What is a faerie?

This page is a work in progress! We are currently working to improve this page. So please take its contents with a grain of salt 🙂

We are part of the Radical Faerie tribe, a queer community of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes, races, and nationalities. We have no religion or dogma. But we are full of spirit. We are a conscious evolution of gay life. We refuse hierarchy and embrace consensus. We connect to life and each other through the blessings of nature. We are queer people exploring tribal life, sustainability, and harmony with nature.

The Faeries about themselves

The Faeries are both gay men, and men who prefer to use any other moniker that might describe them, as well as women who wish to be a part of the group, and people who choose not to be called men or women and beings who choose not to be called people. Faeries are organized as a group attempting to create community out of ritual and cooperation, except for faeries who are attempting to create community out of subversion of process and structure, as well as some faeries who wish to create chaos, often celebrating it, often not admitting it.
Many faeries are spiritual, lifting whole or part of their spirituality from any one of the world’s religions or spiritualities. Some make up their own. Some make a mix. Some react against spirituality and religion as it’s own evil, some find a spiritual path in reacting against spirituality.
Some Faeries just want to dress up in drag and perform in the woods, some want to dress up and not perform, some faeries want to dress up anywhere they can, some faeries don’t dress particularly different than they would in any other environment.
Some faeries combine their spirituality with sex, some don’t, some are part of the faeries just to get laid. Some resent that. some just want to drum by a campfire, and some want to camp far away from the drumming and get some sleep.
This is what faeries are, except for faeries for which none of this applies.

Constance Craving

I can’t tell you what a faerie really is, because we come in so many different variations and ideas. We are masculine and feminine… and all “heavenly” being in between – gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, no-gender… old, young, big, small…

Many of us come together to develop emotionally and spiritually, to share love and intimacy, to make friends for life, to work together and to finally be the way we really want to be.

To get there, we create a safe and trusted space that helps each of us open up and develop in community. Each one of us can contribute our creativity and participate in the rituals that fit our personalities.
We seek to strengthen our relationship to nature, sustainably and in harmony.

We share the common idea that the gay mainstream is not the only reality. We are not an organization – we are queer friends who are part of the worldwide “radical faerie” network and who call ourselves “Eurofaeries” in Europe.

Yes, those are my experiences.

an Austrian Faerie
we are queers of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes
of all races, nationalities, faiths
who connect to life and each other
through the blessings of nature
the power of the heart
through listening and sharing our stories
through our bodies and spirits
and through humour, drag, song, good food, drumming,
trance, massage, ritual, play, sensuality, spirituality and sexuality
we are queer people exploring tribal life, sustainability,
and harmony with nature
queer people finding non-judgmental cooperation
and discovering subject-SUBJECT consciousness
(Harry Hay, founding father of faeriedom said queer men were naturally likely to view others with empathy rather than as objects, separate and there to be used… read more on wikipedia)
we have no religious dogma
but we are full of spirit
we refuse hierarchy and embrace consensus
and our passionate about empowerment
faeries meet in cities, on beaches, in forests and on mountains
wherever we are we create community of the heart
we welcome all who wish to explore living and being this way.

For us, being faerie means:

  • Faerie energy, faerie spirit
  • Freedom, love and respect
  • Mutual appreciation
  • Having a family
  • Letting your heart do the talking
  • Physical, mental and emotional closeness
  • Living a new identity
  • Being connected with nature
  • The joy of creativity
  • being able to share our uniqueness with others
  • being a different species perceiving a different reality

Radical Faeries

(Lat. radix root, origin)

Like all fairies, they like the forest and water, the shine and the glitter. Fairy or faerie is an old derogatory word for gay in English. And the way it works with derogatory words: the best defensive strategy is to embrace it

The Radical Faeries were formed in 1978 by gay men in the Arizona desert. Harry Hay (1912–2002), the most well-known of them, was a colorful character. He believed in communism, even though the Communist Party didn’t accept gays. In 1950 he co-initiated the Mattachine Society, the first gay interest group in the USA. When he was a boy, he met Wovoka, a shaman from the Paiute Indian tribe, who started the spirit dance movement in 1890. Indian spirituality was important to Hay his whole life.

“You don’t have to look sexy”

“The idea behind the Radical Faeries was to create a space outside the homosexual mainstream where gays could discover themselves”, says a slender German who calls himself Eilendes Wasser (Rushing Water). “Being gay was a sign for Harry Hay. He believed that gays had certain mental and spiritual features. Personally, it helped me accept my gayness.” In everyday life, the 56-year old man is an attorney in the Rhine Valley. He was the one who brought the idea of the Radical Faeries from the USA. The “Eurofaeries” have been gathering regularly since the middle of the 1990s, and they bought Folleterre in 2004, a former farmhouse in France.

“No hierarchy and no dogma”, he sums up the philosophy of the faeries. “You can be Catholic, Buddhist or Atheist – the spectrum is enormous. You don’t have to look sexy, you can be old or overweight and you are still welcome.” The faeries see themselves as a conter-movement to the urban gay scene, where almost everything centers around how you look, fast sex and consumption. They divide up the costs of their gatherings, “But everyone can come, even if they don’t have any money. You can experience the most amazing things here – and free, at that!”

Silence in a circle

Even though there are no fixed rules, the faeries value a few traditions dearly. One is the tradition of having a faerie name. These can be names that most faeries give themselves, such as Lanai, Lappi or Fauny. Many faeries celebrate the festival of the seasons, such as the solstices or the springtime Beltane celebration. Another tradition is one developed by the founders of the Radical Faeries, the Heart Circle. This is when faeries sit in a circle and pass an object – a stone, a necklace – around in a circle. The person who is holding the object may speak as long as he or she wants to, but can also be silent. No one is interrupted and there are no discussions and no direct feedback on what someone said. What is said remains confidential. A Heart Circle can last ten minutes or eight hours, can be peaceful or dramatic. “You can come to a Heart Circle and find healing”, says Eilendes Wasser. “Many men have talked openly about their problems for the first time at a Heart Circle.”

Lumberjacks in ball gowns

Many faeries like to dress up in drag, gender-bending clothing. There are feather boas, ball gowns and hats hanging up in rooms with which the faeries can doll themselves up at any time. “I like glamour,” says Guillaume. “I like the way the faeries incorporate drag elements into their rituals. The faeries don’t take rituals so seriously. It’s principally a game for most of them. I like that.”

Enlightenment through sex

“There is so much touching and tenderness at our gathers that the need for excessive sex diminishes.” There appears to be an element of truth to that. The faeries really touch each other a lot – sometimes in a friendly way, sometimes in a sexual way. They hug each other long, sit on each other’s laps at breakfast, make out. Many faeries see sex as part of their spirituality. “There is an intimacy which is somehow not possible outside gatherings. It paves the way for things that go beyond the everyday.”

A turning point in life

For Lanai, spirituality is especially about being connected to nature. “To celebrate the beauty of the seasons, the sun, the solstice. I try to be a humble part of creation.” The peaceful atmosphere in the group of men is noticeable. Maybe its because they all hold hands and take three deep breaths in the morning before the organizational details are hammered out. Then the body is so relaxed that it can’t be thrown out of kilter so easily. The Eurofaeries are open to people of all genders. Some identify as queer, such as Lanai: “It’s about deconstructing the gender image we have been taught by society.” The days of men-only groups are long gone: “Yes, in the beginning it was about finding your gay self. But I believe that is going to open up more and more, and sexual orientation is going to be unimportant. I think it’s bad to judge people only based on that. After all, my cock is just ONE part of me.”

Extracted from WOZ Nr. 47/2009 from 19 November 2009