Information about Radical Faeries

By the 1970’s many who had who had been instrumental in the formation of what would later become the gay rights movement were becoming disillusioned with the increasingly heteronormative, assimilationist and consumerist direction the gay community was taking. Harry Hay was one of these individuals, he had co-founded the second gay rights movement of the USA, the Mattachine Society in 1950.

Hay with Mitch Walker, John Burnside, Don Kilhefner and others founded the Radical Faeire movement in California in 1979. This birth of radical faerie was seated amidst the context of the 1970’s sexual revolution amoung gay men in the United States, the larger gay rights movement, the counter-cultural movement, and the growing ecological awareness triggered by the oil shocks. The first ‘Spiritual Conference for Radical Fairies’ was held in Arizona in September 1979.

While acknowledging and supporting the need for legal equality; to marry and to adopt, the Radical Faerie movement strove to support the queer community in continuing to seek out, celebrate and evolve what is unique that the queer tribe brings to a healthy human ecologies relationship to both itself and the natural world. Radical Faerie honours the positions and roles in traditional societies that people who today may have been called queer, played; the roles of shamans, the titles of twin-spirit and berdache, of the gate-keepers, of the fundamental social functions our people held. These views may be inspired by indigenous, native or traditional spiritualities, especially those that incorporate genderqueer sensibilities.

This rejection of hetero-imitation embraces the landscapes and cultures the various radical faerie sanctuaries and communities are nested within, and in the attempt to evolve a counter-culture out of the shattered threads of millenia of persecution against the queer spirit they may respectfully draw from local indigenous ways and mores, modern paganism, anarchism and environmentalism. Within this drive radical faerie challenges commercialization and any patriarchal aspects of modern LGBTQI life while celebrating eclectic constructs and rituals in a fiercely independent, anti-establishment, and community-focused way.

Today radical faeries embody a wide range of genders, sexual orientations, and identities. Sanctuaries and gatherings are generally open to all, though some gatherings still focus on the particular spiritual experience of man-loving men co-creating temporary autonomous zones. Faerie sanctuaries adapt rural living and environmentally sustainable concepts to modern technologies as part of creative expression.

The Zealand Radical Faeries have been primed since the outset with a 7 day gathering in Kaiteriteri in May 1982. Though little occurred in the interim years, the stunning Autumn Farm in Golden Bay has played a pivotal role in providing the kind of rural, queer space needed for faeries to gestate. A small gathering was held in 2005 near Raglan to ‘light the fire’ at that queer space, but it was a few years later that gatherings began in a consistent sense. Now gatherings take place throughout the year at Faenua, Autumn Farm and various other locations. There are also regular heart circles in Auckland, as well as semi-regular heart circles in Hamilton and Wellington. Often there will be a radical faerie presence at events like the Auckland Pride Parade or Big Gay Out, or at festivals like Kiwiburn (New Zealands own chapter of the international ‘Burners’ or Burning Man tribe).