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Faerie Freedom Village 

Wednesday, Jun 24 2015
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This year, San Francisco Pride's sponsors include Virgin America, Whole Foods, and a lot of liquor companies and beer brands, like Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, and Bud Light Lime. That's par for the course as LGBT events go, but more controversially, Genentech, PG&E, Chase, and McDonald's are also backers of SF Pride. So, too, is Facebook, notwithstanding ongoing contretemps over its habit of telling users what their "real" names are.

That's a lot of logos, even for a community whose TV network is called Logo. Needless to say, not everyone under the LGBT rainbow loves all the commodification, but the Radical Faeries can always be relied on to do something about it.

In case you aren't familiar with the Faeries, they're a staunchly anticommercial tribe of queer men (some of whom may not identify as queer or male). Co-founded by Harry Hay — who was notoriously too gay for the communists and too left-wing for many assimilationist gays — the Faeries are a hedonistic band of pagans who love giving back rubs in the great outdoors, preferably near hot springs. High markups and registered trademarks? They're not so into that.

Taking up a quarter-acre of U.N. Plaza, the Faerie Freedom Village is a decorated camp that will be a wonderland full of music, live cabaret, fishnets, glitter, sarongs, feathered earrings, pasties, rainbows, floppy hats, exposed tattoos, tambourines, sensuous touch, short shorts, drummers, jewels, headdresses made of things foraged from the forest floor, drag shows, DJs, radical self-expression, and everything you'd generally find at Burning Man minus the abrasive dust, luxe Airstreams, and rapidly melting ice. An islet of noncommercial calm in the corporatized festival, it's also the community stage that's been around the longest.

Lead organizer Benjamin Patterson is spearheading the Village's re-creation. Calling it a "chillout space that's set off" from the "chaos" of Pride, he'll be setting things up all day Saturday and "glamping" in Civic Center with a few volunteers to hold things down and make sure nothing walks off in the middle of the night, including the ore evanescent components like magic and transcendence.

As a subtle rebuke to Airbnb and Lyft — sponsors, both — hijacking the term "sharing," the Faerie Village runs on a "gifting economy," where no money changes hands. Implicitly sticking it to Whole Foods, the Faeries got a sponsorship grant from Rainbow Grocery so there will be a buffet full of fresh veggies. The entire enterprise is volunteer-run, and while there is an opening ceremony and incantation on Saturday at 3 p.m., the main event runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday where there would typically be a farmers market.

While it's less "entertainment for the masses and more like a reunion of the community," the Faeries are the very opposite of a clique. Patterson emphasized that irrespective of gender or sexual orientation, "everyone is absolutely welcome, and that's one of the reasons the Faerie Freedom Village is still worth continuing."

"It's outreach for people to dip their toe into Radical Faerie culture in a way that is a bit open and spontaneous and colorful and pretty at the same time," Patterson said. "It's quite the special space."

More From Your Pride Guide:

Your Pride Guide Intro
By Peter Lawrence Kane

Laverne Cox is Everywhere
By Peter Lawrence Kane

How to Be a Straight Ally on Pride
By Peter Lawrence Kane

Transparent Policing: Law Targets Anti-Trans Harassment
By Julia Carrie Wong

Profiles: Activist Mahnani Clay
By Giselle Velazquez


About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

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