The Minstrel


Definitions: Radical Faerie
April 23, 2008, 1:37 pm
Filed under: LGBTQ

During the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, chief counsel to McCarthy’s subcommittee on investigations, Roy Cohn, denied being a homosexual. Joseph Welch, the Army’s attorney in the hearings, asked a witness if a photo entered as evidence “came from a pixie,” defining “pixie” for McCarthy as “a close relative of a fairy.” Hearing attendees laughed; Roy Cohn called the remark “malicious,” “wicked,” and “indecent.” In 1984, Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS, but he insisted that the disease was liver cancer.

Meanwhile, on November 11, 1950, Harry Hay and a small group of friends met and organized as the Mattachine Society. The group incorporated in 1954. The name Mattachine derived from the French Société Mattachine, a French medieval and renaissance masque group; Hay explained:

The 1950s Gays were also a masked people, unknown and anonymous, who might become engaged in morale building and helping ourselves and others, through struggle, to move toward total redress and change.

Hay also founded the Radical Faeries in 1979. Hay spoke of the ills of conformity:

We pulled ugly green frog skin of heterosexual conformity over us, and that’s how we got through school with a full set of teeth. . . .  We know how to live through their eyes. We can always play their games, but are we denying ourselves by doing this? If you’re going to carry the skin of conformity over you, you are going to suppress the beautiful prince or princess within you.

As May Day approaches, and sap rises in the woodlands rendering vibrant browns and fertile greens, Faeries prepare to gather. Perhaps, these woodland creatures are the sort to disappear at the first glimmer of the rising sun, or upon scholarly quest for definition. To beseech is to startle these wild creatures away — whitetail flag. To understand, perhaps, one must not analytically define, but dance in firelight to bongos as the Beltane moon rises above the misty mountain tops. Pure magic by nature resists definition.

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