A Glimpse into the Radical Faeries

MonkThroughout the process of filming I stopped by three Radical Faerie Sanctuaries. They are sanctuaries for any one who has felt the sting of homophobia or been attacked and cast out by their family because of their sexuality. After an interview with one fellow I learned his mouth had been slit open by a random hate crime in New York.

The faeries have a theme of environmentalist spirituality, a return to nature.  They seem to pick and choose from every religion what they like and then throw in a bit of shamanism, Santeria and magic.  Ask any Faerie and they will tell you something different about what it means to be a Radical Faerie.

heart circleFaeries typically rebel against the hetero-normative ideal in culture. This construct that men are to hunt and gather, not show emotion and smoke Marlboros’ while women are to remain subservient to men and wash dishes and make babies.  Ironically, I think many Radical Faeries are setting up a homo-normative construct, this concept that homosexual men dress and act a certain way, talk with a lisp and love Tori Amos.  This an ideal that I have seen many homo friends of mine rebel against as well.  To be sure, none of this applies to all faeries, only a considerable amount.  The faeries and I spent one evening watching Tori Amos videos and I had a great time.

New MexicoI got mixed signals from all of them about filming, which is understandable. Their desire for anonymity is crucial to their purpose.

On my first visit I made the mistake of visiting the sanctuary on the west coast with a female journalist during an all male gathering.   Not surprisingly, we were turned away.  Later on I met a faerie at “The Ranch” who left dismayed by the financial mismanagement within that particular sanctuary.

The second sanctuary I visited is located in the deserts of middle America.  The land is old Indian romping ground and is treated as sacred.  The land is on the continental divide.  The sky is huge and two different series of clouds from two different oceans converge above.  The sunsets and sunrises are amazing and the weather is erratic and filled with lightening storms.  The bugs and animals are unique and the land is teeming with life.

I met Randy at this Sanctuary.  He is from Missouri and he told me an amazing story of his life.  When he was young his family was on social services and through the social services he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis.  He was put in a hospital for a year, half of which was spent in solitary confinement.  Years later he found out he never had Tuberculosis and that he was being used like a guinea pig.

From that time he struggled with poor communication skills.  He got fed up with his families’ religious hypocrisy and drug use and left home around the age of 12.  Mostly he kept to himself living in the woods and on top of mountains.  Eventually he got lonely and began hitching rides.

His story goes on from there and gets more interesting.  He was well spoken and very polite but he told me that he had anger issues and he wanted to formally apologize to all his former communities for the anger he had in his past.  About a month later I heard that he left the Sanctuary after losing his temper.

SparklesI don’t believe I would ever want to live in a Radical Faerie culture, I think it would drive me insane.  I met three people with names that were synonymous with glitter and when I forgot a name I had no idea what pronoun to use.  Without a doubt though, there is a deep seeded anti-homo mentality running through mainstream culture so it is important to have a queer safe space to work out all the pressure, and for that I respect the radical faeries.

I showed up at the last sanctuary in style with 100 pounds of East WInd Nut Butter and two jugs of home-made wine that my friend Jude had made.  The ladies of East Wind were in love with this particular sanctuary.

shrineI am not sure how the Radical Faeries will fit into this documentary as a whole, even if I did get the access I wanted.  The Radical Faeries are a huge, complex organization that defies definition and is deserving of a whole 90 minute documentary of their own.  It would do the Faeries an injustice to include them on this documentary I think, so I probably will not….but don’t hold me to that….

Did I mention I almost got hit by a train in Kansas?train in kansas

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3 comments
  1. rita said:

    Almost got hit by a train!

  2. Chris from the Ranch said:

    In reference to your idea about a “homo-normative construct”:

    In any sub/counter-cultural group that opposes conformity to the mainstream culture, there will be the presence of the groups own norms & dominant style. Some of this is “conforming to nonconformity” as it’s been half-jokingly called, but much of is due to the natural effect feeling isolated from the mainstream community has on people – it tends to form very strong allegiances and creation of an identifying shared culture.
    Whatever unappealing attributes a sub/counter-culture may hold and perpetuate within its own group (’cause they’ve all got some) the idea of a “homo-normative construct” is, to me, suspect. I’m not a radical faerie (though I’m kinda queer & hella hella pagan) but I do know that the hetero-normative construct in a reality in which being hetero & cissexual is the norm, and all else is deviant; and deviance is met with legal and vigilante persecution of homosexuals & trannies. Thus, a homo-normative construct would be a set-up in which being homo &/or transexual is the norm, and all else is deviant. This may be the personal wish of some rad faes, and I’ve definitely heard a lot of critiques about queer spaces being overly judgemental, labeling some men as heterosexuals even if that is not how they identify, and also overly PC and expecting folks to immediately be hip to the ideas of differing pronouns, etc. It becomes a problem when people feel like they “have” to act a certain way to fit in; but that is an issue with all social groups.
    There are many nuances to work on. But having a group of homosexual/transexual people who act similarly does not a homo-normative construct make. Sometimes, a group is an alliance of people who often came to the same logical conclusion: let’s speak in stereotypes now: many dykes came to the logical conclusion that though they’ve been forced to think they have to have long hair and wear tight-ass clothes, short hair and baggy jeans are just damn more comfortable. And the radical faeries you speak of, well, they must’ve come to the very logical conclusion that Tori Amos is ridiculously fucking awesome. And it is true.

    • Well put. To be clear, the homo-normative I mean here is from the mainstream culture, not something I discovered at the sanctuary. Honestly most Faeries didn’t fit any norm whatsoever. I do believe that if you want to rebel against the mainstream norms in our culture you have to look at yourself first to try to pick your battle wisely. A homo-normative in my opinion isn’t a bad thing but it seems unnecessary and could be dangerous in the long run. Just as the Marlboro man may have inadvertently caused many failed marriages and cancer patients in the long run.

      and the Tori Amos night was actually my idea. 🙂

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