Faerie Freedom Village history
[ at San Francisco Pride festivals]
Posted June 10th, 2009
[ Radical Faerie Digest [RFD] --
issue # 138, summer 2009]
Faerie Freedom Village originated from a common feeling that
we had lost a sense of connection.
San Francisco Pride had become such a huge event that it was challenging to meet new queers
or even to commune with friends.
The dominant theme was commercialization with inescapable beer and liquor banners hanging in every corner. Pride seemed like something to be bought rather than experienced. In that kind of environment, it was all too easy to become jaded. We faeries all felt we needed something different, way different!
In the late 1990's, DJ Buttercup spontaneously created the first unofficial Faerie Village. Finding a piece of grass at the outskirts of the Pride event, he brought his dj equipment, called his friends over and threw down some tunes. A community chill space was born.
After that first manifestation, a group of faeries got together to discuss how this kind of community event could occur again. Joey Cain, Scooterpie, Bloobird, and Owen sat down to brainstorm what it would take to get official sanction.
The thing we quickly discovered is that SF Pride is not the evil corporation that many outsiders perceive it to be. The individuals who make up the organization are queers just like us. In small meetings, they showed us how they also felt trapped by corporate sponsorship. It was something needed in order to have the money to produce such a large event-- a catch 22: how do you give the community what it wants but be able to afford it at the same time. Keeping in mind Harry Hay's notion of subject-subject consciousness, we entered into a relationship with the administrators of SF Pride.
The idea of a non-commercial community space is exactly what both we and they needed to help regain the spirit that had been lost. Owen and Bloobird did a lot of the official interface. They scouted out a new larger grassy area by UN Plaza that would become our oasis. They took care of writing up an official proposal, getting sound and loading permits, and finding the stage/sound equipment. They negotiated for there to be a fence with green covering to surround the area so we could be nude within it. The visual barrier also provided a level of intimacy, separating us from the surrounding chaos.
Financing the Village has always been an interesting balancing act. The Village is a commercial free zone so we have to find our money outside traditional corporate means. At first we participated in official fundraising activities at the gates of the Pride event, but it didn't feel right, even if we weren't doing it directly in front of the Village. We wanted Pride Sunday to be free from exchanges of cash. So we tried other things. We held a beer bust benefit at the Eagle Tavern, and we applied for a grant from The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The official Pride Committee, realizing that our community space was a popular success, also donated money to us. Even though it felt like every year we were scrambling for money, somehow it came through.
As the years went on, the Village eventually needed to double in size. New issues of how to maintain our space came up. We had to begin to understand flow control. We needed to train safety monitors and have greeters at our entry point to maintain a level of connection. Visual creativity became more of a focus since we didn't just want to have baracades. At times we worried about it seeming like an exclusive club. Jokie X Wilson, who had created community murals at earlier Village manifestations, took on the role of producer. The original vision was kept alive with the help of painters, performers, DJs, photographers, magicians, musicians, drag queens, sculptors-- the old as well as the young, the rich as well as the homeless.
A crossover with Burning Man queers has started to emerge in recent years. Their biggest influence has been in teaching us how to create artwork on a large scale. After the expansion of the Village, art had a tendency to almost disappear at times. But the Burning Man pieces can be appreciated from far away. They beckon to be explored. Faeries fascinate those who can see them.
Every year, we've found a space to meet old friends and new. Somehow we've been able to guide new people to produce the Faerie Freedom Village event over the years. Just when we think it's over, some new energy blows in. Magick manifests itself in unknowable ways.
If you'd like to get involved with this year's event
figure out how to create a Faerie Freedom Village space
at your community Pride event,
then please check out
[ For more,
please see http://www.RFDmag.org