Category Archives: Radical Faerie

Defend Harry Hay’s Reputation at the National Equality March

As thousands of LGBT activists prepare to march on Washington, Harry Hay, one of the most important and beloved founders of the modern gay movement, is being used by right wing extremists as a bogeyman to destroy the career of Kevin Jennings, the Obama Administration's highly qualified Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. 
Most recently Sean Hannity has mounted the
Harry Hay is being branded as a pederast and anyone who has ever spoken praise of Harry is being condemned as a supporter of pederasty. 
As one of the six heirs to the Estate of Harry Hay and John Burnside, I feel it incumbent upon myself to defend his reputation against the attacks that have become a staple of those members of the right-wing establishment who are bent on destabilizing the Obama Adminstration and destroying the careers of members of his administration through guilt by association. 

Let us make it clear: 



Harry n John - LaCresta - Timmons His defense of the organization at several points in his 90-year history of speaking truth to power was based on his experiences as a young teenager exploring the world of sexuality with older men, himself being the aggressor. These experiences were very positive for the young Harry and are described in Stuart Timmons’ excellent biography, The Trouble With Harry Hay. There are no records of the adult Mr. Hay ever having had sexual relations with under-aged youth. It is also innacurate to say, as it is frequently written, that NAMBLA promotes the “legalization of sexual abuse of young boys by older men.” Hay agreed with NAMBLA that in many cases initiation into sexuality, as has been the case across cultures and millenia, is better suited to those with experience than with other youth who also have no knowledge of the complexities and responsibilities of sexuality. Hay also concurred with NAMBLA that age of consent laws are out of step with the age of sexual awakening and exploration. Harry Hay’s ideas concerning youth and sexuality were based on his desire to protect youth, not to exploit and abuse them. 
The second instance of his defense of NAMBLA was in 1994 at Stonewall 25: Spirit of Stonewall March in New York City. ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association had been granted NGO status by the UN theprevious year. As a result, the US Senate unanimously passed a motion sponsored by the right-wing senator Jesse Helms that the USA would withhold funds of more than 118 million dollars due to the UN and its sub-organizations unless the President of the USA could certify to the Congress that no agency of the United Nations "grants any official status, accreditation or recognition to any organization which promotes, condones or seeks the legalization of pedophilia or which includes as a subsidiary or member any such organization." On June 23, the week of the march, NAMBLA was expelled from ILGA, on the motion of the executive committee, and it was decided that "groups or associations whose predominant aim is to support or promote pedophilia are incompatible with the future development of ILGA." Hay felt that if the emerging gay movement allowed the outside to define it, outside forces would then control it. It was in this context that Hay was critical of ILGA’s position and stood in defense of NAMBLA. We again stand at a similar crossroads. 
It is morally and intellectually dishonest and patently false to reduce the life and work of Harry Hay to one of pederasty. He was a courageous hero who pioneered the movement for the equal rights of an entire class of people denied the basic civil rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the United States of America. A Dutch friend who spent some of his youth in a Japanese Concentration Camp in Indonesia told me recently that if Americans remain silent at this critical juncture in our history we will live to regret it. 
Speak out. Defend the reputation of our beloved Harry Hay. 
Bo and Cove Robert Croonquist aka Covelo 
(Seen on the left with friend, and White Crane publisher, Bo Young, right.)

Gay: A recent history…from Arthur Evans

Whatever happened to the word “Gay”? If you go down to the Community Center on Market Street in San Francisco, you’ll have to look long and hard until you find it. Likewise if you visit the Historical Center on Castro Street. Not to mention that it fell out of the term “Pride Week” a long time ago.

The situation reminds me of the pre-Stonewall era. Many in our community in those days were embarrassed by the word. They balked when new groups appeared calling themselves the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. But these were the groups that triggered the Gay revolution.

Rainbow Flag After Stonewall, politicians eventually deigned to talk to us, but some still choked on the word “Gay.” I remember how this reticence infuriated Chris Perry, a founder of the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club.

In the late 1970s, Chris got the club to go after Quentin Kopp, a local politician, because he couldn’t bring himself to utter the word in public. Ironically, that group today calls itself the San Francisco LGBT Democratic Club. The word has shrunk to a letter, and in second place.

The taboo on the word “Gay” developed because lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people saw the word as referring only to homosexual males. However, such a limitation was never intended. In effect, we let the popular media take a word away from us and redefine it for their own purposes, diminishing us all in the process.

Ganymede - Rubens Some academicians have added to the problem. They claim that the word with its present double meaning of both cheerful and homosexual doesn’t go back before the 19th century. Apparently, they never heard of the myth of Ganymede, the beloved of Zeus. In ancient Greek, the word “Ganymede” (Ganumedes) means both cheerful and homosexual, just like our word “Gay.” Both words come from a common Indo-European root (ga-).

The word “queer,” which has supplanted “Gay” in some quarters, is an insult. It means odd or unnatural. But there is nothing odd or unnatural about being Gay. Homophobia is the thing that’s odd and unnatural.

I acknowledge the right of other people to call themselves GLBT, or G, or queer, if they want to. But please don’t dump any those terms on me. I’m still Gay and proud.

Yours for gay liberation, Arthur Evans

Remembering Stonewall – Arthur Evans

We got a nice note from our friend, philosopher, playwright and rabblerouser, Arthur Evans:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Stonewall Riot, which initiated the modern phase of the gay liberation movement, occurred at a Manhattan gay bar forty years ago this June.StoneWallInn

Other gay riots occurred before Stonewall, but they were flashes in the pan. Stonewall was unique because its energy persisted in various organizational forms for decades. This fusion of new energy with organizational continuity is what triggered the gay revolution.

Unfortunately, I missed the Stonewall Riot itself. However, I was deeply involved in two groups that it generated: the Gay Liberation Front (G.L.F), and the Gay Activists Alliance (G.A.A.), the second of which I helped create.

In those days, politicians avoided us, the media derided us, members of the clergy called us sinful, and psychiatrists said we were sick. The same was true of even the most liberal elements of society.

For example, Carol Greitzer was the city council member for Greenwich Village and a leader of the most liberal Democratic club in the state. Yet she refused to accept, or even touch, a simple petition calling for basic civil rights for gay people.

The Village Voice, one of the most liberal newspapers in the U.S., refused to accept any ad that appealed to gay people. The New York Times refused to use the word “gay” in its news reports.

In sum, we were excluded from both civil society and the body politic. Which meant we had to elbow our way in. And so we did, using “zaps.”

These were vociferous, but nonviolent, personal confrontations with homophobes. Zaps combined theatricality, humor, and impassioned eloquence. G.A.A., in particular, at the instigation of Marty Robinson, perfected zaps into an art form.

For example, Herman Katz, the City Clerk, was responsible for issuing marriage licenses in New York. One day in 1970, out of the blue, he made scornful comments to the press about the very idea of same-sex marriage.

Wedding Cake So Marc Rubin and Pete Fisher of G.A.A. organized a take-over Katz’s office. With Marc and Pete in the lead, about a dozen of us suddenly appeared in Katz’s inner sanctum, bearing a big wedding cake with two same-sex figurines on top.

We gave coffee and donuts to the clerical staff. Pete strummed his guitar, while the rest of us sang enthusiastically about the delights of gay romance.

I took over the phones and told callers that the office was only giving marriage licenses that day to gay couples. “Are you a homosexual?” I asked one nonplussed caller. “No? Well then, you’re out of luck. Try New Jersey.”

Naturally, the police came and took us away. But the spectacle, which had been witnessed by the press, made engaging news copy.

Because of highly publicized zaps like this, hundreds of gay men and women who had been closeted were inspired to step out into the light and join the struggle.

Thanks to the lasting consequences of the Stonewall Riot, it is now possible for politicians in some parts of the nation to be openly gay. In fact, in places like San Francisco, being openly gay can help build a career in politics.

Which is a good thing. But I hope we never forget the sassy attitude of the Stonewall era to all people in authority, including even gay politicians.

Stonewall means having a sense of self worth, thinking for yourself, and taking on all the bullies.

Yours for gay liberation,
Arthur Evans

RFD: 35 Years – Remarkably Festive Divas


Join the NYC Circle of Radical Faeries for an evening of readings, ritual, high drag and magic! Celebrate the 35th anniversary of RFD,

the digest of the Radical Faerie community.

Saturday, May 30th at BLUESTOCKINGS

6:00 PM Meet, Greet, Drum and Chant

7:00 PM Readings…and…


RFDIssue132 The current issue explores the relationship between the Radical Faerie's ritual practices and Starhawk's Reclaiming Collective. It includes articles on the life of Faeries and Witches in the 1970', 80's and 90's
as well as meditations on the current practice of Faerie Ritual. Rare back copies from the last 35 years of quarterly publication will also be available for sale. 

a bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center
in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
172 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002
Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, one block south of Houston and First Avenue.

By train: F train to 2nd Ave , exit at 1st Ave , and walk one block south.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex
(a.k.a. Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will
be very, very close.

The Rainbow Key Awards

Mark and Malcolm at home 3  

The Rainbow Key Award was created to recognize individuals and organizations whose efforts have significantly benefited the Lesbian and Gay community, and since 1993, has been bestowed upon more than 70 artists, educators, activists, civic leaders, and community organizations. The Award is presented by the City Council on the recommendation of the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. Nominations may be made by anyone, and nominees may labor in any area of endeavor; eligibility is not restricted by geography or sexual orientation.

The 2009 Rainbow Key Award for significantly benefiting the Lesbian and Gay community will be presented to White Crane friends and advisors Canon Malcolm Boyd and Mark Thompson by the City of West Hollywood at a civic event on June 17. The Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board of West Hollywood cites the couple for "showing by example that Gay, intergenerational partnerships can be stable, loving and long-lasting." This year marks the couple's twenty-fifth anniversary.

It couldn't happen to two nicer people.

Some Community News

  The Gates and The Sisters The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have been a colorful and important part of the LGBT community on both coasts for three decades. Now the divine theater of these highly effective and colorful provocateurs will be officially enshrined in a special exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library.

Entitled "Under a Full Moon: 30 Years of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," the show traces the sacred and profane activities of these men in nun's habits. The display features photographs, internal records like their holy vows and "Pink Saturday Handbook," and artifacts like the habit of founding member Sister Missionary Position (now known as Sister Soami).

The Sisters began in 1979 with three men borrowed habits from retired nuns and ventured out into the Castro District on a moonlit eve. Since then, the group has grown to include 600 sisters in eight countries. They have raised money to fight AIDS with bingo games and other theme events, served as security guards at the Castro District's Halloween fete, combatted hate crimes and promoted safe sex. In 2007, they drew the ire of right-wing talk show hosts when two members in full drag received the Eucharist from Archbishop George Niederauer.

I love how, in this video, they are identified as "mocking" the Catholic Church (as if!). Watching it, it seems like they are nothing less than quite respectful to this observer. Their avowed mission: to "promote universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt." Their motto: "go forth and sin some more."

Along the way, they have become an indelible part of San Francisco. The show runs March 20 through May 7 at the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, Third Floor, Main Library.

HarryHayApril1996AnzaBorego And on Another Coast altogether, some interesting news involving Ugly Betty actor, Michael Urie, who  Michael%20urie plays "Marc St. James," the catty, ambitious and hilarious assistant to Vanessa Williams delicious "Wilhemina Slater"…word in today's papers that he will star in The Tempermentals, a play by Jon Marans starting April 30 at the Barrow Group Studio Theater. The play is about the origins of the Mattachine Society, started by Harry Hay in 1950 when "tempermental" was a code word for Gay.

The Temperamentals tells the story of two men – the communist Harry Hay and the young Viennese refugee and designer Rudi Gernreich, weaving together the personal and the political to tell a sadly relatively unknown (to some) chapter in Gay history. It explores the deepening love between two complex men, while they build the first Gay rights organization in the United States pre Stonewall.

If I am not mistaken, we actually saw an early version of this play as part of a small theater festival featuring new work a couple of years ago. It was wonderful then. Maybe, like the rest of us, it's only gotten better with age?

That's all the word we have on it. Will report more when we know it!

And now…a little history courtesy of the Sisters:

Circle Voting

Circlevotingsubhead_2 We want to call your attention to an important website in this election season. Long time Gay activist, Murray Edelman, who was the editorial director of the Voter News Service, a polling consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, and the Associated Press that famously was involved in the 2000 Bush/Gore contest and the fate of the Florida vote, has been developing the idea of Circle Voting.

Murray helped develop the first exit polls and has conducted them for over 20 years. One of his legacies is the only continuous body of Gay/Lesbian voting data from the exit poll since 1990. Edelman received his BS in Mathematics from the University of Illinois and his PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago in 1973. He has been the only out Gay President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the largest and most influential body of survey research professionals.

Please, check out Circle Voting.


A full conversation with Murray appears in the fall issue of White Crane, Community. But one of the most important ideas in his Circle Voting project is this: Fully 1/3 of registered voters who say they voted in the last election did not. That bears repeating: 1/3 of REGISTERED voters in the last election, who say they voteddid not. We can’t afford this in this next election. The stakes are too high.

Rest In Peace – John Burnside

John Burnside 1916 – 2008

It is just incredibly sad to announce that John Burnside, Harry Hay’s lifetime partner, has passed, peacefully in San Francisco, surrounded by the circle of Radical Faeries who have taken care of him since Harry passed.

Johnburnside_2John Lyon Burnside III
November 2, 1916 – September 14, 2008

John Lyon Burnside III passed away peacefully at the age of 91 in this home on Sunday, September 14 surrounded by the Circle of Loving Companions who had been caring for him. He had been recently diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer.

John was an activist, inventor, dancer, physicist, a founder of the Radical Faeries, and partners for nearly 40 years with Harry Hay. Hay started the Gay rights organization the Mattachine Society in 1950 and is considered a founder of the modern gay freedom movement.

John Burnside was born on November 2, 1916 and was an only child . He joined the Navy at age 16. Soon after his discharge he was married to Edith Sinclair.

He studied physics and mathematics at UCLA, graduating in 1945. John pursued a wartime career in the aircraft industry, eventually securing a job at Lockheed as a staff scientist.

His interest in optical engineering lead to his invention of the teleidoscope, an innovative variation on the kaleidoscope that works without the traditional glass chips to color the view. Instead it turns whatever is in front of its telescopic viewfinder into a symmetrical mandala. His patent on the device allowed him in 1958 to drop out of mainstream society and set up the California Kalidoscopes in Los Angeles which soon became a successful design and manufacturing plant. The teleidoscope was sold in stores across the country and was featured in the Village Voice.

John continued his optical innovations in the 1970s, creating the Symetricon, a large mechanical kaleidoscopic device that projects intricate, colorful patterns. Images from the symetricon were used in a number of Hollywood films, including Logan’s Run.

It was in 1963 that John made perhaps the biggest change of his life. After befriending Gay workers at his teleidoscope factory he learned of the ONE Institute, a Gay community center in downtown Los Angeles. While attending a seminar at ONE in September of that year he met Harry Hay. The two began a whirlwind romance and, after divorcing Edith, John moved in with Harry.

Together John and Harry were involved in many of the Gay movement’s key moments. In May of 1966 the two were part of a 15 car motorcade through downtown Los Angeles protesting the military’s exclusion of homosexuals. The event is considered one of the country’s first gay protest marches.

John and Harry appeared as a Gay couple on the Joe Pyne television show in Los Angeles in 1967, two years before the Stonewall riots in New York. In 1969 they participated in the founding meetings of the Southern California Gay Liberation Front, which met in John’s teleidoscope factory.

Harryandjohnlacuesta_2 Drawn by Harry’s lifelong interest in Native American culture and a shared involvement with the Indian Land and Life Committee, they moved to San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico in 1970. While there, John and Harry were interviewed for the groundbreaking Gay documentary Word is Out. John was honored at the Frameline GLBT Film Festival in San Francisco this year during the 30th anniversary screening of the film. He was also featured in Eric Slade’ s 2002 documentary film about Hay, Hope Along the Wind.

In 1979 John and Harry joined with fellow activists Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker to call the first Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries. Fed up with the Gay movement’s steady drift towards mainstream assimilation, the gathering called to Gay men across the country. Since that time dozens of Faerie gatherings have been called around the world and permanent Radical Faerie sanctuaries have formed across the country. The movement helped to nurture and create a specifically Gay centered spiritual exploration and tradition.

John published a short essay in 1989 titled "Who are the Gay People?", that helped explain his views of Gay people’s role in the world. John writes,

“The crown of Gay being is a way of loving, of reaching to love in a way that far transcends the common mode.”

In 1999 John and Harry moved to San Francisco where they continued their activist work. A group of Radical Faeries, the Circle of Loving Companions, became caretakers for the two of them. Harry Hay died in 2002 at the age of 90. The two had been together for 39 years.

In a 1989 Valentine to Harry, John Burnside wrote, “Hand in hand we walk, as wing tip to wing tip our spirits roam the universe, finding lovers everywhere. Sex is music. Time in not real. All things are imbued with spirit.”

John was a familiar and much loved presence in San Francisco’s LGBT Community. He rode every year, including this last, in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade. He never missed a single Faerie Coffee Circle held each Saturday in San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center.

Speaking for the Circle of Loving Companions, John’s friend of 27 years, Joey Cain said:

“We are sadden by our dear, sweet John’s passing, but are gratified that John’s last years were happy and he was surrounded by people who loved him. His life dispelled the notion that haunted all the early LGBT freedom fighters, that without the hetero family structure you will die lonely and unloved. The work that John, Harry and the other LGBT pioneers did has dispelled that destiny forever for all of us.”

Donations in John’s honor may be made to the Harry Hay Fund, to continue the activist work of John Burnside and Harry Hay.  Donations may be sent to

The Harry Hay Fund
c/o Chas Nol
174 ½ Hartford Street
San Francisco, CA 94114


A celebration of the life of John Burnside
Saturday, November 8, 2008
12:00 noon
San Francisco LGBT Community Center
1800 Market Street
San Francisco

Wear something festive.

Public street parking is limited.
The Center is accessible by public transportation.
     MUNI J,K,L,M,N,F    
     bus lines 6,7,61,71

Pearls Over Shanghai

Dear Lovers of the Sublime and the Ridiculous,

Cockettes Sunday night I saw the Thrillpeddlers, a young and gorgeous San Francisco theater company, perform a revival of the Cockettes’ wacky, sweet "Oriental" musical Pearls Over Shanghai in repertory with Charles Ludlam’s Jack in the Beanstalk.  Both were great.  Pearls was  beautiful.   Fayetta Hauser and Billy Bowers’  created a  visual feast.   It’s not by chance The Cockettes documentary is being screened at the Jeu de Paume for Paris fashion week later in the month with docs about Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.

Scrumbly Koldewyn’s music is lush and gorgeous.  Chris Tanner made a guest appearance to sing Jaded Lady and word has it that Justin Bond will sing it Wednesday.   The show is a surrealist dreamscape that belongs in performanace at MoMA or the Whitney.  The Thrillpeddlers have done 1969 proud.

So come on out for the FINAL PERFORMANCES.

Theodora__limbo_lounge_flyer_small TONITE, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER  9 at  8 p.m., Charles Busch’s THEODORA, SHE BITCH OF BYZANTIUM and the Thrillpeddlers’ BLUE HOUR VARIETY ACTS

Pearls WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 at 8  p.m., the Cockettes’ PEARLS OVER SHANGHAI and Charles Ludlam’s JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

45 BLEEKER THEATER @ Lafayette and Bleeker.

PASS THE WORD.  Tickets are $15 each and well worth it.