances to appeal for supbut when a vulnerability is troubling; rather, port and recognition. Many recognized, that recogniit is the rise in the have criticized the socition has the power to change misappropriation ologists for demonizing the the meaning and structure of victimhood as an term victim and charging it of vulnerability itself.” For with negative connotations. Butler the vision of humans identity marker to gain But although unsparing in as vulnerable is predicated social and political their claims, Campbell and on their being seen and recognition that is Manning appear to be calling acknowledged. Therefore, the problematic. for a reexamination of the empowerment of victims is category of victim as an unonly possible if their suffererring, moral absolute which, ing is socially recognized. in the light of the Jussie For, as Butler proposes, to ask for recognition is to “solicit a becoming, to insti- Smollett affair, merits rethinking. The increased visibility of victims is not what’s troubling; rather, it is gate a transformation,” which in the case of victims the rise in the misappropriation of victimhood as an is marked by a desire to secure a newly empowidentity marker to gain social and political recogniered self. Once cemented in public consciousness tion that can be problematic. through what Butler calls “norms of recognition,” There is but another factor underlying the perthe victim’s identity is affirmed and they can truly verse allure in playing victim, and that takes us back begin healing by moving toward empowerment, justice and change. Butler rightly points out that the to the origin of the word itself. The Oxford dictionary defines victim as “a person who suffers severely human and vulnerability are intertwined in a way in body or property through cruel or oppressive that is mediated by regulatory norms in society, and treatment,” or as someone “who is reduced or destherefore always mired in discourses of power. In tined to suffer under some oppressive or destructive other words, not all victims get equal visibility. And agency.” Curiously, another definition, with its root since visibility is never symmetrical, it exposes a tense connection between recognition, vulnerability in the Latin word victima, links victim to sacred rituals: “a living creature offered as some sacrifice” and power, thus disrupting the understanding of 36 RFD 178 Summer 2019

to a deity. In cultic offerings of this nature, sacrifice is not only a sign of devotion but means to achieve spiritual and moral ascension. Religious literature, particularly of Abrahamic faiths, recognizes worship or service to a sacred power as the most common type of sacrifice. It is a gesture of submission where the sacrificer is the sacrifice. The sacrificer is thus able to distinguish him or herself from others, for they have entered divine kinship, embodying a sort of prophetic status. This particular valence of victim as sacrificer and sacrifice, their heroic willingness to surrender, suffer and survive, is exploited by victim players through the fabrication and performance of victimhood. The myth of sacrifice generates drama which, as psychoanalyst de Vries notes, draws people to victims like moths to a flame. The victim player is thus able wield influence, and acquires a distinctive position of visibility as well as virtue. Already steeped in celebrity culture, with an expansive reach on social media, Jussie Smollett’s motivations cannot plainly be about money. As a black, gay man, he had the role of a lifetime on the television show Empire: Jamal Lyon, an out, black, gay musician whose defiant stand against his father, trials with discrimination, and eventual rise to professional success earned Smollett acclaim and applause. Smollett’s character Jamal was a studied deconstruction of black masculinity, a rare sight on television, and garnered significant visibility for the actor. Perhaps it was virtue that was missing from the equation? Perhaps Smollett detected how his character was worshiped as a promised deliverer, a sacrificer, among legions of black and gay fans, something he wished to fully and capably replicate in his off-screen life? John McWhorter, a political commentator writing for The Atlantic, argues that being a successful actor and singer probably did not appeal to Smollett for he “has come of age in an era when nothing he could have done or said would have made him look more interesting than being attacked on the basis of his color and sexual orientation.” McWhorter is sharp in his observations, suggesting that if the attack was phony, it represents Smollett performing the eschatological role of victim as a persecuted prophet, a picture of morality. His performance anchors itself on the historic plight of gays and African Americans even though stardom shields him from the day to day struggle of the marginalized. Through a staged attack, Smollett hoped to bridge this gap and socially pass as victim by tapping into Trump era anxieties, presenting himself as a target of bigotry and hate despite his celebrity status. As a member of the gay

and black community, and as a celebrity, he was able to exaggerate and manipulate the narrative of victimhood to fashion a heroic legend of self. “I fought the fuck back,” Jussie Smollett told his fans in West Hollywood. They cheered his bravery. “I am the gay Tupac,” he followed. Tupac Shakur, arguably the most influential hip hop artist, is considered a prophet by his followers, a symbol of resistance whose message resonated with millions way before the social media ecosystem was invented. By invoking Tupac, Jussie Smollett once again scaffolded his victim-as-divinized identity, borrowing from the life and struggle of a revered other to give credence to his performance. But Smollett’s case of tailoring an identity built on the actual suffering of others in not the first of its kind. Former NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal, a white female, pretended to be black and forged stories of racist discrimination to achieve social and professional visibility. Once outed, Dolezal explained her blackness as “real,” founded on a close affinity with black culture, and foremost, black struggle. Dolezal’s whiteness occluded her from justifying her actions, but for Smollett, laying claim on the oppressed black and gay identity was much simpler since he belongs to those categories. Then all he had to do was perpetuate an already existing narrative. Through an intricate webbing of race, sexuality, politics and violence, Smollett fashioned the ultimate victim, spinning a tale that became easy fodder for media outlets. Media unwittingly helped fix Smollett’s performed role into a permanent identity, portraying an image of the enlightened victim and progressive hero, primed to usher in a new era of “woke” activism. Hoax or not, the Smollett episode has undoubtedly sown a number of doubts. It has jeopardized the credibility of actual and legitimate cases of racist and homophobic abuse by exploiting the progressive Left’s default mode of believing victims. It has also highlighted biases in media coverage, with conservatives seizing the opportunity to call out liberal media and liberals on their pretense of facts-centered reporting and reasoning. What the case has ultimately revealed is our haste in judgment and taking sides. The question, then, is how do we do right by victims without being skeptical or falling prey to scams like Smollett’s? It is not that we shouldn’t believe at all; rather, we shouldn’t start out believing in everything that floods our newsfeed, for media, as Marshall McLuhan alerted us back in the sixties, doesn’t only report but structures our beliefs. RFD 178 Summer 2019 37

38 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Moon Morgan.” Photograph by Richard Price.

Portraits from the 21st Century Book of Faeries by Richard Price


nce upon a time, in the lakeside queendom of Buffalo, before some of you were born, in the time before Stonewall, when even the Faeries were in hiding, and Gay Pride was unheard of. . . a portion of Riverside Park which has long-since disappeared under the I-190 sloped from Niagara Street down to the river. And it was there I used to go, in my rather solitary adolescence, to escape or confront my growing pains, and be alone and read, and listen to the voices in the water. There, in a small stone shelter along the river bank, a friend and I hung out together with some contraband beer, one day in June of 1957. In our prepubescent years, we had explored the outer edges of our neighborhood/world together, adventuring in swamps and abandoned farms, and other semiwild places. There we were, meeting again, virtually strangers, after two or three years of divergent adolescent experiences. He asked if I knew some girls we could party with. I mumbled some evasion—and he asked, more assertion than question, “You’re a fairy, aren’t you?” The world stopped momentarily, blurred and dimmed while a succession of emotions swept through me. Denial! Shame! Fear! Panic! I don’t think I said anything. I couldn’t admit, not even to myself, and absolutely not to anyone else, those demons of desire and attraction I battled, or hid from. A fairy! There it was—the ultimate disgrace in 1950’s teen sub-culture. I got on my bike and rode away. I never saw him again. Well, a lot of water has gone down the river since then. Several ages have come and gone—the sexual revolution, the anti-war era, the civil right movement. And a few wars. Lake Erie has died and been reborn. Buffalo has rusted a little more—and finally begun its revival. Gays have come out of the closet. More than half-way through my life, I finally matured a little, and found my way out of the chaos of repression, guilt and shame that the time and my upbringing imposed on me. And somewhere along the journey, I discovered the Radical Faeries. On a farm in the north country, where Faeries from all over the Northeast and elsewhere gather once a year, I found “my” community. I go back every

year, returning “home” to help re-create and be part of an environment of total openness, acceptance, and support, among friends whom I count as my second family. I arrived at Blue Heron Farm and entered this peaceful Breughellian landscape on a warm endless September afternoon. Turkeys trotted through the garden, and sheep grazed in the lower pasture. Two Faeries made Tantric love outside their tent in the meadow. A group swam in the farm pond, while, outside the kitchen, two others peeled and chopped tomatoes for the evening meal. Far back in the woods at the water’s edge several others prepared for a sweat, gathering wood and feeding the fire to heat the rocks which would later glow dim red in the darkness of the sweat lodge. Faeries arrived and departed according to their other-world schedules, and there were kisses and hugs of greeting and farewell everywhere, while someone painted his toenails under an apple tree and someone else showered under the sky, and in full view of the sun, next to the equipment barn. At the sweat lodge in the woods at evening, steam rose into the dark interior as our chants rose, intermingled, and bound us as one in a physical and spiritual cleansing ritual. Later, dancing and drumming around a huge bonfire released the primitive in us, as the fire’s sparks rose and briefly mingled with the stars. Some Faeries are late risers, and a free-form, make-it-yourself breakfast goes on for hours, slowly segueing into Morning Circle, which frequently doesn’t begin until noon. As the talisman travelled round and round the circle on Sunday, affording each of us opportunities to talk about whatever we wished, or needed to—recurring motifs were the losses and pains, wounds and scars each of us bears, and shares in circle. For many of us, the Faeries are the closest family we have, and for many of us, the psychic wounds of being gay in a hostile or uncaring world have never healed. There are always those among us who have recently lost friends or lovers. But there are always those who are able to give support to those who need it. For me there is magic in the Circle— even though I sometimes tire of sitting and listening, RFD 178 Summer 2019 39

or despair of contributing—and I come away feeling that once again the Circle has taken care of everyone’s individual and community needs, through a magically transcendent group consciousness. The gathering went on for nine days, with attendance swelling to about ninety. Some were old friends. Some became new friends. Trixie was there, and Blue Jay and John and Firefly, Gabriel, Guru JefBob, Andy, Loadmaster and Chuck, and many others, from New York, and Boston, and San Francisco, and Toronto. What drew us together? What makes us Faeries? What is a Faerie, anyway? Well, if there is one thing that Faeries do, always and interminably, it is to debate and discuss, sometimes to the point of tedium, the question “What is a Faerie?” Someone has observed that “to be a Faerie is an act of self-definition.” There is room enough in the name Faerie to accommodate everyone’s definition, just as there is room at a Faerie Gathering to accommodate everyone’s personalities, burdens, and contributions, and room and time to fulfill everyone’s needs and expectations. A gathering is event, community, affirmation, work, play, sanctuary, support, consolation, magic, ritual, healing, sharing, personal growth, companionship, theatre, renewal. The Faeries are an anarchistic, and ephemeral intentional community—continually dissolving and re-forming, inventing our own relevant spirituality and culture, traditions and rituals. There is no membership list, or dues—no board of directors, no home office. There are no governing documents, no sacred cows, no dogma and no president. But, yes, Virginia, there are Faeries. Even in Buffalo!

Exhibitions Buffalo Big Print 78 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14202 (716) 884-1777 May 31—June 4, 2019 Opening reception Friday, May 31, 6:00–9:00 pm El Museo 91 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14202 (716) 464-4692 June 7–23, 2019 Reception TBA Melting Point 244 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14201 June 1–30, 2019 Rust Belt Books 415 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213 June 1-30, 2019 Reception June 21, Noon–8:00pm

40 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Above: “Scott and David.” Below:”John and John.”

Clockwise from top left: “Greg,” “Selfie,” “BlueJay,” “Claude and Lone Wolf ”

RFD 178 Summer 2019 41

42 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Things that happen in Volkspark” by Artboydancing.

Splash (206 W. 17 St., NYC. 1991-2013) You’ve paid to get in; and finally, there it is before you.... the abyss looking blissfully back into you. Its side bar opens visually onto the sleek central shower stage: the cavernous realm of performative gestures and the eyes of survivors are no holds barred. The space is designed to designate, and accommodates more than one hunky dripping subject and multiple voyeurs at a time. Bartender, I’ll have a very dry vodka martini. Very dry. No, I don’t want dirty. Not a lemon twist. Yes, olives will be fine. The entire club is one vast, robust, pulsing, thrashing tribal dance party. Colored lights flash and the pre-recorded music is spirited, inviting, and loud. —Scott Hightower

RFD 178 Summer 2019 43

44 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Alek Wek” by Artboydancing.

Springmelt It started with a thawing in their fingertips, winter laden branches dripping in the first sun of April. They stretched toward its beams, green shoots barely growing from the crevices in their palms, peeking out past their knuckles, blooming like bruises after a bar fight. A fight with the mirror, broken shards pooling at their feet like a thousand twinkling stars falling for them over and over again. But now it is spring, and they are falling for themself. They shudder, shaking off the snow that has weighed down their shoulders For far too long Too long, they whisper into the wind, a northern gale that is finally, finally bringing the scents of spring. Wildflowers, daisies, meltwater They lift their head and breathe. Finally. Breathe. How long have you stood here like this, Calls the robin. My whole life, they reply. Why don’t you move? I’m afraid, they reply. Why? It’s spring you know. And it is. Shoots sprout at their feet now as the last of the ice melts, leaving nothing but dirt and growing things. See, chirps the robin. Nothing to be afraid of. The plants already know you. And if you have to leave for a while to be able to come back, they will still know you. They breathe. Finally. Breathe. And they uproot. —Rowan Smith

RFD 178 Summer 2019 45

46 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Above: “Building Strength.” Below: “Shock.” Both by Joseph Minutello.


by Steven Cordova

Silence = Death Last time I checked, I wasn’t dead, only silent & I won’t be silent, even when I’m dead.

Starfucker based on a true story Hypermasculine, conventionally handsome, blond as a star, he could have had anyone he wanted but went home instead with Quentin Crisp. He never coughed up what he & Crisp did in bed & no one ever asked. We all assumed it was queer.

Nineten Hundred & Ninety-Two “Read my lips,” I intoned across a pizza parlor table, “I can’t sleep with a man who plans to vote for Bush,” & while this may sound highMinded, it was only an excuse to bail on a blind date I didn’t find handsome.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 47

48 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Faery Love” by Artboydancing.

Decanter of Endless Water

i’ll give you lip / and i’ll bring you spells, girl / and this nip slip / ain’t no dress rehearsal / so call up the camerapersons / call ‘em nice names (i’d rather watch from the shore / while the others make waves) so don’t hate the player, / doll / hate the game / but breaktime’s over. / so let’s play / DIVE IN / and if you get good / at it anyway / i have a thing or two / that i just must say

now bae / i once thought / there was no time for banter / and yet we’ve gone and blown the cap off / this decanter / can’t push the waters back / can’t push the waters back / they’re gonna flow now / and that’s that / can’t push the waters back / push the waters back now /

/ child whatchu done now / child whatchu done / out in the open / in front of everyone

we’re due / for a sea change / and how

/ pop /

off goes the cap / i didn’t wanna know / what this would take / but it took that.

off goes the cap / i didn’t wanna know / what this would take / but it took that /

no forcing it / back in the bottle now / power of the cosmos / genie on the prowl /

/ pop /


RFD 178 Summer 2019 49

50 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Biking Around Alexander Platz” by Artboydancing.

Yin and Yang Activism by Hammer

“In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.”- Sun Tzu, The Art of War


have considered myself a gay activist all my adult life. Today I think of myself as a queer activist or Radical Faerie activist. Times change and words change. I have never been comfortable with the idea of putting myself in harm’s way in a riot or physical struggle because of being gay. The idea of being clubbed over the head, beaten to a pulp, or hospitalized due to brutal encounters with ignorant males does not seem the wise choice to me. The night of the White Night Riots in San Francisco, after Dan White was given a lenient slap for murdering the Mayor of San Francisco and Supervisor Harvey Milk, I avoided the street melee. I was on the fringe, not the front lines. Perhaps I am not a “direct activist” in a traditional sense. Although I have been gay bashed and also put myself at risk while doing zaps with the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970’s. Even then it was not violence we intended to evoke, nor violence we perpetrated. It was street theater and agit-prop for consciousness raising. I deeply honor those who have shed blood for the movement, but it has not been my way. Perhaps it was the sissy in me or some cowardly streak. Or perhaps I had a deeper sense of self-preservation which dominates me. In my own way I own the mantle of direct activist and claim a voice in this RFD issue calling for the stories of riots and “direct action,” honoring the history of the Stonewall Riot fifty years ago. I also write to affirm the wisdom and essential nature of struggles for liberation and enlightenment that complement the physical struggles to be free and unmolested. Yes, all over the planet Queer people continue to be physically assaulted, beaten, and harassed. In too many countries and cultures there are no legal nor cultural protection for queer people. Murder, rape and torture of queer bodies goes unpunished or is sanctified by despotic states or theocratic proclamations. A series of short films entitled LGBT Rights Around The World, by Human Rights Watch, (available for free on line: https://www.kanopy.com/product/lgbt-rights-

around-world ), offers too much sad reality regarding what is appallingly happening to Queer bodies outside the bubble of western culture. It is not a safe planet at large for queer people to exist within. But to me direct-action physical resistance and violence seems a too limited response and incomplete strategy. I do not oppose it, but I am more deeply committed to securing the final struggle for our humanity. My friends and lovers who engaged in ACT UP did many direct actions in the 1980s and 1990s, at a time when our lives and survival were on the line. When confronted with death courage and fierceness in battle is essential. But the wise general uses all strategies at her disposal. The Radical Faeries have always impressed me most because of our thoughtful and circumspect nature. Here is a tribe of philosophical warriors. Here is a true army of lovers. If one studies ACT UP or was there, the coordination of all direct actions with the media and back of the set support teams was always essential to a successful event. Once the direct action was rolling, another coordinated team was super busy faxing endless press releases to every conceivable media outlet to get the message into the media in front of the public. The goal was to change public consciousness, not to confront a few dozen police and security guards. “Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.” —Sun Tzu, The Art of War. The field of struggle is constantly changing and being smart is more powerful than being strong. I praise the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for their grand and powerful theatricals which constantly push at the expansion of consciousness, breaking open new patterns for living free in many continents around the globe. I claim the SPI as family in the greater Radical Faerie tribe. I honor their spirited resistance for many decades and their leadership in spiritual reclaiming, in honoring the sissy, in raw community organizing, in holding fast to the fierce, the gentle, the genius, and the perpetual sustainability of resisting in groups. Doing this activist work in community is more sustainRFD 178 Summer 2019 51

able. The Quakers and the Radical Faeries can and do make a bigger transformational impact because they do their work strategically within community support. In the late 1980s I was at a Faerie gathering in upstate New York. My lover, Gary Reynolds, and myself, and another six guys were walking in a small town. We turned a corner to witness pro-life protestors picketing an abortion clinic. There were ten of them good Christians harassing the entrance making life miserable for anyone wanting to peacefully get medical care. What was to be done? No violence, no shouting, and no anger. The faeries hatched an immediate plot. Time for a kiss-in, right then and there. Immediately all the Faeries stood on the lawn eight feet from the pickets and we began a very dramatic French kissing episode. This caused the “pro-life” pickets to come unglued. In fifteen minutes, they were beside themselves and packed up and left. Faerie activism at its finest and most clever. Understanding the adversary, the situation, the field, and one’s own resources is typical of many decades of strategy development we spiritual warriors have refined. In this case, no blood, no wounds, no shouting or stress. Poof. Magic or training we have taught each other, or 52 RFD 178 Summer 2019

both? There are many battle fields where it is foolish to directly confront the enemy. As in when they are a superior force or have superior weapons. Instead it is wiser to build our forces, gather our strength, due more reconnaissance. Queers have huge tactical advantages when properly applied. That is part of the reason they fear us so deeply. We have stealth and spy agency. We usually know more about brutal heterosexuals than they know about us. We can infiltrate every hetero institution. We come from that world and they do not come from our world. We walk between worlds. We can disappear when needed. We have amazing underground networks all over the globe. And we can never be annihilated. Round up all the queers on a whole continent and kill us, and we will show up again in the next generation in your children and grand children. In St. Petersburg, Russia, my partner, Ed–of all people, reminded young Russian participants at our gatherings that when we went outside, we all knew how to blend in and turn invisible. Here a wise elder offered guidance. It is ok to not confront, not stand out, not allow them to beat us into submission, but instead to guard our hearts, Photographs courtesy author.

our bodies, our spirits. Our day will arrive to sing in the open and be seen in the fullness of the sun and dance in the moonlight. But this day has not yet come to Russia, to most of the Middle East, to most of Africa, to most of Asia and too many places in the Western World as well. It is not here yet, but it is coming. The strategy is to organize, educate, infiltrate, strengthen, generate broad systemic changes so that eventually the paper walls of ignorance will fall down in the wind of their own weight. “That the impact of your army may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg—this is effected by the science of weak points and strong.” —Sun Tzu, The Art of War The Stonewall Riot and more critically the Stonewall Pride Marches were not the result of one evening or a handful of activists or street fighters. They were a turning point in western civilization for Queer liberation created by many battles fought over hundreds of years. They are the legacy of the Mattachine organization, the organizing of Frank Kameny, the brilliance of Bayard Rustin, the poems of Walt Whitman, the trials of Oscar Wilde, the research of Masters and Johnson, Alfred Kinsey, and Magnus Hirschfeld. And the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir and some thousands of early feminists, human rights activists, enlightenment philosophers, and in general the march towards humanities truth. The truth finally is our strongest and most profound weapon. Our strongest weapon is the truth that all queer people have an essential role and right to full celebration in the family of humankind all over the planet in all cultures. The truth will win over the masses, and create a freedom for queers everywhere. Truth is the millstone that will crush the egg of ignorance. No dark lies or manipulation can stand up to the truth, no matter how brutal and crushing the attempt. At the election of 45 my Portland Faerie community freaked out. One response was a reading club to get better educated and better prepared

for a longer struggle. We read a political, social activist, or environmental book each month for discussion. We have now read about twenty five books and related articles and movies. What are we studying? How to seize back power from authoritarian control. How to be efficient in creating climate change. How to keep our hearts strong and minds resilient in the face of deep tragedy and suf-

fering. How to smell flowers and bake bread. How to teach each other to live better. How to transform the economy and lend each other money. How to create a series of Global Radical Faerie Gatherings around the planet. What is our history and why does it matter. Such indirect actions are in league with so many direct actions. Soon the earth will be ours and the despots will be deposed. Victory is upon us. Let us not turn back now.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 53

54 RFD 178 Summer 2019

“Sweet Talker” by Artboydancing

“Remember When” by Richard Vyse

RFD 178 Summer 2019 55

56 RFD 178 Summer 2019

The Evans Symposium: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture and Moon Lady Rising by Arthur Evans; Reviewed by Donald L. Engstrom-Reese


eading The Evans Symposium stirred up many memories as it inspired me to keep on walking the great adventure of Queer Spirit that I began so many years ago. Arthur Evans has again touched not only my heart, cock, and soul, but has once more nurtured my whole being. I first read Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture in 1979, a year or so after it came out. Rumors about this book drifted out our way through our connections with RFD and over coffee with other faggots and queers in our larger circle who had also been smitten by the notion of Sacred Queerness. On a sunny autumn afternoon, I stumbled across a copy of the book while wandering about the shelves of Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City. I immediately bought the book and headed straight home to peruse my find in comfort. Reading Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture for the first time rocked my world. It has never stopped informing the ways I grow and nurture my daily life. My circle of folk had all read the book by New Years, 1980. Evans’ work informed our conversations for sometime to come. It influenced our co-creation of ritual, poetry, political action, and simply, how we walked in the world. That treasured copy now sits on a shelf dedicated to Queer Spirit in our home library here in Minneapolis. I currently use Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, along with works of Randy Conner, Will Roscoe, and Mark Thompson, to help illustrate for folks studying with me, some of the early thinking and experiences around the sacred nature of queerness. I find that this book, in conjunction with other texts, helps to show clearly some of the early notions of Queer Spirit that are still interweaving into the emergence of the spiritual, political, and cultural developments informing the worldviews of individuals and communities currently growing new understandings of thriving queer kith and kin. Reading Moon Lady Rising was also a delight. I had only heard that Evans was working on a book that he did not have the time to finish before he died. I am so pleased that it is now available in print. In this book, Evans tells a story of reclamation and renewal arising from the ashes of a holocaust which still contorts our imaginations. He recounts

the systematic destruction of human roots thriving in sacred soil, of celebrating the holy powers of sex, of women’s place of power and beauty, of the wonder of queer lives. But he does not stop there. Evans encourages us to choose to nurture meaning in not only our individual lives, but in our lives as families, kith and kin, as communities, groves, and human circles of all kinds. In so many words, he declares in a contemporary voice the old Norse notion, ‘The purpose of life, is Life!’. For me, Moon Lady Rising is a schema that has the potential to inform, inspire, and infuse us with the wisdoms, questions, and speculations about the mysteries hidden in plain sight. These mysteries enrich our lives. They may just allow us to pass through the current bottleneck humankind is now trying to squeeze through. Just what are some of these mysteries? Here are a few that are shining in my mind as I write this; Choose to to actively rebuild, ‘…lost connections—with our own inner selves, our neighborhood, our culture, the human family, the planet, and the cosmos.’ The, ‘…belief that meaning creation (or spiritual growth, as it is often called) is something impractical and other-worldly. Indigenous societies anchor the creation of meaning to the most practical activities in their lives: cultivating crops, raising and slaughtering animals, making clothes, building houses, having sex, adapting to the seasons.’ ‘We must settle for doing what we can, however little it may be, using the smartest methods we can devise, and motivated by the noblest goals. But there are no guarantees of success, while the possibilities of failure aremany.’ ‘…all things are interconnected in a great living… ‘cosmos. I am grateful that these two books have been published as one volume. I find it informative and delightful to read an overview of the sprouting and continual growth of Queer Spirit. I trust that this work of queerness will nurture us as we make our way along the paths through the current challenging terrain. Thank you Arthur Evans, for living your life bravely, fully awake, aware, and alive.

“The Queer Gods Dance and Sing the Magics That Paint the Warp and Weft of the Cosmos With Life” by Donald L. Engstrom-Reese.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 57

A Moment of Fear, A Change of a Lifetime by Randy Goeke


y passion to be a minister in the United Methodist Church took over my life as a young gay man from rural Nebraska. As I left the campus of the small private church related college in Iowa and headed to Denver for seminary, I believed it not only necessary but possible to sacrifice my sexuality for the sake of the cause! It was the summer of 1984. It was Denver. “Dorothy we are not in Nebraska anymore!” I was slipping away almost nightly to dance clubs. In no time I discovered that lots of guys thought cowboys in tight Wranglers were a hot commodity. I dashed back to my rural ranch boy roots in a flash! I had the time of my life during those three years of seminary. I may have celebrated the life of faith during the day in class, but at night I learned to celebrate my body. I loved being part of a mass of young bodies moving almost as one to the beat—getting lost in the strobes and dance of light. Every night I would hope a handsome someone might peal me out of my tight Wranglers before the night was over. Occasionally there would be rumors of danger lurking outside the club but I never really felt afraid. Maybe my mind was just too set upon having fun and being free. I might have been a Nebraska boy but “Dorothy we are not in Nebraska anymore!” Flash forward three years, and there I am: Living alone in a small Nebraska town with a population of 700 serving as pastor of the United Methodist Church. I was told I could do it. I told myself I could do it. But every day I came closer and closer to the truth that not only could I not do it but in reality for my sake and the sake of those I love, I shouldn’t do it! I had to pretend that I was the average, everyday twenty-six year old straight guy. It was hard work creating excuses not to go out on dates with a line of granddaughters deemed perfect for me by members of the church. One day after school, a member of my church’s youth group showed up at the church office. He said he needed to talk. Max was athletically built and at eighteen wore his Wranglers ever so well. As he strolled in and sat down across from me, I smiled. I know my smile caught him a bit off guard. I smiled in response to the queen hiding inside me that wanted to spring out in a cloud of glitter and say to him: “Hello gorgeous! Why can’t you be

58 RFD 178 Summer 2019

twenty-six instead of 18!” I remained staid and steady as he confided in me a secret he had told no one. “I don’t want to play football,” he said. “But if I don’t go out, we will not have enough players to have a team.” He told me that he had actually tried to break a leg or arm by jumping off farm machinery. “If I had a broken leg, then everyone would understand why I wasn’t playing football.” I encouraged him to be truthful. “It is your life, Max. Small town football is gone in a blink of an eye. It is not worth selling your soul and integrity for! You are not a loser because you feel differently about football than “everyone” else. And by the way, “everyone” else” really isn’t everyone at all. Many people just don’t have the courage to be themselves! If you are sure of how you feel, tell the coach.” A few days passed and I hadn’t heard from Max. I didn’t know what he had decided to do. When he left the office that day, he had just said he would think about what I had said. When I looked up from my desk and saw the imposing figure of Coach Newbury scowling at me, I smiled because I knew then what Max had done! I took a breath hoping to find a way to calmly and graciously greet the coach, but I had no time to say anything. Coach Newbury smashed his fists on the desk and leaned over so as to be in my face and shouted, “You fucking faggot! I will get even with you.” And then he turned around and stormed out. I sat motionless for what felt like an eternity. The sound of the slamming door seemed to linger in the air. Coach Newbury’s words cut deep into my soul. My God! I was only fooling myself! If Coach Newbury knew, who else knew? Did Max know? I trembled at the thought of what Coach Newbury’s revenge might be. I trembled even more as I wondered about what a life of lies and half-truths might do to me. What kind of a person would I be in twenty years? I suffered no violence at the hands of Coach Newbury, but my soul was broken open. Like my brothers and sisters in 1969 at Stonewall, I could no longer be silent. It was time to come out and get out in a new way. It was time to make a difference in a way I had never before dreamed possible.

Conjure by Blackbird

Con·jure verb 1. call upon (a spirit or being) to appear 2. make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. Synonyms: make something appear, produce, materialize, magic, summon, generate. Middle English (also in the sense ‘oblige by oath’): from Old French conjurer ‘to plot or exorcise’, from Latin conjurare ‘band together by an oath, conspire’ (in medieval Latin ‘invoke’), from con- ‘together’ + jurare ‘swear’. I met Arvol Looking Horse a few weeks after Standing Rock camp evacuated. I was fortunate to care for him and his partner Paula at my teacher’s home in Southwest Colorado. Something I noticed upon his arrival was a shift in the relative climate. About twenty degrees dropped in temperature, heavy clouds covered the spacious views of Chimney Rock and cold thick raindrops fell. I felt that in his presence the earth cooled. The blessings from his prayers conjured a new reality. He spoke to the community about climate change and the White Buffalo Prophecy: “I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call “Turtle Island.” My words seek to unite the global community through a message from our sacred ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways of beliefs in the Creator. To understand the depth of this message you must recognize the importance of Sacred Sites and realize the interconnectedness of what is happening today, in reflection of the continued massacres that are occurring on other lands and our own Americas. In our prophecies it is told that we are now at the crossroads: Either unite spiritually as a global nation, or be faced with chaos, disasters, diseases, and tears from our relatives’ eyes.” “Transformation of Anger into Clarity” by Blackbird.

Arvol and his partner Paula traveled all over the world - visiting sacred sites and meeting people with different faith backgrounds to unite in prayer. He said preservation and generation of energy at sacred sites is crucial for mother earth and climate change. I asked him in his opinion if prayer is activism or if it’s important to actually be in the body and standing in protest? He asked me “do you know what is going on out there?” “Can you see it?” can you feel it? He said towards the end people were getting really sick from the chemicals. Planes flew over the camps multiple times a day spraying. I said, “the government tried to harm you?” and without spoken words I heard - “they tried to kills us.” I sat with what he said - can I see it? Can I feel it? Are planes flying over my head? Am I breathing in chemical warfare? Is my nervous system shutting down from nerve toxins? Am I afraid? Can I witness suffering and not turn away? Can I feel into and experience the pain of others as not separate from myself? Can I allow my heart to open, cry and breathe in the suffering of others? “What kind of camp is this?” Arvol asked. I said, “It’s about compassion.” Adding, “the most profound example of compassion in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is the stories of monks and nuns who lived imprisoned. Beaten, starved, and raped by the Chinese during the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. Transforming anger into patience and compassion the monastics guarded their Bodhicitta and did not fight against their oppressors but rather generated a deeper compassion.” We talked about anger. What to do with anger? He shared that he is angry but cannot show that face and wanted stay strong for his people. A heavy silence and seriousness was felt in the room. Minutes went by and we both stared into space in different directions. Then, Arvol got out of his seat and stood next to me and then we silently embraced in hug and breathed deeply into each other’s hearts. Healing. Expanding our hearts. Banded together by an oath, we conspired through prayer. RFD 178 Summer 2019 59

False Eyelash on a Bar Napkin by J. James Keels

We spend thrift-store hours on drag queen assemblage: wraparound A-line taffeta, organza-ruffle overlay adornment. Dropped-waist high hem-lines with billowing train. Matching muff. Cinch minimizers when the need arises (too often these days…) perch silicone breasts inside black lace bodices, contour and highlight luminous winged cat-eyes, we scan them like laser-beam tracks ‘neath formidable eyelashes. Our curated fashions: night-blooming cereus - - pay attention, as it dies before 2 am. Giving of this birth, an act of love, often unconsummated: men look at their shoes; protective mothers shield curious children the contrast between pink St. Germain lips, and a full beard, or windswept curls on a resonate baritone - all the many contrasts, perhaps too provocative for the unimaginative… Children marvel, because they believe in magic, risking parental reprimand. We meet their bright eyes, and wave. Hi Honey, we say, and they gasp at our sparkle, as the mothers gentrifying our once-gay neighborhood feign polite smiles of liberal tolerance before whisking their offspring away to bowls of Cream of Wheat. Our kitten-heels nimbly cross streetcar tracks, adeptly navigating ruts with a skill that could diffuse bombs – control-top pantyhose slipping down, balancing on heels a skosh too small we stop a block before the bar to hoist what has sunk, fix the askew for our entrance. Saturday night, Twin Peaks Tavern. We emerge from the cool night air as heat from the patrons washes us at the door. Towering in heels, matching purses on broad shoulders, we seek a front table and saddle up to strangers with empty chairs facing the famous plate-glass windows of Castro Street, for all to see us. German tourists, clutching Fodor’s, admire our glittering rhinestones, our styled wigs. We nod at women in the bar, offer recognition of just how fucking hard this is. We maintain appearances as drinks arrive; lipstick is frequently reapplied. Yet over time, gravity attacks. Wigs slip, so we pull back into place a respectable hairline. Appearances become tenuous; we fix cracks as they appear with trowel and putty. With another round, though, we monitor cracks in the dam less frequently, and with this resigned acceptance, the entire world becomes much more truthful. 60 RFD 178 Summer 2019

A false eyelash appears on a bar napkin, oily mascara smears crisp white edges. We sneak glimpses at our compacts, which reveal powdered skin turned oily, eyeshadow fall-out on cheeks, lipstick on teeth. Three vodka-sodas inspires some grace, as heels descend stairs to a bathroom without a lock. We do secret things that allow us to pee. We check our lipstick. Joosh our wig. Gain composure (enough for an exit anyway). On a dare, two fraternity youths hastily enter, arms around matching Coachella blondes; their ilk trickle in steadily – thinly masked wide-eyed wonder. They congregate, loudly discussing venture capital and pussy. We gauge which guy has the most bravado – and how we might hit on him, and humble him - and also the girl most in need of fashion advice. But, truly…it’s a hard call. We stop to consider our honored place in this universe – queens in a long line of queens before. How many other queens have sat in these very chairs? How many queens, worldwide, created such possibility for us here tonight? How many have thrown bricks, torched police cars, gotten arrested, been thrown in jail, were killed? – they paved the way for society to accept us, as we watch our queer space slowly become stolen – and gentrified for palatable consumption. We thank our bartenders, exit into the cool night creating mobile queer space on the sidewalk, a traveling bubble of fabulousness giving dollars to homeless youth, for pizza, because we choose to see them. Out of view of the plate glass windows, two blocks farther down, under dim streetlight, heels come off - replaced by flats from a purse.

Photo courtesy author.

RFD 178 Summer 2019 61

Announcing a New Book from White Crane Books:

The Evans Symposium The long awaited sequel to Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture.

In 1975 Arthur Evans presented a series of lectures based on his research into LGBT history and cultural roots in European societies of the medieval era. The ground-breaking work was subsequently collected into the 1978 publication of his book Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture.Working with Arthur at the end of his life, White Crane Books convinced Evans to gather the remaining materials—that had been edited from the original book or simply hadn’t made the cut—into a sequel of sorts to that book. Arthur did so and called it Moon Lady Rising. We present the entirety of Arthur Evans work for his symposium material here. “White Crane Books, once again, reminds us of the important works of our time by renewing the essential writing of our elders. Arthur Evans’ original work in Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture is a seminal piece of lost LGBT history; and the added, new material of Moon Lady Rising stakes a further claim to our shared, birthright history. We will not be erased.” —Mark Thompson, author, activist, Radical Faerie “No book was of greater importance than Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture as the modern gay liberation movement was forging our identity as a people.” —Robert Croonquist, activist, first generation Radical Faerie and Founder of Youth Arts New York/Hibakusha Stories, a member organization of ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate. 62 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Available at www.whitecraneinstitute.org/books Hardcover $29.95 • Cloth cover $19.95 Or mail a check payable to “White Crane Institute” to: Bo Young White Crane Institute 22 County Route 27 Granville, NY 12832

Renewal Work Week

MYSTERY SCHOOL : August 9th - 19th

: August 2nd - 8th

An 11-day SYMPOSIUM of magical skill-sharing, Craft, workshops, ceremony & celebration... intentionally plunging the depths of our inner mysteries. Bring your sacred and clownish gifts, wisdom, talents & mysticism to this intersectional queericulum of radical fae Ways. Come dance and discourse with Usssssssssssss beneath the full moon light! Registration $20-$30/day Sliding Scale

zunimountainsanctuary@gmail.com : 505.717.7365 www.zunimountainsanctuary.org/donate-and-support/

$$$$$$$ More if you can, Less if you can’t

RFD 178 Summer 2019 63

Site of the first Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries in 1979

Property can be available for hosted gatherings and events.

64 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Issue 180 / Winter 2019


Submission Deadline: October 21, 2019 www.rfdmag.org/upload

How do our rituals answer the call of Harry Hay’s invitation to discover where we have come from, what we are for and where we are going? Telling the story of our rituals strengthens the spell of our enchanted lives and communal ceremonies. Queer ceremonies help craft our intentions as we weave our cultural magic into an increasingly chaotic world. Queer folks of ALL stripes apply ritual technology to gather, infuse and disseminate our intrinsic knowledges and queer powers into actions that may be political, communal and/or spiritual. This history predates Stonewall but came alive in new waves of consciousness raising in the 1970’s, through the AIDS epidemic, into the present. What works? What doesn’t? What have we learned? This edition of RFD, Ritual Queens calls on the stories, poems and images of our High Drag Priestesses, trans-sorcerers, queer witches, non-binary seers, sacred witnesses and faggot magicians, we solo and caravanning revellers who have faced down despair with riots of joy, we who circle to walk-between the worlds. The tales of how we ritualize the queering of our lives are needed. The crafty amongst us map our way into realms seen and unseen. How did you find your way there and back again?

Photo by Keith Gemerek

If we are to break the hex of supremacist conformities while simultaneously nurturing our emerging offerings we encourage our elders and twinkle-eyed playmates to guide our ritual transformations toward counter culturelubricating mutual appreciations. Ritual queens, knowledge keepers and other magical gatetenders, for all those who stand with dignity at the crossroads seeking sovereignty we humbly request you invoke the spells needed to dream Tinkerbell free from the cage of neo-capitalism’s hook. Merry meet, merry part and Mary Tyler Moore!

RFD 178 Summer 2019 65

a reader created gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity

66 RFD 178 Summer 2019

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.