Radical Faeries


Another personal introduction based on individual experience

Radical Faeries are (so far) non-mainstream queer tribe or identity, that welcomes non-conformists of many different natures, to explore their complex personality in its wholeness of many layers and aspects, to experience live interactions with like-minded folks in non-judgmental way.

Undefining faeries

As many faeries there are, at least as many opinions exist on what faeries are (or are not). Faeries are naturally resistent towards accepting one definition, one ideology, or one set of rules. Some would say faeries are a flavor of gay folks, some see it as a wider queer assembly or even as a straight-welcoming place. In the beginnings, faeries formed as a community of misfits, who embraced their queerness, but nowadays many who self-define as faeries would not stand out much in the regular society. Many faeries like to play with nudity, drag and gear in outrageous ways and combinations, but some are comfortable in trousers and shirt. For some, faeries are "the spirituality-positive queers", but some faeries are quite rationalist and even do not like woo-woo. Faeries like to share their heart, but some skip heart-circles and prefer other joys of faerie-space. Faeries naturally converge towards few sanctuaries that exist, but some meet in towns or at their homes. Faeries embrace liberally many forms of sexuality, but some live in monogamous relationships. Some are anarchists, some can't stand chaos. Some are anti-capitalist, some against corporations, others work in those. Some are more liberal and some less.

Radical comes from radix, root - fearies like to get to the root of things, inquire into their roots as queer people, call upon their ancestors. They dare to ask on purpose, or unique gifts and value of queer people in wider society. They use so called "gay window" - a perspective at life and at human ways that is conditioned by the particular experience within our gay/queer identity. Among many traditions, they get inspired by two-spirit concept of Native Americans, where non-heterosexual people had their particular role in the tribe: mediating between worlds of men and women as much as between material world and world of spirits. They used to be shamans, healers, caretakers, storytellers, rite preservers, ceremoniaries of their society. The vocations that even many contemporary queer people find close to their nature.

Faerie is another reclaimed designation, that was used in the past to slur effeminate and oversensitive (assumedly gay) men. Faeries like to challenge "normal" and resist assimilationism - a trend in contemporary LGBTIAQ+ movement that attempts to present queer people as "like everyone else" straight-acting and (hyper)masculine - and suppress everything non-conformist, outstanding, teasing (camp, drag, trans, fetish, polyamorous). Fearies call for inner diversity, faeries allow to explore what is natural to each one of us, faeries welcome, faeries listen, faeries try not to judge.

Radical Faeries are therefore a community of people who gather in some way - in contrast with lonesome cowboy lifestyle of many modern queers, detached virtual interactions on webs and apps - and within gatherings navigate what being a faerie means for them.

Post-modern academic folklore aside, not a whole planet is Radical Faeries. The community and the identity has its history - a particular and peculiar crowd of individuals is attracted towards it, accepting the name. While sanctuaries are generally open to everybody, they tend to be of special interest for people who do not fit (or do not feel comfortable, wholesome) elsewhere in the existing structures of the queer and straight mainstream. Of course, those more on the average part of spectrum are welcome as well, to exprience being around those they might judge or even despise otherwise.

What does the faerie space offer?

Quite common search string that points seekers towards Radical Faeries is a "queer community". Faeries are not ashamed for being queer and often they do not think that being queer is "just what we do in bed". As Harry Hay used to say: "what we do in bed is probably the only thing we have in common with straight folks". Fearies recognize the need to associate with our queer peers, because we have unique experience in life and unique perspective on life. Often banished from our biological families, or feeling not completely fitting into their ways and clans, we seek our own family of choice, or a support community.

Faeries escape the prevalent urban-focused way of life of many queer people. They like to meet in nature, work with land, live with environmental awareness. The only outlet and self-expression in "safe" urban gay ghetto is often consumerism - but faeries dare to look at its void, they name the dissatisfaction, emptiness, loneliness. That's why they search for community, seek human connections, non-consumerist values, they explore low-technology low-impact low-demand lifestyle, degrowth, organic agriculture and permaculture.

As an expression of love of nature, they connect with it also through rituals celebrating the distinct moments of its cycles - solstices, equinoxes, harvests, death and rebirth. Faeries often attract free-spiritualists, neopagans, witches or even openminded religious people who do not think that gay equals atheist, rationalist or consumerist. The spirituality that faeries enjoy is quite eclectic, syncretic, often spontaneous and anchored in the moment, playful, welcoming faults and not 100% serious. On average, faerie community shows healty distrust towards gurus, cults, ideologies, sectarianism and hierarchical organisation.

Fearies love to celebrate, it's an opportunity to unleash their queer creativity, aesthetic and sensual talents, feel inter-connected. A feast is a convivial enactment of ritual - and as in old tribal times, it involves all the arts, crafts, costumes, masks, drag, roleplaying and of course storytelling. The stories connect us with past and ancestors, in the timeline of humand evolution and particularly queer history, the stories assemble facts of life in a way that offers meaning for the spirit and feeds the soul. Drag - a native queer trademark - within the context of ritual reaches beyond pure entertainment. Faeries welcome individual expressions without judgement, they don't focus on technicalities of performance, they applaud unconditionally human uniquness.

What better way to celebrate life than through love and its physical expression - sex? Faerie gatherings are not orgies though. Faeries are sex-positive and generally accept the many ways it can happen - public and private, in couples and groups, tender and rough, clean or dirty, classical or fetishist. They explore beyond monogamy, they consensually explore beyond personal inhibitions - without others judging it. However, contrary to gay mainstream, they also explore the vastness of realm of intimacy, the non-sexual ways to be together, they support inter-generational exchange. All this with strong emphasis on voluntary consent.

We celebrate our completness as the beings. An expression of non-sectarian attitude it that fearies are not just all-sunshine commune with artificial smiles. Individuals are welcome in their genuine truth, wih all the palette of emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, disgust, withdrawal, distrust, anxiety, depression, loneliness in group. There is ample opportunity to express them, hold them, not to be ashamed of them, but also detach from them or let them go. People often get in touch with traumas, open old wounds, tresspass what they considered blocks, obstacles or borders.

Faerie spells and keywords

Faerie elders remind us to preserve the spirit of non-judgementality. We try to see and hear the others in a way they are, in a way they present themselves, escaping other world's labels and roles and ridicule. Faeries try to accept those who were not accepted elsewhere, with they unique characteristics, abilities, skills - or lack of them. Instead of sneer, reproach or anger - faeries offer love.

Faeries do not impose hierarchy and structure, but also recognize the tyranny of structurelessness. Many of the communal events happen in circles. They allow all the individuals to be seen by everyone, they invoke equality of voices in the community, do not impose hierarchy or leader-followers dynamics. Circles cultivate patience, everyone gets his time to speak, no furious arguments, cross-exchanges, interruptions, hijacking group.

One of the most important and revered faerie rituals is a heart circle. It allows the individuals to express their feelings, without judgemeent, comments, interruptions, reactions, arguments, in a way and extent they find convenient and doable, favoring speaking from the heart and not mind, training the ability to listen from the heart, with a condition of confidentiality and not having to reopen the topic if one does not wish to. This ritual is enormously healing for individuals, it helps releasing tension withing the group dynamics, it creates trust and sense of interconnection - that allows for all the other events - rituals, shows, practical work, politics, organisation - to happen on completely different level of quality. Heart space than means how we are together, how we relate to each-other, how we talk, how we touch, how we accept and appreciate each-other's presence.

The presence is an underestimated but often mentioned term itself. It refers to lifting ones head from technologies and noticing the surrounding world. Not consuming but experiencing and creating. I am right here, right now. Rather than escaping to virtual and substance-induced alternate worlds we acknowledge the presence of each-other. For some, it may mean to grant onself a time without substances, feeling the unfiltered reality touching us.

One of the most challenging ideas that faerie founders have come up with is a subject-subject relationships. Raised in heteronormative society, we copy its patterns, we take them as givens, we form relationships with purpose. To be with you in order to ... have company, not to be alone, improve my social status, get approval from peers and family, have someone to pay off mortgage, have help with kids, support in old age, someone to rely on. The other one serves a purpose, in lesser or larger extent becomes an object used to reach an aim. Subject-object relationships are the norms of mainstream/straight society and feel almost natural. Faeries challenge the grip of the habit and ask, if we can treat our friends, partners, lovers - as equal subjects?

All this and many other best practices often allow a strange kind of symbiosis, synergy or even synchronicity to happen. Fullfilling each-other's wishes even without wording them. Faeries like to call this magic.