He bent over and splayed his asshole in front of 200 hysterical men. He played the not-so-glamorous but high profile role of a sink.
The skit involved a drag queen’s lost wedding ring, a sexy transsexual plumber wearing elbow-length latex gloves, and Evie’s tenderly exposed and well-greased anatomy. As if offering up this image as an oracle of deep wisdom, I peer into this black hole in hopes of seeing the Future of Gay.
While many of my friends tell me they feel alienated by most of what is going on around them and gain little solace looking toward the gay community, Evie Erdman walks a different path. He left a gorgeous partner, a well paying career and the luxuries of San Diego to travel from one queer event to the next. To find his tribe, he surrendered all his illusions of security.
At 36, he’s young for a mid-life crisis. A year ago he had a meltdown after many months on the road. Today he credits the crisis with waking him up, helping him shake off his former self. He’s determined to live as a consciously liberated, playful and free loving man. He’s discovered a new kind of success. The fascinating thing? He no longer considers himself gay.
All over North America, Australia and Europe queer people are gathering and recreating their own edge-walking vision of life. Short Mountain Sanctuary is a 200-acre farm southeast of Nashville. Twenty-full time residents build houses run on solar power, tend organic gardens and raise dairy goats and chickens. Several times a year, weeklong gatherings draw hundreds of queer folk from different corners of the world.
Then there’s New Orleans which hosts the Brigit’s Ball, Wolf Creek which applied for a state-sanctioned Faery religion, Naraya’s two-spirited Ghost Dance, the annual queer shaman gatherings at Zuni Mountain, and the latest addition, Vancouver’s own GreenBody Gathering. Alternative community spaces have emerged over the past 30 years as places where queer people meet, love, learn and heal from who they once were-or had to be.
At each of these sanctuaries, men and womyn shake off the expected and recover from the wreckage of having survived a dead, fear-based culture that despises or, at best, ignores them.
Evie’s been on the road for two years since his first gathering. But he’s been far from homeless. From one side of the continent to the next he is welcomed into people’s homes and hearts. He lives off some savings but finds many creative ways to supplement his income. He’s attended 12 queer events over this time. It hasn’t all been sex and puppy piles, but most of it has.
“I now live in a world where I can fully be with people, where I can open up,” he says. “I am able to hear them and have empathy for who they are. I see the beauty of people, which allows me to live the beauty of who I am.
“I have compassion to rise up into being a queer person,” he continues. “It means so much. I can love and be loved by everybody, I don’t have to fit in to any category or fit any label.”
When large groups of people heal, love and are openly sexual together, that energy, says Evie, brings about profound changes. “Conversations come together; it’s the cupid in me. My magic is really about bringing people together. “Doing this in the queer community is unique because we are so spread out and often hidden.”
Is he the new flower child? “Whatever you want to label it, there is a different way of being in the world.”
Sex is a vital part of this lifestyle. When I called Evie he had just landed in SF. “I’m lining up. Making all my connections while I’m here,” he says.
When asked whether these queer events have altered his sexual identity he’s emphatic.
“Gosh, yes. My sexuality has changed so much now. Vaginal intercourse? I’m all for it. I even fantasize about womyn now. It’s all about the person, not the parts. An F to M trans lover said to me last week: ‘Thank you for making trans men beautiful. By loving us you have shown others that it is okay. Others find us sexy. We’re making love and others now see that.'”
Evie has spent his time thawing out from mainstream gay culture. Living as a white male in a world dominated by the same, he felt the only part of him that was different was being gay. It wasn’t enough.
The gay community’s ideal of beauty is no longer attractive to him. Shaved, clean, muscle bunnies? Not a chance. He sees it all as a lie.
“I am so different and am finally celebrating that. Gay people are going the same route as the heterosexual community. Trying to live socialized norms. I am not that. I am loving who I am. Goddammit, I am different. I am not lost in the American dream anymore.”
He feels little allegiance to ‘gay.’ While he honours the right to marry, to be treated equally, he’s only marginally part of the gay community now. “I’ve learned you can live a different way. Lots of people are doing it. When I’m with my people,” he says with authority, “I can be myself. My gay friends are aware they can’t always be that real with me. They just worry for me, they want to fix me, give me a job, make me more like themselves. There is so much more out there. I never know what I’m stepping into. That’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to have everything planned out. It doesn’t have to be a clear path.”