Tag Archives: queer

A Conference Report Faggots and Class Struggle 1976

A Conference Report Faggots and Class Struggle (click on the title to download).

This is a copy of Morning Due V.2, Issue 6, which was produced by attended a gathering at Magdalen Farm, which is now Wolf Creek Sanctuary.

At the end of this interview, someone reflects on the gathering.

And here is a where you can purchase recorded exerts from the conference.

I plan on writing more about this, but I wanted to post this as soon as I could.

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The Fool Speaks the Truth

From September 27-30 2012, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies and the Harry Hay Centennial Committee sponsored “Radically Gay: The Life & Visionary Legacy of Harry Hay,” a conference to commemorate the 100th birthday of Harry Hay. I responded to the call for papers with a proposal to discuss how current Radical Faeries use or think of the queer past and archetypes. I wanted to put this in conversation with Harry Hay’s research motivations and his general interest in past queer figures. Through participant observation at 2011 Wolf Creek Samhain and an interview with Portland Radical Faerie and clown Michael Zero, I contest some queer theorists vision of queer space as “fragile” and “ephemeral” and instead begin to build a theory of sustained queer space and community.

This presentation is the second one I have produced out of this set of research. The first is here. The page limit was 10. I had to cut out some important discussions of clowning that I hope to put into the larger project, which is a dissertation tentatively titled “Sustaining Gay Liberation: The Practice of Radical Faerie Culture.”

Below is the abstract. Click The Fool Speaks the Truth for the paper. Thoughts, comments, and critiques are welcome. Please send feedback to mlecker at gmu dot edu.

The Fool Speaks the Truth: The Creation of Queer Archetypes in the Radical Faerie Community

Harry Hay asked of gay men, “Who are we? Where did we come from? What are we for?” and looked to other cultures (including Medieval Europe, Iron Age British Isles, goddess worshiping cultures, and Pueblo cultures) to validate sexually and gendered others as having a legitimate and important role within society–a role destroyed within contemporary patriarchal and capitalistic Western Culture. Hay theorized that men who loved men constituted a third gender, a minority within humanity that has its own language, culture, and skills. In 1979, Hay’s research turned to praxis through the manifestation of the Radical Faeries, a loose network of people who explore queer spirituality, community, and identity through gathering and consciousness raising. Using research collected via participant observation at various gatherings and through interviewing Radical Faeries, this paper documents how three decades after its inception, Radical Faeries use, but also distance themselves from, Hay’s initial teachings and approach, while creating new roles such as the “Stag King.” These roles legitimatize the Radical Faerie’s existence outside of mainstream gay and lesbian culture, while also creating multiple positions of power to contest and critique the Radical Faerie community and the broader culture at large. From these events and interviews what becomes clear is an expressed desire and need amongst participants to build, and plug into a queer genealogy or mythos, which ultimately sustains this queer institution and contributes to its longevity. The ethics of using figures from other time periods or cultures to ground Western same-sex or queer sexual identity has been debated with LGBTQ studies for nearly four decades. In this paper, I reject the good/bad judgment imposed by some scholars and instead conjure what David Halperin calls  “a sensitivity to difference [that] need not rule out identification… or form of queer multiplicity and solidarity.”

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Transcription of “History of the Faeries”

From January 12-16th, the Philly Radical Faeries hosted the 2nd Annual Philly Faerie Gatherette. On January 15th 2012, as part of the event, Murray Edelman, Joey Cain, Agnes de Garron, and audience members discussed Radical Faerie History and issues surrounding the preservation of history and the divide between public and private. Peter “speck” Lien videotaped the event and posted it here. I, Husk (Michael Lecker), transcribed it. If you find any mistakes, please let me know (michaellecker at gmail dot com).

Here is the file: History of the Faeries (including- Murray Edelman, Joey Cain, and Agnes de Garron)

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Faerie Futurity

This is the first presentation of my research on the Radical Faeries. This writing is based on my last four months of fieldwork. The sites I have visited so far are Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Sanctuaries in Minnesota and Oregon. I have had an amazing journey so far. I get to spend time practicing yoga, cooking, talking, and camping with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I am indebted to the Faeries who have welcomed me into their fabulous lives and let me interview them. I sadly have not had time to review all of my material. I got back from Portland two days ago and this paper is due tomorrow morning— so it’s not my best piece of writing or a comprehensive sampling of sites. However, I have begun engaging with one idea that I think will become central to my project— queer genealogy is what I am currently calling it. I invite Radical Faeries to comment and critique this concept and the paper, either on this website or through sending me an email (mlecker at gmu dot edu). Take care, sistabrothers.

Love, Husk (formerly known as Quill).

This paper entitled Faerie Futurity will be presented at the Annual American Anthropological Association Meeting in Montreal at 8:00 AM on November 18, 2011.

Here is the paper.

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Contemporary Theories of Sexuality Field

To become a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at George Mason University, one must complete two fields—literature reviews of areas of study. My fields were “Mass Culture and Urban Space” and “Contemporary Theories of Sexuality.” Attached below is the “Contemporary Theories of Sexuality” field, but before that is my introduction.

INTRODUCTION

In this overview of contemporary theories of sexuality, I trace sexuality as a public and political issue. The purpose is to understand how a supposedly private issue became a space to regulate bodies, but also a space for marginal subjects to contest norms. Theories I consider will discuss in numerous ways the political importance of history, social constructionism, essentialism, desire, bodies, identity, community, and normativity. I follow the field’s trajectory by examining four major movements: psychoanalysis, feminism, gay and lesbian studies, and queer theory, and their initial and continuing impact on how sexuality is theorized.

Contemporary Theories of Sexuality Field

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Grant Application

I have been searching for grants to fund my dissertation for a few weeks. It has been a frustrating experience. Surprise, surprise, not a whole lot of institutions want to fund the humanities. I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center’s Blanton Owen Fund Award. I have never applied for a grant and since I discovered the opportunity two days before it was due, I did not have a lot of time to revise. Please feel free to provide feedback on the proposal; this is part of my dissertation proposal and also any recommendations on how to write a grant proposal, if I erred, are welcome.

The proposal is to fund a trip to IDA, a Radical Faerie commune in central Tennessee.

Oral History and Communal Living at IDA Proposal

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American University 5th Annual GLBT Studies Colloquium

American University is hosting its 5th Annual GLBT Studies Colloquium. The colloquium is part of an effort to create connections and a sense of communities among GLBT studies and queer theorist scholars in the DC metropolitan area.

Please submit abstracts at this link.

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The Humanity of Hate

I watched this documentary and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would share.

Louis Theroux’s documentary The Most Hated Family in America provides insight into the daily lives of the Phelps family, creators of http://www.godhatesfags.com and picketers of almost every kind of event. (They seem to pick an enemy of the day.) Through the documentary you see their ridiculous campaigns and the ignorance produced from strong emotion (hate). Their lives depend on hating others; this obviously closes them off from understanding the other’s position and reinforces their opposition to them (obviously).

The interesting twist is that you also see the normality of their lives. The teenagers act like teens and if the video was edited you would not even know they were in a cult; the only difference is they have no interest in dating, the end of time is near and God needs soldiers, not a populated Earth, and they hate everyone who is not them. The seemingly normality of their lives made me question what role plays in typical US subject, is hate already so central to who we are that dedicating your life to it does not radically reshape your subjectivity?

Louis Theroux does an excellent job of documenting, but also intervening. He is not pretending to be a fly on the wall. Instead he attempts to get the family to think about their lives, what they do to others, and their beliefs. I actually prefer this style. It does not pretend to be objective; he’s biased and obviously does not agree with the family’s stance, but he wants to understand. This is why he prods and makes the family members uncomfortable. He wants to know why they hate. He makes it personal because they hate him. He has a baby and is not married. Everyone is worthy of hate in their eyes.

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In Defense of Zack Rosen

Freedom to Marry is a non-profit that works to “win” the fight for marriage equality across the nation. By this they do not mean dismantling the institution of marriage because it creates a privileged class of coupled people, who get tax incentives and visitors from non-blood relative in hospitals. They mean to spread marriage to gay men and lesbians. A conservative cause, but a cause none-the-less. (I might critique marriage and liberal politics later – as for now I will move onto the current situation.)

Freedom to Marry had a contest to grant three scholarships to attend Netroots Nation, a conference aimed at discussing how technology can be used to change politics. DC’s own Zack Rosen entered the contest and was one of the finalist. Rosen plans to use this opportunity to make connections and enhance his website The New Gay. Ten finalists… three spots… how to win? Well, Zack promises to post a picture of himself naked if he wins.

He won and posted nude photos. He wrote in his post:

“1. Gay men’s bodies aren’t shameful things.
2. Gay sex is natural and pretty damn fun.
3. No one ever won equal rights by keeping their oppressors comfortable.”

Of course, people are upset. Enter Zack Ford, one of the other winners and his blog post.

After detailing Rosen’s tactics, Ford comments, “he knew lots of gay men would do anything to see an erect penis, he offered an erect penis, and he got the votes.” I think this is a bit facile. Rosen’s tactics are not built off of the depravity of gay men, as Ford would have us believe. Instead his tactics were creative, interesting, and innocent. The naked body is not something sacred. I think Rosen is putting sexuality and politics together in an interesting way. We often separate the two to the point that it becomes scandalous when politicians have sex and the gay movement’s been desexualized. Instead of showing us some lame image of some white guy in a tie, he showed us his nude body with a paper-plate in front of his cock.  Why should I not take someone who I’ve seen naked seriously? Gay men, such as myself, did not vote for Rosen because of the potential to see his cock (the internet is full of cock and no offense to Rosen, but cock’s look pretty much the same). I voted for Zack because he offers an alternative viewpoint and is not afraid of using queer politics. He offered an image of someone who wanted to get married that did not scream “assimilation.”

Next Ford writes, “More importantly, I think what he did was disrespectful to the other finalists, disrespectful to the organizations funding the scholarship, and disrespectful to the cause for marriage equality.” How? Does nudity offend these people? Yes, Rosen tactic’s work different, but he used an angle to spread a message. He got me, a guy who does not care about marriage to go to a website for same-sex marriage. Mission accomplished?

Ford then brings up the “ick factor.” The ick factor is heterosexist culture’s inability to digest the fact that GLBT folk have sex. He argues that we should avoid playing into the ick factor because it will diminish our ability to gain same-sex marriage. Is this the only cause? I’d like to think that changing the minds of heterosexists is much more important than gaining tax incentives or being more privileged than single people. The grossness of our sex is why we are abject. I teach and have students who freak out when two men kiss in a film. Same-sex marriage will not change this. People will still be gay bashed for holding hands. I’d rather confront people with the ick factor than pretend marriage will make people think that same-sex and transgender desire is not gross.

In the end, Ford makes a long and quite puritanical rant against promiscuity. Who is his ally in this crusade against promiscuity? A “teabagger.” Not the best of allies in the fight for rights. Ford is making the argument that Andrew Sullivan makes in Virtually Normal. Sullivan argues gay men are normal and that straight culture will accept us and validate us, once we show them how normal we are. This is assimilation. The price of being “normal” is rejecting people from the GLBT community who are not straight-acting, not monogamous, differently abled, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, economically disadvantaged, and/or a racial/ethnic minority.

This represents what I cannot stand about the GL movement. The prize is marriage. Only Marriage. Nothing else matters. The ends justify the means.

I’ll end with a quote from someone I usually disagree with, but she makes a point that extends into the current state of GLBT politics.

“Feminism is dying here because so many women who say they are feminists are collaborators and cowards”- Andrea Dworkin

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Everything is Dangerous

“My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous, which is not exactly the same as bad. If everything is dangerous, then we always have something to do. So my position leads not to apathy but to hyper- and pessimistic – activism.

Michel Foucault 1983

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