I started the weekend off with a relief, after arriving to the FAEposium, with a lot of joy at being in Rad Fae space. It had been a while since I'd been around so many Faeries, and I was really anticipating that space, and the connection I had felt at Wolf Creek returning. And at first it did.
A lot of my anticipation was in the looking forward to the genuine affection that Faeries have with one another, the real connection they attempt, subject-SUBJECT interaction; and especially interaction that does not deny the sexual (and places the sexual in the category of SACRED), yet attempts to not objectify others. I have a lot of fear and anxiety around being in sexualized space with gay men stemming from a history of low-self esteem, introversion and being on the receiving side of both cultural (re: subliminal) and personal (re: direct) fat-phobia. Despite this, I was also really looking forward to being in a queer space that wasn't the Bear culture (or other bar-based gay cultures in San Francisco) that I have been immersing myself within over the last few months -- a culture that I see as somewhat problematic with regards to objectification, excess, and disconnection (re: not making honest, loving/supportive connections, lack of real communication, rampant gossip and back-biting, and a heavy culture of superficiality). Rad Fae culture revels in real communion, which I greatly appreciate.
The longer I spent at the conference, the more that feeling evaporated, and the more I was wishing I were just at Bearracuda or hanging out at the Lonestar, where even if I wasn't being hit on, I wasn't invisible or seen as an anathema to the sexual atmosphere. Now, I did have some interesting personal connections, and when I was engaged in workshops, I felt vibrantly a part of the experience. Only when I was hanging out in social space did I feel pretty ignored, mostly by men under 35.
I have this observation that I find very interesting, and in a lot of ways I'm still chewing it over, seeing if it fits. I wrote about going to the No Men Us fishbowl, and the powerful conversations I witnessed there. It's been my experience that a lot of the voices opposing female-identified/assigned people in Faerie space have come from the first 2 or 3 generations of Radical Faeries, generally men in their 40s and up, today. But these same men have done a lot of work, especially early on in the movement, with gay sexuality, body-acceptance, fear of aging, and creating loving-supportive space for gay men regardless of lookisms. It's my experience that a great many younger Faeries (under 35 today) have not done as much work in these arenas. And it's a mind-fuck, being a younger Faerie and going through a lot of the fat-phobia stuff, yet identifying with the more "Faerie-as-a-gender" punk/anarchist queers of the newest generations.
Even SM, the presenter of "No Men Us: Voices of Female Faeries," brought up how the typical Faerie looks (re: slender) and how being fat and a Faerie makes you invisible and de-sexualized. There is a strong aesthetic-preference in Faerie culture for slenderness, a skinny-fetish if you will. And this is what I want to speak to and relate my experience, as it weighs heavily on my heart.
Today I attended the last part of the conference, a Faerie Brunch held at Grand Central, a Fae space in the Castro. Today was also the Castro Street Fair, and as part of the Brunch those in attendance planned to go parade through the fair, causing Faerie glee, glitter and chaos. And we did.
I picked up my new out-of-towner friends in West Oakland and we drove in. I was meeting J, my best friend (who does not identify as a Faerie) there. We were a bit late, and J had already arrived before us. J was talking to this cute cubby guy (he has a preference for Bears and husky guys) when I walked in, and had already recieved a handful of introductions, being a slender, fit guy himself (he's considered pretty attractive by conventional gay standards). My new friends, C and L, had also made a lot of acquaintances during the main two days of the conference, and were new to Faerie. Part of it was the "fresh meat" thing, but they are also young and slender gay men, and therefore very appealing to that Faerie aesthetic.
At first I thought I was projecting it, maybe it was coming from a reaction to my introversion, or was it me getting wrapped up in my pattern of low self-esteem. But, really, I was being treated as if I weren't really there by a lot of the men at the brunch. At one point I re-connected in a big warm hug with O (who almost shares my name) and several older Faerie men gave me warm reception. But as I was conversing with J, the cute guy he was flirting with earlier came over and started feeding him bites from his fork and flirting. Shortly thereafter, J introduced me to P, and P seemed somewhat bored at the interruption to their flirting, then went on to ignore me. Later on, a Faerie who lives at the house came over to say hi to C and L, and totally ignored me, even as I stood between the two, and made his introduction to J. He failed to even look at me, however though we'd never formally been introduced. He later, when another (older) Faerie (who had spoken to me and made eye contact) was about to introduce him to this group of my friends yet again, said he'd already met and spoken to all of us, and it seemed comical that I appeared to be ignored again, almost directly and with purpose.
Again and again, throughout the afternoon, I experienced myself being ignored by Faeries of my generation, often talking to the friends I was engaged in conversation with, but it appeared as if they did not even see me there. It became nearly comical, despite the wounding effect on my self-esteem, when it happened, and I even called it out to J and C a few times with slowly nodding agreement on their part. At one point, a young Faerie walked up to J to talk to him and flirt, knocking me aside to do so, and not even turning to look at me even after he finished and walked away. I was somewhat surprised none of my friends called it out -- it was so much a part of the atmosphere -- and if I'd felt more at ease, I may have started making jokes to people about it when they did it.
I think the subject-SUBJECT sexual interaction has a long way to go with the Faerie culture as it stands today. I felt like I was objectified -- not as a sexual object, but as a non-sexual object (you push furniture out of the way, not people). I felt invisible. For me, sexuality is the linchpin of our humanity, and denying someone as a sexual being is denying an essential part of their humanity. And the air was rife with sexuality, most of the younger Faeries engaged in making out in the space all afternoon, but I received not even eye contact from most of them.
There is a deep truth that I know in my bones, from my working of sex and spirit, from the sexual magic I learned in the Feri Tradition from my teacher. It is that ALL bodies are not just beautiful, but all bodies are sexy. Each of us is fucking sexy, ALL of us is -- body, spirit, and even all the damage we carry around like baggage. And it is our job, as sexual mystics and shamans, to retrieve the divine parts of ourselves that remember (and re-member) this truth. We must give ourselves permission and allow the experience of everyone as a sexy, beautiful, god-ensouled creature of Holy Creation to wash over us, to soak into our skin and saturate our irises, so that it shines out into the world, a beacon for connection, love and communion.
And it is my intent to chronicle this experience not as a means of garnering sympathy (though I hope that in my telling, relation to this suffering can happen and learning may come from it), but as a way to sort out my thoughts around this and figure out what steps I can take to help change this dynamic in Faerie culture and gathering space. I resent feeling unwelcome this weekend, and I am doing Kala around it. And I am finding that part of my work, and maybe why He Who Dresses Her Hair bade me go immerse myself in Rad Fae, is to further the subject-SUBJECT dynamic in a more real, enacted and embodied way. To remind Faeries that we are all sexy queens, even us fatties, and to challenge non-inclusive aesthetics. This, I suspect, will help me in my personal evolution around allowing myself to be a sexual being with other queer men, especially in a social/group context.
By way of this, I also noticed that there are some very accepted and celebrated fat queens in Faerie, but the way they seem to get attention is by being very loud and acting out -- slender queens need not resort to this if they so choose (though the typical Radical Faerie is rather flamboyant). It's a direct import from mainstream culture, where the fatboy cultivates the costume as a funny guy for acceptance, or the fatgirl is the witty, snappy friend who you can go to tell your problems (the fag hag, as SM put it in her workshop -- and yet I even had a strange experience with her today, where she was hugging and kissing Faeries during our parade through the street fair, yet I was the lone only-a-hug, and there was a distance in her eyes when we made contact -- it is all so internalized by those who engage in this culture).
Yet none of us were raised in Faerie space. We were all enculturated in the mainstream, and we bring a lot of that conditioning with us. Radical Faerie is not known for discipline, and while a lot of Faeries seem to take steps to analyze the self to the point of taking on an identity outside that of even gay culture, most do not seem to go beyond that, and deconstruct that identity to achieve a greater wholeness of self -- identities cut us up and ultimately do not serve our personal/spiritual evolution with their limitations. Is it that there is such a strong celebration of the Faerie as a lithe, slender elfin creature that a fat, hairy man cannot suffice to fill a role of otherworldly male desire? These things I will endeavor to explore and find my answers to.
I eventually decided to not return to the CSC for the heart circle after the parade through the street fair. I had begun to feel very bitter about the weekend, even after posting last night about my excitement for raising my child in Faerie culture. I will not raise my child with limited ideals of beauty. Beauty is boundless. So I left instead of continuing to feel resentment.
I have some very mixed feelings about the weekend, yet I'm looking forward to Samhain on the Land. I hope to have worked through some of the hurt and confusion by then, and I will be able to respond positively to future scenarios, to teach and learn and love and commune.
Walk in beauty, run in freedom.