THE COMMODITY OF YOUTH IN AN AGE OF AUSTERITY by Cunty: A Response

Radical Faerie tribal space is a cutting edge of queer consciousness, where the spirit of community, something often lamented as a lost utopia by the mainstream gay scene, is deeply dived into and explored. Queers are a section of humanity daring to declare our love after centuries of repression, we carry many wounds in our collective and individual psyche, and of course those come with us into our tribal adventures, and can manifest as unconscious behaviours. But it is through these adventures that those wounds get healed and behaviours, along with beliefs (about ourselves and the world) change.

Cunty has highlighted one of those behaviours in their recent blog post. The title hits me like a misthrown brick and i will admit triggered a place of tension within me before i even started reading the body of the text. Linking ‘commodity of youth’ and ‘age of austerity’ feels strange.  Youth can be a commodity in any age, and the British government’s imposition of austerity measures since 2010 has precious little connection to anything faeries do. In fact, albionfaerie space has experienced increasing abundance in the past eight years, with rapidly increasing numbers of people involved, many new gatherings emerging and increasing gender and racial diversity (we’ve always had good multi-generational attendance).

Cunty starts by naming the act of comparing oneself to others, or objectifying people in the community, as a ‘trap’. This might be coming from some sort of protestant mindset? How about you be more forgiving with yourself and others Princess? Comparing ourselves to others is a normal behaviour, so is objectification – these things go on all the time in the outside world, so we can hardly expect them to just fall away once we enter the faerie gates. But yes i agree it is important to be vigilant with one’s own mind, and throw out unhelpful thoughts that arise – such as thoughts of being lesser (or greater) than others, projections about what an other person ‘is like’, but it is not a sin to have these thoughts. They are part of the human experience, the point is to rise above them and gradually get in place a more holistic perspective. The ‘trap’ I suppose is to believe them.

Cunty points out that they do not seek to blame or judge, though the fact they feel they need to say this sets off my alarm bells. Possibly this claim is there to deflect from the fact that the article is dripping in blame and judgement. He singles out ‘middle-aged white cis gay men’ as the commodifiers of youth, but actually i think people of all ages, genders, races and sexualities do so. He says some of us base our self-worth on how many pretty young things we have around us. I can not agree with this, i have not seen this behaviour in faerie space ever.

Cunty asks what happened to the idea of subject:SUBJECT consciousness? I would prefer to hear a rallying call to explore what the fuck that means (because many are puzzled i know) rather than a judgement that others are not engaging it. When Cunty writes of observing an older faerie across the room putting his hand on a younger faerie’s knee please note Cunty is quite openly sharing the imagined projection from his own head, not what he hears, though the impression of the creepiness conveyed is what stays with the reader.

The use of woo as a tool of seduction is condemned, and probably rightly so, however this is not a technique exclusively used by older faeries. In fact the younger fae are in my observations much better at this! Even the sharing of astrological wisdom is apparently a ploy to ‘entrap the unwary’. Well i am happy to say i don’t see many ‘unwary’ faeries, quite the opposite – this is a tribal space for warriors. The applauding of sexy young faeries is criticised as feeding the abusive cultural energy we bring from the outside, but I believe I see applause and appreciation directed at all faeries of all ages.

I am not writing this response to deny that the behaviours described by Cunty ever happen. I just don’t much care for how Cunty is presenting their thoughts. While acknowledging that some older guys have stuff to learn about being in community with younger, let’s also acknowledge that everybody who comes to faerie space has things to learn, behaviours to appraise, attitudes to evolve.

I witness young guys jumping into lusty, passionate embraces with each other, only for one to realise they went too far too fast, pulling back, sometimes hurtfully. This particularly can happen when a guy (of any age) who has been a faerie for a short while wants to welcome a newbie into the fold, but then doesn’t want to follow through and deepen the friendship after the initial lust is expressed. What I will say in favour of older faeries is they usually will continue to offer unconditional love and seek to grow friendship to younger faeries after the initial connection is made, whether that connection expressed sexually or not.

Unfortunately, I believe I have seen older faeries ignoring each other, finding the younger faeries more interesting or appealing, and i have wished the older guys would be more playful with each other. I have also seen this wish come true.

And this: as an older, experienced faerie, who now enjoys many loving relationships with faeries of all ages, I believe I can help others realise that we can enjoy powerful states of loving, sometimes erotic, connection with others – but still remain integral within oneself, not lose our wholeness, our independence, not lose our balance through being in states of heightened love with others. But also acknowledging that sex and love open up our vulnerabilities, which then in turn make possible the deep magic we create.

But when it comes down to it, I am completely in accord with most of Cunty’s conclusions:

Intergenerational space: at the Ostara gathering this year we had an elders and youngers heart circle, was one of the highlights and shows how much there is to explore and discover here.

Spending time with older faeries: yes yes yes what a gift it is to have a queer community space where intergenerational friendship and relationships are possible.

Issues of consent and sexual health: these are responsibilities that each of us need to be real about, all have a need to step up to, and always have had. It’s important to state it.

Cunty appeals to us to get back to our core tool, the heart circle – where we listen to each other. I don’t agree: we have nothing to get back to, because we have never left it. Heart Circle is and always will be the engine of faerie space. At Ostara, heart circles formed the centre of the programme, for example. With such a large community now we don’t all get to sit and listen to each other as much as would be ideal. But at least we have blog pages to share what we need to get off our chests!

So I needed to get this off my chest. I do not object to Cunty bringing up this subject, but as i have described, i bristle at what i perceive as projections in the view expressed. But i do heartily agree with the conclusions, though instead of ‘arguing’ that we ‘have a responsibility to ourselves and each other, to nurture and protect our tribe’ I would prefer to celebrate that we have the opportunity to create such a space of magic, wonder and self-discovery, and to exercise the greatest compassion possible, for ourselves and each other, as we will all make mistakes during this transition from the mindsets of the outside world into the subjectivity of queer community.