Part I: The Radical Faerie DemonstrationSetting the Scene
In February of 2009, Los Angeles LGBT community journalist Karen Ocamb got herself into a truly nasty journalistic tizzy over a campy and well-received demonstrationapproximately 15-30 activist friends of mine and I had the relative audacity to hold infront of the parking lot entrance to the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives near theUniversity of Southern California campus one Sunday afternoon, where, for severalhours, we greeted people with protest signs, lively chants and informational materialsincluding an extensive explanatory statement about our protest (see “Wendell Jones’Protest Statement” in the March 2009 archive of this blog). We were demonstrating against a 30-year-retrospective on the founding of the RadicalFaerie movement that longtime gay community leaders Don Kilhefner and Mark Thompson were giving, which retrospective wound up being attended by well over 100people. Karen then wrote a biased report on the demonstration in the gay newsmagazine
Frontiers in L.A.
, to which was attached a blog entry referral that led to some went-to-town dishing-the-dirt about the demonstrators and their intentions, in particular really taking me to task personally for some “water-under-the-bridge” stuff between her andme regarding the care of a dying singer named Michael Callen.The vocal but cheerful protest against Don and Mark’s presentation at the One Archivescentered around the fact/idea that the two men were engaging in a shady business of manipulative historical revisionism—with the seemingly uninformed support of variouspeople such as Karen. They were out to tout their warped and factually inaccurate version of how a movement little known by most gay and lesbian people today, butperhaps terribly important to our further same-sex-loving destiny, got started, and whatthen became of it: the Radical Faeries.The Faerie movement is historically important because it marks the first large-scaleeffort to organize gay-identified men on an indigenously-homosexual spiritual basis,unlike gay synagogues, churches, etc., thereby enunciating a freshly-profound degree of gay-centering interest—the notion of an endogenous Gay Spirit—that has not only crystallized what is now an ongoing tradition of homosexually-foregrounded spiritualliterature (e.g., de la Huerta, 1999; Johnson, 2000, 2003; Thompson, 1987/2005, 1994)and activities but, even more pertinently in regard to the issues at hand, has set thehistorical stage for a broader and currently more-controversial conversation, now takingplace, which concerns extending that pioneering Faerie sensibility into a gay-centering,psychological, grassroots therapeutics and activism.The visionary homosexual movement of the Radical Faeries was originated in the later1970s principally by three committed gay activists: Harry Hay (co-founder of theMattachine Society in 1950, the first lasting attempt to organize gays on a political basisin North America
), Don Kilhefner (co-founder of the Los Angeles Gay and LesbianCenter in 1971, the first institution of its kind) and Mitch Walker (the first “out” gay author to be published in a prominent Jungian journal in 1976). John Burnside, Harry’s