Who are the Radical Faeries?

We are a queer tribal nation sharing affinity in the spiritual underpinnings of non-mainstream sexuality and heart-centered relationship.  Meeting at the nexus of spirit and flesh, the Radical Faeries embody and encompass many different – and sometimes opposing – ideas of what it means to be Faerie.  Our own Vancouver circle is composed of self-identified queer men-loving-men, welcoming others who want to share and nurture their essential fabulousity.

The Radical Faeries are a tribe without a chief, an organisation without an executive, and a collective without meetings.  We are decentralized, and no one person is “in charge.”  Instead, we seek to build spiritual intimacy in our relationships with one another by cultivating subject-subject relationships.  To this end, we celebrate our sexuality, and we play with ideas about gender.

Although we come from many backgrounds and walks of life, in our hearts, many of us are healers, creators, and shamans of one kind or another. Our values include communalism, respect for the Earth, celebrating our bodies, honouring our elders and our ancestors, nurturing our youth, and cultivating joy and mutual responsibility.

The Radical Faerie movement traces its name to a 1979 “Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries” held in Arizona, called by Harry Hay, John Burnside, Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker with over two hundred men attending. This gathering concentrated and named a movement rising since the late 1960’s. Since then, the movement has spread internationally, evolving many flavours, spaces, clans, ways, and communities along the way.

Hay called on the crowd to “peel off the ugly green frog skin of hetero-imitation and reveal the beautiful Faerie prince beneath.”  He detected in gay men particular creative, spiritual, and shamanistic gifts, writing: “Our gay windows are indicative of our natural inclinations to perceive manifestations of the…seen and unseen…the known horizons and the unknown.”  Building on his study of First Nations spirituality, Hay sought to replicate in the Faeries what he saw as the organising principle of pre-modern societies, where “within the collective all members are responsible to and for each other, and the community life of spirit is accountable to its collective belief system.”  Hay saw this organising principle, mediated through this third gender brotherhood, as a gift to the world.

Since 1979, the Radical Faerie movement has spread around the world.  There are Faerie circles, Faerie gatherings, and Faerie sanctuaries (communes) all over.  There are websites (like www.radfae.org), journals (like Radical Faerie Digest), and books (such as The Fire in Moonlight: Stories of the Radical Faeries).  In all these ways, we are bonded together as brothers and fellow sojourners.