Sunday, 23 June 2019

Is “Fitting In” Making You Sick?

The Brighton Faeries are officially marching in this year’s Pride Parade.
Yep- we booked ourselves a ‘walking float’ slot for up to 30 marching Faeries!
This is a controversial move because- as everyone knows- the Faeries are very elusive creatures. You might catch a glimpse of one and then, Pouff, gone, never to be seen again…

The Faerie ‘development of consciousness’ grew from the U.S. counterculture and gay civil rights movements of the late 60’s. Within 10 years of the Stonewall riots, a call went out to convene “gay brothers” to a Spiritual Conference of Radical Faeries. Those interested in ‘re-establishing a communication with Nature and the Great Mother and, in feeling the essential link between sex and the forces that hold the universe together’ were invited to come together (kinda literally) for a long weekend in early September 1979.

Since then Queer Folk from across the spectra of gender and sexuality have been hearing the call to convene in Nature and to celebrate the awesome naturalness of their sexual and gender queerness.

Faerie Gatherings are about queers co-creating foundational intentional community- nurturing and celebrating our ancient historical roles as medicine people, healers, prophets, shamans, witches and sorcerers. We encourage ourselves to engage with that endless and fathomless process of coming out as Queer, as animals, as humans AND as mysterious and powerful spirits that move through the life cycle of the cosmos…

The tradition of Faerie-ness has been counter to the cultural pressure from the mainstream to assimilate; to resist the lure of acceptance ‘as long as you can just stop being THAT WAY’. Faeries drill down into what it feels like (and what it means) to be ‘THAT WAY’. As Faeries we endeavour to be more ‘THAT WAY’ than ever we were before!

Faerie-ness resists ‘fitting in’. It proudly and queerly presents itself as a challenge to the status quo; as an opportunity to bring to consciousness those forces which endeavour to obliterate different-ness.

So, what are the Faeries doing in a Pride Parade with its corporate drive to have the queers put on a show, draw the crowds and bring millions in capital to boost the Brighton business economy. The irony of a non-political parade celebrating 50 years of queer civil rights activism would be funny if it weren’t so creepy.

Well, Faerie-ness has been a little known and barely recognised force empowering queers, over the years to refuse to fit into an inauthenticity-glorifying world.

If you’re reading this before the Parade, look out for us. We’ll simply be turning up in all our non-corporate weird uniqueness and representing that awkward voice asking: 'Is this all there is?’

If any of all this chimes with you then find the Faerie Camp @ Queer Spirit Summer Festival in Northamptonshire August 14-18 or just google Albion Faeries and see what its like to co-create spiritually nurturing community together at a Gathering.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Can the Haters be a Source of Joy?

When I was a tiny baby, I was on an emotional roller-coaster. Swinging from the lows of despair and abandonment when I was hungry, lonely or uncomfortable to the highs of euphoria and joy when I was nourished, soothed and comforted.

I don’t remember any of this intellectually, yet it happened! And it set the foundations for a deeply ingrained fundamental emotional binary of ‘GOOD-AND-BAD’ which then conveniently mapped onto a simplistic set of value systems for ‘GOOD-AND-EVIL', ‘ACCEPTABLE-AND-UNACCEPTABLE', and ‘US-AND-THEM’.

However, being queer gave me the uncomfortable and challenging vantage-point to call into question this socially accepted style of value-construction. I was forced, by virtue of my nature, to resolve the conflict of finding myself (in the eyes of family, friends, school and church) most definitely on the ‘wrong’ side of these binaries.

So began the journey of moving from a position of self-loathing and fear of rejection, through a stage of desperately seeking approval, towards a position of self-compassion and then ultimately finding compassion for those with values different from mine. Only then was I able to fully see the immaturity and corrosiveness of using ‘othering’ as a ploy to gain social power

Through the grace of my queerness, the complexity of my consciousness was enriched.

I used to feel that my personal quest for social justice was possibly creating a current of favourable opinion towards the idea that diversity and inclusiveness were worthwhile pursuits in the development of a healthier and happier world. Today, though, I feel caught in the eddy currents of a tidal shift.

The hearts and minds of those not fortunate enough to have been exposed to challenge the ‘GOOD-BAD’ binary are being captivated and manipulated by Trump-like demagogues who play to those who wish for a less complex, more ‘black-and-white’ world-view. Folk who have felt subdued and shamed by what they have perceived as a stifling political correctness are now being offered bigoted role models and encouragements to ‘tell it as it is'. What’s wrong with a bit of misogyny, ablism, racism, homophobia, transphobia- after all it’s just the way most people feel!

Meanwhile the various social media exponentially multiply the distance between the ‘US’es and the ‘THEM’s confirming to each that they are RIGHT and the OTHERS are WRONG.

‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ is a catchy aphorism but if ‘thy neighbours’ are projecting an unconscious self-loathing onto you then they may be loving you- but only in that very special way they know how to!

So how to address the rising maelstrom of hate whipped up against minorities in our increasingly fragmented and disjointed world?

Just as I had to swallow the bitter pill of realising that, as a tiny baby, the source of all my loneliness and despair was, in fact, the very same mother who triggered my feelings of euphoria and joy, I’m exploring how best to engage with The Haters. How can they possibly be a source of euphoria and joy for me? And how can I possibly be a source of euphoria and joy for them?

It’s going to be a challenge!

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

“Please Don’t be Creepy!”

“Please Don’t be Creepy!”

This request, together with a profile pic of an attractive young man, was all there was to the Grindr profile... 

It got me thinking about all the things that I might say or do to others that could creep them out. 

The #MeToo campaign has highlighted the shocking extent of unacknowledged sexual abuse in the form of implicit casting couch imperatives for career advancement in the entertainment industry. There is also, now, an ever growing recognition of the high prevalence of workplace based sexual harassment in general. 

Since sexual creepiness has been an integrally endemic background feature of my culture, the chances are, I’ve got some blind spots and it therefore behoves me to examine the extent to which creepiness has crept into me!

With this in mind I took the question “How might I be creepy?” to a week-long Faerie retreat. One of the glorious aspects of Faerie community is its queer diversity in terms of shapes, sizes, ages, genders, races, and sexualities. So I began to explore, privileged as I am, with elder, white, middle class, apparently-cis-male, predominantly homophilic status, how that capital might possibly be being unconsciously exploited in the pursuit of my erotic interests.

Faeries often tend to be seekers from a broad set of spiritual backgrounds. Newcomers to Faerie-space are particularly vulnerable, often, having rejected a rejecting and sex-negative Abrahamic belief system- possibly exploring for the first time a more earth-based and sex-positive framework.

So here’s what I came up with after a week of enquiry and meditation…

  • The essence of creepiness is a mismatch between professed and actual intention. If I were to present myself as someone who is available to give help, advice, and guidance on how best to negotiate Faerie-space whilst secretly lusting after, and planning on the sexual conquest of a newfound ‘apostle’ then I’m being as creepy as a creepy fingered masseur who has offered the service of a massage but who is, instead, covertly taking sexual pleasure from the tactile sensation from his wandering hands!
  • Emotional authenticity with full transparency of intention is key to establishing creepy-free relationships.
  • When there exists some kind of power gradient across a relationship regarding e.g. youthfulness, attractiveness, maturity, experience, wealth, etc., I need to give voice to what is there, and explicitly acknowledge the real possibility that this differential of capital may be open to emotional or sexual exploitation.
  • Super-creepiness happens when sexual overtures are made and continue to be made in the absence of a receptive audience. It becomes abusive if it continues after it has been made clear that the sexual attention is unwanted.
  • Once intentions have been made clear, and the potential for abuse across power gradients has been explored then clarity of consent is paramount. “How would you like me to enter into intimacy with you? How would you like to enter into intimacy with me?” If these questions can be answered with clarity and if the answers can be honoured fully then we’re likely to have moved into a creepy-free zone!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

To Other or not to Other?: That is the Question!

A very creative performer friend of mine recently posted on Facebook just how much he HATED the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. And then a few days later in a different post, a disabled friend proclaimed how disappointed he was that he had finally sunk to a new low in that he had just had sex with a guy who wore Crocs (by the way that guy was me!). Both posts released a torrent of seemingly harmless, supportive hatred from friends and followers. All were in agreement that these subjects were quite legitimate targets for their light-hearted communal disapprobation. Who could get hurt? After all the RHCP are just a bunch of over rated, over-played recording artists! And aren't Croc wearers just seriously fashion challenged idiots? Right?

I wondered just how my sensitive, performer friend would have felt if someone had lanced a 'social media anger abscess' in his direction with the purulent exudate engulfing him and his vulnerable creative offerings. I certainly didn't feel unscathed by the wave of Croc-hatred unleashed by my disabled friend. I ended up pondering just how many times he might have had to endure the discomfort of witnessing 'harmless' disablist sentiments.

It seems like the public articulation of ‘dislikes’ is becoming something of an international pastime, opening up widening chasms between diametrically opposed echo chambers which themselves splinter and fragment!

Essentially, there’s a whole lot of ‘othering’ going on. 

Othering is the process of casting a person (or group) in the role of ‘the other’ and establishing one’s own identity through opposition to and, frequently vilification of this ‘other’

In my experience of facilitating Faerie Sex Magick Workshops, I have found it to be the single most common source of blocks between workshop participants, creating what, at times, seem to be insurmountable barriers to the potential that intimacy might be possible between certain individuals within the group. What’s magickal about the workshop, though, is that the other-ers are meeting together day after day in an emotionally intimate group setting where compassion and empathy has space to grow. And in this context the ‘other’ can be viewed as a potential source of learning; this ‘other’ can begin to be seen as a diverse and complex entity worthy of love and desire, even!

So how might this burgeoning social media-amplified other-ing compulsion be countered? 

First of all, to recognise that it is happening. Secondly to register when it is happening. And finally to decide NOT to define oneself through opposition to any individual or group.

It’s really up to you!

To Other:Verb transitive. The act of holding intransigent exclusionary values as a means of creating blocks which become insurmountable barriers to the potential for an intimacy to develop between the 'othering' human being and 'othered' human being....

If another others you, well, it just feels like poo!
Other another: Judge the book by its cover...

Don't other that other-er!
One way or the other, that other-er's your brother-er

Could you make 'em your lover-er?
It's all down to you!

Btw: No Femmes! No Smokers! No H&H! No Twinks! No Partnered! No Tories! No Trump Supporters! No Brexiteers!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

In Quest of the Paternal Nurturing Phallus....

My dad was a physically and emotionally unavailable, aggressive bully who's patriarchal reign tolerated no male ego expression within its dominion other than his very own vicious brand of toxic masculinity!
Little surprise, then, that his sissy-faggot son would be irresistibly drawn to exist in a world where men might instead be gentle, loving and caring towards each other....
As soon as I was able to thrust myself away from his oppressive gravitational field, I was on a quest to find an affirming relationship with an older man. Could this, at last become, for me, a source of nurturing father-son intimacy?
At the tender age of 20, I finally summoned up the courage to acknowledge my queerness, which took the form of a brief relationship with Jimmy. He was an economist, in his 40s who was established in a proper job (a board member at British Rail). An out-and-out-gay-man, he also owned a gay bookshop and ran a support group for gay men who were too scared to come out of their closets- you can probably guess how we met!
His amazingly proportioned phallus launched me into a size-queen career on the glittery 1980s gay club scene in London where I was able to repetitively and compulsively (if only transiently) satisfy my craving for nurturing daddy masculinity by introjecting it- in the form of a regular helping of big fat dick!
It took me decades of repeating this compulsion to realise how ultimately emotionally unsustainable it felt. This pattern of behaviour was failing to meet my desire for real intimacy.
One day I read somewhere that the most successful and effective men consistently reported close and happy relationships with their fathers. Not having had this, I felt lacking, deficient and somehow irreparably broken. Then, in my 40s, as a counsellor, I learned that messy grief reactions were most likely to occur, not in those with fabulous relationships with their parents but rather, in individuals who had been in conflict with them.
It occurred to me that my tyrannical father had already messed me up once in his lifetime- I was buggered if he was going to mess me up again as a consequence of his death!
The question was, could I take my anger and resentment at his inadequacy as a nurturing man and apply some compassion instead?
Thankfully the answer was yes! In the ten years or so before he died, I was able to visit and revisit the complexity of why he was how he was and, eventually, found a way to forgive him. Now, at the grand age of 58, 4 years after his passing, I'm just starting to locate and dismantle my internalised misandry... to recognise that I've been uncomfortable with my own masculinity simply because I've always identified it with its ubiquitous toxic forms. So my latest self-improvement project is to celebrate my internal paternal nurturing phallus

Long and proudly may it stand erect!

Joyfully may it ejaculate its nourishing seed!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Giver or Receiver: Top Bottom or Versatile?

So what’s your preferred position in the giving and receiving game?

There is a time honoured principle in Faerie Community that No-one is Turned Away For Lack Of Funds (NOTAFLOF). Those who have easier access to financial resources are invited to give more than the break-even cost of events and those who don’t are invited to give less cash or none at all. This challenges the community to grapple with the dynamics of giving and receiving money.

It has caused me, personally, to reflect on how it is possible for giving and receiving- not just in terms of cash but in all energetic aspects-to settle into a balanced equilibrium and allow for harmonious inter-personal relationships within community.

In Faerie-space I have often received great pleasure from giving but there have been times when my giving has caused me to feel depleted and has not necessarily felt welcomed. As a recovering people pleaser and approval seeker I have struggled to be comfortable in the receiving position. I could also feel guilt or resentment that my giving was out of balance with my receiving. 

So I developed my own Faerie Acronyms GOAA-BAGS and ROAN-BARS. I determined to Give Only As Able-But Always Give Something and to Receive Only As Needed-But Always Receive Something. An effort to balance my giving and receiving on the basis of my ability to give and of my need to receive.

This was all fine and dandy until I came across the ‘Wheel of Consent', a model of consensual giving and receiving developed by Betty Martin. Within this model the concepts of giving and receiving are each partitioned into two modes and set within a framework of consent. 

Consensual giving can be both active and passive. When it’s active it is offering an accepted SERVICE and when it’s passive it is ALLOWING an agreed action of taking.

Similarly consensual receiving is active when it involves TAKING something that someone has allowed and it is passive when it is ACCEPTING an agreed offered service.

So, penetratively speaking, I can give by either offering the SERVICE of a thorough fucking (active), or by ALLOWING someone to take pleasure from fucking me (passive). I can receive by TAKING pleasure from being allowed to fuck (active) or by ACCEPTING the offered fucking (passive).

From all of this I have learned that even gifts need to be accepted or taken consensually. I have also become more conscious of my preferred modes within this framework. I can understand now why I’m happy to fuck as a service and to allow a fucking to happen to me (active and passive giving) whereas the taking pleasure from fucking someone or the acceptance of a good servicing (without fretting about the comfort of the servicer) -active and passive receiving- are still areas of growth and exploration for me….

Tough work, I know, but somebody’s got to do it!

Thursday, 3 May 2018


A friend just recently back from a meditation retreat in India was reflecting with me on the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything….
We got to talking about death and suffering and the extent to which the unarticulated fear of death and chronic, painful terminal illness can loom over us, limiting how we might live our lives in the fullest possible way.
My friend asked me ‘Do you believe that all that you are disappears when you die?’
My answer: ’I don’t know-nobody knows!’
That, for me is what makes it such an interesting journey to be on. It’s a journey I’ve been on from the moment my germinal ovum kissed one microscopically small tadpole of a sperm cell. Death and dying are the YIN to the YANG of life and living.

I told my friend I was ready for death. Cultivating a fascination for my creeping decrepitude and decay was becoming my Next Big Project. He wondered how I had reached this contented level of equanimity towards a subject that most are programmed to avoid like the plague.
On reflection it’s probably something to do with how I have come to feel about the questions ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What happens to ‘who I am’ in death?’

So who am I? Apart from being a big old queer!

My presence is indisputably in existence on a number of parallel levels:

The scientist/materialist would say I am the sum total of all the atoms and molecules which make up the compounds, water, salts, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, cell walls and DNA of my body and all the electrostatic and electromagnetic forces around and between them. In death every atom of this aspect of my presence is available for re-purposing elsewhere: Stardust to Stardust!
The zoologist would say that I am a mammalian creature who has a survival instinct; hardwired to breathe, keep warm, drink, piss, eat, shit and f*ck.
The magician would say that I am a magickal creature, invested with my very own sovereign power to purposefully manifest. To energise thoughts and ideas, to authentically articulate and express emotions and to cultivate nature in all its aspects.
As a Faerie, my presence is about acknowledging the full spectrum of my emotional life and giving this permission to take up space. I’m acknowledging my fears and developing a fierceness in my determination to become who I am purposed to be. Feeling relief as I connect to nature. Allowing myself to feel anger, awe, joy, love compassion and intuition.
As a thinker, I have a presence which shows up as my thoughts, ideas, values and beliefs. Some believe this presence is who they are!

I’m certain that all of these aspects of who I am will have an impact beyond the date of my death. Just as the presences of all my queer ancestors have impacted on my own sense of purpose.

Beyond this, who knows what lives on. Soul? Nature Spirit? …..Back to the Garden?

I’ll know when it happens!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Hope Along the Wind: A Film About the Sussex Man who Started Two Queer Revolutions in the USA!

Gay Socrates talks to Harry Hay's friend and carer Joey Cain about Hay, the man, and the movie made about his life, coming to the Brighton Fringe next month.
Harry Hay (1912-2002) was born in Worthing. As an adult he became a gay activist in the US and founded the first Gay Liberation movement (The Mattachine Society) in 1950. He then went on to co-found the Radical Faeries.
'Hope Along the Wind...' is a lovely movie which sets this unlikely story in its historic context and captures rare interview footage of this iconic character in his later years.

Joey Cain knew Harry in person and was one of the devoted band of 'Loving Companions' who tended to the care of Harry and his partner in their closing years. For the 100th anniversary of Harry’s birth in 2012, he curated a major exhibition about his life and times in San Francisco and co-organized a conference about Harry in New York City.
Joey is flying from his home in San Francisco to present a screening of this movie as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival next month. 

GS: Who was Harry Hay to you?
JC: Harry was a dear friend, political comrade and gay visionary the likes of which we probably won’t see again. Without his tenacity, deep thinking and integrity, the LGBT revolution, at least as far as the USA goes, would have been a much longer time coming. He traversed many worlds, as Gay people often do.
A Communist activist and great music lover who was a trained baritone, he read long and deep in history and anthropology to find the hidden history of our People.
GS: Why are you bringing Harry Hay's story to the Brighton Fringe?
JC: Harry was born in Worthing, his birth house still stands, and we thought it would be a lovely idea to “bring Harry back” to this part of England, where he started out. This whole area is so rich in Queer history what with Edward Carpenter being born in Brighton, Oscar Wilde writing “The Importance of being Ernest” practically around the corner from where Harry was born. And that’s just scratching the surface.
GS: Why do you think conceiving of the Radical Faeries was important to Harry?
JC: Harry always said that the Radical Fairies was the realization of the dream he had when he started The Mattachine Society in 1950. The essence lies in the 3 questions he posed to be answered by both groups: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? For Harry, the Fairies were about answering those questions and acting on the answers.

'Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay' is showing at the Fabrica Gallery, Tuesday May 8 7.30pm 


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Radical Faeries: Why Are We Here?

There are times in the history of our humanity when, suddenly, unexpectedly, and dramatically, human consciousness shifts. When this happens, historians are usually curious about how these changes came about. Who did what to whom, and when?
The development of an LGBTQI+ liberation movement is one such event. We all know there was a time, back in the dark ages, when queerness didn’t even seem to have a consciousness of itself. And then there was a time when queers were vilified and persecuted- even killed and eugenicised. And then came the time when one queer said ‘No!”

There is a scientifically recognised phenomenon known as ‘morphic resonance’ (discovered by biologist Professor Rupert Sheldrake) whereby, a puzzle or dilemma solved by one living creature is immediately more likely, and more rapidly, to be solved by another, regardless of geographical proximity. Maybe it is by this little understood process that historic shifts of consciousness occur. However, in terms of queer liberation, there must have been that moment when, not only did one particular queer say “No! This is not acceptable” but then went on to say “And this is how we’ll go about changing it...”

It is quite possible that the name of that queer was Harry Hay. He was one of the founders of the first gay liberation movement organisations in the U.S.- the Mattachine Society. The story of how that small group brought hope and then ultimately tangible human rights equality to a growing number of nations across the world is told in a short, gripping movie biopic ‘Hope Along the Wind’ coming to the Brighton Fringe Festival in May.

Interestingly, Harry Hay’s involvement at the inception of the LGBTQI+ liberation movement was not the end of the story. After the movement’s historic successful legal challenge of a cottaging charge, the movement was flooded with ‘assimilationists’ (who believed ‘we’re just like straights apart from our sexualities’). He stepped away from the movement believing steadfastly that having sexualities was one of the few things that queers did have in common with the mainstream. He believed that queerness gave us a unique window through which we are able to view society and that we then favourably influence society through our own individual cultural engagements.
He threw himself into research constantly asking his famous three questions:  “Who are we?’ , ‘Where do we come from?’ and ‘Why are we here?’

Following his discovery of a resonance with the Native American identity of Berdache or ‘Two Spirit’, he began to see queers as a tribe of magical spiritual creatures with a unique role to play in the development of human consciousness. 

As Faeries, we locate our own unique purpose by celebrating our wild and mysterious natures together in community......

‘Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay’ is showing at the Fabrica Gallery, 40 Duke Street, BN11AG 

TUESDAY May8 at 7.30pm. Tickets £8 & £6: 

Come along and say hello to the Brighton Faeries!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Epiphany as Magical Radical Politico-Spiritual Direct Action

I’ve had a few major Epiphanies during my life so far.

That dawning realisation at a time of crisis. The seeing of the truth of something unproven. That sudden recognition of purpose…

There’s always a numinous sense of ‘Higher Power’. An alliance of self with ethereal.

My first Epiphany was when I could see no other way than to be true to myself and my sexuality when I (finally) came out at the age of 20. I was depressed, hopeless and in despair at the time, and, 'coming out' was this profoundly religious resolution for what had become a totally fucked up unhappy life. And thus was created a reality receptive to my starved appetite for sexual encounters with men.

Subsequently, taking ‘coming-out’ to it’s logical political conclusion I became one of the Stonewall supporters pushing for assimilation (accept us please because we’re just the same as you apart from our sexuality) and basic equality rights. At the time I never imagined that there would ever be rights for LGBTQ+ers to adopt children or to marry in my lifetime. The very fact of this immense socio-political shift in the course of just a few years, for me, is testament to the existence of Magick: the art of changing consciousness at will by the setting of intention (against all odds!)

I’ve had other sizeable Epiphanies but my most recent one- around 10 years ago- happened after I had cornered myself into a heteronormative assimilationist lifestyle. Ostensibly monogamous and middle class, locked into a busy professional career, partnered to a lover who had become asexual and was suffering from chronic fatigue. I was thoroughly miserable! Once again the Epiphany came to the rescue. 

Thankfully my openness to that leap of imagination, into something unestablished, unproven, messy and chaotic- my spirituality- allowed The Faerie Tribe to enter into my life and in this way I entered into the Faerie Tribe.

On reflection, whenever the chips have been down and there has been nowhere else to turn, suddenly from out of the blue comes this unfolding of what hadn’t been there before: the offering of a future “Warp” to what is seemingly the meaningless ‘Weft’ of my life until now. And there it is again: the glimmering promise of future purpose!

As an Intersectional Radical Faerie I’m beginning to realise that my queer politico-spiritual purpose is to remain as open as I can be to this very act of Epiphanizing: to keep re-imagining an inclusive future. It isn’t present just yet, but it will become that future allowing our uniquenesses to keep eroding at the intersectionalities of heterosexism, gender binary-ism, ageism, classism, racism and ableism.

Faeries can find the ways for our diverse tribe to keep growing, flourishing and thriving together in harmonious and mutually supportive ways! So Mote It Be!