The first day of the first Faerie Gathering that called itself “A SPIRITUAL CONFERENCE OF RADICAL FAERIES,” was on this date, held in Benson Arizona, on Labor Day Weekend, 1979. Harry Hay, the “father of the gay rights movement” began the Mattachine society in 1950. In 1970, Hay moved to New Mexico in a quest to find a living berdache (a Native American Gay male spirit guide). In 1978, Hay, along with life partner John Burnside, and Don Kilhefner, and Mitch Walker, issued a Call to a group devoted to ecology, spiritual truth and Gay-centeredness. In 1979, the first gathering of Radical Faeries took place in the Arizona desert with over 200 gay men in attendance. Kilhefner continues to make slanderous statements about John Burnside’s participation in a vainglorious attempt to claim for himself the title of “Founder of the Radical Faeries”. But anyone claiming to have “founded” the Radical Faeries simply doesn’t understand the core beliefs of the group. The Radical Faeries was the product of nothing less than a zeitgeist moment in the Gay men’s liberation movement. The ideas that are core to the movement had been circulating widely in San Francisco, the Midwest, Los Angeles and no doubt elsewhere for a long time. 

There had been earlier usage of the term “radical faerie” employed in San Francisco by author (“Witchcraft & The Gay Counterculture“) and Gay philosopher, Arthur Evans, which a group of men who met regularly including Murray Edelman.  The desert Gathering seemed to create the “tipping point” for the movement which is now spread internationally, with Radical Faerie groups and sanctuaries in Europe, South America, India and Australia.

The text of The Call for the first gathering:

THE FIRST CALL: To share new insights about ourselves; To dance in the moonlight; To renew our oath against patriarchy/corporations/racism; To hold, protect, nurture and caress one another; To talk about the politics of Gay enspiritment/the enspiritment of Gay politics; To find the healing space inside our hearts; To become Inspirer/Listener as we share new breakthroughs in how we perceive Gay consciousness; To soar like an eagle; To re-discover/re-invent our myths; To talk about Gay living/loving alternatives; To experience the groundedness of the calamus root; To share out Gay visions;To sing, sing, sing; TO EVOKE A GREAT FAERIE CIRCLE