Putting The “Radical” Back In “Faerie” – A Re-Emergence Of Queer Culture

Posted: 07/10/2012 by erichblayde in A Different Outlook, Acceptance, Drag Queen, Gay Pride, Happenings, Human Experience, Strength
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hello lovely readers, I thought today I might have a little yack with you about a group that, until recently, managed to slip under my nearly omnipotent gaydar. And a crying fucking shame it is too, that I only learned of this fantastic conception of gay spirituality recently, because this particular group is far more “up my alley” than I originally believed.

I am speaking, dear readers, about the Radical Faeries.

I met my very first faerie (at least this particular type of faerie) at a pride event in Nanaimo last month. I was waiting in a parking lot (having arrived early as is my habit) and saw a little car pull up just across the road. As I happened to be a raging queer sitting alone in a parking lot smack in the middle of redneckville I paid close attention to both the car and the owner. Satisfied I was safe, (by both the rainbow bumper sticker and the overall effeminate nature of the car’s owner – he positively flounced out of the car) I continued my people watching and paid no mind. Some 20 minutes later while I was speaking to some friends about the nature of pride in Nanaimo I observed the man from the car drift over to the edge of our group and quietly listen to our conversation. After the gathering split, the gentleman pulled me aside and introduced himself. We had a very pleasant conversation about several aspects of activism and then went our separate ways to attend the gathering. It seemed the gentleman had been invited to speak and it was during his talk on youth bullying and the importance of pride that I had my first glimpse into the mindset of a Faerie, despite not even being aware of what exactly it was I was seeing.

And let me tell you I was instantly intrigued.

Here was a man who spoke with passion, with intelligence, a man who was not afraid of what people might think of how he dressed, thought, or acted. Here was a man who had at least some measure of acceptance within himself and (as I guessed at the time) some sort of very strong support group backing him up.

Little did I realize how very right I was.

When the gathering moved off to a local coffee-house for some fellowship, I had a chance to speak further with this intriguing fellow. We had a tremendously fun and exceptionally esoteric conversation about activism and youth and I mentioned that I ran a series of drag workshops for youth groups. This turned into a fast and furious discussion of the art and fun of drag, activism and queerness in general and (as tends to happen when I am around a queer with a semi functional gaydar) he clocked me as trans and asked the inevitable questions about how an FtM can be a drag queen or a gay man.

I am slightly embarrassed to say I was a little more than curt in informing him that my drag and my sexuality could be whatever the hell I want it to be, no matter what plumbing I got born with, and that I wasn’t going to stop being what I wanted to be, who I really was, even if God had made a bit of a whoopsies on the order forms.

His reaction was not what I had expected.

He instantly became even more animated than before (something I hadn’t known was possible) and peppered me with questions about my drag. Suspecting a trap of some sort (I have received no end of shit from literally EVERYONE under the sun about my drag and my identifying as a gay man) I made my best impression of a grizzly bear while taking the opportunity to open his little eyes to the type of crap that the gays can dish out when you don’t fit into their perfect little rainbow.

My new friend bore the cranky far better than I had thought and I found myself actually starting to believe he wasn’t judging my drag or my way of life. He truly was genuinely distressed to hear that people were unaccepting, and genuinely interested to learn about how I had come to where I am both as a gay man and as a drag queen.

He was also one of the few gay men I have ever met that honestly accepted me as a gay man who had always been a gay man despite living in a lesbian closet. Holy open-mindedness Fagman!

It was at this juncture in the conversation that my lovely new friend quietly slipped in the concept of the Radical Faeries, a group whose website bills them as a “queer tribe of men-loving-men, welcoming gay, bi, trans, and straight brothers into our circle of spiritual intimacy.” An intriguing concept, a group entirely devoted to the exploration of the intimate spirituality of gay men through myriad different relational situations.

Admittedly I was a little sceptical at first, my new friend’s face took on a classic look of utter joy (reminiscent of some of the looks I have observed on followers of different groups such as the Hare Krishna and pictures of the Manson family followers) when describing the local Radical Faerie group, their coffee clatches, heart circles, gatherings and faerie camps. Having had prior experience with several of the more “hinky” spiritual groups I make it a habit to always do my homework when being invited to join or learn about a new spiritual circle.

And my homework did not provide reassurances. In particular this excerpt from the BC Rad Fae website gave me pause “In all respects, in drag and out; naked or clothed, Faeries maintain a consistent way of interaction which is relational – heart circles, puppy piles, erotic massage, dance, or a simple, warm embrace.”

Whoa whoa whoa….erotic massage? Embraces? Dancing? Definitely makes you think twice about drinking the kool aid.

Despite my original reservations I did decide to travel to a nearby city the other day and participate in a Faerie coffee circle. After all, while being cautious is completely acceptable, one must still attempt to learn what one can about their surroundings. And even with the classic warning signs, I was indeed curious about a group whose only representative I had met displayed such amazingly accepting open-minded kindness.

And what a good move that was.

Arriving at the designated meeting place I observed a group of men of all ages laughing and chatting. The group was loosely arranged into a circle and the looks on all the faces were identical. Happiness reigned supreme.

While I will not go into all the details (as this post is already WAY too damn long) I will say this. When I walked over and introduced myself I was immediately included and over the next two hours enjoyed having and listening to genuine caring and intelligent discussion on a wide variety of topics that most people would never consider to be what you would call “appropriate” But in this group it was not only completely appropriate but entirely encouraged. There were good laughs, a lot of learning and a true sense of comraderie for those few stolen hours before life intervened once again. Much to my amazement two of my new friends turned around and invited me to spend the day with them at the beach, an offer that I immediately accepted and thus spent an entirely pleasant afternoon at the gay section of a local clothing-optional beach chatting about faerie culture, history, family, transition, culture and many other things. Not once did I feel out of place, judged, or different in any sort of negative connotation.

So perhaps the Rad Faes are a cult, but they are a cult of men dedicated to preserving those things that are most wonderful about gay culture, and after my tiny introduction to the unique world of Radical Faeries, I can tell you this….

I’ll take a drink of that kool aid any day.

*For more information on the Radical Faeries I recommend these websites:

http://bcradfae.ca/ – Home of the British Columbia Radical Faeries

http://www.radfae.org/ – A resource for Radical Faeries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_Faeries – Rad Fae Wiki

http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Radical_Faerie_Camp-12057.aspx – An article about Faerie camp


Tell The World What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s