“So, you’re gay? Now what?” Darlene, the ambassador’s wife, saunters along the seawall with yet another soul-searching homo in tow. While not exactly recruiting, she incites a certain ambiguous agitation within him. Because she cares to ask such daring, simple questions, this unsuspecting querant may someday make a choice about how he wants to live his life as a gay male.
While as GLB citizens, most of our rights have been won, I’m still waiting for the nation-wide pansexual party to begin. Yes, we need vigilance and of course we must fiercely reinforce what is ours by right of birth but where and when do we get to celebrate the outcome of these many battles? Commercially endorsed pride parades can’t express what liberation truly feels like.
Aside from our polite social demeanor as Canadians, our inability to cry queer victory suggests we have a lot of thawing out to do first. Our collective nervous system remains on high alert. The radical religious and political right succeed in keeping our backs knotted with fear and brows twisted in distrust. So as not to spill over with exuberance, we keep ourselves in check by continuing to contract HIV, we spiral out on Tina and wonder when the maelstrom of hatred will end.
This frozen state runs deeper than the bigoted zealotry of those who would use our lives as an excuse to not live their own. As heartbreaking as an open sore craving intimate touch, I believe our need to be fathered as gay children and young queer men continues to plague us. When a loving father nurtures a child he shows him where he belongs in the world. While some of you may have had well-intentioned male role models, none of us likely had a father who knew how to raise a gay son.
We were born into a crisis of not belonging. We must reconsider the roles we play in one another’s growth.
“The call goes out to gay brothers everywhere–poet, Sufi, musician, revolutionary, shaman, heretic, community organizer, farmer, artist, healer, city dweller, Buddhist, dancer, magician, political activist, yogi–whoever you have become since the last time we came together.
The call goes out to all who know that there is more to us than hetero-imitation, to all who are ready to move on, to all who have broken through and are ready to share those breakthroughs with your fairy brothers.”
This invitation to the Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries was written in 1979 by Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society and other visionaries of the gay men’s spirituality movement. These words were written as a call for gay men to come home.
Bo Young, publisher of the White Crane Journal, reminds me in an e-mail that “the faeries have a rich history of ‘earth-based wisdom.’ Hay and John Burnside lived among the Navajo for years, exploring the berdache/two-spirit traditions.” The research and writings of Will Roscoe, Arthur Evans and Randy P Conner have strongly influenced this trickster paganism. James Broughton is honoured as a Faerie elder.
“Nothing one can say about the Radical Faeries is authoritative (five faeries, six opinions)” jokes Amber Fox. To describe the Faeries would be futile, we simply can’t shove ourselves into a one-size-fits-all sequined skirt.
The word “radical” is derived from the Latin word “radix,” meaning “root.” I translate Radical Faery to personally mean “rooted in my brilliant otherness.” Like the ugly duckling, it is my difference that both challenges me and my world. It also makes my beauty something worth growing into.
This anarchistic movement inspires queerness and creativity out of even the most hetero-mimicking professionals. From porn stars to stay-at-home dads, from priests to sluts, from blue collar labourers and high-collared queens, the Faeries welcome us all.
Over these three to seven day affairs, we reanimate ourselves inside a world between worlds, where the hardest work is to unravel our chronic socialization and truly become our own person. Between those heart-melting moments we learn to play again. At Breitenbush, Oregon, a haven from which I’ve once again returned, long hikes in the woods intersect with midnight soaks in mineral hot springs, passionate massage sessions in the steam house give way to aisle-rolling laughter during the no-talent talent show.
Sacred irreverence lives everywhere in Faery space. As one Faery says, “I don’t have to put my blinds down anymore because the neighbours do.”
From Sep 29 to Oct 2, the second annual Vancouver Green Body Gathering will sparkle up the city streets and Faeries will frolic through the forests of Vancouver. Unlike most of its rural parent groups, the VGBG2 (vgbg.net) will host inside the urban jungle nearly 100 faeries from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Having sat in hundreds of groups over the years, the first Green Body Gathering remains one of the most profound queer blessings of my life.
Drama queen and tease that I am, I wish I had the space and permission to tell you just a few of the endless, over the top stories of what can only be described as the healing magic of the Faeries. But what happens in Faeryland stays in Faeryland. These stories don’t always translate to the wider muggle world. It is for the brave to choose another way to live, to step out of the expected and discover a beauty bolder than most of us could have ever dreamed.
Cloven Hoof, Crowdog and I, Robin Hood, drive around the bend, returning to our former lives. We know full well we are no longer the same men that hesitated to make this journey. After his very first gathering, Cloven Hoof turns to me from the driver’s seat and says, “I feel fathered.” Equally satisfied, I put my shades on, squirm back into the convertible seat, and raise my green chiffon scarf to the wind.