Living in a Real Life Faerieland

From the series "Nimbin"
Claire Martin—Oculi
Spider Cutie, a resident faerie, dresses up for the local farmers market.

My Dad came out to me a couple of weeks after I came out to him. We were driving to church of all places, I was sixteen and he and I were in the car and he came out to me while we were driving. We pulled out under a big jacaranda tree by the river and started talking and talking.

When he told me, it was the first time I had heard it but there was this strange experience of “I know.” I really don’t know how to explain it – no one had ever told me he was gay, he’d never told me, but when he said it I wasn’t shocked. It was like I’d always known, even though I didn’t know, I sensed my father’s difference. There is an essence there that is tangible, a tangible gay quality, and I was able to perceive that in a more intuitive way. I didn’t know anything about gay culture at that time, but I could feel it. It makes me think a bit about what is this — this gay essence.

—Snake Man, Australian Radical Faerie


Hear audio of  Spiral Orbit, age 33, Australian Radical Faerie and member of the Faerieland diaspora, speak about his experiences as a faerie.

Harry Hay, an American gay rights activist was striving to answer the same question back in 1979 when he formed the Radical Faeries, a movement that seeks to discover the true meaning of being gay. He spoke out against what he perceived as the harmful heterosexual assimilationist attitudes of the mainstream gay movement, insisting that gayness is about so much more than just a sexual preference. Men who identified with this message wondered what would happen if Queerfolk were set apart from society, free to investigate their true spirit in a completely gay culture. So the call to discover a gay identity, distinct from the layers of heterosexual cultural indoctrination, began. Faerie sanctuaries were formed in the U.S.A. and gradually spread around the world.

Faerieland, the Australian Radical Faerie sanctuary is a beautiful forested piece of land that has been the home to the Oz Faeries since 2002 thanks to the vision and dedication of several men who communally own and maintain the property. They have an open door policy that welcomes all gay people who are seeking something more – be it a rural gay experience, sanctuary from a hostile world or a safe space to explore the complex relationships between their spirituality, identity and sexuality.

Celebrating gay culture in rural areas as opposed to the urban gay experience is central to the Faerie movement, which at it’s mythological roots emphasizes Pagan and indigenous culture, although you don’t need to live in the country to be a Faerie and you don’t have to subscribe to any doctrine. It has been said that it can be as challenging to define “Radical Faerie” as it is to define “Human Being.” To be a Faerie is an act of self-definition. What can be said for certain is the Radical Faerie way of life has helped many gay men understand and strengthen their gay identity despite living in a society that at its best accepts but does not understand and at it’s worst rejects and denies the true meaning of being gay.

My personal work has always focused on marginalization and stigma in the context of fringe communities. In this respect the Radical Faeries felt like a natural fit for me. While I am not gay, the common ground I had with the Faeries plight for acceptance was my broader understanding of the detrimental effects of stigma in one’s life. What excited me most about discovering Faerieland was the possibility to photograph a story where the crux for change lies in the culture of the wider society, not within the fringe community itself. It was a joy to photograph a story about love, acceptance and creativity that also carries a strong message about the problems and prejudices in society and culture today.


Claire Martin is a documentary photographer based between in Los Angeles, Calif. and Perth, Australia. She is a member of the Australian Documentary Photo Collective “Oculi.” Her work is distributed through Agency VU in Europe and Redux in the USA.


Related Topics: , , ,

Latest Posts

U Ku Tha La, 38, head monk at Nang Mal Khon Phoe Pyar Monastery. Kaw Ku Village, Kayah State.

Transforming Lives in Burma, One Solar Panel at a Time

In Burma, where only a quarter of the population has access to electricity, solar panels can change lives, as Spanish photographer Ruben Salgado Escudero found out

Read More
Diana Walker—Contour by Getty Images for TIME

An Intimate Portrait of Hillary Clinton in Photographs

LOVED ONE LOST:NAME: Jabril BradleyAGE: 20DOB: 10/6/1990SEX: MaleDATE OF DEATH: 9/1/2011TIME: After MidnightLOCATION: 9th st and Ave of the States, Chester, PACIRCUMSTANCES LEADING UP TO MURDER: Bradley was riding his bike home from a friend’s house on the east side of Chester, September 1, 2011, when an unknown gunman opened fire. He was struck in the back once and continued to ride his bike home. A number of blocks later he collapsed to the ground from blood loss. He bled to death on the street. Bradley’s family claim that he was shot because of mistaken identity. According to his mother, Bradley was supposed to still be in prison. He was serving a sentence for possession of a controlled substance and was allegedly released before his time was up. Within weeks of his murder, the FBI came looking for Bradley at his mothers house, claiming that he got released by mistake. IN PHOTOGRAPH:NAME OF FAMILY MEMBERS: Sister to Jabril Bradley: Danita Harris, 30.Son to Danita Harris: Jah’lil Harris, 3.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 23, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,636 other followers