We (and by “we” I mean “I”) are (am) proud to announce that my friend, Dan Vera, aka Managing Editor for White Crane, has been chosen as the awardee of the Letras Latinas / Red Hen Poetry Prize, for Latino poets who have already published at least one or two books of poetry. The inaugural judge for this prize was poet and Notre Dame professor Orlando Ricardo Menes.
Dan’s winning entry, slated for publication in 2013 is The Guide to Imaginary Monuments. In addition to his White Crane Journal and White Crane Books duties, Dan is a DC-based poet, and also the author of The Space Between Our Danger and Delight (Boethuk Books, 2008).
Two manuscripts were selected, and their publication by Red Hen Press will be spaced two years apart, to give Letras Latinas momentum to promote and publicize the winning books, its authors, this new literary series.
The second award was given to William Archila’s second book, The Gravedigger’s Archeology, which will be published in 2015. His first book was The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press, 2009), a book that speaks to Archila’s Salvadorean heritage and his immigration to the U.S. during the Central American civil war. He is based in Los Angeles.
A ceremony at the foot of the Cove Avenue Steps on Silver Lake Blvd. recognizing the site as a historic place by the City of Los Angeles. The dedication of “The Mattachine Steps” (which lead up to the house where pioneer gay activist Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society in 1950) will be followed by a Radical Faerie-hosted picnic in an adjoining park overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir (east side). Then, at 2:30, a book signing and reading of Stuart Timmon’s newly updated biography “The Trouble with Harry Hay” at nearby Stories bookstore, 1716 Sunset Blvd. (in Echo Park).
Sunday, April 15, at 2:00 p.m.
The ONE Culture Series will host a panel discussion about Harry Hay’s life and times. Film clips, literary readings and lively talk will be followed by refreshments in the Archive’s garden. There is a suggested donation of $5. The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is located at 909 W. Adams Blvd. (near USC). 213-741-0094 for further information.
For the past few months the muse has kept me happily busy in the electronic darkroom.
I am thrilled to announce the publication of THE BOOK OF MONKS, a series of 31 photages in a limited edition of 50 hardbound copies, numbered and signed (electronically). They are being printed and shipped by Apple in the U.S. The price is $100 per copy with 50% of the post printing costs benefitting the BIG JOY documentary film project.
I have been making photages for the past twenty-five years. Recently, on a memorable journey to Laos I photographed Buddhist monks in the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang where there are a number of monasteries. The monks have now been absorbed into images I had taken over the years, particularly during the past decade in New York City.
The Fire in Moonlight: Stories from the Radical Faeries
On Labor Day Weekend, 1979, 200 men gathered in the Arizona desert for the first Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries. Called forth by Harry Hay (of Mattachine Society fame), Hay’s partner John Burnside, Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker, this first of many Gatherings created a development that spread around the world and combined elements of gay liberation, feminism, environmentalism, new age spirituality and the counter-culture. Thousands of gay and Bi men (later joined by a few women) met in out of the way, rural Gatherings and Sanctuaries, creating a very loose network that defied the LGBT community’s tendency toward assimilation and institutionalism. Creative spirits like Will Roscoe, James Broughton, Andrew Ramer, Toby Johnson, Dan Nicoletta and Charlie Murphy became part of this sub-culture. It was Hay who coined the term Radical Faeries: both Radical (as to the root) and Faerie having to do with gays’ spiritual and cultural traditions rather than "radical" politics.
Among the 200 men who attended that first Faerie Gathering was author Mark Thompson. As Thompson remembers, the Gathering "was definitely a turning point in the burgeoning gay men’s spirituality movement. In some ways, I felt that gathering in the Arizona desert was as historically important as the Stonewall riots had been a decade before. Both events signaled a significant refocusing of values and vision, helping to create a new leap forward in gay culture-making. I attended many Gatherings – mainly in the Western United States – for the next 20 years."
More than thirty years after attending that first Gathering, Thompson, along with Associate Editors Richard Neely (Osiris) and Bo Young, have assembled the first anthology by and about the Faeries. The Fire In Moonlight: Stories from the Radical Faeries, is published by White Crane Books / Lethe Press as part of the White Crane Wisdom Series ($25). "Since their sudden inception on a remote site in the American Southwest in 1979, the Faeries have grown like some exotic species of flora around the world," Thompson wrote in his "Introduction." "This book of many voices continues that early call – a call for freedom of mind, body and spirit from the petty, awful tyrannies of those who have tried every means to destroy us. It is about how being a Radical Faerie has changed a life." Among the contributors are Will Roscoe, Franklin Abbott and Trebor Healy.
Bo Young, publisher of White Crane Books, and Associate Editor of The Fire In Moonlight, began his involvement with the Radical Faeries in 1990, when he first visited the Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee. As Young is quick to point out, "the organizing principle of the Faeries is consensus and the Faerie Circle . . . no leaders. Everyone is ‘equidistant’ from the center. No one person is out in front. . While the Radical Faeries are identified most often as a ‘movement’ it isn’t something you join. It’s a state of mind. If you say you are a Faerie, you are a Faerie. There are Faeries who are into drag and organic farming and wild fermentation and there are Faeries who are theatrical and there are Faeries who are living communally and there are Faeries that are eremitic. There are rural Faeries and there are urban Faeries."
In The Fire in Moonlight, Faeries past and present share in their Faerie experience. According to Jerry Berbiar (Jerry the Faerie), "the Radical Faeries were founded for gay men. The Gatherings were places where gay men could individually recreate themselves, create community, explore faggot essence and create their own culture, free from the dominant all-encompassing hetero viewpoint." "At the heart of the Radical Faeries is a recognition of and exploration into gay men’s souls: our unique way of viewing, experiencing and being in the world," Joey Cain wrote. "I found myself in environments where my very sexuality, my embrace of myself as male and female, my determination that my sexual nature was both natural and magical, were honored and explored," recalled "EuroFaerie" Marco Shokti. "For a freaky little queer boy like me the Radical Faeries were the family I hardly dared to dream might exist," declared Pete Sturman, AKA Mockingbird and Pistol Pete. "The Faeries provided me with a safe environment to try all sorts of different things. I could split wood in high heels, bake bread in my underwear or run around covered in mud. I could laugh like a hyena or take a day of silence. They helped inspire me to become a musician and songwriter, a loud and proud queen troubadour."
One of the most interesting parts of The Fire in Moonlight is the book’s "Faerie Glossary." According to Young (at left in photo), "a shared, unique language is one of the defining elements of ‘culture.’ The Faeries have a very definite and unique use of language and one of the chief motivations of the various traditions such as Sanctuaries is a ‘time out of time’ period in which the gay individual removes him (or her) self from the dominant culture and literally engage in ‘coming to terms’ with who s/he is." Hay challenged the Faeries to self-define, from which emerged a vocabulary which the editors believe required a Glossary. Many Faeries have taken "Faerie names;" spiritual or ecologically-inspired names in contrast to their "mundane, everyday names."
The Fire in Moonlight presents a mostly-positive view of the Radical Faeries. But there are dissenting views. "Improbable Faerie" Artwit, who was active with the San Francisco Faeries during the 1980’s, is critical of a subculture which, like other gay tribes, favors the young and beautiful: "I have no desire to be a Faerie Mormon and make breakfast while the pretty ones sleep in and fuck," he said. Young admits that "one of the challenges we had was finding an African-American contributor. The Faeries are like any other part of this American society and suffers from the inherent racism of the culture. But that said, it is one of the few communities of which I am aware that actually attempts to address that." In short, "The Fire in Moonlight is not meant in any way to be a hagiography of the Radical Faerie movement."
Artwit is in the minority. As Thompson (in photo at right) put it, "once a Radical Faerie, always a Radical Faerie." "The Faeries are by no means a perfectly evolved group," Thompson admits, "but it definitely represents a quantum step in healing gay male relationships and community practice. The Radical Faeries may appear as a rather funky, insignificant tribe of social outcasts, but I have to state here for the record that nowhere have I encountered more intelligent, creative and beautifully self-aware gays in one place than at a Faerie Gathering. A Gathering is the antithesis of a typical gay ghetto environment. It is an intentional community – a destination on the inner journey, not some angry place of refuge. There is a lot of joy that comes from being a Radical Faerie."
"The strongest thing about the Faeries," Young notes, "is their commitment to community and their general awareness of and respect for history and tradition. Another strength is the creation of and maintenance of the Faerie Sanctuaries in their various manifestations," many of which are listed in the "Radical Faerie Resource Directory" found at the back of The Fire in Moonlight. On the other hand, Young admits that the Faeries’ "generally perceived flamboyance tends to scare people away." The Radical Faeries, Thompson says, "claim no particular leaders (we say we are ‘leader-full’) so there is not a problem of domineering egos holding others in thrall. People like that quickly get invited elsewhere. The reverse of this is that sometimes chaos ensues and the group experience can rapidly devolve into incoherent confusion. Over the years, the Faeries have learned how to walk better in balance between these polarities."
"The Faeries," Thompson continues, "have a very significant role in the greater understanding of what I would call our core gay values. Because we are living so in the moment, the archetypal motifs of gay psyche are more keenly felt and expressed. This is one crowd that is not going to be assimilated into mainstream mythology, which is still a narrative of heterosexual dominance. Faeries are shape-shifters, makers of ritual and beauty, natural teachers, healers and soul guides. We walk between the worlds, the seen and unseen, and between the genders. It represents a more authentic vision of who we gay men really are inside." "For myself," Young adds, "the chief asset of most Faeries I know is that they understand a history of same-sex people and tend to see themselves as connected to that history. There are so many other aspects of what I think of more as a culture than as a ‘movement’ . . . the attraction to the land, the care of the land, the rejection of consumerist culture, the sense of humor. It is one of the ancient archetypes of same-sex people to be jesters, culture carriers, interpreters and teachers. The Radical Faeries are all of these. These have always been incredibly important to any vital society . . . and they always will be."
THE FIRE IN MOONLIGHT Stories from the Radical Faeries Edited by Mark Thompson White Crane Wisdom Series 9781590213384, 309 Pages, $25.00
Mark Thompson’s latest anthology, The Fire in Moonlight (White Crane), is a collection of first person accounts of the Harry Hay-inspired Radical Faerie movement. Hay, a co-founder of the Mattachine Society, joined forces with Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker to start the Faerie movement in order to add a spiritual dimension to the (often dry) nuts and bolts world of emerging gay politics.
Inspired in part by the writings of Edward Carpenter and the Calamus poems of Walt Whitman, Hay saw the homosexual as much more than a creature fighting for rights in a hostile society. The homosexual, according to Hay, was a multidimensional being with roots in the mythic, a sort of alien spirit with special healing gifts for the world.
As Stuart Timmons notes in his introductory essay, “The Making of a Tribe,” Hay once told a circle of 200 Faeries: “We Faeries need to stop saying, ‘My consciousness is better than your consciousness.’ That’s heterosexist. No one person, no one group, no one ideology has the answer. You need a spirit.”
Theologians may quibble with that relativist statement, insisting that if one truth is as good as another truth, then there’s no truth anywhere. One thing’s certain, however: You have to have spirit in order to “build.” For Hay, this meant constructing a homosexual spiritual dimension outside the world of conventional religion.
In a 1975 edition of RFD, Hay wrote: “To be a true homosexual, is to be put at odds with home, school and society….We are so other that we have to learn early how to protect our very survival.”
While this perspective may seem dated post-DADT, Hay was nonetheless insistent that a pronounced queerness was buried inside the homosexual’s “stubbornly perverse genes.” Hay’s vision of a monastic-like collective of queer men of all ages coming together in friendship circles for a process of “shedding the ugly green frog skin of hetero-imitation” started with the first Faerie Circle in Colorado in 1979.
Called “A Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries,” at that Labor Day event hundreds of men (the gatherings would later include women) participated in mud baths and neo-pagan, quasi-Native American rituals like circle hand holding, chanting, and taking turns speaking to the circle while holding a Talking Stick. Many of these ad hoc talks were spiked with references to Aliester Crowley as well as Hay’s own take on what it means to be “queer” and “other.”
In these free-love pre-AIDS gatherings there was ritualized group sex as well as individual couplings. As Timmons observes, “In selecting fairies as a role model for gays, [Hay] combined logic with inspiration to surpass the medieval Mattachines—to a pre-Christian time and beyond human limits.”
With its emphasis on aspects of Native American culture and worship of the earth, the early Faeries attracted gay men who had had enough of the dead end clone life in the urban gay ghetto.
At the second Spiritual Gathering for the Radical Faeries in 1980, in Estes National Forest above Boulder, Colorado, faerie names were adopted and the emphasis on paganism was enhanced. As contributor Carol Kleinmaier notes, besides a denial of spirit-body and male-female duality, Faerie spirituality “was sourced in… the celebration of sacred sexuality, Wicca, paganism and shamanic traditions.”
As one would expect, highly eclectic and a diverse range of spiritual references as well as divergent opinions about the Faerie experience mark these essays.
Allen Page, for instance, writes that during the first gathering he “asked the Goddess (which Goddess he doesn’t say) to show him why he needed to be there.” Meanwhile, “a young man shook a rattle and stands up in a speckled dress.” The philosophy was to embody masculine and feminine energies although one finds in many of these stories a distinct prejudice against patriarchy as well as an emphasis “to take the gifts of the Father back to the Mother.”
Philadelphian Chris Bartlett (The Lady Bartlett) notes:
I like cultures that use rituals to embody choice: the Amish Rumspringa when Amish teens, following a year of exposure to the outside world, choose to join the Amish community (be baptized) or are shunned. Another example is the bar/bat mitzvah when young Jews choose to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. The investiture of a priest in various religions is another moment of powerful choice. When participants in a culture choose to embrace that culture, they become full actors, as opposed to full recipients.
In Faerie circles, identification with the feminine is assumed. It would not be unusual, for instance, for the males in a circle to cry while listening to reports of the rape of a female friend of a member. Since Radical Faeries spanned all age categories, older men were respectfully called elders and were regarded as purveyors of wisdom, even if that “respect” ended at the bedroom door. Wisdom cannot compete with beauty when it comes to a good lay.
Just as in any local city bathhouse, the young are attracted to the young, as the older and less appealing find themselves casting about for a bone or having to spend their nights alone, Trappist monk-style.
Artwit, for instance, writes that at one gathering he got lucky three times so that his “usual depression at being alone while the slender twinks slept in pairs was less severe.” Highly critical of many in the Faerie community, Artwit states that “self righteous beliefs about food seem to be a hallmark of the Faeries. We used to joke in the kitchen about making ‘Cream of Vegan’ soup for our next meal.”
Artwit also writes about the Faerie Drag Wars.
The first two Gatherings had that old rustic-northwest-jeans-and-flannel flavor and here come these queens from California doing wigs and make-up. So a small culture war was started at the Gathering, with the hosts deciding not to send the Call to California next year. “[But] over the years, wigs and makeup won and overtook whatever Heart Circles there were.
For Artwit, the Faeries main problem was making social problems into personal ones.
“I have no desire to be a Faerie Mormon and make breakfast while the pretty ones sleep in and fuck,” he writes.
Editor Mark Thompson is to be commended for not editing out Artwit’s less than flattering reminiscences. The inclusion of such criticism is a tribute to the Faerie generosity of spirit, although there’s enough good stuff in this book to make Harry Hay proud.
As Berbiar (Jerry the Faerie) puts it, “We need queers who have radical askance alternative viewpoints to dominant cultural mores. May the Radical Faerie movement continue to play its role in providing a cauldron of change so needed in this ignorant and repressive world.”
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White Crane friend, advisor—and
all round mensch—Malcolm Boyd, will give a concert reading of his prayer-poems
accompanied by a jazz trio at the2010 Sausalito
International Film Festivalon August
14. Musicians appearing with Boyd are guitarist Johnnie Valentino, composer
Scott Page-Payter on keyboards and percussionist
Boyd's words are combined with musical themes by the late legendary
jazz musician Vince
Guaraldi. "The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi," a new film in
which Boyd appears, will be screened at the festival. Over four weeks in 1966 a
remarkable series of performances at the hungry i
nightclub in San Francisco's North Beach captured the imagination of hip
audiences and resonated around the world. Dick Gregory gave the stage to
Guaraldi and Episcopal priest-author Boyd. Prayers, Beat poetry and jazz
fused. Though covered by global media the performances were never
recorded. Very few had an opportunity to experience this happening. Until
now. The prayer-poems are from Boyd's bestselling classic "Are You
Running with Me, Jesus?"
You may remember Stuart Timmons as the co-author with Lillian
Faderman of the book Gay LA. As members of this listserv, you may also recall that about two and a half years ago, Stuart suffered a
massive stroke that left him at death's door for what seemed like a very long
time. White Crane was involved in raising the funds necessary for the additional therapy Stuart was going to need. We knew then it was going to be a long hard road to recovery.
So it is with no small amount of pride and joy we report that with the attention and loving care of his family, especially his
sister, Gay, and friends like as Mark Thompson – he's really made a remarkable
recovery! So much so that it looks like he's going to help with the
celebration of what would have been Harry Hay's 100th birthday. Nice to get
some good news!
Thompson, a member of the White Crane Advisory Board, and former editor at The
Advocate, sent this wonderful news about historian Stuart Timmons:
friends of author and community activist Stuart Timmons gathered last week
to celebrate his remarkable recovery from a major stroke two-and-a-half
years ago. Timmons, 53, is still wheelchair bound, but is now fully
mentally alert and with the ability to speak and move about with assistance.
He is expecting a return to his research and writing about GLBT
history and is especially delighted with the invitation
to participate in Centennial celebrations honoring the life and
work of gay movement founder Harry Hay.
two-day conference at City University New York and a major exhibition at the
San Francisco Public Library are in the planning stages, with other
cities soon to be included. Stuart wrote the award-winning biography on the
legendary gay rights leader, The
Trouble With Harry Hay, in 1990. Harry Hay was born on Easter
Sunday, April 7, 1912, in Worthing, England, although he lived many decades
of his life in Los Angeles.
Lee Mentley added:
is doing amazing well…, had a great lunch at “The Coffee Table” and he was
alert with full memory correcting us on our history and although speaking
slowly was participating in the conversation. Well on his way to full
recovery! He spoke with Joey Cain on the phone and will be on the planning
committee for the 100 Year Celebration for Harry Hay in San Francisco and
New York City. It was a joy to be with him!
of you gave support for Stuart's recovery, so we wanted to let you know
that it was money well spent. Stuart Timmons is a walking library of
GLBT history and of Harry Hay and John Burnside in particular. We need
him and we need his genius.
in the photo are: (left to right) Mark Thompson, Stuart Timmons, Robert
Croonquist and HRH Lee Mentley.
Brose is an experimental film artist and has created over thirty films since
1983. His films have been shown at international film festivals, museums, art
galleries, and cinematheques in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and
South America. Brose’s most recent film, De Profundis has been greeted with
critical acclaim and has been screened at more than eighty venues and festivals
worldwide since its release. De Profundis is a 65-minute experimental film
based on Oscar Wilde’s prison letter with an original score for the film by the
American composer Frederic Rzewski. In 1989 he began a series of film
collaborations with contemporary composers to explore the relationship between
the moving image and music.
The issues here are fundamental: freedom of speech, freedom of
expression, and artistic freedom. The case is precedent-setting, and
will help determine whether anyone exercising their right to free speech
can be criminalized merely for their ideas—a fundamental violation of
the United States Constitution.
The case of Lawrence Brose is a prime example of the contemporary
abuse of power by Homeland Security and the Justice Department. The
charges brought against Brose essentially make engaging a difficult
issue a criminal offense and recall the government’s tactics during the
McCarthy trials of the 1950s. Like that infamous challenge to
Democracy, this case questions how far the government can reach,
unopposed, into artists’ studios, galleries, museums, and even our homes
to silence free speech, thought, and inquiry.
Case For Support
Lawrence Brose is not a criminal, he is an artist, doing what artists
do best: asking difficult questions about our life and times in order
to illuminate a new perspective as we struggle to move forward as a
culture. His experimental cinema has a distinguished track record of
engaging issues that affect the gay community, such as AIDS and
hostility from certain segments of the public. Facing problematical
subjects is precisely the job that people like Brose carry out in our
society – they explore unexamined dilemmas and present them for our
contemplation. It is truly tragic to see him attacked with the blunt,
and misguided legalistic weapon of pornography prosecution.
Lawrence Brose is working in a well-established tradition of image
appropriation, drawing specifically on images of masculinity in home
movies, old films, Gay erotica and documentaries. Brose collects found
still images, which he then processes and re-processes to find more
depth in the picture, producing complex layers of imagery that are
highly conceptual and offer a poignant commentary on normative
conventions of gender and sexuality. The final product is as abstract as
the paintings of Willem de Kooning, and a seizure of source material
entirely misrepresents the final outcome.
As experimental filmmakers Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol before him,
Brose’s work pushes the envelope to create space for new expression.
For our society to remain open and vibrant, the answer is not to
criminalize that space for investigation, but rather to welcome it into
the marketplace of free ideas for examination.
The case against Lawrence Brose demonstrates an inappropriate
application of laws intended to protect children, and in the process
victimizes an experimental artist seeking to comment on societal woes.
The fact that he is under indictment for using images made by others to
examine the taboos that the laws are meant to prevent–is as
overreaching as it is troubling. It is so far from the intent of the
law, that it serves only to create a climate of fear. The result is
censorship and a chilling effect on the free expression of all artists
and all people. Censorship of this nature, and in all of its many forms,
occupies a realm of self-righteous presumption that abjures complexity
and results only in contradiction. It is very important that as
individuals living in a democratic society, we contribute to and speak
out openly in Brose’s defense, in essence defending our own lives and
our fundamental rights to think, work, and create freely.
This is the first time a case of this nature will be taken to trial.
It is important to note that Brose was not searching for the alleged
images nor is he accused of producing, distributing, buying or selling
pornography. This suit will be a protracted and expensive ordeal; one
that will have a profound impact on all artists. Your support is
greatly needed and much appreciated.
This website has been published by friends, colleagues and supporters
of Lawrence Brose, an artist and arts curator who has recently been
alleged to possess purportedly illicit digital images. One hundred of
the listed images are film frames from his highly acclaimed film De
Profundis, based on Oscar Wilde's prison writing. The purpose of the
website is to attest to Lawrence’s innocence, to provide a forum for
testimony on his behalf, and, importantly, to collect funds needed for
his legal defense.
We are in the process of collecting testimony from individuals, many
of whom are artists, academics and curators significant to the fields of
art and culture.
The Lawrence Brose Legal Defense Fund is a Class A Non-Profit
Corporation registered with the State of New York. Donations are not
tax deductible. To donate please send a check payable to "Lawrence Brose
Legal Defense Fund" and mail your check to PO BOX 501, Callicoon, NY
12723. Please see the Donate Now page for additional information. Or make a donation using Paypal.