POL I TICS
Number 183 Fall 2020 â&#x20AC;¢ $11.95
RFD 183 Fall 2020 1
Issue 184 / Winter 2020
COVID-19 AND COMMUNITY Submission Deadline: October 21, 2020 www.rfdmag.org/upload
The novel coronavirus and its disease, commonly abbreviated COVID-19, has swept across the globe. It’s impact will likely be felt for years in terms of the loss of life, livelihood and reshaping how we come together as people, communities and as change-makers in the culture. How has COVID-19 affected your life and the lives of people around you? What have you done to reclaim social space while still keeping personal distance from others? How has it impacted your personal or sexual relationships? Have you had to reach into your experiences with HIV/AIDS prevention to create safe ways of seeing other people? We’re also interested in how it’s shaped community responses. How has your town, church, gathering community, farm-share or any other space you typically visit and participate in shaped a positive response to this crisis? What
steps do you think are needed to make spaces safer? Have you been confronted like so many of us have by the “Sorry we’re closed because it’s safer for us and it’s safer for you” response? How do we come to terms with how systems, which have typically worked for us, might have failed or need to reassess how to “be there?” We’re also very interested in documenting how people have used creative ways to connect with others – using online meetings, writing letters, clanging pots and pans in your neighborhood, posting a sign or notice. We also want to know how you’ve kept busy, through cooking, crafts or being in nature. Share your recipes, tell us about the things you’ve created or tell us about your recent solo hike in the woods. We’re also, of course, very interested in COVID-19 fashion statements! How have you been modeling the best masks!
Masks by Granite (@granite_trudeaux on Instagram)
Resisting Fascist Drama Vol 47 No 1 #183 Fall 2020
Between the Lines First off, we have to send out a prayer for the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It certainly has politicized the most basic parts of our lives, how we work, who we can see, if we can travel and lastly the colors of the fabric of the face masks we wear to ensure those around us that we care as much about others as our selves. It also has impacted us personally through illness and sadly personal loss. This issue revolves around the topic of politics and how it can intersect with our personal lives and how intricately it is bound into our personal life without our say so, which often leads us to reclaim a position for ourselves in challenging times. Many of your submissions this issue deal with exploring options on how to make politics more rooted in addressing our needs or at least the needs of the region we are in. Many people spoke of ways of finding one’s self through political action only to return to healing one’s self first as the role of the political action is constant, evolving and shifting while our personal emotional, spiritual and even sexual lives need to be bolstered up. We felt that many people touched upon the emotional burden of a world out of control, overwhelming challenges like climate change, racism and other forms of oppression as well as living in democracies which create inequities for the many while privileging the few. So ideas about compassion for others and one’s self are highlighted as well as relating the emotional grief of the “struggle” that is living in a political world. A few others, writing discuss the politics of inclusion and how it can often then exclude as we attempt to redress a long pattern of not including someone. It seems the challenge is primarily tied into compassion for others, finding the humanity in each other while allowing for difference. Some writers discuss the politics in the everyday lives they lead and how drawing a political statement creates space to belong, to re-energize our values by putting one’s self back into a political framework by engaging in the current political moment and allowing your voice, presence to be felt, heard and respected. One of the last pieces in this issue reflect upon RFD’s role in helping shape some of the conversation by exploring RFD in the Seventies and how it reached into the lives of people. We hope you enjoy the issue and we hope those of you here in the US go out and vote this autumn to help shift some of the miasma and refocus on the communities we want to live in. We are sure similar political tides are also happening around the world to reclaim a voice, speak for the powerless and to defend the Earth. From a sunny breezy autumn in New England —The RFD Collective
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Submission Deadlines Winter—Oct 21, 2020 Spring—Jan 21, 2021 See inside covers for themes and specifics.
For advertising, subscriptions, back issues and other information visit www.rfdmag.org. To read online visit www.issuu.com/rfmag. 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
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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: $11.95. A regular subscription is the least expensive way to receive it four times a year. First class mailed issues will be forwarded. Others will not. Send address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org or to our Hadley, MA address. Copyright © RFD Press. The records required by Title 18 U.S.D. Section 2257 and associated with respect to this magazine (and all graphic material associated therewith on which this label appears) are kept by the custodian of records at the following location: RFD Press, 85 N Main St, Ste 200, White River Junction, VT 05001.
On the Covers
Graphics by Matt Bucy
Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Art Director: Matt Bucy
Visual Contributors in this Issue
Images or pieces not directly associated with an article. Dragon / Arthur Durkee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Jerzy Strzelecki*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Wave. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11, 34 James St. John*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Artboydancing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Covelo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42, 44 Rhododendrites*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
*via Creative Commons license
“In Support of the USPS” by Dragon (Arthur Durkee)
CONTENTS Uncommon Questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tom Seidner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Monster’s Ball. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Hightower. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Back Then in London... And Now?. . . . . . . . . . Miqhey Miqxtja. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Compassionate Inaction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blackbird. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kelvin Beliele . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Need a Hand to Take a Knee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dolores Deluce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 We Are the 100%. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Quinoa / Chris Kirk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D. Scott Humphries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 threads of my life braiding love, loss & politics. . . . . . . . . . . . . Adamante of the DeerStag. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Constructionist and Deconstructionist Faerie Politics at Folleterre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Luna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Co-create the Future. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dragonfire / Earl Nissen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Do You?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . e.c.patrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 When Heterosexuals Rule the World. . . . . . . . Pink Jimmie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Policy Above People Or: How It Feels to be Kicked Out of a Faerie Gathering. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gregg Shapiro. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Spiritual Praxis or How Do We Get From Here to There? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rev. Glen Ganaway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Not Your Grandma’s Quilt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Johnny Townsend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 A Decade of Power: RFD in the 70’s . . . . . . . . Regina Futcher. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 The Customers at the Midnight Café. . . . . . . . Ken Anderson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Sleepless . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gregg Shapiro. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Excerpts from lyrics for “Stonewall Inn 1969”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dragon (Arthur Durkee) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kelvin Beliele . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
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Uncommon Questions by Tom Seidner
s obsessed as I am with the upcoming election, equality is that many states have one segment of the I don’t really want to write about it. The issues population having an outsized influence over the are changing too quickly for me to feel confident rest, often in an urban/rural divide. This again could that my words will be relevant in the weeks after the be addressed in forming new governmental sectors. Fall RFD is distributed. Instead, I want ask a series An argument could be made that these new entities of unpopular questions. Not necessarily unpopular might not even have to be geographically contiguin the sense of controversial, though they may be, ous. Wiser minds than mine might explore all sorts but I’m actually more interested in asking questions of possibilities. I am aware of maps that show that that may not be commonly discussed. And, being small geographic areas of the country have more me, I will make some suggestions. Those may well influence in the current system in a way that favors prove to be unpopular. cities. But our aim should always be one person one The first is “Why are there still states?” Every vote, not one acre. four years people remember the Electoral College A reasonable next question is “Why are we as a confounding obstruction to democracy. But always the best country or the worst?”. We are often nothing is ever done about it, because states with forced to choose between American Exceptionalism comparatively small populations would never ratify and a view that could be called America as Predaan amendment that would eliminate it. So, if we are tor. Frankly, both just come down to America as going to honor the radical part of Drama Queen. I am always wary Radical Faeries, maybe we need of any notion that does not allow to go to the root of the problem. for the possibility we might be The idea of states came from the average. Other countries struggle original thirteen colonies, which with many of the same issues we were British divisions that maindo such as distrust of immigrants, Why are there tained their sense of being distinct income inequality, the division still states?” entities. As the country spread between church and state, the westward, new states were added balance between what is owed to on in ways to accommodate pothe country and to the individual, litical interests. A slave state was and how to address the mistakes added on to balance a “free” state. of the past. If we persist in the A portion of the Great Plains was delusion we have all the answers deliberately added as separate states to bolster the or the fear that all we are capable of is interference number of seats they would command in the Senand destruction, we cut ourselves off from engagate. Most states now are characterized by greater ing in dialogues with other countries to our mutual internal diversity, for example between urban and benefit. We have resources that can benefit others as rural areas, than they are distinct from their neighlong as we let them tell us what would actually help. bors. So, the result is that the government of this We can ask for aid in addressing issues that have country is largely determined by divisions whose stymied us up until now. We can learn from the identity may lie in which sports teams they host. failures and successes other countries have had with States enable Republicans to have a disproportional their health care systems, for example, often incorcontrol of the Senate as well as the Electoral Colporating both private insurance and governmental lege. States rights advocates have traditionally been administration, as long as we recognize the diversity the proponents of the most regressive and divisive of their solutions and ignore the rhetoric of both the national policies. And while some might point to left and the right who refuse to distinguish between state governors as being both a bulwark against them. Because politicians are only voted for by the presidential power and a source of sanity during the citizens of individual countries, they tend not to pandemic, the same could be achieved by any intelprioritize planetary issues that require a worldwide ligent division of the country, as long as population solution. Climate change, regulations to ensure of each area was roughly equal. Another barrier to clean air and water, responsible management of veg4
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etation and biodiversity, food production, etc. can only be effectively addressed by entities that span national borders. If the United Nations has shown it cannot be that entity, we need to work together to make other organizations possible. “What do we do when some people have more than others?” The first obvious step is to address it and do whatever possible to empower those who have less. The majority of these efforts will require enlisting the aid of others, including unlikely allies. We are crippled as a species when so many need to devote all their efforts toward survival. Whose lives are consumed by illness, dangerous or degrading living situations, lack of food, or an absence of leisure time or paths toward happiness. That leaves them without the opportunity to use their intellects and explore their creativity. It is not only their lives that are limited, but all of ours. Can you imagine the solutions we could arrive at, the possibilities we could discover if all of us were operating as our best selves? But getting there is no simple task and we are forced to come to terms with the concept that there are people who will actually oppose such a world, because they think they are entitled to more power and money than others. Or even more commonly, they have more power and money and influence than others because of circumstance, like family connections or inheritance, and see no value in relinquishing it. And when we bring in entities, like corporations, the situation seems even less capable of being resolved. Let’s be honest, demonizing the rich isn’t terribly successful. The nature of power is often to make one indifferent to others and not subject to their censure. So, while we have disparity, and I know of no country without, there may be some options available to us to address it and reduce it. Corporations are not people, but they do have people making decisions. People can be found who will use their influence in the service of others. Sometimes, because it is something they want for themselves. For example, lesbian and gay organizations often find advocates and contributors in the families of the wealthy or people with corporate positions. Sometimes because it is good for the organization. Such as the companies who lobby for increased opportunities for immigrants as they want to draw from the largest possible field for talented employees. There is also the opportunity to motivate companies to do positive things because it helps them distinguish themselves. Very few companies actually sit around and plot to destroy people’s lives. But they do make plans to increase profit and gain an advantage over their competitors.
It is sometimes possible to pit these powerful forces against each other and to convince organizations and people in power that they can accomplish their goals by being identified as the ones who have concerns for the future and well-being of their customers. As opposed to competitors whose only motivation is profit, heedless of the destruction they do. And, at the risk of sounding even more unrealistic, there are people who want to help others because it gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. These are all things to utilize in these dark times, as uncertain as they are. One thing is more under our control. This is a wealthy country. Many of us have more than we need. Many of us have skills that would benefit others. Many of us have simply been through enough in our lives we have the capacity to sit down and actually listen to someone else. When we can be honest with ourselves and be of use to others, and not lose sight of them in an excess of self-esteem, at the very least we should sleep better and sometimes accomplish even more than we are conscious of. The last question I want to ask is “Why care about politics?” All politicians distort information or actually lie and their primary concern seems to be their own election. Lobbyists and moneyed interests have much more of an influence than I ever could have as an individual. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, the fact that votes are tallied by state in presidential elections, the prevalence of news sources and social media presences that bend the narrative to their own interests, all contribute to make politics seem like something to avoid. All I can offer is that while politics seems extremely limited in leading to better lives for all of us, we have seen vividly in recent times that the opposite is not true. When the worst of us wield the most power, there is no limit to the damage they can do. As one of my heroes said recently, “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me—they can, and they will, if we don’t make a change in this election.” And it is not only true of the next one. Politics, like so many things in life, is messy and much easier to get wrong than to get right. But, underneath all of the nonsense, politics is simply how we decide how we will live with others. What we value, who we trust, and what we want for the future. If it is ever going to become a true expression of our dreams, we have to remain aware of those who have nothing but contempt for them. So we care about this malnourished part of our lives to give it a chance to mature into something better. RFD 183 Fall 2020 5
Monster’s Ball Every April, Orange Pig hosts a large festive gathering to celebrate his ascendancy. This spring, an unexpected, lethal, milk-borne virus shook the estate and all the quivering boar could think about was himself. Other rough boars (psychopaths) in isolation pens want out. It is just not clear who may contract what…. There is a lot of stuff in the air. —Scott Hightower
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Back Then in London... And Now? by Miqhey Miqxtja
uring the 1970’s in London, getting involved with the newly formed Gay Liberation Front changed my life. GLF was exactly what I had been yearning for, but previously unable to articulate. Intersectionality as a word was not used then, but the concept was very much there. In June 1970, the Black Panthers put out a call for a People’s Revolutionary Convention to meet in Washington DC. Various feminist groups were also meeting in many places globally to implement women’s liberation. These initiatives led directly to the formation of the gay liberation meetings in London later that same year. Our London GLF was formed consciously to stand alongside the Women’s Liberation Movement and was directly inspired by our founders’ attendance at that very Peoples’ Revolutionary Convention. Arising from this vortex of energy in the early 70s, the Brixton Fairies in South London inspired me with (among other things) their practice of Radical Drag and Out Visibility on the streets. In various places, we had encounter groups,
Demonstration in support of LGBT in London, December 1975 Photo by Jerzy Strzelecki (with Creative Commons permission)
consciousness-raising circles, rallies, creative protests and chaotic assemblies. Flavours of those times here can be gleaned from “Blowing the Lid” by my friend Stuart Feather and the newly issued “United Queerdom” by my combabe Dan Glass (Fae-name—Our Little Pony). Later, as social order began to break down in London, our Pride marches were viewed by the authorities and the police as connected to the violent terrorism of the IRA (Irish Rebublican Army) so we came under similar suspicion. Nor was this entirely state fantasy, as I knew certain cells who were directly planning for violent disruption and/ or armed revolution at the time.
hose years are not much celebrated now in Britain, and the knowledge of these histories has not reached much across the seas to other lands. But for me in the later 70’s, our own place being the postal address of the East London GLF at Balfron Tower in Poplar, I then got news of the Radical Faeries and other such goings on in the
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USA, and happily got to check this out and so live my life. I believe it is vital for us now to recall how Radical Faeries grew directly from these turbulent and acutely political international activist times. Like others, I felt a need for more creative approaches than some of the hierarchical-centralist old-left ways, and we also sought a deeper connection to living with the old and eternal ways of the earth. Some who have joined Radical Fae since those days seem to have formed their consciousness in the rather more hedonistic times that followed on after—and who can blame anyone for wanting to have a good time, especially in recovery from the traumas of the decades? Yet we still maintain “Radical” in our name, our identity and our aspirations. Viewing Hope Along the Wind the film made of Harry Hay’s life, we can see how the later joiners of the Mattachine, found the more overtly political founders to be an awkward embarrassment, to say the least, and kicked them out. But, with us, I feel it is good to see Harry and the other early risers as folk who at last found the people that they were waiting for, rather than simplisticly as our founders who created us. Over the years, we have found that our flexible and decentralized, organic approach has stood the test of time, where other groupings have dwindled away. But that culture will not necessarily always work just by itself, and it does not excuse us from constant re-evaluation of our ethics, methods and aspirations.
ur situation today calls for dialogue and networking to take our histories forward into sharing a common vision for action on key points of distress in society. Questions are frequently debated within our Radical Faerie Circles, Sanctuaries and Gatherings. Here are some that I get caught up with. Are these key points being worked through to your personal satisfaction, or they framed here in too “political” a way for you? *Race and Class—Black, Indigenous and People of Colour are encouraged to be good capitalists and/or consumers, as if that will make it all better. *Health and Well-Being concern us all - access to this is clearly being privatized in Britain as elsewhere—this is now a very urgent and major issue. 8
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*The labour movement and the Unions are being sidelined but still have potential to re-connect with more activist communities and initiatives. *The Extinction Rebellion is inspiring many to take action to save the ecosystems of the planet - the call for people’s assemblies on this can be widened to revitalize democratic engagement across the board *People with disabilities and/or who are homeless and marginalized in other ways are suffering and even dying without any prospect of an adequate response to deal with their issues. *Hate Crime against minorities and vulnerable groups is increasing with a political culture that encourages intolerance and self-centred violent behaviour. *Rights and abilities to protest freely and be disruptive are being eroded, sometimes stealthily but very steadily and sometimes forcefully. *LGBTIQA+ people are being affected by all of the above and more, but the fragmentation of our opposition and the complacency of many does not yet provide a platform to combat the problems and get a grip on these and many other issues.
ndeed concerning “our own” communities, I wonder if now too many think in much the same way as the mainstream and would be happy to absorbed in there.... if and when better accepted. Even within Radical Faeries, maybe there is still too little connection between our naturebased spirituality /ritual and magic, and actual political activism. I would love it if we campaigned internationally and locally to have numerous Sacred Groves, Deep Caves, High Hills, or low marshlands recognized as our “Churches” where we “worship”. I would love it if we had a better networked infra-structures that supported Rad-Fae housing/ living-spaces and life-work opportunities. And mutual care, and inter-generational exchange and learning, and system-change and what methods, strategies and tools work well and many other things. Yes, look, I have not even touched on issues of Migrants and Borders... of Gender and Sexuality.... Still, our culture celebrates being creative, so I offer an inadequate little piece of doggerel by way of ending just for now: (page 10)
Photo courtesy author.
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A Little Marching Song
(with diverse and disruptive rhythms)
Sing of the forever Kingdom of I of the People’s Republic of Me /Not Me Sing of the always hue and cry Sing of the needs that needs must be Let’s serve this greater good of We— We are in this together, They say pledge Forever. And who is the We? What of the Us? Who lost the Ours? Don’t make such a fuss. “Just The Way It Is” is persistent “Just The Way It Should Be” is strong This system will re-inforce itself. It’s only kidding you that you belong. Those that climb, still pull away their ladders; But wait well, when the chips are down; When alone and lost and bladdered, You then call out to the strong. You think you have a country. And your country is your country. You’re wrong. Yet this is true, yes true! Cheer for your country - it is yours too. It is your state when wanting much from you; When they’ll tell you “just stay kool....” When you need them, it will be different. When your desperate need calls for them, Silence, their silence will rule. And the silence still will amaze you. And when darkness comes, what will find you?
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You think that you belong. Are you wrong? Are you wrong? In here is your undoing, In this little marching song... Go sing of the forever Kingdom of I of the People’s Republic of Me /Not Me Go sing of the always hue and cry Go sing of the needs that we need to be But who is this We? What of that Us? What of the lost Ours? Who fell for that fuss? Instead, sing a tune of breaking free Of circling and sharing to serve more than me Yet knowing our pain in trust beyond nation in risking the route to find co-creation No cracks for the quacks, no chains for the hearts, No shackles for shuffles, no parcelled-up parts; Are minds not meant to be free to explore? Were dreams not destined to grow into much more? More even than whatever our minds could foreshadow, More even than wildest dreams could bestow? Who boxed ourselves in, but our own limitations? And who now holds the keys to the locks that we make? Some glimpses are glanced for all our salvations When unlocking our hearts, our spirits awake.
“Subjugation” by Wave.
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Compassionate Inaction by Blackbird
ompassion in a very difficult topic to discuss, write about or think about: Why: because compassion is a feeling. Compassion is a felt experience. It is our basic instinct. Our intuition. Our uncompromised reaction. What I’m talking about this article is the compassionate action of non-doing. If humanity as a culture is going to survive there needs to be a big celebration of doing nothing at all, a normalization of resting in a state of inactivity and relaxation. Compassionate inaction: Why is doing nothing a compassionate response? Because from the state of inactivity and rest the true condition of compassion arises without any effort. Sangay Khandro said during her talk on the female protectors in the ‘Voices of Wisdom’ symposium “Innate compassion is constantly enveloping the minds of all brings.” Compassionate inaction: I tried this theory out. I was talking to a businessman from Texas. He said his wife got him into mediation. At first, he said he was resistant. That meditation was for people with weak minds that needed help, considering himself to have a strong will. Also, on a practical level a waste of time. He said now every morning he sits 1 hour before he checks his phone or begins activity. Sometimes he said his mind races thinking about how many emails he must have. I said what about extending that do-nothing time for a few more hours, what about slowly a few days. Or maybe build up to a week - a week of doing nothing at all. He said just hearing you say that makes me feel extremely anxious. Compassionate inaction: In the 1990s Monsanto—the world largest developer of genetically modified seeds and artificial sweeteners—implemented a corporate mindfulness meditation program. Research showed that meditation would reduce stress in employees and more efficient work outcomes would take place. As it turned out many people started quitting. Why? Because these employees realized they could not harm other people anymore. Innate compassion is constantly enveloping the minds of all brings. Were these employees memorizing a list of what to do and what not to do? Were they reading a self-help book that gave them insight into morality? No. They sat in a state of nondoing and compassion arose in their minds. This 12 RFD 183 Fall 2020
most important movement in life – the wish to not harm others arises. Self-Compassionate inaction: Start here. Rest here. Think: if compassion does not include me it is incomplete compassion. Dom Chatterjee editorin-chief of ‘Rest for Resistance’ and founder @ qtpocmentalhealth writes in their article Fighting Burnout, Rest Debt, and Work as a False Path to Self-Worth writes: “Looking back, I have no idea how I worked a decade without really stopping to rest. Even if it’s possible to work so tirelessly, and many of us prove that it is, this dedication to responsibility and constantly doing something “productive” comes at a high cost. I often lose touch with myself. I suffer chronic back pain, which started when I was only 16. And what do I have to show for it? An empty bank account. Low self-esteem. And debilitating anxiety… Even the most enjoyable aspects of life, like eating amazing food, don’t contribute to healing all the time. But one activity will always support your healing process: rest.” Compassionate inaction: ‘Conscientious Objectors.’ A Conscientious objector is an “individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service” on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion. Some conscientious objectors consider themselves pacifist, non-interventionist, non-resistant, non-aggressionist, anti-imperialist, antimilitarist or philosophically stateless (not believing in the notion of state). On March 8, 1995, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/83 stated that “persons performing military service should not be excluded from the right to have conscientious objections to military service” This was re-affirmed in 1998, when resolution 1998/77 recognized that “persons [already] performing military service may develop conscientious objections.” A number of organizations around the world celebrate the principle on May 15 as International Conscientious Objection Day. The term has also been extended to objecting to working for the military–industrial complex due to a crisis of conscience. ‘Compassionate Objectors’: This is everyday life. There is violence for example in community, in the workplace, and on a global level. Innate reaction says: No. Stop. I cannot give people water from an
empty well. Inaction takes place. Rest. Restoration. This self-compassion of non-action is a peaceful protest. Then, from that place of nourishment and from a feeling of compassion maybe action can take place. Not before then. The term itself has a lot of flexibility in it. May develop compassionate or conscious objections. At any time within the relationship with others becomes violent or harmful there is room to have objections. Shifting the response from fighting the situation and instead relaxing into nonaction or non-reaction. This is compassionate. Self-Compassionate inaction: When I sat my first S. N. Goenka Vipassana retreat at Dhamma Visuddhi in Minnominie, Wisconsin I was motivated by self-compassion. I wanted things in my life to change as I was feeling a lot of suffering and my teacher at the time said if you sit one of these retreats everything in your life will change. I thought: sitting and doing nothing would change everything? Eleven days, no phone, no non-verbal gestures, eyes cast inwardly: a totally silent retreat. In retrospective I had thoughts like, will the world really function without me in it? After eleven days I will most likely have so many messages and things that I will need to tend to. Everything slowed down in a state of non-doing. Compassion can arise in simple and simultaneously profound ways. A few days into the process I felt cold in the meditation hall. It was nearing the end of November and the room previously used as a livestock barn had very little insulation. I thought: I wish I had a warm hat for my head and I bet everyone that feels cold right now could use a warm hat. A very simple thought. Ordinary. As I sat with the feeling in my body as this wish arouse to give everyone hats in an imaginary way. The thought passed but the feeling lingered. So overcome with compassion. My heart opening and I’m crying. I stay in the feeling of this
experience for as long as possible and also relaxing into this experience. The story is not about the hats. The story is about the feeling of wanting to get out of suffering and simultaneously wanting to help others get out of suffering. This feeling is innate in all beings. However it comes about is not important. What is important is the recognition of our true compassionate nature and to experience this fully. Compassionate Inaction: The less my body, speech and mind were outwardly engaging the less I was needed outwardly. Exact reflection. There is humility and also a sense of relief that came from realizing that the world doesn’t depend on me or require my constant attendance in it to maintain itself. There were no emails or messages. As I slowed
down and relaxed so did the reflections. Compassionate inaction: Too much emphasis on helping others before compassion is a felt experience brings about obstacles. The healers know this. Heal yourself first before healing others. Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. This is a beautiful and important lesson. Be willing to answer the question: who am I? Buddha’s highest teaching is: know yourself. Who am I? Know yourself. Who am I? Know yourself. Who and I? Know yourself. “Innate compassion is constantly enveloping the minds of all brings.” Constantly here meaning there is no end. Can’t find the end of it. Nor where it started. Constantly enveloping the minds of all beings. Who am I? I am compassion expressing itself. RFD 183 Fall 2020 13
Albuquerque, July 2020 Helicopters whirling most nights now spotlights and megaphones tracking the protesters in their marches Downtown business windows boarded up (stark background for in-cars-only Pride Parade) the result of “violent protestors” including Native American children Virus deaths rise daily too amid wars over face masks and the wisdom of the demon sperm doctor— we can drink disinfectants!— and dance on the graves of the brave, the Navajo Nation in grim peril Gallup in persistent lockdown the president sashays with “A bible” shuffling forth in his war on reason— facing more challenges than a steep ramp he thrashes about, endangering us more We begin to shift toward a new world weary from this season of loss, health, income, direction and purpose seem precarious, possibly beyond reach yet we stretch our tired arms toward the bright promise of Apollo and the eternal hope of Eleguá —Kelvin Beliele
Novena Saint Sebastian hangs limp, dying Gaul twice dead—the arrows and the scourge Bloodied Christian martyr— how can I approach or appease you? religious zeal preceded your sexual heat, heretics and self-avowed celibacy So now, Sebastian— we aging sexual athletes beseech you (ironically in this age) patron of athletes, faggots, police, and soldiers We modern Queers fight back— stuck here in this place of Fatigue against our attackers, against this endless plague Silence=Death (still) gay=AIDS (still) blood banks mandate celibacy from the honest still no cure, only cocktails and abiding, second-and-third-generation Reagan-like silence Even in this new epidemic, with yet another acronym name, while the King Baby rages— and Larry Kramer is dead all queer men—it would seem—still have AIDS and cannot donate blood, the period of celibacy was changed—how cavalier!— from one year to three months— Somehow that should appease us all Sebastian! I beseech Thee! Give me patience, grant me tolerance and compassion— as I contemplate your wounds your young archer’s arm your soldier’s hand raised in benediction —Kelvin Beliele
14 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Need a Hand to Take a Knee By Dolores Deluce
hen a woman of a certain age, like me, takes a knee at a political rally, it takes a village to raise her up! My last physical protest was the Women March in LA 2016 where I knitted my own pussy hat and a few others for my daughter and friends. It’s taken almost four years to build up enough energy to attend my next. With lower back and arthritic pain in my hips flaring up along with the rioters I thought I’d do more good for humanity by staying home and praying and meditating. But today’s call for action on Venice Beach made me question my choices. The protest was planned for people to wear black and their masks and to lie down their bodies on the beach over the distance of three miles between the Santa Monica and Venice Piers. I love the idea of lying down to protest. It is no different from what I’d be doing on my couch while meditating and the event was practically in my front yard, so I had no excuse and went out to find the action. I walked almost a half mile north crossing the border between Venice and Santa Monica but only saw a few stragglers on the beach. I could not tell if they were protesters but the walk along the water’s edge lifted my spirits. I continued to walk north until I got tired and then turned around to head south and back home. As I did an about face, I witnessed an army of humans mostly dressed in black, headed toward me. They were carrying many signs to honor the Black Lives Matter cause. I got overly excited and rushed to join the movement. When I merged among the friendly youthful crowd comprised of all races, not many of my demographic were present but nonetheless I felt welcomed when a young woman thanked me for joining the march. After another half mile of walking on the soft and hard sand at the oceans edge, the parade stopped, and a leader of the march took the mike. He asked us to pause and to take a knee for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the exact time it took Derek Chauvin to kill George Floyd, and so I did. After the silence accompanied by the backdrop of waves crashing on the shore every one of the hundreds of protestors stood and cheered. I tried to rise- up but literally had to ask a stranger to give me a hand to help me up off the sand. Thrilled that I had done my part, I decided to
head toward my couch and some Advil to quell my lower back pain. The events that followed the remainder of my walk home were just as promising and gave me hope for a new world where peace and love will reign. I stopped on a bench to put on my shoes where a young Latina mom wearing a mask sat with her gorgeous two-year-old toddler. I pulled up my mask to make her feel safe and sat on the edge of the bench to provide some distance. Adoring her child, I struck up a conversation. In less time than it took to take the breath from George Floyd, Carlos, a cherub with long curly locks and long batting eyelashes took my breath away and stole my heart. I learned from his mom that his Dad was a world traveled journalist and his Mom was born and raised in LA. By the end of our conversation I asked where she lived, and it turns out she is my neighbor and lives down the block from my house. I said goodbye to my new neighbor and baby Carlos and continued by walk off the beach and onto the Venice Boardwalk, where many cops were gathered and waiting to make sure the peace would prevail. I walked past a large police SUV and a female officer behind the wheel with a buzzed butch hair cut smiled at me and said hello. I lowered my mask and returned the smile and noticed the three other officers in the vehicle, also mask less females featuring butch hairdos. This was a huge contrast from ‘back in the day’ whenever I encountered cops; it usually ended in a ticket and or an arrest. Was it possible that as a wacky lady of a certain age, seventy-four to be exact, featuring little girl pigtails was being cruised by this butch lady officer behind the wheel? We struck up a conversation and I told them my story of how I had just come from the protest down by the water and all the rest of it; about needing a hand, to take a knee, and I could see they were getting a big kick out of me so I worked my warm audience. I left them with a blessing to stay safe and at peace and they returned the wishes for me. By the end of my long march home I not only got more exercise than I have had in weeks, I gained a renewed hope for the world. Yes, Rodney King, “we can all get along.”
RFD 183 Fall 2020 15
We Are the 100% by Quinoa / Chris Kirk
left my home because houses are not an emotionally sustainable way of life for me. I called my friend Johan in Brisbane and he suggested we hitchhike down to Byron Bay. We were delighted to be together and to shake off our suburban perversion with a touch of chaos. Before we began hitchhiking we fuelled ourselves with the finances he accrued by accosting guilty capitalists on the streets of Brisbane on behalf of Greenpeace; corn chips and a longneck of beer, “liquid bread”. We caught a ride to Byron with Lindsay, a young guy who has so many mutual friends that getting to know each other was a needless formality. In the Byron streets we wandered around listening to the street music and looking at the drunk backpackers, before departing for quieter waters, Broken Head. Johan and I built a fire and lay our beds beside each other on a tarp on the beach. We weren’t asleep for long when it began to rain and we folded the tarp over us like a carelessly makeshift tent. We were forced to retreat to Lindsay’s van, from the beautiful chaos of the wild lonely beach, where we slept awkwardly in the front seats. In the morning Lindsay dropped us off in town, we buried our bags in the bush and rubbed our hands together for an unknown day of youthful folly. The first step for Johan was buying alcohol. He got the cheapest red wine and the cheapest sugar-free cola and created a half-andhalf mix that we could openly drink in public. We stumbled upon Occupy Byron Bay as the speakers were finishing and they were preparing to march. We marched through the streets, kindly roadblocked by police, in protest of corporate greed taking precedence over human need, or just for the fun of it. We marched to the beach where someone announced we were going to stay until things changed. So Johan and I gathered food from the busy stupormarket and brought it down to the beach, placing it all out on the table. People took what they wanted into private piles to take home, so we rescued the sausages, cooked them up on the free barbecue and offered them around exuberantly. We found some of Johan’s Brisbane Greenpeace friends to hang out with, but when the sky 16 RFD 183 Fall 2020
became thick with black clouds and frequent lightning they all decided to drive away together from the impending storm, claiming no room for us two homeless vagabonds. I put up my tent in the bush and we retreated with our stuff into the intimate space. Johan played us some strange intense vibrations with his didgeridoo and djembe. I lay across Johan’s reclining body and sang “Visions of Johanna”. As I drifted to sleep Johan stared at his glowing phone and silently made plans. Ghosts of electricity howled in the bones of his face. The rain fell away and he announced he was heading back out into the urban night. I was half asleep and would have followed if he had encouraged me but instead he borrowed my shoes and jacket and departed without me, never returning. The following day I felt a bit lonely without my friend, stumbled upon an anti-coal seam gas mining rally and half-heartedly marched through the streets again. I had no interest or patience to listen to hours of politically-minded speakers announce repetitively why it is wrong to rape the earth for the purpose of maintaining our hysterical denial of the darkness of night. I sat alone with my thoughts for a while before deciding to obtain a large bag of food to give away. I approached individuals or groups and offered them food directly, bananas or blueberries for the children and gluten-free chocolate biscuits for the adults. Some people backed away from the alarming prospect of free food, others thankfully accepted and moved on, and some invited me to sit down and join them while we both enjoyed food, conversation and sunshine. I watched a beautiful man across the sand who seemed to be watching me back and drawing me towards his group, four guys from Spain, Germany, Britain and Holland. I drank goon with them until they decided to retreat to their hostel to watch rugby, deciding not to invite me back with them. I discovered the mutual delight of exchanging food for alcohol and companionship and moved from group to group all night, getting drunk, cooking sausages and swimming naked in the dark until it was time to go to bed, all my friends
retreating to buildings in which the inhabitants are required to pay money to be there and in no case, despite hours of friendship, did they offer to bring me anywhere but the pub. I lingered in Byron a day longer than necessary, wandering, futilely attempting to repeat what I had perfected the day before and finally realising that it was time to go. It took three rides to get out of Byron. I finally got a ride with a sickly middle-aged man on his way to a family funeral. He commemorated his brother, who had also died recently, when we stopped at a rest stop by having a beer with me. We had a beer at another rest stop near where his father was buried. “It’s family tradition,” he told me. He spoke to his sister-in-law about how he has been minimising his alcohol intake over the three days he is driving from Gladstone to Sydney, only having had two beers before he picked me up and only having two more after the two we shared before dropping me in Newcastle. He smoked a lot of cigarettes, ate only candy and meat pies and was constantly scratching his eczema. He has six children he loves to visit, though the two in the Blue Mountains he never sees anymore because their mother turned them against him. He was a kind man but his prospects were limited. He promised to pick up his sister-in-law in Sydney and help her move to Brisbane. The two of them found solace in each other. It seemed they loved each other, but respect for his dead brother prevented them from getting together. I told him that in some cultures a brother would take his dead brother’s wife as his own, but he would not hear of it. He told me his brother was like him and he knows what his brother would have wanted. He chose to manifest his instinct in practical ways, keeping love comfortably distant. He was sad his children in the Blue Mountains did not want to see him. Before he dropped me off he asked me to acknowledge them when I got to the Blue Mountains, because I’ll be near them. “I’ll have a drink for them,” I promised and I could see the love and thanks in his eyes. There is a website, Couchsurfing.org, in which you can make contact with people from all over the world, many of whom offer their home or their time for weary lonely travellers to seek refuge. I broke up the hitch from Byron to Sydney by staying at a house in Newcastle, full of 22-year-old guys, housemates, students, extremely keen hosts, ready for their minds to be opened.
One of the guys showed a particular interest and I invited him to come join us at the tribal gathering, live in the forest for one month with a hundred other people, holding hands in a circle, eating together twice a day and being gentle and loving with one another. I could see the possibility ticking over in his mind, the compulsion to give up everything, even for a weekend, and go, and the certainty that he could not leave his comfort zone. Arriving in the Sydney CBD I called Ashwyn, who had offered to accommodate me at his squat via Couchsurfing, and instead he gave me directions to Martin Place, in the centre of Sydney, between the twin towers of Westpac and Australia Reserve Bank. I was surprised to find a cosy little camp set up on the pavement beside the fountains with carpet and cushions and many people talking and enjoying themselves. I was invited to drop my bag in the pile and relax. I also noticed armed police standing around, bored. The first person I met there was Alistair, a young man with a beautiful smile, bursting with joy and enthusiasm. He had quit his second job to spend more time at the occupation, but his second job had a 50% tax rate anyway. I never once heard him espouse any political ideology, he seemed rather to be delighted to be a part of something real, not a demand for change but a symptom of change, not a display of discontent, but a moment of coming together in the heart of Australian capitalism. I was surprised to find James there, a man who I had spent a precious week living with a month earlier. In the morning we took signs down to the Channel 7 building to hold up outside the morning show studio. Being personally apolitical I was delighted to find a sign saying “SMASH THE CLOCK” and I took it down to hold up for the television cameras and the capitalists rushing to work. For the backdrop of the Channel 7 morning show they film Martin Place, people rushing to work, people gawking in at the famous TV presenters through two layers of glass, and so we got a lot of stupid joy out of holding up our signs to the audience sitting at home, drinking coffee and eating toast. They had monitors in the window showing their own programme to the street and so we could see when we were live. One day I was given a sign saying: “Television is that demon on your left shoulder, telling you what to think, who to believe and how to behave.” I attempted to perfectly line up my sign between the talking RFD 183 Fall 2020 17
heads and move it closer and closer until finally lions of people around the world are reclaiming it was perfectly legible. My greatest moment was their streets for the living, the human beings. when I could be seen, between the heads of the The gig is that “we are the 99%” who are being male and female presenters, dancing and holding manipulated and controlled by “the one percent” up my sign. in charge, the ultra-rich, the executives, the bankI got into the habit of skipping around the city ers who place profit above life. The idea is that and dancing with my sign. I don’t know how many we stop them from doing that to us by holding people understood “SMASH THE CLOCK” but it up signs, living in the streets and telling as many was mostly school children in uniform who asked people as possible that they too are “the 99%”, me about it, who seemed to make up one percent they too are victims of corporate greed, and that of the population of Martin Place but perhaps there is something wrong when our governments 99% of the curiosity and humour. seem to promote this behaviour with their poliGirls dressed by cies and law-making. administrators in The longer I sat in identical short skirts this bubble of openlaughed at my silliminded debate and ness and asked me pro-human living in if I wanted to buy Australia’s anti-huI believe that human beings some crap in supman pro-economic are inherently loving, gentle, port of breast cancer. growth central hub, unified people, that we would “I’m against breast the more impatient I resort to this behaviour given cancer,” I told them. got with this idiotic “Why?” they are ideology. It became the opportunity, and that this shocked. “It hurts increasingly clear was in fact what our occupation people.” “No!” they to me that here, plainly proved. I told them laugh, “this is to supmore than anythat we all need and deserve port research to stop where else on the breast cancer.” “Ah!” entire continent, we freedom, respect and love, I pretend to underwere the 0.1% who that no authority is legitimate stand, “I still have paused long enough unless it is respected, and no no money.” “How to notice what was respected authority requires do you live if you going on around us have no money?” “I and who chose to violent force to implement its don’t spend money.” step outside of it. decisions. “Where do you live We had many people then?” “I’m living up stopping to talk to on Martin Place at us, desperate to sign the moment.” A smile something or give of recognition. “We money before rushbetter get back, we’re not allowed to talk to you.” ing back to their jobs, giving us more food than My position was apolitical and many of us we could eat and give away, asking us if there shared similar perspectives. James claimed that was anything else we needed. his role was to maintain a positive energy in But then there were the thousands who poured the camp. Some people had political agendas. out of the train stations like bursting dams every The entire concept was borrowed from Occupy five minutes, who rushed past without a glance Wall Street. Occupations had been happening in and without a thought for what we were doing Egypt, Israel, Spain and Iceland but when it hit or what they were doing themselves. They were America it became a brand. It is easy to be cynical going to work, they were doing their job, they about the manipulative power of such branding, were earning a living, like the people who paused especially in the hysterical media environment of to talk to us or donate to us, like the occupiUSA, but the fact is, the brand “Occupy” inspired ers themselves, the self-proclaimed 99%, who 1,600 occupations in eighty countries and this can left their temporary Martin Place home for nine only be seen as a means of celebration, that milhours, interrupting their life and their joy and 18 RFD 183 Fall 2020
their human connections, to earn a little money so they can pay for food and shelter, when every other species on this planet eats for free and shares a home, sleeping under the vast wonder of the starry night sky, as we were doing, upon the concrete, under the light pollution. I had many interesting and variable conversations, but three stand out as significant. Two were cynical old socialists with too much experience as activists and one was a young Polish Christian, born under the Soviet Union. In all three cases I spoke to intelligent, patient, respectful individuals with whom I eventually reached a point where our most basic assumptions are fundamentally opposed. They believed that human beings are inherently violent, selfish, divisive people and therefore require government, law and law enforcement. I believe that human beings are inherently loving, gentle, unified people, that we would resort to this behaviour given the opportunity, and that this was in fact what our occupation plainly proved. I told them that we all need and deserve freedom, respect and love, that no authority is legitimate unless it is respected, and no respected authority requires violent force to implement its decisions. The movement comprised many different people and perspectives, so a dividing line between socialists and anarchists is arbitrary and simplistic. The socialists quickly normalised their structural dominance over the organisation of the occupation with their sacred Democracy. They organised “general assemblies” where everyone could come together and make a statement and have a vote. To facilitate the general assemblies there were meetings about them and to facilitate the facilitation meetings, more meetings. The general assemblies facilitated many proposals and offered one of three responses, or “votes”; agree, stand aside, or block. A single person blocking prevents consensus and so must explain their position until everyone can agree. I refused to participate and resented the idea that I was expected to “block” and justify my position. I prefer my communication to be on a human level and I avoided the general assemblies after my initial exposure because they bored and frustrated me. But I felt compelled to speak at the rally. There was an audience of around a thousand people and an impenetrable democratic speaking list. When I asked to be added I was told that it was full. Later, two people turned up that day, just happened to be union leaders, and were added to the list. My
frustration grew as everybody who spoke, with one exception talking about indigenous rights and exploitative mining, were union leaders complaining about what “they” were doing to “us” and speaking for the cheers and boos of the audience rather than any enlightenment or understanding. Because of the democratic process I was given an opportunity to speak, but my frustration and compulsion to fulfil my life’s purpose was so strong I did not think about the fact that I was only allowed to speak for two minutes about the current proposition. I began to recite a slow precise poem about human society and personal responsibility and the microphone was snatched off me. I was overcome with a public persona and began a manic rant against the inanity of the divide between “the 99%” and “the one percent”. I shouted that none of us are being controlled and that we are in fact responsible for our own life, our own society and our own destiny. The socialist facilitators tried to take the microphone off me while I shouted that already one regime has been replaced with another, that we’re all just creating systems of control, maintaining those systems and complaining that we’re being controlled. I was told that there would be an open mic later when unimportant people who don’t organise labour unions are allowed to speak. It’s a strange experience to live under twenty four hour police surveillance. When I first arrived I was very confronted by their armed gaze but I soon learned to ignore it. Under their vague supervision I enjoyed some of the most loving and generous human interactions I have ever experienced in the centre of a major city. To enjoy this I made a point of not looking at them at all, thus rendering them insignificant. Unlike most urban experiences, most of the people around me were very responsive to eye contact and overall the people were unusually beautiful. The closest toilet was beneath us, two floors down in the train station, on the other side of the ticket gate. It was very hot every day and the sun radiated off the pavement and off the glass buildings and I drank a lot of water, mostly donated bottled spring water, and urinated frequently. Multiple times per day I would skip down the steps, down the escalator, leap across the ticket gates and skip across to the toilet. The ticket guards soon accepted that this would be the case. I suppose it was against the rules, but they were not prepared to deny people a toilet. After days of this I was warned on my way down that police RFD 183 Fall 2020 19
had just charged someone $200 for using the toilet without a train ticket and another $200 for taking the time to contest the extortionate “fine”. I was told that before I arrived police tore down our tents and stole all our gas bottles, so there was no shelter and no cooking facilities. When it started raining in the middle of the night and people took their stuff to seek shelter under the nearby buildings police physically prevented people from taking shelter, forcing them to remain in the rain. We found milk crates everywhere and used them a lot, to define our living space and store our bedding, food and books. Despite using over a hundred milk crates for a whole week, two individuals were arrested and fined for stealing milk crates; in other words, they were arbitrarily singled out, forcibly apprehended and handed a letter of extortion. Subsequently, when someone arrived with a delivery of milk crates they had to dump them around the corner and ask people to carry them in by hand. After the Saturday rally when we were all peacefully sleeping they gathered their troops and just before 05:00 they woke us to demand we remove ourselves and all our belongings immediately. They did not demand this time, as before, with some idiotic illusion of authority that we could choose to ignore, they demanded with real threat of immediate violence. We were one hundred, approached by two hundred people in police uniforms and a few large men in suits and gloves who enjoyed getting in on the action. I blessedly slept away from the general mass for the first night in five and so had plenty of time to wake up and put my clothes on, watching in amazement as they infiltrated our camp. I was not sure what to do until I saw James with his backpack on, standing aside. Many people decided to link arms and defy the demands of police. They were violently separated and restrained, punched and dragged away screaming with their arms twisted behind their backs. James’s response was the only one I felt confident to emulate and so when I saw him I calmly rolled up my bed, packed my bag, gathered my stuff and stood aside to see what I could do. Somehow I didn’t see much of the violence that was taking place, only navy blue gloved arms raised and slammed down in punch. Somehow I blocked out or simply forgot the incessant screams audible on all the videos. What I saw clearly was a gentle brother with curly hair, who 20 RFD 183 Fall 2020
had exchanged many beautiful smiles with me, being dragged away by police with his arm bent up behind his back, screaming with no way for me to help him. Before I left the camp I drank an entire bottle of water and refilled it to the top. We stayed in a group as Police slowly pushed us away. We passed lines of police staunch amongst our brothers and sisters on their knees in handcuffs. At the front was the beautiful curly-haired man looking pained and I offered him some water. His arms were cuffed behind his back so I poured it for him, he drank and some spilled on his clothing. He thanked me and I saw a skinny teenage boy, who I also had feelings for, and attempted to give water to him too, but I had exercised my humanity enough and they implored me to continue walking. They pushed our group around the corner and down the street until we got to Hyde Park and everyone seemed to stop. The police presence slowly fell away and the socialists began a general assembly like some sort of nervous tick. I was invited to be an anarchist and we went off and sat under a tree on the other side of the park. I didn’t want to leave James as I felt he was the only one I could trust and so I was pleased when he came to join us. As we sat there we looked across the road at the spectacular cathedral. Mass was to begin in mere hours, and we discussed the exciting idea of occupying the cathedral. Just then an occupier turned up, a deeply unhappy man with a lot of misdirected anger, and accused James, who had been making phone calls with a hands-free kit, of being an undercover cop. He pushed him, spat in his face and told him to fuck off. James was merely shocked and upset by the sudden attack. I was the only one who defended him. “If anyone should fuck off it should be you,” I told the lunatic. He persisted in his allegations and James defended his innocence. No one else knew how to respond. I looked the accuser in the eyes, shook his hand and said, “You’re an idiot, my friend. You are wrong.” He had no violence for me, only James. I left with my friend and we caught a ride in the back of an unmarked white van, keeping low to avoid detection, feeling like we were in some movie, uncertain what comes next. James held his head in his hands and wept. He decided we should get out and walk to his friend’s place. It was no later than 06:00 when we began the long walk with our backpacks on. We passed a couple on their balcony and they stopped us to
ask for help. They were locked out of their apartment, had been trapped on the balcony all night, and James called their neighbour to alert him to the situation. I must have still been in shock because I had no idea what was going on, thinking these were the friends we were going to visit, and confused but accepting when we moved on. James guided me through the familiar streets where he grew up, and told me some of the histories of the area. This suburb was populated by diverse immigrants, then hippies, then yuppies. The original Australians living in Sydney were at first marched off cliffs and then later rounded up and driven into the ghetto of Redfern, a slum in the centre of Sydney that white people require a permit to enter. James’s friend didn’t want us in the house so we waited in the park. I practiced the guitar, soaked chia seeds and goji berries and offered James water and food. Eamon went out of his way to sit in the park with us for five minutes on his way home. He had been charged with resisting arrest. James and I continued our walk to the Sunday morning market in Newtown, where relaxed happy people browsed the stalls of fresh simple foods. As we marched through with our backpacks on I marveled at these people who woke up that morning safe and secure in their homes with their families, with no idea what was happening in Martin Place. We dumped our bags behind a produce stall and sat on the pavement. A man and a woman played gentle loving acoustic music for the slowly moving crowd. I listened to the woman’s beautiful voice, I watched the faces of the children passing; wide-eyed innocence, curiosity and acceptance. These soft-cheeked gentle people are precious and their perfection brought tears to my eyes. James bought me some food and I was approached by a guy I met over a year ago, who I barely remembered. He gave me a hug and asked me how I’m doing. “Alright,” I replied, “considering I was woken up by riot police this morning and watched them drag my friends away screaming.” He took a few seconds to realise it’s not funny and therefore I’m not kidding. We looked around at the market. “This is how our children will experience capitalism,” I told James. “I hope you’re right,” James replied. I was thinking thoughts about economic collapse or speaking them out loud, and here I was, somewhere in Sydney, amongst those who were already
practicing and enjoying the alternative to corporate capitalism. “This is much more of a statement than what we were doing,” James remarked. We fell asleep on the soft grass, on the generous earth, under the shade of a wise tree. “What are you going to do now?” my Occupy friends asked me after giving me a bed for the night. “I’m going to the Blue Mountains to rescue my friend who has been convinced that aliens are about to land and save us.” I came across David under the influence of Brendan in the bush below Blackheath. They discussed some horrendously strange and intricate concepts that would be very easy to dismiss as delusional, but when I accepted their stories as myth they rang deeply true for me. They told me that many world leaders have been possessed by malevolent reptilian extra-terrestrials but that the Galactic Alliance is coming and they are going to save us. They listened to messages from our saviours via wishy-washy new age podcasts. I practiced, at that moment more than any other time in my life, the principle of listening and understanding rather than arbitrarily judging true or false. The result of listening carefully to these farfetched notions and comparing them to my own intuitions was not compliance with truth or delusion but communion with two loving brothers around a fire in the bush. What could make more sense in an insane culture of consumption and alienation; intellectual conflict or silent peace? We had all three of us escaped the shackles of employment and rent and were in the process of discovering a life purpose larger than culture, embedded in the rhythms of nature. When it was time for me to go to the tribal gathering we all three decided to leave, in different directions, for different purposes, to meet again or not to meet again, a slave to nothing but the limitations of life on earth.
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Where I Stand with the Neighbors The couple on the left, both teachers, have correct signs and colors on their lawn, are supportive chatting in the yard, yet I have never been inside their home nor they in mine. When I am around, the wife seems to move in closer to the husband. The rednecks on the right are okay. Sure they are anti-gay, racist, homophobic pigs but it’s like in high school when everyone called me faggot and the boys beat me up. But I was their faggot. No one from any other school could touch me. Those three redneck brothers are loyal, aren’t they? I am used to men swerving their trucks toward me while jogging the shoulder, jerking away the last second. I find it amusing. One brother, who gets it, calls off the other two in public, calms them down when they go too far. I can trust him, can’t I? He comes over once a month on the down-low, will do everything but kiss. We’re friends, I guess. He will stay true until the day he dies. Of that I can be sure. Quite sure.
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—D. Scott Humphries
Forms of Exclusion We lied in the 80s when we joined the Navy, said no to the question, asking were we gay. We wanted to serve. We signed the disclaimer— Knew they’d try to nail us for fraud. Still we said ‘no.’ They fought hard to find us. One by one we were outed— What we called the gay discharge. One by one we marched down to the local Gay Center. Those lawyers had forms, too. We lied again, saying I have discovered only since my enlistment… only found it off base… engaged only civilians… only through touching—sodomy illegal in so many states. Unable to sue, the Navy coded, branded Form DD-214, requested at times by prospective employers after one’s discharge. My character listed as “honorable—I’d been a good sailor— yet their narrative rankled: engaged in… attempted to engage in… solicited another to engage in homosexual act(s), which made it official, as if they’d caught me sucking dick on the poop deck when they merely suspected and I finally said yes. No one where I worked ever asked for that form or perhaps I avoided those kinds of jobs. Forty years later, a flier arrives in the mailbox seeking part-time mail carriers Sundays and holidays, online application, follow the link beyond education, after work history, to military service: scan your DD-214 and send it to us. Shutting down the computer, I sailed back to the month I still had to show up and muster as they processed me out. Every day for six weeks numb on the trolley, down to the harbor, pushed a broom 9 to 5 in the barracks next to the brig. They handed me an exit form with space for a statement— a final act of contrition— a chance to repent. I wrote they had wasted tax dollars to discard a good sailor said please take your broom and shove it straight up your ass. I took my DD-214, got on the trolley, rode up to the city— the tall ships behind me— without looking back. Today I re-opened my laptop and scanned in my paperwork, sent it off to the Post Office, slammed it right up their in-box. No response necessary. —D. Scott Humphries
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threads of my life braiding love, loss & politics by Adamante of the DeerStag
Everything dies. Fear gone In light of our inevitable defeat One fights only because one loves. * This is when it struck me, how bad it had become. When the first major study came out describing the collapse of insect populations worldwide. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m no ecologist, but something in my bones knew this was one of the worst news possible. Insects are one of the basic building-blocks of life as we know it. In the summers before, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d had this feeling that something was missing, a background noise to life itself. Again and again, when summer came, I kept being surprised by how little I was being bugged. Where was the buzzing? There was a wrong quietness in the air, like life was not being alive enough. My body could feel it. The study just helped my
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mind catch up. When I was a kid, in the eighties, walking on a summer day meant you would surely be crossing paths with a congregation of tiny little fruit flies, a dancing cloud playing with the wind, with the light. It was the simplest thing, but it had a magic to it. How it looked both chaotic and harmonious. How it reacted to your presence or not, depending on the speed and the type of your movement. And how glorious it was, in the summer evening light, a shimmering miracle made of the most humble creatures. I had been missing them. Missing how commonplace their miracle used to be. I cried. * As a teenager and a young adult I fought a lot. I fought for queer rights. I fought for social justice. I fought for the environment. There was always an urgency to the fight. It had to be won, it had to be won now. Queer rights now. Justice now. Save the planet now. In every fight, I put all of myself. All my hopes and pains, all my fears for
Photo by James St. John, via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License
myself, for the future: all my unresolved issues. mystic who couldn’t get out of bed and whose So much of the anger at injustice was really my experience of the world was becoming disturbingly own wounding, mine to tend to and transform. So alien to everything their friends knew. We do mysmuch of the fear for the earth was made out of the ticism in France: in books, where that’s proper and fear living in my body because of trauma. The way acceptable. Other than that? Don’t be a weirdo. I spoke as a public speaker, what I said, how I said Awakening turned me into a drop-out. No it: I was fighting for life outside because I was still public forums, no protests, no board meetings, fighting for mine inside. no election days after that. Instead, I was writing I didn’t see the difference between the wounds devotional poetry and studying Advaïta Vedanta, of the world and mine. I needed healing: I went on Tibetan Buddhism, Kashmir Shaivism, Sufism and to try and fix the world. Rhenan Theology. This was a broken way. * * After seven years or so, when I was finally getting I don’t judge myself for that. to the point of finding a new balance, I realized I It was, in its own had a lot of trauma to way, innocent and work through. A lot. pure. To use words from my It was the best I therapist: “people-withWhen spiritual awakening could and the best I your-background-genfound me, it stripped me knew. erally-don’t-make-it” It was messy, yes, a lot. from most of what I thought but life is messy and so Back to work. Back had been myself. It showed am I. to challenging all of my me how absolutely self* world again. involved my life had been up Life suddenly took * me in another direcThen my husband to this point, how everything tion, the first time I left me. altruistic I had taken part in, died. (I promise, it all how every high aspiration When spiritual loops back to politics.) I’d had, how all of it had been awakening found me, it stripped me from most I don’t blame him: I but a mind game, played with of what I thought had left myself quite a few myself, by myself and for my been myself. It showed times during the times very own benefit. me how absolutely selfhe stuck around. There involved my life had was no progress posbeen up to this point, sible for the two of us as how everything altrulong as we were staying istic I had taken part in, how every high aspiration together. I’m too much of a ride-or-die kind of perI’d had, how all of it had been but a mind game, son: I would have stuck to it, against all reason, till played with myself, by myself and for my very own whatever end we would have come to. He had to be benefit. the one to leave. I stopped all and any involvement in politics That’s when I really met grief. after my awakening. It just all melted away from * me. I had to figure out what had happened to me, Grief is a strange thing. It’s an animal of sorts. which was a full time occupation, especially when It has needs, and its own way to move: gracious my Kundalini awakening began and steamrolled and somewhat uncanny. If you don’t give it enough over my soul and body for a good eighteen months, space, it will just stay there, lowly grumbling, until getting up to go to the bathroom became an unmoving. And when you’re finally available, it will accomplishment. I learned so much during that choose its own time, its own way to finally come period. But I lost so much too. So much. forward, slowly or pouncing, to make itself known. I lost most of my friends and social network. I was living on a ranch when it happened, in an I was put outside of the loop. The very social and intentional community of sorts by the Columbia active person I used to be had become an ailing Gorge. I was walking the grounds, an oak savannah
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with ponderosa pines, when grief finally rose up and brought me to my knees. I literally fell to the ground And I began crying. I began crying for my relationship: I ended up crying for everything, Absolutely everything. * With grief comes a tenderness and a wisdom. Grief is not something you contain: it takes you, it passes through you. I was struck by waves and waves of a visceral sense of loss and powerlessness. The waves felt so big, I felt so small: I could only fall to my knees, by a tree or a stone I liked, and let it all take me. Let the ground hold me. And wail, and wail, and wail or let it wail through me: a strange banshee announcing the loss of the past. The loss of people that left when I could not grieve. The loss of things that should have happened but didn’t. The loss of beautiful things that happened then went away, leaving their absence behind. The process itself brought around another loss. The loss of something youthful, that used to feel complete and whole. I was chipped and cracked now. I would never feel the radiant wholeness of the divine child anymore. Not the way I used to anyhow. I’m still grieving that one. At the same time, I could feel a daily tenderizing of my soul being accomplished. Something unyielding was stepping down into suppleness and surrender. Something of a boastful pride was being humbled. I was not the master in my own house. I had to trust the unknown of grieving and, daily, learnt how to surrender to the only help around me: nature. Trees, bushes, rocks and lichens, the song of wind and the whiteness of snow, the smell of dust and bark and the embrace of the sky, the eternal blue sky that was the only thing vast enough to hold my pain. I was a small thing, such a small thing. A small thing in a storm of pain, Held by infinite beauty. Humbled inside, Humbled outside – Yet strangely blessed. * It was then that I cried for the fruit flies. I cried for the oceans. 26 RFD 183 Fall 2020
I cried for the forests and all the beings displaced when we uproot them. I cried for human beings everywhere, suffering and makers of suffering, All of us, lost beyond words. I even cried for soil, because soil too is dying and suffering. I grieved it all. All of life. All of everything. For in my bones I could feel it: whether we win the fight or not, everything we know will pass away. That is the way of things. * Everything dies – All that I love and cherish, people, trees, books, cities, coastlines, the sun itself: it’s all going to go away. It’s all already gone. There’s no winning that fight. Fear gone In light of our inevitable defeat Because I was given the visceral knowing that I can not save one thing from destruction, because I cried for everything, because I felt in my gut how powerless I was to save anything from Life itself, Life, the Great Giver and the Great Eater of things, because I know in my bones, in my skin, in my heart, in my pulsating sex that we are all done for, that this world is all done for anyway: I don’t fear for us anymore. One fights only because one loves. I don’t fight because I’m scared anymore. I don’t fight because I want to avoid the pain of loss anymore. I don’t fight to not feel the powerlessness and the wound. I don’t fight to save anything. I wouldn’t say I’m fighting, actually. I tend, I serve. I plant, I dig, I water... I love. * Some part of me wants to believe this is what politics is really about. It just took me a while to figure out.
Constructionist and Deconstructionist Faerie Politics at Folleterre by Luna
he Pan Gathering at Folleterre in the summer of 2017 was my first Faerie gathering. As with many other Faeries I’ve met since then, that first gathering was for me the most life changing and consequential. Depending on from which side of the fence you are looking, you could say that Faeries are great at either reviving or wrecking people’s lives. Like myself, I have seen a few Faeries who arrived to their first gathering having perfectly “respectable” middle class lives and a few years later ended up selling their homes, quitting their jobs and hitting the road in search of themselves. I can’t say that I have never looked back–life on the road has plenty of opportunity for retrospection–but I am definitely a happier person now than I was then. I am always keen to listen to stories about how people have changed through the Faeries. Usually they are stories of healing and discovery. My fae sister May discovered her calling as a sexual healer (a form of sex work) and Silkie started doing political standup comedy in Parisian bars after performing in many no talent shows. I believe that the changes we undergo, in subtle and overt ways, are a testimony of the potency of the Faeries to have an impact in the world. In other words, those changes are a measure of how the Faeries are radical and political. As I see it, one possible way to understand Faerie politics is as a means of de-programming us. In my case, the Faeries managed to de-program me from following a middle class life that was slowly killing my soul. More broadly, the kind of de-programming carried out at Faerie gatherings is directed at the violence and toxicity of a majority society that invalidates and at times still persecutes the expression of our desires and identities. Using a more evocative and yet somehow speciesist language, I think that is what Harry Hay was after with his call to “throw off the ugly green frogskin of hetero-imitation”. The hope is that by de-programming ourselves we will create the conditions for a truly caring and emancipatory culture. Although the overarching task of de-program-
ming is shared, at my home tribe in Folleterre I see two different strategies to go about it. The first strategy, what I call the deconstructionist approach, is indebted to the politics of the radical queer scene. In this approach, the task of deprogramming ourselves goes through the process of becoming aware not only of the oppression we have suffered but also the oppression we have interiorized and that we continue to exert, often unwittingly. It also aims to raise awareness about the privileges to which we are often blind in terms of sexual orientation, gender, race, class, etc. A central practice in this approach is to demonstrate our awareness of such inequalities and our willingness to dismantle them by naming and owning the categories that frame our experience. In my case that would be: gay, cis male, white, middle class, middle aged, etc. I call this the deconstructionist approach because, as I understand it, its project is to pick apart the bits and pieces that have given rise to each of us through historical processes and socialization and to discard or transform those parts that continue to reproduce oppression and injustice. The other de-programming strategy that I see at play, what I call the constructionist approach, seems to have originated within Faerie experience itself although it is indebted to the hippie movement and counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. In this approach, the focus is not on deconstructing the fucked-up elements of the default world but rather to create a different reality. In effect, it is a form of imaginative politics that through play and experimentation wants to enquire into the emancipatory possibilities of community living. In the quest to give birth to something new, it actively attempts to erase or at least blur, some of the class markers imposed by socioeconomic extraction. It empowers people to express what we aspire to be, or what we perceive as our hidden, and yet most authentic, selves. That is, I think, the operational politics behind practices such as choosing a Faerie name or NOTAFLOF. At Folleterre, for instance, donations are anonymously deposited into a mailbox and, as a result, I am blissfully ignorant about RFD 183 Fall 2020 27
whether the Faerie sitting next to me and gorging herself on hummus has donated ten, hundred or nada. The unspoken rule of Faerie etiquette of not asking people about their job, if any, serves a similar purpose. Drag is perhaps the practice that better embodies the ethos of the constructionist approach. By wearing a wig and heavy make-up, Faeries are able to both create a fantasy and to express a deeply held inner truth. The two approaches I have described so far co-exist at Folleterre in a productive relationship at times, but also in tension. Last summer, for example, three Faeries decided to carve in pretty colorful letters the following sentence on
I believe that the tensions that erupt between the two approaches are inherent to their different strategies. Even if they share the goal of deprogramming us from the toxicity of a patriarchal and heteronormative society, it is hard to engage at the same time in the deconstruction and construction of Faerie identities. The chasm between those who want to dwell on the categories of oppression and those who want to escape them and create something else is a difficult one to bridge. Both approaches have their merits, no doubt, but in order to avoid complacency or the temptation to present one strategy as superior to the other, I think it is important to take some time
a bench next to the outdoor bathtub: “Save the Planet, Have a Bath in Cis White Male Tears.” The reactions to the piece were mixed, but there were a sizable number of Faeries who felt hurt and upset at what could be read as a callous statement. On the other hand, the authors of the piece probably felt it was necessary to make such intervention to raise awareness about the persistence of racist, misogynous and transphobic attitudes at gatherings.
to explore their risks and possible flaws. The constructionist approach I discussed can easily be criticized as naïve and excessively voluntarist. Following this line of critique, it is politically naïve to expect that people will magically leave behind decades of conditioning and socialization and will be able to create something new from scratch. Even if some Faerie practices succeed in blurring certain markers, no amount of glitter will confer upon someone lacking educational oppor-
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Photo by G. Catell under Creative Commons CC 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
tunities the social and cultural capital of bettercourage anyone, but rather to show that there is off Faeries. One of main risks of the construction- no higher road on the path to de-programming ist approach, therefore, is that a well-meaning ourselves from the toxicity of mainstream make-believe in the equality of Faeries could society. In the foreseeable future it is likely that prevent us from grappling with our differences. both approaches will continue to co-exist at The deconstructionist approach, on the other Folleterre. Although they appear irreconcilable hand, runs the risk of reifying the very categories in theory, in practice they seem to strangely that it attempts to dismantle. There is an argument supplement each other in what remains a fragile, to be made that as long as the current system of but fruitful balance. At Folleterre, the contact oppression maintains its hegemony, it will remain between these two different ways of doing Faencoded in our being and, like it or not, we will erie politics has had the result of softening the continue to reproduce it. At best, we can aspire advocates of deconstructionism, while bringto become a little bit more vigilant and a little bit ing more awareness to those who resonate with less oppressive, but emancipation belongs to a the constructionist approach. However, if we forever-receding horizon. That logically breeds believe that on the road to emancipation there suspicion towards those is a value in having a who can’t wait and diversity of approaches want to start creating and a multiplicity of something new without experimentations, we going through the long may agree that whereas and painstaking work of the deconstructionist ...no amount of glitter will purgation. Another risk approach has successthat the deconstructionfully spread to a large confer upon someone lacking ist approach runs into number of queer groups educational opportunities is confusing sociology and organizations, the the social and cultural with psychology. It is an constructionist apcapital of better-off Faeries. indisputable truth that, proach remains fairly sociologically speaking, endemic to the Faeries. One of main risks of the in France and the US (to From that point of view, constructionist approach, take two examples) nonthere is a particular therefore, is that a wellmale brown people are at value in preserving and meaning make-believe in a considerable political cultivating the conand economic disadvanstructionist approach the equality of Faeries could tage from cis male white as a rare flower in the prevent us from grappling people. It is not equally current landscape of with our differences. true that when I meet progressive politics. a French or American Only the Goddess white cis male these few knows what shape the data points are enough future Faerie politics at for me to chart the Folleterre and the wider course of their personal Faerie world will take. histories and struggles. Whatever they become, The deconstructionist approach runs the danger of though, I hope they don’t cease to touch and reducing individual people to sociological categochange us. I wish they continue messing up with ries, thus erasing the myriad ways in which those people’s lives and setting them free from whichcategories are lived, negotiated and transformed. ever cages they have grown accustomed to. In Sloppiness can lead me to a situation in which my case, it looks like I will continue to roam and the person I just called “privileged”, without going ask myself questions, not really knowing what to through the trouble of finding out who they really do with my life but in no great hurry to figure it are, happens to be a survivor of sexual abuse or out either. For the moment, it is not a bad start endured years of bullying as a child. to already know that I am a Faerie and that you The purpose of pointing out the possible are my tribe. shortcomings of both approaches is not to dis
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Co-create the Future By Dragonfire / Earl Nissen
I opened my new Tarot of the Mermaids deck on Lammas night and pulled cards to address the three issues:
Strategies to Reach People Queen of Pentacles—She’s a mature woman with pearls. I think of the matriarchs, women who have made enough to share with others. We have the means, the resources, and if we need to, we can ask for more! The Emperor—He’s so butch! OK, he represents hyper-masculine power and values. So after the loving friendly smile, we “get down” and get the plans fulfilled. Overcome obstacles by force. King of Wands—Another muscular man! He is the “get it done” type who leads efforts. The “master builder” he can plan, train, and carry out any mission. We keep pushing, investing our time and effort to complete our plans. So…I think the cards say we already have networks—time to use them to get what we want and need. It’s going to take a lot of work . . . but we can learn from other communities about “what works.”
Strategies to Create Alliances The High Priestess—She embodies feminine energy—so to create alliances we use our collective knowledge to connect to all people. Channel our inner feminine—share our secrets. The Chariot—the question was “time sensitive” about the November election. So one answer is time sensitive, too. Move quickly. Reach out as soon as possible. The chaos is scary and exciting.
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Six of Chalices—This is like a relationship primer! Share love. Demonstrate it with gifts. Be generous and help others out. Gifts of love do not diminish—they layer on top of each other to make a relationship. I think we “create alliances” by networking, sharing our common goals. We must move quickly— weeks, not months. And we follow up by getting together, celebrating our efforts and successes in person.
Strategies to Shape Things 8 of Wands—Everybody has to pull together. We combine our actions and work as a team. It’s not about the individual—it’s about the group. The World—This is the finality of the Major Arcana. I think we harvest the contributions and love our people have had, as members of every family on the planet. We’ve had to carry our weight and be strong. Give us a little sugar, baby! The Fool—Now the start of the Major Arcana. The zero—the Fool—the new journey—beginnings—hope. We learn as we go, shaping the people, families, and communities we share. From my perspective, humans are going through major “stress tests.” Queer people have participated in helping humans survive as long as there have been humans! We can’t sit back. We have the chance to “start over” and that is a powerful dose of hope! Our world may be “on fire” but we will strengthen up, put skin in the game, and drive our family forward in hope. Bright Blessings!
Do You? Do you wear a mask when you fuck him? When you reach down and pull on his cock? When his hand hits your nipple and twists to the right? When your eyes drift to meet his and lock? June fifteenth, 2020 Gay and transgender are finally free You can work for the money He, she, or they Despite the orange man and those chummy. And still we sit in a world on the edge In a place where a mask on your face or the lack of Is itself a political statement. Where the next step is economic devastation And it took 56 years To get protection from workplace discrimination. It is what it is can’t stand anymore The waiting, the long years, the nonchalance Wear one or not, it’s your choice to make Just don’t sit and squander The only chance you’ve got. Do you wear a mask when you fuck him? When you pull out to cum on his back? In a world now balanced on the health of one Ginsburg There’s no more time to leave slack. — e.c.patrick
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When Heterosexuals Rule the World by Pink Jimmie
emocracy allows the majority to rule. However, homosexuals will never be the majority. So government will never truly reflect our lives. Heterosexism rules. Natalism duty calls. For whatever reason, we were dropped onto a planet run by heterosexuals. Cruel world. But let’s chat some about homosexual men, shall we? We have gay men who thrive from the injustice and the short term profits. They view other gay men as expendable toys to dismiss when they get bored. Little attention is paid to habitat, compassion, or much of anything other than their daily amusements. The world landscapes their selfie pose. Sometimes dating these guys can be fun while it lasts, but if you are dating one of these guys, be sure to get it in writing. Lose your looks, get sick, have an economic problem? Too bad honey. You are tossed out and the locks are changed! Let us call these gay men, Evil Queens. Bless their hearts. You know who you are! Oh yes, that’s the other thing. They know they are evil. It gives them a hard on. But oh how they love to dress up as caring members of the community. Fund raisers spin their public image like a disco ball, hiding all the dirt and ugliness. Beware baby homos. These men eat you for brunch, then toss you aside because they have another party to attend. Record everything. Keep receipts. Then we have the Mayor Petes. Do everything you can to fit in, accept the lies of religion and politics, wear white shirts and a tie, and hope people see the normal life you lead. Then you will be accepted and succeed. Never mind that Mayor Petes joined the military and killed people for oil. That’s a cool backdrop for their hero status! That sort of thing. Never mind that the church and their political candidates actively work against them. The fantasy here says that the magic power of normalcy will change hearts and minds everywhere. Bless their hearts. Ever been around these guys though? Yikes. Ever been to a party filled with these guys? The horror! The mayonnaise! Let’s see who else can we dish? Oh yes, the Gay Bashers. Turns out they are gay. Go figure. Study after study shows that those most opposed to homosexuality are homosexuals who are in the closet. So boring. So tragic. All those Republicans getting caught with hookers and in rest rooms. Go onto any gay dating site or chat room and they populate the rooms. 32 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Discretion is a must! In other words, if their wife and church and Republican buddies find out, they will be sooooo embarassed. Like, oh my gawd. It could ruin their life! Thus they run around bashing anything homosexual to “prove” how hetero-masculine they are. Really. This is their plan. Simple minded, and often effective in getting homosexuals killed. We could digress. These characters have been a part of gay life for as long as I can remember. But we can see a connection between all three of these groups. Hateful evil queens, and gay normals, and gay bashers make their way through the heterosexist majority with a scheme. This is not to take responsibility away from those who choose to be callous, boring and evil. But what if we didn’t take the defensive as a political stance? What if we challenged heterosexism and the imposed duty of natalism? You know, ask them the same damn questions they demand of us! For instance, three additional kids are born every second on the planet while the habitat collapses. Isn’t that against nature! Why do we call ourselves queer? There’s nothing queer about homosexuality. It exists throughout nature. It may be rare, but it’s not queer. Science shows that. Heterosexuality is not normal. It’s just common. As the habitat continue to collapse, as resources run out, as climate change gets worse, isn’t it time we questioned this so called normalcy? Time is running out, in case you haven’t noticed. Oh dear, another ice cap just melted. Fires, floods, droughts, oh my! Yet still they breed. Every city on the planet uses the same stuff. Do a tour online. Pick any ten cities around the world. Pick fifty. Pick a hundred. They all look the same. They require the same resources. Yet rather than get a vasectomy, people blame everyone but themselves for the effects of habitat overshoot. Why are heterosexuals so selfish? (Do check out #birthstrike #antinatalism.) So yeah, it’s really time we homosexuals with a flare for being out and open activists framed the questions differently. Condemn the tired Evil Queens. Yawn at the Mayor Petes. Expose the Gay Bashers trolling the chat rooms. Yes. But then turn your attention to the problem at hand. Heterosexuals rule the world. And look at the mess they created.
“Devil’s Sympathy” by Artboydancing
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34 RFD 183 Fall 2020
“Fugitive Rebel” by Wave.
Policy Above People Or: How It Feels to be Kicked Out of a Faerie Gathering by Anonymous
eing kicked out of a Faerie Gathering does hurt. Going public in RFD is part of my healing process. Making it anonymous is to protect people and place.
arrived late night of 20th December in our gathering not knowing that some “traumatic buttons” of trans Faeries had already been pushed by other Faeries. The organizers didn’t tell me about it. I was only told about it later. Which means I have been led into a “trap of trouble.” Next morning (21st December) I approached a Faerie with the intention to get in contact. I could have made it more easier for me staying in my comfort zone by just talking to Faeries I already know. Since I have been to thirty Faerie gatherings in ten years I can be pretty sure that whatever gathering I join I find Faeries I already know. But I was thinking it may be a good idea for a “long time Faerie” to do the first step to get in contact with other Faeries who may be “newbies,” to make them feel welcome and comfortable instead of keeping it to them to make the first move. Maybe this was wrong. Maybe it’s better to always wait till others approach oneself. Then, if nobody does the first move, we’ll never get in contact with each other. I approached this Faerie not knowing that this Faerie is trans. Since I don’t assume gender or sexual orientation or pronoun of any Faerie but see other Faeries as beloved individuals, it didn’t seem important for me to know in advance what gender or sexual orientation or pronoun a Faerie has. Maybe that was wrong. Maybe I should have asked first “what’s your name, gender, sexual orientation and pronoun?” To me it didn’t feel necessary to do so. Maybe it is. What I actually did was say to this Faerie that I like the dress and necklace and asked if that necklace was from the drag room. This Faerie didn’t answer much but passed on to the kitchen. Maybe asking that question was wrong. Maybe asking any question was wrong. Maybe this trans Faerie had already been hurt by another Faerie before. I was never given the whole story behind this incident by anybody. I do wear my own “real stone necklaces” in gatherings and was asked several times if they are from the drag room.
Even if such a question did hurt me, I would never accuse someone being homophobic, although I could, because it may be an assumption that every gay man does like to be a “drag queen” in daily Faerie life, which is definitely not the case. Maybe by then I was already accused of being transphobic because of that simple question. Only later was I told by others that this trans Faerie did feel hurt by my question. But by then there was already this second accident and no more chance to ever apology for anything. At the dinner table the same night we were invited by the organizers to point out loud names of Faeries we think may be appreciated. Given such an invitation in a group, where one does not know all others very well, was like laying out a “trap of trouble”. Who can ever know if any Faerie who may be named did ever hurt one or more Faeries in the group by writing, saying or doing something? Nobody! So it may have been better for me to stay in my comfort zone and say nothing. Others were more clever and did say nothing. And because almost everybody did say nothing, I was thinking it may be a good idea to go public. But it was definitely not a good idea. I pointed out names of Faeries for some reasons. Even pointing out the name of Harry Hay may have been wrong because even he may have hurt somebody by writing, saying or doing something. When I mentioned the name of a certain Faerie I said that, although I had heard that there is a conflict in his city about him, he had organized two gatherings in his city. No more, no less did I say. Also other Faeries I did mention by name are not without any conflicts. Which Faerie is it anyway? Nobody! I still don’t get it why pointing out the name of a Faerie in a specific context should necessarily mean to agree with everything that Faerie is writing, saying or doing otherwise. And since I had heard that this certain Faerie had recently been invited to a heart circle in his city, I had absolutely no idea that he is an absolute “persona non grata” for at least some Faeries in our gathering. I am not on Facebook. Since when is it necessary before joining a gathering to be up to date about all gossips, shitstorms, rumors or else on Facebook? Nobody told me that! When I realRFD 183 Fall 2020 35
ized that the trans Faerie (from the morning incident) was running out of the house I felt shocked. Only then did somebody tell me that the Faerie I had mentioned is labeled as “Adolf Hitler of transphobia”. Since I know history about the cruelest mass murderer in human history responsible for killing about six million people in concentration camps and for World War II in which about fifty million people were killed, I would never ever dare to compare Adolf Hitler with anyone, not even with other cruel dictators who have killed millions of people. By then I was totally shocked, anxious and afraid what would happen next. If this certain Faerie I had mentioned was compared with Adolf Hitler, what would be said about me for pointing out his name? Maybe I was already labeled “Adolf Hitler II. of transphobia”? For I had put a stick into a “wasp nest” now all the “wasps”, already being angry because others have been sticking in, came out of their nest to attack me? What I did was waiting next to the door to apologize whenever this trans Faerie would come back into the house and give me the chance to do so. But I was told by others around that this trans Faerie didn’t like to give me that chance. Because one should not push apologies when not appreciated, I stepped back and waited. I was never given the chance to apologize, not in private, not in public, not the same day, not the other day. Because we had this tiny Faerie Mail System on the table, I put a short note in the Post Box of this trans Faerie with my message: “I love and respect you for who you are.” I still don’t know if my note ever reached this trans Faerie. In the following night I couldn’t sleep because I was still afraid and anxious being labeled “Adolf Hitler II of Transphobia”, not being allowed to apologize, to express myself, not being able to do so in a foreign language (English).
n the morning circle (22nd December) we decided to make first a heart circle and then a discussion circle about transphobia. I felt a little bit better. I did feel the need to share from my heart in a safe space as well as to help to heal the “wounded situation”. Since I was told I may have been a “catalyst” for the topic of transphobia which had been “under the carpet” in the gathering already and was now “on the table”, I was more than willing to help. By then I had realized that the gay art calender I had put on the altar and the gay photo art the organizers had allowed me to put on the wall were gone. When at the end of the morning circle I asked where my gay art calender and photo art was, a US trans Faerie 36 RFD 183 Fall 2020
ran out of the room interrupting me by shouting out loud something like transphobia being more important than artwork. I was totally shocked and afraid that maybe someone had intentionally put it away to punish me for being “Adolf Hitler II. of Transphobia”. Probably it was a coincidence and had nothing to do with it. I still don’t know for sure. The gay art calender didn’t show up. I was confused and felt like a “hunted animal.” Then came the heart circle. The trans Faerie who had felt hurt the day before and the US trans Faerie who had shouted at me didn’t join. So we missed the opportunity to get to know each other by heart. I did share first that I came to this gathering in need to be in a safe space, but because disturbances have priority I was willing to first help solving our “wounded situation” and put back my own issues. Then I did share some of my experiences with other trans Faeries in thirty gatherings in ten years, that there has never ever been any trouble with me and trans Faeries but exactly the opposite, that I had , for example, shared a twin room with a trans Faerie in a recent gathering without any complaint, that I have been recognized as a good listener, a warmhearted comforting Faerie and even been said to bring angel energy into a gathering. I was addressed directly by another Faerie which made me feel hurt and uncomfortable, but I did let it happen for not making more trouble. I do believe that apologizing is appropriate if someone crossed a boundary or becomes aware that someone else feels hurt by any action of oneself or was mistaken about something, even if someone didn’t do anything wrong intentionally. I did share this in the heart circle too. And before the discussion circle about transphobia started, I asked the organizer being the facilitator of this circle, if he would give me the chance in the beginning to apologize for what I did say the other day to help to reduce the tension. He said that he had another setting in mind. In the first round to express our emotions I shared how I felt: afraid and anxious not being allowed to apology and to express myself in a foreign language (English) and being interrupted during the discussion, which would make me angry, upset and confused, because if this happened I wouldn’t be able to express myself in English properly. It was exactly what happened in the second round about experiences of transphobia. There was no Faerie in the gathering who speaks my mother’s language to help me translate
in case I didn’t know how to express myself properly in English (writing is easier). I did listen to others and waited till the organizer as facilitator gave me the word. Then I explained how deeply touched I was by the sharing of three lovely trans Faeries about their life experiences and how thankful I was for sharing their concept of transphobia. Since someone had mentioned the situation of trans people in other countries, I tried to give informations about the situation of trans people in my country. Since someone had mentioned similarities / differences to racism, I tried to mention similarities / differences to homophobia. I was interrupted more than once by an US trans Faerie, saying that this is nothing others wanted to hear, using the plural “we” assuming the whole group did think the same. I tried to share a personal experience from a former gathering about a Faerie who came with a female name and added a male name during the gathering. I was not allowed to finish but interrupted again by the US trans Faerie accusing me of using the wrong pronoun for this Faerie. Fact is that this certain Faerie in that former gathering did use both pronouns alternately. Nobody will ever know why. Since that certain Faerie (whom I loved dearly) died three months later, I unfortunately lost my “witness.” The US trans Faerie accusing me for using a wrong pronoun in fact claimed the right to assume the pronoun of a Faerie not even knowing that Faerie personally. Which was contradictory to what has been explained by the three trans Faeries just few minutes before about transphobia and avoiding any assumptions. I wouldn’t accuse the US trans Faerie, I would say it was just a mistake. But according to which was said by the three trans Faeries just minutes before, this was a transphobic saying by this US trans Faerie. The organizer as facilitator did let all this happen instead of helping me. When I asked when I would be given the chance to express myself and to apology for what I did say the day before, I was told that it would be later. But in fact there was no later. There was a break in which I, feeling very upset, angry and afraid, asked a Faerie next to me in an even more broken English, why the US trans Faerie was allowed to interrupt me several times, using the term “guy”. In the same second from the other side of the room the US trans Faerie shouted out loud not being a “guy”. I was totally shocked. I explained to a Canadian Faerie next to me what I had learned in English language school: that the term “guy” can be used genderless like the term “person”, to what the Canadian Faerie agreed. Maybe trans
Faeries in general or this US trans Faerie see it differently. If so, I did make a mistake and am sorry. Then the organizer as facilitator accompanied me to the bathroom explaining me, that what I’ve said in the discussion was not what the trans Faeries wanted to hear, that I made the trans Faeries upset and that I should better just admit that I am transphobic, since “we all are transphobic”. That was a total shock for me. First, I didn’t knew that I and only I was not allowed to contribute to the discussion what I want to express but only what others want to hear. Secondly, I do believe from ten years in thirty gatherings, that each Faerie is responsible for one owns feelings and that others may by accident trigger a “traumatic button”, but feeling upset doesn’t mean someone else did “make” oneself upset, which means one cannot blame or accuse another one for being responsible for one owns feelings. Thirdly, I did listen to the explained concept of transphobia, but I had heard other concepts from other trans Faeries as well, which I didn’t point out in the discussion because I didn’t want to be again a “trouble maker”. Deep in my heart I do believe that I am not transphobic, never was and never will be, but that I regretfully make mistakes, for which I am willing to apology, to learn to do better and to avoid them next time. I do love trans Faeries deep from my heart as I love other Faeries as well. I was never accused being transphobic in ten years in thirty gatherings. Therefore I would say I have a point here. By the way: I stepped out of the Catholic Church decades ago because I don’t believe the early church father Augustinus (354-430 AD) who said: “We all are sinners”. Whilst the organizer as facilitator had pointed out only hours before, that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty, it was suddenly the opposite. I was already been sentenced being guilty. I never felt so hurt in Faerie space in thirty gatherings in ten years. The organizers didn’t care about me, but only about themselves and others. I have three main “traumatic buttons” from my early childhood which were triggered many times in this gathering. The first one is not being allowed to express myself, like in the line of a Cat Steven song: “From the time I could talk / I was ordered to listen”. I was always made shut up. I came to Faerie space to finally have the opportunity to express myself and to show who I am without judgements, which I got my whole life. This was triggered several times by interrupting me ,not letting me finish. The second one is the message “You are never good enough however hard you try, but you have to be perfect”, which I have heared since my early childRFD 183 Fall 2020 37
hood. I came to Faerie space to finally have the opattacked in the heteronormative transphobic outer portunity of not being perfect without judgements, world for approximately their whole life, and were which I got my whole life. This was triggered deeply in need to be nurtured, kept safe and given several times by accusing me for making mistakes. the feeling to belong. I blame the organizers. It was The third one is being treated unfairly and unjustly, their duty to comfort them and to assure them in not having the same rights as others, which I have the most loving way, that they do belong in Faerie experienced a lot since my early childhood. I came space, that they are deeply loved by us Faeries, and to Faerie space to finally have the opportunity to that they would do anything they can to help to be in a space where we treat each other fairly and solve this “fucked up situation” by offering the next justly with same rights. This was triggered several day any possible form of face to face talk, circles times because some Faeries seem to have more or discussions in smaller or bigger groups with or rights to have “traumatic buttons”, which nobody without me, maybe with the help from someone is ever allowed to trigger by accident, whilst other as mediator if requested. But, and there is a “but”, Faeries don’t have the same rights but have to acit was also their duty to tell them clearly, that they cept, that others are would not kick out allowed to trigger their another Faerie who is “traumatic buttons” all also a “deeply wounded I came to Faerie space to the time. The orgasoul”, who does also finally have the opportunity nizer as facilitator did belong in Faerie space, let it happen. This was who is also deeply to be in a space where we like in George Orwell’s loved, because he is treat each other fairly and novel Animal Farm also deeply in need bejustly with same rights. This (1945), where lots of ing nurtured, kept safe was triggered several times different species create and given the feeling to a community giving belong. The organizers because some Faeries seem themselves a basic didn’t say it. to have more rights to have law “All animals are I stepped out of “traumatic buttons”, which equal”, which is later, the house with the nobody is ever allowed to after one species has two organizers to talk. taken over the power, They admitted, that trigger by accident, whilst changed into “All since there is no clear other Faeries don’t have animals are equal, but “Faerie law” for what the same rights but have to some are more equal crime a Faerie should accept, that others are allowed than the others.” Of be sentenced being course I am responkicked out of a gatherto trigger their “traumatic sible for my own feeling, it would be unfair buttons” all the time. ings and traumas. But to kick me out. One all other Faeries are organizer mentioned, responsible for their that even a Faerie being own feelings and traumas too, and not allowed to accused of having sexually abused a new Faerie in blame others for it. The organizers didn’t realize another gathering was not kicked out, but that even this, but let it happen. this abusive assault had been solved somehow. The After the break the organizer as facilitator organizers admitted, that they were afraid that no ended the discussion, because the three trans other trans Faerie would ever come to this sanctuFaeries didn’t want to continue. I was not given any ary again. I said, that this was an assumption (which, chance to express myself and to apology for what I according what we had heard about transphobia did say the day before. I was told that trans Faeries that day, we shouldn’t do) and nobody would know (I don’t even know if all three of them) wanted for sure what will be in the future, if we’d find a me to be kicked out of the gathering, or the trans proper solution for this “fucked up situation”. They Faeries would leave. Of course this was an even admitted, that they as well as the whole group had bigger shock for me. I don’t even blame the trans failed so far to solve the problem, and said, it would Faeries for this request. From what I feel all three be better to end the gathering if it turns out that we of them are “deeply wounded souls”, who have been cannot solve the problem the next day, so that not 38 RFD 183 Fall 2020
one Faerie alone (me) would be sentenced being guilty. They said, they would announce a consensus circle of the whole group the next day to decide if we continue or close the gathering. They asked me if it would be OK for me if I don’t join this consensus circle to cause no more trouble. I agreed, requesting that they bring as my input my will deep from my heart to help to heal the situation by contributing to any talk. They agreed. Then they told me that I had to sleep in the outdoor kitchen that night to cause no more trouble. I was not even allowed to use the bathroom in the main house and get my own things by myself. One organizer did bring me my sleeping bag, suitcase and other belongings. This was a total shock for me. Since the three trans Faeries had been given the drag room as a sleeping place to feel safe, it was not appropriate to kick me out of the house, because that was already a punishment, a sentence that I (and only I) was guilty. I was never ever kicked out of the house in ten years in thirty gatherings. None of the two organizers offered me to sleep with me in the outdoor kitchen that night to show me and the other Faeries, that it was not a sentence for me being guilty alone and to keep me company if I was in need of support. The three trans Faeries had already a lot of support by others in the house. I kept crying my eyes out during the whole night. I cite lines from the song “Left Outside Alone” to express my feelings: “And I wonder if you know / How it really feels / To be left outside alone / When it’s cold out here.” The organizers didn’t care one bit about me, but only about themselves and others. In fact kicking me out of the house was already a sentence. That was already absolutely, totally unfair and unjust. Deep in their heart they know it. But what came later was even more unjust and unfair. The next morning (23rd December) one organizer came to me to tell me, that it had already been decided to kick me out of the gathering by now and that I must leave the same day without using the bathroom to take a shower or having breakfast in the main house. Instead I was offered to take fruits or vegetables from the outdoor kitchen. The organizers did not care how I would feel alone in the capital city far away from this sanctuary at the 24th December waiting for my plane to get back home at 25th. I was totally shocked. How could this be after what they had told me by night? So I asked. The answer was, that they had made a phone call to a sanctuary steward and that he had decided to kick me out of the gathering. This was
the easiest way for them. In fact I was sacrificed for the sake of the sanctuary’s good reputation as a trans inclusive place. I do support inclusivity. But the word “inclusive” was insofar perverted by the organizers, as what they did was exactly the opposite of “inclusive”: They did “exclude” me instead of “including” me. This was and is a misuse of power. They put all the guilt on me. They made me the “whipping boy” for anyone ever having triggered a “traumatic button” of any trans Faerie. No one else in the gathering was sentenced, although I was told, that before I arrived some “traumatic buttons” of trans Faeries had already been triggered. The organizers themselves were not sentenced for failing in solving this “fucked up situation”. They did punish me and only me. That was and is unbelievable and absolutely, totally cruel, unfair and unjust. Deep in their heart they know it. Obviously the organizers didn’t even have the courage to make the consensus circle with all Faeries in the group, which they had promised the other night, because they were afraid the “jury” wouldn’t approve to the sentence punishing me by kicking me out. They did not even had the courage to make the decision on their own, because they didn’t want to be made responsible for it as judges. Therefor they handed over the responsibility to a “Boss Faerie” far away in the background, sitting comfortable at his desk, who had an easy game, without even looking me into my eyes or listening to me via phone before, to sentence me to be punished by being kicked out. I need to say: Both organizers were cowards. I did never feel so deeply hurt in Faerie space. Never ever in ten years in my thirty gatherings had any Faerie been kicked out of a gathering for something I did: Mistakes. By accident. No less, no more. So I am more of a “bad Faerie” than any other Faerie I’ve met in ten years in thirty gatherings? Even more “bad” than that other Faerie one organizer had mentioned, who has been accused of having sexually abused a new Faerie in another gathering? Because that other Faerie was not punished by being kicked out. Weeks after, a mediation talk took place in another gathering somewhere else with one organizer, the steward, a mediator Faerie, a Faerie friend of mine and me. In which the steward explained that in his phone call with the organizers he had only reminded them about the policy this sanctuary has: “If a trans Faerie feels hurt by another Faerie, the needs and requests of the trans Faerie have absolute priority without further investigation.” Policy above People! RFD 183 Fall 2020 39
Queerantine By now you know, you’ve heard, you’ve read that quarantine comes from the Italian, quarantena, meaning a period of 40 days. As if 40 days would ever be long enough to isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As if most people, meaning Trump supporters (who aren’t really people, but deplorable vermin determined to bring about an apocalyptic event of biblical proportions), would have enough compassion for others to actually and respectfully follow (not obey, too loaded) such a request (not order, too governmental) for the sake and safety of the planet. For the sake and safety of their loved ones, the unwanted fetuses they can’t imagine aborting but will abandon once born, disrespected elders cut loose on ice floes in any season. Bloody hands never really come clean, no matter how much hand sanitizer is used, no matter how many times they scrub their tainted flesh, while silently chanting “Happy Birthday.” Can they see through the cartoon dollar signs in their eyes, wipe away the silver dime tears streaming down their fevered cheeks, during the kind of depression not even pharma can medicate? Quarantining people with AIDS, an idea floated by many extremists, including Mike Huckabee, the bloated father of the disgraced Sarah, in 1992, never gained ground. But that doesn’t mean the cunning, conning conservatives haven’t been trying to come up with deceitful schemes to eradicate anyone found lacking in their narrow world view or unwilling to conform to their twisted and damning religious constructs. How easy it is to blame it on gay marriage, on drag queens reading books to children in public libraries, on children being raised in loving same gender parent households. Blame it on anything but overpopulation, the systematic desecration of the earth. Do not think we will sit idly by this time either. We are far off thunder on a blue-sky day, we are empty bellies rumbling in harmony, inching ever closer, blurring the solid lines between theirs and ours. We will act up in whatever way necessary, instruct the willing in mock funerals, the use of locks and human chains, mantras and slogans. We are survivors united, mourners who we will never bend, never break. Never forget the cost, make sure the toll is collected for lives lost then, now. —Gregg Shapiro
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Gratuitous Violence Sometimes a gun is just a gun, like the ones slung over the camouflage-clad, poor posture shoulders of bug-chasing men with white supremacist beards storming state capitals. The twitchy, bitchy and itchy trigger-fingered foot soldiers of devious Betsy DeVos and scaly Brad Parscale, a pair of headless horsemen in search of an apocalypse. Sometimes a mouth is not a mouth, but a gun. For example, the one under the unruly facial hair of an ex-lover, emboldened not weakened by a lung cancer diagnosis. Rolling and digging in the dirt of old memories, slinging mud and accusations, revising history to suit his purpose, to inflict new pain, reopening old wounds with no regard for the shape of scars, arranged like stars. Why now, in the middle of an interminable pandemic? He tells me I “came with good music”, I kept him alive during an earlier epidemic. Governors are trying to do the same for their at-risk citizens, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they wrap themselves in Gadsden flags. When words are weapons, vitriolic name calling exacts a different kind of head injury, no less devastating. —Gregg Shapiro
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Spiritual Praxis or How Do We Get From Here to There? by Rev. Glen Ganaway IM (Satyre Marsayas)
y first political memory is of the Vietnam war. Well, actually my first political memory is watching dead soldiers being loaded into the back of a helicopter and television footage of bombs dropping on lush jungles. I was seven. My parents watched every single moment of the Watergate Trial and subsequent hearings on PBS every night. My first vote for president was Jimmy Carter. I am the oldest son of a Southern Baptist Preacher. Politics and Spirituality have been intertwined for me my whole life. In her short story, “The Dispossessed,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote “You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” As a minister, I would say revolution is a lifestyle. It is a way of being. I also say it is who are as human 42 RFD 183 Fall 2020
beings. My politics can be summed up today as perpetual revolution or perpetual awakening. How do I live that way? I’m going to attempt to tell you. It’s deeply wrapped up why I call myself a Radical Faerie and Mystical Anarchist. Why do we want to change the world? There would be no politics if we didn’t want to change our communities and how they operate and the experiences they produce. We can hardly conceive of living or being human without this desire. I think of that desire as proof we want a mature, healthy society. And when we recognize that our communities are not healthy we conceive of actions to be taken for their healing. It matters not what one’s ‘politics’ are at this point. So here’s a thought. We’re actually attempting to heal ourselves by healing the world. I’d like to offer a reversal to that. To be effective in Photograph by Covelo.
our politics, and why have them if they don’t deliver the goods, we ourselves must heal. I believe this is a creative process. Robert Fritz has spent his life studying the creative process. Fritz says “I call the relationship between the vision and current reality structural tension. During the creative process, you have an eye on where you want to go, and you also have an eye on where you currently are.” In politics it’s the tension between what we want and where we are. The reason why a healthy society is so hard to achieve isn’t that we don’t know what we want, what Fritz is calling vision. It’s that we don’t know where we are, our current reality. Reality, I will offer, isn’t a description of a physical place. Reality is a flowing, moving, vibrant and alive experience. This act of tension-resolution is a method of getting the world we want. To create the world we want we must first know who we are. Few of us, in the hegemony we are currently living through, have created the conditions that produce self knowledge. Radical Faeries have been asking this question in the context of society and politics and spirituality for a very long time. I think that using this tension-resolution structural model is an easy way to think about politics without it devolving into a theoretical discussion. To create effective actions that work today to bring us to an experience we want, we must be in continual awakening to our revolutionary potential. As Radical Faeries we know of our connection to all living beings. We operate from a world view of being embedded in nature, as a component of a whole system. We, as is nature, are growing, changing and evolving. Centering on whole systems thinking, an orientation of embededness, is where our focus needs greater attention, so that we act from our place of connection. Counter intuitively these actions cannot be motivated by results, or any imagined future. I believe our praxis, or right action, must come from this knowledge of ourselves. As a Mystical Anarchist I would call this means matching ends. Centering on results tends to slip into manipulation, in my experience. Doing what is right, being our healed, human, connected Fae selves is how to take action. Always true to who we are. Take action based on who we are produces results that match the truth of our deepest understanding; in relationship with all beings. The hegemony will have us believe that compromise will get us further. It’s not true. In politics this is called ‘the ratchet effect’ because this compromise tends to only go one way: to the right. I’ve seen this tragic shift in my lifetime. Its toxic individualism.
Its experts, and authority figures, celebrity culture and the notion of ‘an exceptional man’ will save us. Successful, healthy change is a community activity. What decisions would we make if we were building and supporting an (eco)system to produce what was needed? Anarchism is that operating system. Compromising our health and well being takes a bite out of our integrity. I want to ask you not to ever compromise on who you are. Can we practice making decisions from place of connection, relationship and power? Consider: who we are is an us. In this community, this place, this planet and all its beings, is where identity lies. That is who we are. The most deeply, spiritually, and powerfully effective political decisions are made from this place of knowing. So what does perpetual awakening, Whole Systems Theory and the Creative Process have to do with each other? And why am wrapping all those things up with the red and black flag of Anarchism? Remember the Structural-Tension of the Creative Process? I believe the creative process is the best way to understand what we mean by politics. Politics is the individual and group contributions that promise either individual and/or group healing. Politics are the attempt to create a better future. It’s the creative process and the current hegemony is treating it like a game at best or horse race at worse. We make poor decisions from this place of gamesmanship. We lose sight of our goal of healing ourselves and our communities. Knowing where we are is the most difficult part of the creative process. We have real difficulty, as humans, seeing and describing what is right in front of us. Is this fascism? The Talking Heads line “This is not my beautiful wife. How did I get here?” is a real problem. We’ve normalized poverty, war, industrial food, white nationalism and so much more. Whole Systems Theory offers us good tools to describe where we are. Fritjof Capra describes Whole Systems Theory this way: “All these natural systems are wholes whose specific structures arise from the interactions and interdependence of their parts. The activity of systems involves a process known as transaction- the simultaneous and mutually interdependent interaction between multiple components.” It’s not just one thing is it? That’s why politics is too difficult to talk about. It’s not one cause, it’s not going to be one solution. It’s going to take a cultural shift to get where we want to go. Acting like we are a community of biomes is a start. That would give us a way of talking about where we are. It’s more than our poor souls, isn’t it? It’s poor education. It’s inadequate RFD 183 Fall 2020 43
healthcare. It’s meaningless work. All of our tools and activities are designed to keep us separate from each other. For example, I live in a third floor walk up in Brooklyn, New York with the love of my life, Yolanda, a very fat cat named Graycee and a composting worm bin. I am a known in my building, my neighborhood, and by my local, state and national representatives as well. I know the deli clerks, even the local Imam. All of these things affect me and how I make decisions and I effect the activities of the neighborhood as well, I assure you. I refuse to be separate or act like I live in a bubble. I continually orient myself to Me as Us. Is that doable? I think we must show up in our communities as examples of living authenticity. It’s living up to Harry Hay’s request to ‘throw off the frogskin’. Or as Walt Whitman declares: “I contain multitudes!” Finding ourselves where we are is the task at hand and where we begin. And from there we can make better decisions about what is ours to do. This is our perpetual orientation toward healing, our perpetual awakening; seeing ourselves as a living, breathing, growing system. We are alive, perpetually blooming into this moment. I will argue that this is the most accurate place to describe 44 RFD 183 Fall 2020
where we are. It’s actually the second step in the creative process. The first step is always our human orientation toward our desire to change the world, and ourselves in the process. That’s the easy part, I think. Politics is the way we talk about the direction we want to go in this dance of tension-resolution. How to resolve tension! That is the question. Unlike Socialism, Communism, or Capitalism, Anarchism isn’t a destination. It’s a method. Holding to restorative justice, radical equality, radical equity and radical democracy outlines our steps on this journey of collective and personal healing. The International Workers of World, an anarchist union, has a slogan: “A Harm to One is a Harm to All”. Martin Luther King Jr put it another way. He said “No one is free until we are all free.” The spiritual practice I follow puts it this way: To have peace, teach peace. Saul Alinsky in his book Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals lays out that the ten principals for decision making are all about the ethics of means matching ends. He does so because they work. Why do anything if it doesn’t work? I’ll not go over them here, but I Photographs by Covelo.
would encourage you to find the book and read it. He offers the spiritual principal that like creates like in the context of ethical organizing. No one really knows exactly what the future is going to look like, but we can know how we want it to work. It must be a healthy system that naturally produces abundance for all beings, right? A system that supports human and planetary development at its highest skill level. Well we must act within those perimeters today. Make personal decisions like they matter, because they do. That is what is meant when the Feminists of the 70s developed the slogan “The personal is political.” Acting like everything we do matters to the well being of whole because, I assure you, it does. Remember how we’re embedded in relationships? That is the realization that we do not need nor want gods or masters, but we want to pursue and experience healing for ourselves and our communities. And we cannot do this as isolated individuals: homo-economicus. The Overton Window of what we’re allowed to conceive in this hegemony is very telling. Mark Fisher in his book Capitalist Realism says “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” I think that’s because we just cannot imagine a now that creates it. What are the conditions that create the world we want? First of all it begins with self knowledge; that I am in a whole system in which I am not better, worse, more or less necessary than any other item in this web of relationships. I think that’s revolutionary. To practice that, to live in that we space, is exhilarating, challenging and daunting all at the same time. One of my favorite Anarchist thinkers, Murray Bookchin, in Post Scarcity Anarchy put it this way “There can be no separation of the revolutionary process from the revolutionary goal. A society based on self-administration must be achieved by means of self-administration.” Who is dictating
what we do, when, how, etc? We might not really think about it most of the time. But here’s a political angle for you: How do you/I perform culture? Revolutionary Culture, anyone? Remember Saint Ursula and her ‘You can only be the Revolution.”? Good politics is right there, isn’t it. Our healing is right there isn’t it. The change we seek, that illusive future, becomes visible today. This requires our creativity, something us Fae excel at exercising in various ways. We’re not so susceptible to the hegemony that may be over influential to others. That is why we’re so necessary right now. To inhabit the Spirit of Revolution! We are not all called to do the same things. We certainly don’t inhabit or perform culture in the same ways, do we. Bill Moyers, a journalist and author has four roles for activists (And I would say, Revolutionaries and Radicals). Citizen, Rebel, Reformer and Change Agent. There are effective and ineffective ways of performing these roles, of course. And this space isn’t to go into that. I am asking my fellow Fae to see ourselves as
fluidly moving through these roles as the situation requires. We must begin to do the rebelling and building at the same time. Matching Means and Ends. Modeling Authenticity, Centering our Relationship to All Beings, and take actions that create the conditions of Peace. This is politics. Our healing demand it. Viva La Revolution! RFD 183 Fall 2020 45
46 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Photographs courtesy author.
Not Your Grandma’s Quilt by Johnny Townsend
rom the age of eight, I wanted to be a writer, and now, almost sixty, I’ve published over forty books. The Abominable Gayman, Invasion of the Spirit Snatchers, Gayrabian Nights, and many more. But there was a brief period in my thirties when, after teaching English for ten years, I went back to school to earn a Biology degree and realized that to do well, I could not afford to lose study time writing more stories about gay Mormons. Zombies for Jesus and Mormon Underwear would have to wait. Yet the need to create was as strong as the need to eat, the desire for sexual intimacy. So instead of writing, I found myself learning to quilt. Just as TV commercials warn us that “it’s not your father’s Buick,” I have to say that what I created “wasn’t your grandma’s quilt.” In addition to the academic challenges I was facing—this was New Orleans, who knew that Nutrition was a thing?—I was also in a committed relationship with a man who was quite ill and in constant pain. We were monogamous, which almost translated to celibacy, sex perhaps three times a year. So my creative outlet also functioned as a sexual release, and many of my designs turned out to be sexually explicit. Have you ever tried creating a stream of ejaculate out of cloth? What kind of print is best for illustrating assholes? First off, I should clarify I had no background in sewing, other than a single embroidery lesson as a child. I did watch my mother and grandmother in rural Mississippi set up quilting frames in the living room and sew a quilt top to a quilt backing, with cotton batting in between, but the top wasn’t pieced together with scraps. It was simply two long sections of cloth off a bolt sewn together on a Singer treadle machine. Mom called the end result a homemade quilt, but there was no art and little effort invested. She was a modern woman, only too happy to move away from the farm after graduating high school, her favorite song Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” But she felt a need to stay connected to her roots, and this seemed easier than milking cows in the suburbs. A few patchwork quilts from before my time were stored in the hallway closet, and I noticed hardly any of the corners matched where the pieces were
stitched together. Quilting apparently required talent, and my paternal grandmother hung paint-bynumber artwork in her bedroom. I did not have the genes for this. But I had to deal with my testosterone somehow. One day while hesitating over a blank sheet of graph paper for a class assignment, I decided to draw a picture. It was crude, all squares, but the subject was recognizable. I realized if I could decide how large I wanted the final quilt top—flaming queen size, naturally—it would be a simple matter to determine the size each individual square needed to be, and I could try quilting this one time and see what happened. My partner had an old Singer treadle, sitting in front of it brought back my mother’s wonderful laugh before she died of leukemia, and I pieced together my first quilt top. Every single corner of every tiny square lined up with the squares next to them. I was dumbfounded. This wasn’t even hard. I began watching quilting shows on PBS, bought some better quilting supplies, and drew more designs. I tried hexagons, and while piecing them wasn’t impossible, it was more annoying than satisfying, so I went back to simpler forms and developed a host of pictorial designs using only squares, rectangles, and two different triangles. I finished my degree before advancing to curves and never quilted again after reigniting my passion for writing. I lugged twenty-five quilt tops from apartment to apartment and finally decided I had to find them a better home. Most now reside in ONE Archives, the national LGBTQ archives in Los Angeles. I designed Rainbow flags with solid colors, Rainbow flags alternating solids with prints, Rainbow flags using denim, Rainbow flags using dyed suede. I designed a Leather Pride flag out of denim, then a quilt with a large pink triangle in the center surrounded by smaller pink triangles, and a Bear quilt using the traditional bear paw pattern but inserting the faces of two hunky “bears” in the center. I put two grooms on top of a wedding cake, pieced together an AIDS ribbon, and put a huge black tornado against a gray sky, bordered with a yellow brick road, poppies, and emeralds. Dorothy’s house, flying through the air at forty-five degrees, could be formed easily out of five small triangles. RFD 183 Fall 2020 47
48 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Photographs courtesy author.
Then I moved on to a couple of bearded men kissing, their tongues interlocked. I designed and pieced together a quilt of two nude army buddies jacking off, four penises ejaculating toward each other, a quilt showing a dick heading into a man’s ass, a dick spurting into the open mouth of yet another bearded man. I designed a quilt top consisting of twenty penises, each in its own block, another quilt featuring rows of men fucking each other in a long train. When I spent every day in the Animal Behavior lab over spring break to catch up on a project, my professor was impressed. “You don’t have anything better to do during vacation?” I could hardly tell him my stamina to play with cloth dicks, high as it was, had its limit. So I directed the conversation to a book I’d just discovered, Biological Exuberance, detailing the hundreds of other species known to participate in same-sex coupling. At home, I considered designing a quilt depicting gay horses, but even for me, that felt like a step too far. I did take one afternoon off, though, to roam the French Quarter doing some “window shopping.” I came up with a design depicting a man’s torso wearing a leather harness.
That was animal enough for me. But it couldn’t be done without going back to hexagons. Once I was free to write again, I published Sex among the Saints and Sex on the Sabbath and Strangers with Benefits, but during those four stressful years, all I had was Organic Chemistry and quilting to get me through. Still, not every quilt was sexually explicit. I designed one showing a bookcase, the titles of seminal LGBTQ literature on the spines of the books. I would have needed an embroidery setting to do that effectively, but really, most of these designs were surprisingly easy. The hardest part was resisting fabric sales, only buying what I needed at the time. And, of course, to quilt without unnecessary stress, I quickly discovered the necessity of dedicating an entire room. And making sure mice didn’t get into my fabric stash again. The only other difficulty with designing and piecing gay quilts is that I didn’t often get to share them with other quilters, the majority straight women of a certain age, living in a region not particularly open to the subject matter. To be honest, even some RFD 183 Fall 2020 49
50 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Photographs courtesy author.
of my gay friends looked at my quilts in horror. But that’s the norm for any writer or artist. Many of my friends are no more impressed with my books. Have Your Cum and Eat It, Too is not a novel you can pull out at work during a lunch break if you don’t want to be called in for a meeting with HR. One of my other quilts depicted a tractor plowing a field, with gentle hills in the background, which I gave to my dad one Christmas, the only gift I’d ever given him that he appreciated. If I could sew butch quilts, his astonished smile told me, maybe having a gay son wasn’t so bad, after all.
That’s the beauty of quilting. People can see your work and appreciate it instantly. For a writer, that’s extraordinary. We’re used to readers investing twenty minutes, two hours, three days reading something we’ve written before we have a clue if they like it or not. But with visual art, you know immediately. And that’s gratifying in a way that writing
isn’t. It’s probably why I’ve moved on to writing op-eds for newspapers. The time investment for readers is minimal and the reaction is immediate. My essay collections, Am I My Planet’s Keeper? and Human Compassion for Beginners, may not always generate rave reviews, but if no one is ever intrigued or challenged, what’s the point of creating anything in the first place? I find beauty in an ejaculating penis. It doesn’t have to mean anything. For those who’ve long been drawn to homemade quilts but have been worried that quilting is too complicated, that you just don’t have any natural talent, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If something doesn’t turn out right, you can get a seam ripper and sew the piece again. You can trash a quilt halfway through and start something better. No writer pens a masterpiece on their first attempt, and you’re not likely to create an award-winning quilt on your first try. But even “mediocre” homemade quilts are pretty damn charming, whether the corners match up or not. If your dad or sister or cousin never come around to accepting your partner, just give the beloved bigots in your family an attempt that didn’t turn out so well. I no longer have the physical space in my home to do any quilting, and my eyesight has deteriorated over the past couple of decades. But that period of my life when I cranked out design after design to stay sane will always remain an important part of my personal and artistic development. Online, you can find dozens of better quilters who have created far more spectacular LGBTQ quilts. No one needs to remain limited to squares and triangles or even hexagons. So if you have a little time, a little curiosity, and maybe a little too much testosterone, why not grab a piece of graph paper and see what happens? Who among us, after all, doesn’t want to sleep every night under a comfy five-foot penis ejaculating in a spectacular burst of joy? RFD 183 Fall 2020 51
A Decade of Power: RFD in the 70’s by Regina Futcher
n my experience, being able to embrace your sexuality and gender identity are largely influenced by the community you are surrounded in. I grew up primarily in suburban areas in Virginia and Maryland where I knew very few out-and-proud queer people. At first, I only understood the term “gay” as a synonym for stupid and not as a sexuality. Much of my expansive political thought and exposure to other gay people were formed through my use of Tumblr, a blog and social media platform popular in the mid 2000’s. Through Tumblr I began to understand the fight for gender, sexual, and racial equality in the United States and it was the medium through which I developed a political consciousness. I realized gay folks could be fired, kicked out of the military, denied housing, or have their children taken away if their sexuality was found out. Despite Tumblr being a platform for virtual interactions, I primarily utilized the site to educate myself and understand my identity. Because of this, I was exposed to queer ideas and philosophy but not the community itself. Although I have not faced extreme prejudice or hardship for being queer, I never had a queer support network until I came to college at the University of Pittsburgh. My college experience enabled me to engage with the LGBTQ+ community and meet many other like-minded individuals. I am fortunate to have been raised in a white middle-class family that was able to financially provide for my higher education and even more privileged to have attended a college ranked one of the best universities for the LGBTQ+ community. Pitt’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS) program prioritizes teaching diverse narratives and including feminist and LGBTQ+ pedagogy in their curriculum. My 52 RFD 183 Fall 2020
bachelor’s degree in psychology and GSWS exposed me to a queer history I was completely unaware of and showed me the ways in which folks were able to come together in the face of decades of adversity and oppression. Throughout my undergraduate career, I enthusiastically received a feminist education and engaged in a multitude of research opportunities. I gravitated towards archival research that involved analyzing gay print because gay press publications uplift LGBTQ+ voices, highlight individual experiences, and provide a glimpse into what life was like at different times and locations in history. Archival research is the examination of primary documents such as manuscripts, publications, photographs, or raw data such as census reports. Archival material preserves the history of individuals, institutions, cultures, and society. Studying the archives allows us to explore the ways communities developed political consciousness in the past by providing information that was necessary for their social and physical survival. Many queer publications valued consciousness raising as it was a central aspect in developing not only the gay identity and self-love, but activism, the production of knowledge, survivability, and fostering a community. Engaging with queer archives has allowed me to forge a deep connection with a community that I was isolated from for most of my life and increase my sense of self and identity as a queer person. This connection and awareness of queer history will enable me to engage with the LGBTQ+ community more effectively as a future social worker. Over the last two years, I studied local archives containing materials related to the University of Pittsburgh’s first student-led queer advocacy group First issue of RFD.
Rainbow Alliance and the Pittsburgh underground press publication Gay Life that ran from 19771979. This summer I was a recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA) at the same institution for submitting a proposal to continue researching gay publications in the 1970’s. The next step was deciding which periodical would be best to investigate in a remote context. When researching the gay liberation movement, I found that perspectives from gay people living in small towns or in the country were often excluded from urban gay press and that queerness was frequently conflated with city life. I wanted to disrupt the narrative that consciousness raising and activist efforts were primarily done by cosmopolitan, urban gay men by bringing a rural gay perspective to the forefront. RFD was the perfect choice as its content was created by gay country folks for gay country folks. The 1970’s was a critical period for the gay community post-Stonewall so I performed a decade analysis of the first 22 issues of RFD published between 1974 and 1979. RFD was founded by a group of gay rural men in 1974 who sought to connect country men to each other. RFD had a wide distribution as they had subscribers from coast to coast in the United States and around the globe from countries such as Canada, Germany, and Spain. Despite differences in geographical locations, many readers shared similar experiences of loneliness and isolation in rural settings and expressed despair at being unable to connect to other gay people. RFD built a community by providing a platform for readers to share their thoughts, feelings, political ideologies, creative outputs, and experiences as gay country people. My analysis and commentary on RFD refer to the specific issues published in the 70’s, but I want to acknowledge that many of the crucial features and hallmarks of the publication that I discuss, such as community building and political resistance, continue into present issues. Similar to the current layout of RFD, older issues also had a central theme that dictated what articles, graphics, and reader submissions were included. The magazine served as a means of contact that allowed for the exchange of knowledge and resources. RFD is a rich archive filled with evidence of critical debates within the gay community that addressed a multitude of social issues with deep explorations into gay and queer men’s sexual and gender identities. The first twenty-two issues touched upon subjects such as age, class, environmental concerns, the differences in rural and urban living, and the difference in experiences for “butch” men versus “fa
eries” and “sissys.” For example, gay elders expressed that they felt alienated by the younger gay community and cut off from social events because they were not viewed as sexually desirable. Self-identified blue collar and working-class gay men felt that the gay liberation movement prioritized the narrative of middle- and upper-class gay people. Environmentalists informed the public about various dangers to people and the environment such as the proliferation of nuclear power plants, the mining of uranium, and the improper disposal of nuclear waste. No matter what the issue’s theme was, the publication was grounded in its connection to nature and spirituality as many articles and advertisements involved gay communes, farming, and living off the land. RFD’s focus on the intersections of farming, country lifestyles, and the gay identity was unique because it created a platform for rural gays who were not connected to the gay political landscape that was prominent in cities to voice their opinions, concerns, and experiences. This was crucial as it fostered political networks and awareness during a time when we were not so easily connected and informed by the digital. Early issues of RFD had forums that allowed readers to discuss their takes on user submitted articles or social issues. Both praise and opposing views were included to offer multiple perspectives that sometimes produced a back-and-forth dialogue over the course of several issues. The section “Contact Letters” was the heart of RFD as it directly linked individuals to each other and created support networks. Readers wrote to the magazine looking for a relationship, friendship, a gay-friendly home to temporarily stay in, to hire workers on a farming collective, to start a commune, to meet other gay people in their area, or to discuss a certain topic like gay tarot readings, spirituality, or vegetarianism. The reader’s full name and address were included at the end of each letter so other subscribers could correspond if interested. Although community building was not explicitly addressed as political by RFD, the very idea of communing together in world that has alienated, and marginalized gay people is an act of political resistance. For many living in small oppressive towns, it was difficult to be open about their sexuality let alone meet other gay people nearby. RFD provided a space to make connections that could not be made elsewhere and facilitated social interactions via letter exchanges. Against all odds, the queer community found a way to come together. A unique aspect of RFD is that the publication RFD 183 Fall 2020 53
was free for incarcerated individuals and they had a separate section dedicated to showcasing prisoners’ creative works, experiences in prison, and letters seeking correspondence. RFD was particularly invested in helping gay prisoners because they shared similar experiences to gay men in the country like physical isolation and being left out of the gay political narrative. By making the magazine free, they were able to ensure that that even the most marginalized of readers had access to resources and tools for liberation. As a result, inmates were able to share their perspectives with and connect to the outside world. RFD had a deep political commitment to creating an inclusive gay community by advancing the social justice of those who had less resources. Additionally, the publication included helpful tips on how to correspond with prisoners. For example, RFD urged correspondents to censor content to ensure that the inmates were not outed to the prison staff and to not ask why they were incarcerated. Each issue reserved space, at least 3-4 pages, for gay prisoners to speak to each other or other readers because they faced a unique oppression as gay felons and were often ignored by prison reform movements. They frequently advertised different bail funds or organizations to donate to that would pay for prisoners’ legal fees, combat injustices and harassment faced by gay prisoners, or provide legal counseling to appeal their case. This section of RFD is important as it sheds light on the atrocities faced by gay prisoners in the 70’s. RFD is an archive of political resistance as it gives gay prisoners a voice, critiques the poor conditions of prisons, and reveals the mistreatment of prisoners. RFD carved out space for both practical and creative information covering the politics of everyday life. This included survival tips and instructions for 54 RFD 183 Fall 2020
building living quarters as many folks in the country lived off the land. The advice ranged from what plants, flowers, or herbs are poisonous, edible, or have healing properties to building a forest shelter, dome hut, or range boiler for natural heating of the home. Most of the tips were centered around forests, farmland, and nature making it especially pertinent information for rural readers. This way of living resisted the “norms” of an American consumerist society as many rural gay folks provided for themselves through natural means and secondarily relied on purchasing goods and services. Gay people who were abandoned or shunned by their families after revealing their sexuality may have missed out on receiving generations of familial knowledge on country living. By including practical information in the magazine, RFD gave its readers tools necessary for survival. RFD also covered artful means of selfcare and ways to get in touch with one’s creative side to destress. Regardless of the issue’s theme, the publication included articles on artistic expressions such as scores and lyrics for rurally produced music, instructions for country dance steps, coloring pages of nature scenery or animals, tutorials on different methods of braiding hair, and cooking directions in their “Kitchen Queen” segment that highlighted tasty seasonal recipes. The inclusion of practical and self-care related information displays RFD’s capabilities of covering a wide range of relevant topics and expertise. Engaging in any of these activities, whether that is dancing around the fire or building a dome hut, was an act of political resistance against a society that did not care about the health or well-being of gay people. By choosing to prioritize themselves and engage in hobbies that ensured their physical survival and/or bring them happiness, the gay community continIssue Number 31 of RFD.
ued to fight and live on. The staff of RFD prioritized transparency and communication with their readers informing them of their precarious financial position and the arduous process they went through to produce each issue. This transparency extended to acknowledging negative feedback from readers. Letters that criticized or critiqued the magazine were published and the staff took these suggestions into consideration as they continued to restructure their format from issue to issue. The RFD collective held themselves publicly accountable to their readership. By owning their mistakes, they fostered an open and honest model of communication and transparency in newsprint that made readers feel that their opinions were valued. The RFD collective was not a neutral third-party staff, but rather engaged with their readers as members of the rural gay community. Although they contributed some of their own works to the publication, majority of the content was usersubmitted. Much of the gay print being published in the 70’s had a staff that was solely responsible for creating content. This model tended to place the publication’s workforce in a position of privilege as they had a platform to speak on behalf of the gay community. As a result, they often excluded information that deviated from their own perspectives and experiences. RFD, on the other hand, attempted to give all voices a space in their magazine in a nonhierarchical structure, as long as the content was not homophobic or sexist in nature. This encouraged an open dialogue between readers and staff and created a nonjudgmental space for learning, understanding, and growth. By investigating gay print produced in the 1970’s, I can begin to bridge the gap of inter-generational knowledge by learning from the experiences of queer elders. The suppression of this very knowledge is political as queer elders have been deliberately removed from history because they disrupt the narrative of the white, heterosexual, hard-working, middle-class American that was prioritized in the 70’s. Many queer archives are examples of old school consciousness raising that question systems of power and teach that the personal, waking up and living every day as a gay person, is political. Archival research reclaims this history by bringing perspectives of marginalized communities to the forefront of modern political conversations allowing the general public to be more educated on the LGBTQ+ community’s past. I urge current subscribers of RFD to read older issues and see how gay folks were able to shed their
fears and break isolation despite the homophobic and oppressive political climate, to build a strong and engaging community. RFD provided a support network that was essential for gay men, especially for those who lived in an area where they did not know any other queer folks. Readers loved RFD not only because it facilitated social interaction but because it also addressed issues that were not included in other gay periodicals. The publication balanced political awareness, creative expression, practical information, and exploring alternative country lifestyles that embodied gay liberation. This form of social networking ensured the survival of gay folks through RFD’s reader-driven platform and connections to resources. The magazine was a labor of community love and its very existence was an act of political resistance and defiance for any gay person who needed (and still needs) it. We are fortunate to be living in a time where access to communication and knowledge is at an alltime high with technology and the internet. Social media has replaced the need for forums and contact letters in print and is fundamental in facilitating social interaction, especially during a pandemic where many people are self-isolating for safety concerns. We don’t need to anxiously await weeks for a response from a friend, lover, or confidant in the form of a letter or wait every three months to receive information relevant to the gay community like the readers of RFD had to do in the 70’s. Subscribing to queer-related groups on social media platforms are the best option for communication and spreading awareness and knowledge right now. Twitter, Facebook groups, Tumblr, Discord groups, and Subreddit threads that are LGBTQ+ focused are a few examples of sites that build and sustain a strong community virtually. We are engaging in the same community building efforts as our queer elders did in the 70’s but we are doing so through different mediums. It might be helpful for RFD to resurrect their forum and contact letter section in the form of virtual communication on their website or Facebook group in order to facilitate discussions and forge new connections. This tactic can blend older and newer mediums used for interaction to create even greater forms of connectivity. Regardless of whatever political climate the future has in store for us, the queer community is more than well-equipped to handle it. As long as we continue engaging with each other, whether that is virtually or in person, and share our thoughts, opinions, and vulnerabilities, we will stand strong in support of one another. RFD 183 Fall 2020 55
The Customers at the Midnight Café by Ken Anderson
The Jaycee He owns a hardware store, is stingy with his wages, whether clerk or trade. His eyes say that he’ll pay you ten, no more— his crystal eyes that come alive with lust. Like some small businessmen you’ve seen, he wears a wrinkled, light-green leisure suit. Trick The lumbering, gangly child —he’s thirty-five— who forces love in bed remarks the sign announcing a revival Friday night. The lonely youth will go with him for food or no good reason, just that rape somehow seems better than the unforeseen. He’s hard to hurt, and yet an unexpected kindness may, by accident, forgive without relent. Luck The minor hazards change our lives: the inauspicious ghost among the glass reflections of the counter customers, uncertain eyes in a sharp, decisive face. Sometimes your white knight coughs and pays his check, then vanishes into the night, someone who sat for minutes just in reach. Bobby Darlington Brown shoes, green socks, red pants, blue jacket, hair half brown and gray that’s thin and sprayed in place— our Bobby Darlington’s come to cruise. He turns to size us up, then lingers near the cigarette machine before one last, seductive wink goodbye. Chevalier No dignity distinguishes despair, O mon chevalier, who turns to stare, this face I’ve seen, but can’t remember where, another bar, another late café. O gallant, in your courting days with jonquils for a Southern belle, the cool winds and the yellow leaves portend the night you will not score and winter’s rude affront. 56 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Wayne His face crinkles when he kindly smiles, just in to check the place, a coke to go. A lonesome lover visited last week. Yet, married now, he met him at a friend’s where stories of the good old days recalled a lovers’ quarrel, a car chase, a flashing gun, the state asylum, prison cells. But when his wife inquires, he never tells. Gary Wine He doodles, smokes, and lays the cryptic napkin on the edge of the table, revealing symbols, numbers, circles, squares, and Gary Wine, his name, with his address. Like a tiny harbinger of a life that’s trapped, yet yearns for brilliant, merciful release, a moth conveys his message through the air. His mind’s on someone else who flew away. The He-She The he or she beside the entrance orders, waits, with a belt embossed with mystical designs. Ambiguous, austere Tiresias, explain the double snakes, tonight’s distress, the doleful prospect of your sunken eyes. What sex can solve life’s Sphinx-like riddle best? And why did Hera blind you, give you sight? Information Greg works and studies at the college, cruises in an old white Chevy late at night. He’s short and blond, a little overweight, flat broke, but young and out, not out, that is, not in. He knew about the horse show when I asked, in fact, owns horses, rides the trails at school, two years to go. A dirt road east of town descends through trees to a secret realm of sighs. “The backfield’s where I want to play,” he says, then adds, “I let out a hustler once.” Yet how can I sift the truth from his confession, especially when he has so little to lose.
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Sleepless It doesn’t take much to chase sleep away, like a stray cat in the flowerbed, from the remaining dark between 3:07 and 3:28 am. The 2020 election. An itchy, unsatisfiable underarm reaction to dollar store deodorant. A recalled slight, subtle or overt, from the day, the week, the month before. Jeff Tweedy intoning, “I am trying to break your heart.” The time passing between Rick’s sleep apnea punctuated breaths. Night rain. The unmelodic jangle of Coco’s tags. Puddled pillow drool. The un-rescuable curly tail lizard trapped in the screened-in vestibule or the unwelcome tiny Cuban tree frog that leaped into the office. The lines that made you laugh out loud in the new Carol Anshaw novel. The tiger’s eye rock in the blue drawstring bag Jan Beatty gave you at dinner. An unfinished 7 Little Words puzzle. Fear of fevers. The tattered remains of the white Mercedes in the blocked-off northbound lane of Biscayne Boulevard. The 2024 election. An erection. Finding the right metaphor to describe sleep’s abrupt exit. —Gregg Shapiro
58 RFD 183 Fall 2020
Excerpts from lyrics for “Stonewall Inn 1969” by Arthur Durkee (Dragon)
By way of an introduction: In 2018, I was commissioned to write words and music for a three-movement work for LGBT chorus and rock band, “Stonewall Inn 1969,” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the riots that many consider the match that lit the flame that began the modern LGBTQA rights movement. It was premiered in June 2019. Now, here we are: fifty years after that rebellion, having to do it all over again. Trans people in particular are under attack, and LGBTQA people of color in our community, and we must protect them, as well as ourselves, from a political climate turned almost as hateful as what we fought against fifty years ago. Trans* people were on the front lines at Stonewall, and are once again on the front lines. “Stonewall Inn 1969” is a brick thrown in the window of complacency, a reminder that we had to fight to demand freedom and equality. And we can do it again. I practice my politics through my art-making in multiple media, now that my disabled
body prevents me from marching on the streets. Writing words and music for LGBT choruses is part of my creative resistance to chaotic and regressive politics that have crawled out from under a rock and been empowered by a White House fueled by hate, fear, divisive anger, and worse. Yes, it sucks that we have to fight these battles all over again. We still fight for our lives. Many of us old enough to remember Stonewall the first time around are tired after a lifetime of activism. Still, we made progress. I never thought I would see marriage equality in my lifetime. I wrote “Stonewall Inn 1969” in part to celebrate our history, in part to light fires of resistance anew. The words set to music were directly inspired by the testimonies of those who were there, that hot summer of 1969. So here we are, fighting the same battles again, it seems. But they’re not, really. They’re the next iteration, they go deeper, and I believe they have a better chance at achieving the next iteration of social justice. We can still make the world a finer place. As Mark Twain said, “History does repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
From the Stonewall Inn, photo by Rhododendrites, via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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Stonewall Inn 1969 (excerpts) I. Who We Were (Dance with Us) SPOKEN: In 1969, homosexual acts were illegal in every state except Illinois. You get careless, next thing you know, you have silver bracelets on both wrists. You could be beaten. You could lose memory from the beating. You could end up in a wheelchair. . . Eventually, something was bound to blow. A hot night on the streets of Greenwich Village. A scruffy little Mafia-run dive bar filled with the city’s rejects. A shot glass heard ‘round the world. A brick through the window of our hearts. SUNG: The bar was a dump, two dingy dark rooms, but a safe place to hang when the streets are your home. When we couldn’t show love outside in the streets, We could slow dance all night, find love on our feet. . . We had mostly lost souls, but everybody was there. We were all kinds of people a real rainbow affair. Dance with us at the Stonewall Inn, dance with us for your life. Dance with us in the midnight street, we’re gonna make a revolution! Feeding coins in the jukebox, homeless kids getting warm, black and brown men wanting romance, dancing like we were home. The homeless and the hustlers, the rent boys and the dregs, The Puerto Rican macho and the girls who show some leg. They called all us ‘drag queens’, there was no better name, the nice one called us ‘ladies’, 60 RFD 183 Fall 2020
it wasn’t just a game. Stand with us at the Stonewall Inn, stand with us for your lives. Fight with us in the midnight street, we’re gonna make a revolution! We were street kids living poor, white men from The South, Pennsylvania Dutch, museum people, boxers, butch dykes, bikers, whores, Wall St. bankers, bakers, designers, college kids with closets, professors, punks, a Medievalist, hustlers, brokers, party girls. Everyone, Everyone was there! ... Dance with us at the Stonewall Inn, dance with us for your life. Dance with us in the midnight street, we’re gonna make a revolution! ... II. One Hot Night SPOKEN: In the civil rights movement, we ran from the police. In the Stonewall uprising, the police ran from us. After the first raid, that hot summer night, the 28th of June, night after night, the cops kept raiding. SUNG: The next night and the next, harassment and shame, Another night another raid, they wrote down all our names. The next night, and the next, till one hot summer night, We had had enough! We started to get tough. Cops thought we wouldn’t fight, Cops thought we were weak, limp-wristed faeries, too afraid to speak. Imagine their surprise when that first brick was thrown, we trapped the cops inside the bar,
we took back our own! There was tear gas on the sidewalk, right in front of the bar, there were cops trapped inside the bar, they blockaded the door. Broken glass like diamonds sparkling on the ground, when one of us got beaten down, another stepped around. ... How can there be freedom When you jail us in the closet? How can there be liberty when you keep us in a panic? Yes, and how can there be life when your words just twist the knife? How can there be happiness when your hate denies us life? ... Who threw the first brick? I did! I did! I did! We did! the street kids, the wasted lives, the no-accounts, the leftovers, the hidden, the scared, the unloved human trash. Who threw the first brick? I did! I did! I did! We did! We did! Uprising or riot, who cares what it’s called, it was war on our people. At last, we fought back, we said No!
There were no TV cameras, no news reports to give the people pause SUNG: It started small, just a few of us, but soon it started growing, People lined the streets to watch, then joined in, kept it going. kept it going. We were scared, we were excited, we marched so fast we almost ran, but we were ourselves, we were all out to do the good that we can. ... Despite everything, we love. And still we rise. Even when you hate, we love. And still we rise. Where there is love, we love, And still we rise. . . And still we rise, still fighting for our lives, and still we rise, still waking up to revolution, and still we rise, still dancing through these times. And still we rise. SPOKEN: In every Pride parade, In every town and city, Year after year, Stonewall lives!
Let she who is blameless cast the first stone!
Remember us from the Stonewall Inn, remember us when you dance, Remember us when you love who you love. We’re still rising up in revolution!
III. And Still We Rise SPOKEN: We knew we had to do some more we couldn’t let it settle down We needed to keep going make a street march of our own
Our rising up could be forgotten as though it never was
And still we rise! Stonewall Inn 1969 Words & music by Arthur Durkee © 2019 Arthur Durkee Arts. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission. The recorded premier performance is available at: https://arthurdurkee.bandcamp.com/album/stonewallinn-1969 RFD 183 Fall 2020 61
Reliance You sprawl spread-legged on the lawn— radiant self-love streams forth like fresh honey from your loins and along your fluted silken ribs. I want you— not your youth nor butchness, nor thuggy languor— but your fluid unshackled psyche. Your freckled cheeks lax and smooth— pouting bee-sting lips, sweet Narcissus, await the kiss of the mirror-pool. your toes wiggle as you reach for me. Small ripples distort your image in the pond. —Kelvin Beliele
That October Air dusty lace curtains dance above our eyeglasses on the window sill— your whispers, dry as a feather, sweep clean my cob-webbed heart your obsidian eyes reflect the light of the kerosene lamp— among the shadows your lanky torso heaves, streaked with sweat along this narrow room the moonlight smiles from the mirror holding our silent twins, crisp as brown leaves swept by the autumn wind you aim your deft, clever hips and, like a fiery angel, you flicker along my boiling spine— I melt like lava beneath you our electric thighs wedged tight we sink beneath this urgency— and defy mortality —Kelvin Beliele 62 RFD 183 Fall 2020
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RFD 183 Fall 2020 63
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. 64 RFD 183 Fall 2020
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
Issue 185 / Spring 2021
QUEERING THE DIET Submission Deadline: January 21, 2021 www.rfdmag.org/upload
For this issue we’re asking you to explore the ways our diets, food cultivation and how we are able to access food resources shapes our lives. We know that many faced with the shifts in how our societies operate after Coronavirus that access to food became a challenge while also allowing us to become creative about the food we prepared. So we’d like folks to consider any of the following: diet pathways—omnivores, macrobiotics, vegetarian, vegan, organic, localvores. How have any of these diet decisions shaped your life, shifted your perspective or gave you new ideas for eating. We’re also looking at and asking ourselves as LGBTQI people how we help shape these conversations, how are we queering the diet of others. Bring the wild, the different back into the kitchens by the choices we make to produce, purchase and life within a dietary ideal. So for example do you work growing organic veggies, do you shop at a food cooperative, are leading cooking classes for others, foraging for wild edibles or merely bringing some fantastic item to the party. We want to make this issue engaging by coming at this issue from a variety of perspectives so we’re asking our readers to consider how our
diets, like other parts of our lives are deeply personal. So we’re more interesting in sharing gifts about our experience rather than the politics of decision. So rather share a recipe for making oat milk over telling us how bad cow’s milk is. We’re also really interested in how we as queer people are helping shape an approach to food which is healthy, cross cultural lines in terms of cuisines, and how are we asking others to engage in how we come to a common table to share a meal. So tell us about your experiences in shifting how you eat, where you get your food or how you grow your food, who you have come across in your food journey and what recipes, tips or ideas do you have to share to help fellow readers in shaping a healthy queer diet. For many of us we’re looking at ways to eat healthier for ourselves while some of us are also asking questions about our food, how it is produced and what is does in creating community rather than profit for some producer, food store or restaurant. So please look into all the ways that you engage with food and let us know about things you’ve learned, meals you have enjoyed and ways that make your life more interesting because of food. Lastly, tell us about a great meal you shared and how you had a lovely evening.
RFD 183 Fall 2020 65
a reader created gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity 66 RFD 183 Fall 2020