In Numen, Old Men I write about the Radical Faeries as possibly the best example we have of a “spiritual men’s movement” that doesn’t reinforce oppressive masculine stereotypes. Describing themselves, the Radical Faeries say:
We’re decentralized, and nobody’s in charge—so every faerie who you ask will give a slightly different definition of ‘Radical Faerie.’ Generally, we tend to be gay men who look for a spiritual dimension to our sexuality; many of us are healers of one kind or another. Our shared values include feminism, respect for the Earth, and individual responsibility rather than hierarchy. Many of us are Pagan (nature-based religion).
So it was with some interest that I stumbled upon a piece about them in the latest issue of the high-end fashion and culture magazine Wonderland. The piece is called Hairy Faeries: Dressing Up with the Radical Faeries and Spreading their Message of Individuality (unfortunately it’s not online, but here’s a taken-in-store-phone-snap):
Stumbling across the Radical Faeries, for me, was a bit like discovering and joining the Circus, I always dreamed of running away with as a kid—except the Radical Faeries Circus/Tribe is freakier, lovelier, louder and more Technicolor than anything I might have daydreamed up.
There are then a few—suitably lovely—full page pictures of Faeries.
But here’s the problem: The above quote is the ONLY text accompanying the pictures. There is nothing about who the Radical Faeries are and what they stand for (check out Peter Hennen’s book Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen for a good answer). Instead, we have some nice photos with credits such as “Huckelfery’s bracelet by so and so; earrings by whoever.” What does having a “fashion assistance” credit say about the supposed “message of individuality”? And what would Harry Hay—main founder of the Radical Faeries who was very vocal about his Marxist worldview—have to say about them being used as message-free models to sell trinkets?
Certainly, it is great to get the potential of the Radical Faeries out to a wider audience, but at what cost? Would I appear in Wonderland if I could advertise The Masculinity Conspiracy? You bet I would, but I hope I’d manage the process sufficiently so I could—albeit briefly—communicate my point.