Thursday 5 November 2020

Ayahuasca told me to shut the f*ck up!

A few years ago I participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony. 

Physically this involved being together with an intentional ceremonial group over the course of many hours throughout the night and imbibing an entheogenic concoction of the DMT containing leaves of a very particular shrub and the MAO inhibitor containing roots of a very specific vine. 

Spiritually and psychologically it required an openness to the possibility that this so-called Grandmother Medicine- used over millennia by the indigenous peoples of South and Central America- might offer me some kind of healing communication from the world of plant intelligence.

The following day I was a profoundly changed human being!

The experience had been a surprisingly physical and pleasurable one. 

For hours on end my gut, heart and throat areas had undulated in gentle, rhythmical, sub-orgasmic pulsations causing me to chuckle and groan with a gleeful ecstasy. Visually I had been presented with kaleidoscopically morphing fractal imagery of cathedral columns ornate archways, gargoyles, rainforest branches and lush leafy undergrowth.

And whilst this rollercoaster intensity of sensations was buffeting me I was struck by how long-lived the plant-life has been on our planet, compared with the relatively newcomer mammalian life-form with it's less experienced, arrogant, language-based intelligence. I was in awe of this opportunity to commune in a non-linguistic way with an ancient intelligence. An intelligence which had accompanied me throughout my life but to which I had hitherto been blind and deaf.

Within a number of spiritual/ Faerie communities there is the oft repeated axiom:

'Separation is simply an illusion. In truth we are all one'

Well, as I was being battered, shaken-and pleasured even- by Grandmama, the awareness descended on me that for the vast majority of my life I had focussed on firstly learning but then (from my 20s onwards) fastidiously teaching what I'd learned. As a young medic the career mantra back in the 80s was: 'See one. Do one. Teach one’ . I subsequently became a practitioner and teacher of listening and counselling skills and then a junior doctor trainer and ultimately a senior doctor appraiser.

During the course of my profound and extreme Ayahuasca encounter, I witnessed myself attempting to register and remember what was happening so I'd be able to pass it all on....

And so what was the big message transmission from the world of plant-life? It was this:

"If you truly believe that 'We are all one' then you can set aside this teaching/preaching fetish you have cultivated over the years. 

The extent to which you have the impulse to transmit verbally what you have learned is the extent to which you doubt the reality that is:


Know instead that knowing is enough. 

Stop all your thinking, talking and teaching. 

It's time for you to FEEL your feelings 

And for you to simply BE your joyful self. 

That should be enough!"

So at the tender age of 60 it’s probably high time for Gay Socrates to shut up and sign off- it’s been a total blast!

Monday 31 August 2020

Radical Faerie Gatherings: The Cultivation of Queerness

Radical Faeries have been gathering together and creating transient pop-up queer community for more than 40 years-ever since the very first call to gather in early September 1979. 

These pre-Covid19 Gatherings (which until recently had become a regular global phenomenon) would often be held on the occasion of pagan earth-appreciating festivals as a way of tuning into natural seasonal rhythms. Some Faeries might say that the fundamental purpose of these gatherings was to enable an energy (which could be named as 'The Queer') to heal itself from the destructive attacks of those who felt threatened by it and who, for many and varied reasons, would wish to establish themselves as 'Non-Queer'

By creating community-encouraging-of-Queerness, Faeries have been able to develop their consciousness around power dynamics and the mechanisms of persecution, seeing their positioning and roles in the complex intersectionality of oppression as it manifests in the various -isms (sexism/misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism). And to also appreciate the potential world-healing value of this natural-Faerie-propensity to engage in this particular kind of work!

I've been attending gatherings for over 10 years now, and during this time I've been able to acknowledge the homophobic inflicted pain and suffering I've had to endure as a same-sex-loving Human Being. However I also see that this horribleness of experience is just a 'drop in the ocean' of what it might have been had I not been identifiable as a member of the most privileged classes (i.e. white, educated, middle class, cis-seeming-male, and able-bodied/ able-minded).

This realisation hasn't made my own pain and suffering any less and it hasn't meant I've been able to avoid a whole lot of work to understand its far reaching effects on my personality (particularly the extent to which I'm hampered in my ability to engage in intimacy with others).

But I'm now tuned into the way homophobia is just one facet of the many-faced invisible oppressive forces constantly directed towards women, towards the undereducated, towards the non-white, towards the colonised, towards the differently abled and towards my dear queer trans siblings.

It's interesting to see how, within our various Faerie communities, once the intention of creating a queer-nurturing environment and ethos is set, the forces which seem to oppose this intention begin to assemble. The microcosm begins to manifest elements of those oppressive forces from the macrocosm. Shock! Horror! A group of predominantly able-middle-class-cis-white-gay-men unintentionally/unthinkingly behave in ways which are uncomfortable for women, non-white, poor, disabled, trans etc. folk!

Thankfully Faerie Gatherings are becoming increasingly more inclusive and this has meant more work to do in understanding our relative privileges and the ways in which these might be contributing to the ongoing oppression of others, or alternatively, how they might be engaged with constructively to raise awareness and to work towards the redressing of unfairnesses and inequities.

Monday 29 June 2020

The Story of an Oppressed Gay Child Who Abolished Their Feminine for Over 40 Years

Nascent sexuality and its ‘correction’….

When I was a child I hung out a lot with my sister. I liked the company of girls. Boys were strange aggressive creatures who obsessed over cars and football. Together with my sister and her friends I found men to be mysteriously attractive. 

The boys no doubt saw me as a lisping sissy who played with the girls, cried easily, danced, skipped, skated, couldn't kick a football and threw like a girl!

In primary school all the boys wore shorts and one day a sexually precocious girl taught us how to play a secret game called ‘nervous’ which started with the girls touching the boys on the inside of the knee and then slowly inching it up their inner thighs asking all the time ‘Are you nervous yet?’ The boldest among us would allow the finger to pass under the hem of our shorts, pass inside our underpants, move onto our scrotum and then finally allow a whole hand to grasp our little prepubescent willies. It felt amaaazing! I quickly adapted the game so I could play it with my classmate Michael, under the desk during maths lessons, and with my friend Benny, in the shallow end of the swimming pool.

My dad was a Scout leader and this meant, as a family, we’d go on camping holidays with scores of horny adolescent lads. I remember, at the tender age of 9 being adopted by Kestrel patrol - a gang of 7 teenagers who, upon realising I didn't actually know the answer to the question ‘Do you know how you were born?’ took it upon themselves to educate me into all the elaborate ins and outs of sex as they understood it. This included stories of boys wanking behind their desk at the back of the classroom and being able to ejaculate ‘spunk’ more than six desks in front of them. Someone they knew had been born as a result of ruptured Durex or ‘Johnny Bag’ which was known as ‘Being born on a bursted Johnny’. There was also talk of ‘Homos’ and ‘Lesbos’ and a clear message that none of this was acceptable. Nevertheless all this talk from man-boys with deep voices, prominent Adams apples, hairy armpits and athletic physiques firmly cemented my erotic curiosity in the direction of male secondary sexual characteristics and made it all a deliciously irresistible forbidden bowl of fruit.

As I hit my teens the boys in secondary school started to violently police the behaviour of the boys they identified as different. This involved constant name calling, pushing, shoving, kicking and shaming. Making sure they knew they had been clocked and excluded from the possibility of any sort of social connection.

Once this started my preservation instinct kicked in and I rapidly learned to perform the correct code of conduct. Not backing down from a fight instigated by the accusation of being 'a puff’ saved me from closer scrutiny. Then, to further develop my laddish credentials I would hang out with the smokers by the bike sheds pretending to be interested in their sex talk of  fondling, fingering and shagging. I even started dating girls with the sole purpose of making conquests I could subsequently brag about. 

There were some boys who were very gentle and softly spoken. They seemed unwilling or unable to behave in acceptably masculine ways. They were mercilessly punished on a daily basis. I didn't bully them myself but watched on as it happened, fearing that defending them would blow my cover and I'd end up having to suffer the same fate.

Nascent gender performativity and its ‘correction’…

In 1960, the working class world I was born into knew nothing beyond a very strictly policed gender binary. I had a penis so I was a boy-simples! But I was a girly boy. I wished I could be a mother and become a housewife. It made me sad that this option wasn’t open to me. I envied girls and their ability to attract sexy men. I wanted to wear makeup and once dusted my face with some foundation powder from a discarded compact of my mothers. My dad noticed immediately “Wash that muck off your face!’ A few months later I patted a bit of talcum powder on my cheeks then forgot about it. Again my dad spotted it and with disgust said ‘What have you done to your face? Wash it off and don’t let me ever see you do that kind of thing again!”

So I was efficiently detected as a potential gender transgressor and rapidly knocked back into line. I quickly learned that some of my speech patterns, mannerisms and gestures could be identified by others as ‘girly’ and were therefore potentially dangerous signifiers of differentness. I felt this girlishness was somehow related to my secret attraction towards men and so for the sake of my social survival it needed to be eradicated from how I presented myself to the world.

Thus began the extended performance of a macho-ish false self. The voice had to be lower and gruff with no squeals or screeches. Hands had to be anchored in pockets. The walk became a cocky lolling swagger with a man-spreading gait suggestive of a need to avoid scissoring an imaginary pair of big balls between upper thighs. I was pretty convincing to the point that I almost believed it myself! Even beyond the age of 20 when I came out as gay, the straight-acting-ness was firmly ingrained and would remain so until met the Faeries.

Then, at the age of 49 I put on a wig, a dress and some make-up. It was such a transformation that no-one seemed to recognise me. A part of me that had been frozen began to thaw out. This presentation of me wasn’t seen by the Faeries as disgusting but was celebrated and appreciated. What a relief it was to no longer be policing myself, to be allowing free reign to any whim or style of being without fear of reprimand.

But then it got complicated, some of the presentations of my repressed femininity could seem like a caricature or a parody of womanly behaviour and thus I noticed a potential to cause offence to female and trans faeries. The enjoyment I experienced in allowing my cis-male programmed behaviours to recede led me to wonder about my gender identity. Sadly when I dared to consider that I might be trans*, the young trans Faeries shook their heads seeing me as too cis-seeming. 

So, now at the grand old age of 60 I know I’m not a conventional gay-cis-male. Within a cis/trans spectrum I tend to get pushed away from the trans end. And within a Gay/Bi/Straight spectrum I’m experientially fairly gay even though in my youth I did engage in faux-straight sexual activities.

There’s certainly something odd about my gender so I tend to describe it as ‘cissish’ and when it comes to pronouns, I do tend to be referred to as ‘he’ but generally I prefer to be seen in all my plurality as ‘they’! 

I reckon that the oppressive policing of my gender and sexuality has wounded me pretty deeply. I've had to work hard to find at least a degree of healing from all of this. 

I’m wondering if, for some who have experienced a similar kind of wounding, when it doesn't, for whatever reason, get fully processed can it kind of manifest itself as an ‘identification with the aggressor’ and does it then present itself as misogyny and transphobia?

I know that whenever I detect misogyny or transphobia directed towards others it presses on the memory of my own oppression and I feel a twinge of pain from those suffocating 40 years of self policing

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Faerie Tribes Within Tribes: The Recognition and Sacrifice of Privilege

The Faeries were started up around 40 years ago by white, middle class, cis gay men. They wouldn’t have seen themselves in these terms; what they knew was that:

a) as homosexuals, they were gravely persecuted, 
b) there was a gay civil rights movement pushing a conservative assimilationist agenda (i.e. we can earn equality if we just keep quiet and act straight) and 
c) there was a need for space where faggots could 'shed the ugly green frog skin of hetero-imitation’ and explore the true and natural purpose for their sissy selves.

Harry Hay, one of these cis-gay-men, had been pushing for gay men to be seen as a human rights minority, but the Mattachine Society (the first gay rights organisation which he himself had founded) expelled him because of his communist background. After his expulsion he spent time reflecting on what might be nature's reason for creating sissies and came across writings referring to the Native American 'Berdache' (later referred to as Two-Spirit). 

They were honoured members of many North American tribes. Combining male and female traits, they performed sacred ceremonies and passed on arts traditions. Harry's discovery of the Two-Spirit radically confirmed his view of gay people's role in the world. 

Harry Hay chose the word ‘faeries’ rather than ‘faggots’ to describe what gay men might be(come) because, he said, “faggots (as bunches of kindling- used to set fires under witches during the burning times) can be burned or broken in half over your knee, but faeries are magical, elusive and frustrating to the "straights" who can't pin them down”

Forty years on and many of us have a well developed awareness of the workings of patriarchal, classist, racist, ableist, and colonial, systems of oppression. I am a white, middle class-ish, cis-ish gay man and, as such, am aware that I sit at the most privileged end of the LGBTQIA+ acronym within my Faerie community. 

For gay men there is a tribal memory of our past oppressions, however these are nothing compared with the experience of those who are most oppressed by virtue of their positioning at the intersections of the so-called 'protected classes'.

So how do we all respond to the persisting inequalities and inequities experienced by our queer siblings? One response is to recoil from calls to check our privilege and (with an outrage akin to the weaponised ‘white tears’ of the fragile non-black privileged) maintain that since the Faeries were started by cis-men then the Faeries are for cis-men only and that non-cis-men are spoiling the fun of the party.

The alternative is to attempt the practice of radical inclusivity. To take the pains of past oppressions, transmute them into a determination to ally with the oppressed, and to address inequalities of access to our transformative Faerie-space. After all, in the cis-male gay struggle against straight oppression haven’t there been privileged allies who were kind enough to have done the same for us?

Saturday 29 February 2020

My Qu-heroes

What is this process of Gay Iconic veneration? 

Looking back on the iconography of my earlier life, (Kenneth Williams, Quentin Crisp, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Freddy Mercury, Will Young), I see how, with each figure, I managed to create an image-construct. Its value, for me, being that of knowing there was a story of a real person, like my own queer struggling self, who was capable of transcending adversity (or if not, was at least enduring its suffering in a truly fabulous way!) These Gay Icons gave me the courage to come out of my closet. They were individuals who dared to express their forbidden amazingness and desires shamelessly.

More recently however, I’ve had little spells of hero worship for gay men who are remembered for their role as visionaries, political activists and fighters for queer social justice. Here are my top 3…

Walt Whitman: 19th Century American poet who dared to openly publish poems about “the manly love of comrades” at a time when celebrating a reality which included sex would have him branded as an obscene writer throughout his lifetime. His poetry strongly influenced…

Edward Carpenter: Early 20th Century British writer and socialist poet who became a hero to the first generation of Labour politicians. At a time of Victorian homophobia (his contemporary Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for 2 years with hard labour for the crime of “gross indecency with sodomy”) he managed to live in an openly gay relationship and publish books allowing folk to discuss the possibility that sexual orientation was natural and biologically determined rather than being something to be morally condemned or criminalised. His books were read by…

Harry Hay: (1912-2002) American communist who was able to see the link between queer and black oppression and had the vision and courage to establish the first, pre-Stonewall gay rights movement called the Mattachine Society. Doing this meant risking his life, his job and his liberty. 
The Society became a victim of its own success, got a sudden influx of conservative members who saw Hay’s communism, at a time of McCarthy’s witch-hunt trials, as a liability, ousted him and established itself as an assimilationist lobby. 

Undaunted Hay then went on to argue for a different kind of liberation. For queers to ‘cast off the ugly frog-skin of hetero-conformity’ and for them to discover their queer purpose through the realisation of their true faerie nature in community at Faerie Gatherings.

I suppose I’ve been following Harry’s lead in this respect for the past 10 years or so. For me he’s not so much an Icon or Hero-to-worship. In fact the more I’ve learned about his egocentricity, intellectual bullying, and temper tantrums, the less I feel I would have liked him as a person!

He’s more of a flawed fore-father-figure…a guiding queer ancestor…a giant who stood on giant’s shoulders. 

His own shoulders now invite us all to step up and see the amazing view!

Thursday 9 January 2020

Cultural Heritage Transmissions (...and Emissions)

As a child Didier Eribon knew that he felt different. Growing up in a socially deprived suburbs of a French town riven with racism, misogyny, toxic masculinity, domestic violence and homophobia all he wanted, was to escape. 

As he hit adolescence he became increasingly aware of the constant shame that the insult 'Faggot' evoked. He realised that, for him, ‘this dizzying word, arising from the depths of time immemorial’, and words like them, represented the dreadful presentment that such words, and the violence they carry, would accompany him for the rest of his days.

He realised that this stigmatised identity preceded him and he would have to step into it and embody it. He would need to somehow deal with it in one way or another. He would have to find some way out in order to avoid suffocating.

With the charm of his gay youthfulness he entered the cruising scene of his town. Men wanting sex with men would hangout around the Public Toilets near the Theatre in the centre of town. And little by little, at great personal physical, and emotional risk to himself, through a process of repeated sexual emissions and co-incidental social cultural transmissions, he gradually began to assimilate a sense of how to be a young gay man in a small-town-world hostile to his existence.

He was a bright kid and began to dream that, by some miracle, if he were to study hard and read lots of books, he might somehow become an intellectual living in the big city where he would be free to live an open life as a gay man.

His extensive reading of communist tracts, Sartre, Gide, Foucault and Simon de Beauvoir would provide the stepping stones towards an intellectual existence which would ultimately lead to a position as a world renowned academic sociologist, journalist, and author. However, those thousands of informal initiatory gay discussions and discoveries in queer space and time, became the medium through which a cultural heritage was transmitted to him. One which would ultimately allow him to thrive.

In Paris his intellectual friends and colleagues were not wholly welcoming of his sexuality and he began to understand what characterised a queer life, for him, was both the capability and necessity of moving regularly back and forth between spaces- from ‘normal’ to ‘abnormal’ and back again. What was most shocking to him however, was the extent to which, having left behind his working class background and having entered the bourgeois world of academia, the shame he had been made to feel for his sexuality was substituted for a deep shame of his background of poverty and deprivation.

He would later read 'What is important is not what people make of us, but what we ourselves make of what they have made of us'

So let's keep talking and socialising and having sex- giving ourselves the queer space to fabulously re-make ourselves from what they have made of us!

Sunday 3 November 2019

Full Spectrum Faerie Sex Magick

The Faeries are a fairly diverse bunch of queers.

However, in the early days, 40 years or so ago, at the very first gatherings of Faeries, the vast majority of attendees were gay men who were drawn to the idea of meeting together as faggots in nature to celebrate their sissy selves and explore their spiritual consciousness, asking the questions: 'Who are we, where are going, and what are we for?'

From the exploration of these questions, (and from a growing awareness that, although a lot of gay men seemed to be having a lot of sex, they were often craving an intimacy with each other which seemed forever-out-of-reach), there emerged an intensive workshop aimed at helping those who felt the call, to delve into the personal and interpersonal reasons for the many obstacles to intimacy encountered by gay men. These healing workshops, facilitated by volunteer Faeries, for the benefit of Faeries, have been running for the past 30 years and are known as Faerie Sex Magick (FSM) Workshops.

These days Faerie-space is now a much more diverse and inclusive network where those from across the full range of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum are invited to enrich the exploration in community of the questions: 'How does it feel when a) I dare to stand in the full power of my sexual orientation b) the expression of my gender identity is not only unrestrained but is completely appreciated and celebrated?'

Until now the FSM workshops have been confined to fagot identified men. The logic for this being that there is a real kind of hurt experienced by faggots growing up in a homophobic social environment, and that faggots are best able to develop an understanding of this. Fags are uniquely able to sooth and heal each other's wounds around blocks to intimacy related to this kind of trauma.

However in recent years trans* men have been invited to attend the workshop and during this time there has also been a growing momentum of enthusiasm to have FSM workshop participants reflecting the full diversity of identities and sexualities present at modern Faerie Gatherings.

So very soon there will be the pilot of a workshop which will be open to the full spectrum of queer sexualities and genders. What will happen when a fully inclusive group sits in heart circle to explore the obstacles to emotional and physical intimacy that exist between them? 

The intention of the heart circling within the traditional workshop is to reach a state of community trust to the extent that co-created rituals, involving permitted group erotic touch, are able to be devised and consensually enacted.

How might this look between individuals not accustomed to considering erotic touch with genders and sexualities beyond their habitual erotic arousal patterns?

Nobody knows but it’s the beginning of a radical adventure into a better understanding of how faerie queers, with a range of sexuality and gender expression, might more freely express the erotic together in community…

Watch this space!

Heart Circling for Mental Health

I used to be a Psychiatrist. Yes- I spent most of my adult life studying and helping to alleviate the pain and distress of major mental illness. Now in the 5th year of my retirement I find myself writing a column on the subject for an LGBT+ community listings magazine. So what to say?

20 odd years ago, when I first arrived in Brighton, excited by the prospect of living and working in our very own fabulous Gay-playground-by-the-sea, and keen to make lots of new friends and acquaintances, it was this very GScene magazine I turned to as a resource. Maybe, I thought, I could find a group of like minded free-thinking queer folk I'd be able to join forces with to change the world and make it a better place- I was in my late 30s so the naïvety and idealism of my 20s were still very much a part of my world outlook! 

Scanning the community self help resources, all I could find were groups to support those who were HIV+, those who were drug and alcohol addicted, in physically abusive relationships, etc, etc. 

Sadly I found myself, as an adjusted, though not well adjusted homosexual, not quite unadjusted enough to qualify for entry to the available supportive peer groups on offer…

So I joined in with the throngs of  pubbers and clubbers, made some friends via the Rainbow Chorus and gradually became disenchanted with the idea that my sexuality could possibly constitute the basis of some form of common denominator for my social networks.

I realise now that I was searching for others who recognised that their early developmental experiences of being an unsupported queer in a hostile world had left us all with a malaise, a wounded-ness, to which we had uncomfortably adjusted and which had left us limping along to a greater or lesser extent. 

We weren't mentally ill yet, but our wounds opened us up to a greater chance of developing addictions and mental health problems when exposed to the standard stresses and strains of daily living.

Thankfully, after years of searching, I stumbled across the Faeries who celebrate and endeavour to heal our very own brand of wounded-ness through the creation of pop-up, time limited, residential intentional communities (or Faerie Gatherings), where radical inclusivity, compassion, and self-acceptance can be practiced in varying degrees of safety.

Central to these practices is the Heart Circle. What happens when you are given the space to articulate what you are feeling whilst engaged in queer community building. Sitting in circle with 15-20 pairs of ears, listening, without judgement, and without fear of interruption, as you hold a talisman, speak with radical honesty, locating and bearing witness to your authentic, unedited self…

I've been attending Faerie Heart Circles for over 10 years now, and although I wouldn't quite say that I'm now ‘fully adjusted’, I'm certainly majorly less unadjusted than I was before. Faeries call it casting off the ugly frog skin of hetero-conformity. 

It's a great feeling!

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!