WC79 – Harry Hay on the Need for Sanctuary

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Harry Hay on the Need for Sanctuary

When the first Faerie gathering had been held in Arizona in 1979, Harry, John and some of the other organizers had hoped that a group dedicated to the establishment of Faerie sanctuaries would result. Even though that did not happen, the Colorado Faerie gathering in 1981 offered an opportunity to put forth that idea once again. A large workshop on the subject was held in which Harry explained the urgent need for these sanctuaries.

Harry: when we are talking about sanctuaries, we are really talking about planting ourselves in places where within the sanctuary we are inviolable. We’re talking about places where…this we need…this we know we need if we are going to grow. This we know we need if we are going to get rid of the scar tissue which stands between most of us and our feelings. Because these are the damages we have suffered in this life. And if we’re going to find out who we really are. If we’re going to find out how much we can contribute we’re going to have to get rid of that stuff. And we’re going to have to find out who we are…and we’re going to have to relate. And we’re going to have to do that in places that are secure and safe.

Thus the sanctuary in the country. Thus the sanctuary in the city walls. These are what they must be: they must be places to which you can go and feel safe. Where you feel safe, where you are loved, where you are trusted and where you can relax and simply be yourself. This has to happen.

Voice: Like this?

John: Yes…like this.

Harry: It’s important for us to be doing work together. One of the things we learned from the last gathering, last year…We hadn’t been…we personally, hadn’t been home for 24 hours when our telephone was ringing off the hook. People were calling “We have to get back together again!” But the problem was, in getting back together again, all we were doing was remembering what we had brought back with us from Arizona.

Now, you can only remember for so long and then the memory gets dimmer and dimmer and dimmer. And then pretty soon, you’re strangers to each other. You either grow together or you grow away from each other. There is no living on the razor’s edge. So either you undertake projects together, and in so doing you come to know one another even better, and then the intimacy, and the easy relaxation you all had together go on being a part of your experience. And you go on applying them and growing. And this is what must happen. And this is what must happen in Faerie families. You do grow together. You do come to really love each other and trust each other and you move from level to level to level and new dimensions.

The subject-Subject world is a whole brand new world, and there’s no leadership in it yet, and you are going to be its body of experience, if we’re going to have any at all. And so there are wonderful experiences ahead and fine experiments to be tried, but they have to be done in safe places. And we have to feel that we are within groups in which we are totally safe and loved and trusted. We can’t pretend this. If we pretend this, it won’t work. It has to be true. It has to be real.

Voice: This idea is very inspiring, and this gathering for me has been a first experience where I realized the possibility of a truly different way to live, and to share with each other. I would like to hear from Harry, and other people, more about the specifics, which I realize will evolve. But there probably has been more thinking than has been expressed so far, about empowerment of each other, in this community, and accessibility and what modes in subject-Subject community we will be able to establish that will be different than the subject-object ones. I know there have been precedents throughout most of our history, people have lived without owning land and they have lived in a much better way of empowering each other and relating to the Earth. But I would like to hear more of your thoughts about the structure. Because even anarchism is a very important structure. We need structure.

John Burnside: I think there’s something around “structure” that would be interesting to say here. As I see…and dream…the feelings that we recognize in ourselves is a great gift that we have, relating to one another, subject-Subject, in Faerie ways, could become, back home, the means for establishing Faerie families. See whether or not you live together or live separately…but if you have this sense of being, of connected, of connecting with one another, in the sense of the best meaning of the word “family” means here. We have done that in Los Angeles and there are four in our family…because we could not find a larger house in that city. We are connected, you see, by that Faerie feeling which extends to each and every one of us a maximum of freedom of movement, of choice. I have not once felt oppressed by the collective. I’ve felt very free within it. And the Faerie feeling makes the collective possible. I don’t want to use the word “commune” yet…let us say “living together” possible. What it required of me was that I lay aside something that no longer has the meaning or value it once had to me, and that was the wonderful Gay dream of your own place, in the city, your castle, full of beautiful things, [laughter from the circle]…oh I’m not laughing…it’s possible to laugh at it, but that’s a beautiful conception, and many of us must carry that out for ourselves before we can actually think of a collective life. Because collective life may not allow this to the same extent. However there is an element of Faerie individuality, which in our collective is very important and is maintained…each of us has his own room, which is his space, in which is his altar and little things that he has, and the beautiful things and the important things. Things that have magic for him. And in which he can be completely to himself. And we give very deep Faerie respect to these spaces.  And I don’t see why in a collective, such as we’re thinking of in the country, that each one of us could not have his own Faerie space.

Voice: It’s really hard for me to get over that American, you know, whatever I grew up with, of having a private space. And for me that doesn’t necessarily include a kitchen, but it does include a living room a bedroom and a studio. [laughter from the circle.] And it’s real important to have a workspace…a studio. I’m a weaver so I have to have a workspace. But when I do my art, I have to be alone. So that’s why I include a studio.

Harry: The people who will be coming to these sanctuaries, as we see it, are the people who have been through these experiences that you are talking about now. And are willing “to slip the ego”…willing to slip…voluntarily giving up a number of things, in order to move to a new dimension, a new way of seeing. A way that will require a new way of living. If we’re going to explore new ways of being together, if we’re going to explore new ways of relating to each other, if we’re going to discover the new world of subject-Subject, this has to be a commitment and this has to be a way of moving and seeing. And in the process of doing this, we want to be, we want ourselves to be self supporting. And, for instance, in our own sanctuary now, we have what we would call a life of voluntary simplicity. And we have given up quite a number of things which in our lives before have been quite important. But what we are doing now is far more important to us than what those things were, and the commitment was very easy to make. And these are the things we have to do; this is how we’re going to have to move. And the Call that we are sending is not a call for everyone. We send out the call. Those who hear will answer. Those who do not here: the message is not for you. We are simply saying this is a way of moving and a way of seeing. It is a way of reaching out to new dimensions and a way for the Faerie people to be tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. When I am gone that community land trust that I have put all of myself into, is there for you to go on in perpetuity. It isn’t just a way of living together comfortably as Faeries, this is not the point at all! Not at all. I am calling for a new way to move. I am calling, among other things, to say to you: fascism is coming. And we are going to be the pink triangles again. And unless we are prepared…I’m quite serious about this. And I’m simply saying that we have to begin thinking in those terms, and for those of us who are ready to make the move and make the change and make the leap…let’s leap together!

Covelo: I don’t know…I feel like I have a lot to say, but I don’t exactly know what. Because from my experiences I have a lot to teach. But maybe what I want to say is that the process of this circle, the process of living on the land, with love and respect for the land, with voluntary simplicity really solves a lot of problems. Like we had a lot of really macho people. They would walk around in leather with guns and kill deer and stuff like that. And they all left. None of them could handle the process of the circle. The circle was stronger than any of that. And another thing that I want to say is, I understand the need for Faerie sanctuary. I don’t want to question that. That’s what we’re talking about. But I feel a little bit disturbed by the “mean and them”…I’m a human being…more than anything else, I’m a human being. And I have found that some of the people in the leather chaps are really, sincerely my friends more than some of the other people. And I just wanted to bring that up. And I give all of my blessings to this project. I don’t know…I just wanted to say that it was the most vital and creative and exciting experience of my life. And that it works. And I give you all my blessings…and let’s do it!

Harry: One of the things that I don’t think we think about quite so often as we might…and we Gay people certainly should be thinking about it all the time, is that the world that’s coming will be a plural society. The Korean people who are coming here…the Thais in southern California, the Asians who are coming into Florida, have no intention of joining our “melting pot.” They’re going to be Haitians living here. They’re going to be Koreans living here. California is going to be a place of multiple minorities and in a very short time – multiple minorities who will far outnumber the original “natives” who were part of the melting pot, in the 1920s. That particular image of America is going…in fact it is already gone. And we must take our place. We Faeries must take our place as an equal minority among many minorities. And this is what we’re heading for. But we cannot become a minority until we know who we are!

The Korean people and the Haitian people know very well who they are. But we don’t know who we are. Because we have been so busy…as an act of survival…we have been so busy pretending we’re exactly the same as everyone else [laughter from the circle]. And now I am saying to anyone who will hear, that now we must begin to maximize our differences between us and them. And there are multitudes. There are even far more differences between us and them than even we know about. What we must begin to do is …what I mean is…we have not allowed ourselves to see all the differences there are.

If we would meet together in groups…if we begin a Faerie sanctuary by meeting every week, and maximizing the differences between ourselves and them, telling how we have been invaded and intruded upon every day, telling about how our face has been walked on every place we’ve gone, little by little we sensitize ourselves, to finally realizing that we are vandalized far more than we know we are. And, the point is this, that as we maximize these differences between ourselves and them, we will find at the bottom of the Grand Canyon between there, the heart-line that connects us. The one we’ve always known was there, but didn’t know what it was. As we begin to find out who we are, we’ll find out who they are. Now…they don’t know who they are…they’re “it.” [laughter from the circle.] They assume that’s all there is! [laughter] You know better. So that we will be doing everyone an enormous service. I say we are maximizing the enormous differences between us and them as an act of love. A love for ourselves and love for the society in which we belong. Because I am not suggesting in any way that we separate out and forget it entirely. We need them; they need us. We love them and they love us…if they knew who we were! But they don’t.

And this is our job now. We must begin to define ourselves to them as we wish to be defined. And refusing any longer to living up to their definition of us, which is what we’ve been living with all along. We must define ourselves as we wish to be defined. We must begin to show ourselves as we wish to be seen. And we must speak as we wish to be heard. And when we make our contributions back to the parent society, we will do it on our terms. But we cannot do this until we are a confident and self-assured people that speaks a language which communicates to all of us. This we must do.

Voice: Talking about differences, I came from a very un-different family…white, middle class, small town. Everyone was “normal.” And then, I found out I was Gay. Then I found out I was a pagan. And then I found myself in a wheelchair. And now I’m a Faerie. [laughter from the circle.] What’s next?! I’m not sure where I’m headed, but I’m pretty “fringy”…pretty far out. And I don’t think it’s anything like you set yourself apart. You can be called an elitist, I suppose, but I see it as an artistry in my own life, having done all these things. And I think we all have something that we can be proud of because it takes a lot of effort and a lot of shit to go through to get here.

Harry: I don’t want to sound like a kill-joy…and I don’t want to sound negative…and I don’t want to sound prejudiced or “iron-bound” but I’ve had the experience of talking to many people at this gathering who talk about the holocaust as being something in their past. You forget that it was my life. I have lived a long time. I have seen many things happen. And I do know this: that when a time of reaction comes, and I have seen times of reaction. And I have fought anti-Semitism in the streets of Los Angeles. And I have chained myself to lampposts and been beaten down, with my chains broken by the police and my arms broken, too. And I want to say this: that do we at any time join ourselves with the straights, no matter how tolerant they may be, no matter loving they may be now…when the time for reaction comes and all of a sudden it becomes necessary maybe to “haul in” and maybe don’t show yourselves quite so much and maybe don’t be quite so blatant, because we don’t know what they neighbors are going to do, and all of a sudden there’s a reactionary politician in the area and we’ve got to be concerned about our tax credits and so on…We are in trouble. We have to have a Gay sanctuary. With straights next door. Friendly people over the street is fine. But a place that is inviolable and OURS. So that when the shit comes down we have a place to come home to and we don’t have to hide within our own particular households and within our own particular lands, if we don’t choose.

Voice: I get excited every time you talk about that and I also get a little twinge of fear. It seems to me one of the key ingredients of what you’re saying is visibility. Being out there. And if and when the fascists come, our visibility…we make such delightful scapegoats, you know? We’re different. And we’re not macho. What is going to make our sanctuary inviolable?

Harry: Two words: Faerie invention. What I am really saying is this: whether we are macho or whether we are not, when fascism comes we are the scapegoats, make no mistake. The thing that we have to be concerned with is how we react, and how we relate, and we’re going to relate far better if we are all together thinking. We will finds ways and means to survive. Our visibility and our growth and the new dimensions of consciousness which we raise, will carry forth. And maybe the ones in this room will not survive. But Faerie brothers elsewhere will see what we have done. We will not die. You Jewish people know this. We will not die. This is what we’re involved with. This is the commitment I am asking a number of you to make: to carry that dimension forward. To carry that consciousness forward. Not for those in this room, but the ones who may meet here fifteen years from now. These are the ones I am talking about. And I probably won’t be here at that time.

These are the things I’m concerned with.
And so consequently, we will come together and we will find our ways.
And we will invent.
We always have.
And we do it very well.


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