“Revel in your faggotry!” This was the commandment given to us at the beginning of Xrysalis: Gathering of Queer People of Color, an event taking place last week in the Redwoods of Mendocino County, about 100 miles north of San Francisco.
The weekend had some ground rules: no white or straight people were allowed to watch us partying, dancing or doing drag. We would be, if only briefly, entirely free from the white heterosexual gaze – a new experience for many of the 50 participants.
Instead, Xrysalis was reserved for radical faeries of color.
According to William Stewart, a member of the Groundswell Institute, which hosted the event, the radical faerie tradition can be traced to the Gay Liberation Front. The word “faerie” was a reclamation of being swishy, Stewart explained, and a form of rebellion against hypermasculinity.