all content © Albert J. Winn 2013

The Radical Faeries

The Radical Faeries are one of the many outgrowths of the divergent lifestyles of the 1960's and '70's. They are closely related to the civil rights, freedom and self expression, and back to the land movements. A community of Gay men, the Faeries turn away from urban life and define themselves as descendents of an ancient heritage of pagan mythology and cross gender identity. Not to be confused with transsexuals or transvestites, Faeries could be more appropriately identified as pan-gender, using drag as a means to express the feminine aspects of their male gender, challenging traditional views of masculinity and homosexuality. Popularly this has sometimes been called 'gender fuck', and as such, drag is also used humorously and often with a camp sensibility. The Faeries gather at solstices and equinoxes in remote areas to mark the change in seasons, celebrate their sexuality and to partake in sacred rituals. Known as Gatherings, the often week long encampments are ephemeral communities established virtually overnight with cooking, eating, bathing and entertainment provided by the assembled group. Shrines of assorted talisman, sexual objects, and/or memorabilia are erected and the Gathering convenes at the Circle, where each member of the community is given an equal voice. Leaderless, and depending on volunteerism, the Faeries place great importance in not establishing a hierarchy in any circumstance. Faeries spend most of the time 'playing' and often use normally pejorative terms such as 'sissy' and 'fag' to describe themselves and others. At Gatherings, the men take on faerie or fantasy names and dress in a manner that portray roles connected to their sense of true inner self. The faeries challenge the notion that men, particularly Gay men, can only exist in competitive roles. They believe they are not only the purveyors of an archaic mythical tradition, but also enabling Gay men to reclaim their true identity.

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