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Thank you to everyone for creating a wonderful space for all! 

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I had an amazing time at queer spirit. Would definitely return! 

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There is not a moment I would not was such a wonderful time... thank you all

The Power and Meaning of 'QUEER', by Shokti

“Queer is a continuing moment, movement, motive – recurrent, eddying, troublant. The word ‘queer’ itself means across – it comes from the Indo-European root – twerkw, which also yields the German quer (traverse), Latin torquere (to twist), English athwart. . . . Keenly, it is relational and strange.Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950-2009)

“The soft-spoken queen of gay studies" (Rolling Stone magazine). Sedgwick published several books considered groundbreaking in the field of queer theory, including Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985), Epistemology of the Closet (1990), and Tendencies (1993).

Queer Spirit Festival 2023QUEER: In 1960s Britain, my older gay friends tell me, queer was already a word used by some gay men and lesbians to refer to themselves, though of course it was much more commonly used in a pejorative manner. The term Gay for homosexuals was around from at least the 1940s, as it was defined as such in the 1951 Oxford English Dictionary – though from the 1600s into Victorian times 'gay' had been used to refer to people of any gender with loose morals and decadent, promiscuous tendencies, especially prostitutes and good time girls. Gay became the key word in the UK in the early 70s with the advent of the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Pride movement – Gay was used by men, women and trans people alike, until the eventual emergence of the LGBTQIA++ alphabet.

Queer was largely left in the hands of the insult-throwers until in the 1980s the predominantly gay male activist group OUTRAGE, led by life-long human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, facing the pathetic response to the AIDS crisis coming from the UK government, loudly proclaimed QUEER as a badge of honour – just a few years later in the early 1990s the work of Gloria Anzaldua and others in academic circles led to the rise of intellectual QUEER THEORY, the decade going to see the rapid expansion of the use of queer by other sections of our rainbow tribe, such as QUEER NATION, a radical political and social movement in the USA which emerged out of the ACT-UP HIV-related campaigning of the 1980s.

In London, Queer Nation was the name of a popular dance club night for many years, first in Covent Garden that at Substation South in Brixton, that was famed for the mix of ethnicities it brought together through uplifting house music. Mainstream culture picked up on this reclamation of the word, with shows like Queer as Folk and Queer Eye.

In a field in the south western corner of the UK, in 1998, a gathering of 100 people met to explore ritual and magic - the QUEER PAGAN CAMP was born. This was where I had my introduction to the infinite possibilities of queerness: many of those attending arrived identifying as lesbians, gay men or trans, but left also embracing QUEER because of what we had just experienced: that the differences between us are as nothing when we allow the commonalities between us to shine forth – especially the deep, magical, qualities such as gender-fluidity, nature-connecting shamanic powers, and also our positive attitude to celebrating life in all its diversity, in putting love at the centre of our lives, our openness to, appreciation and celebration of each other – in a world of division and fear, such a joyful attitude is utterly queer.

American advocacy organisation Pflag sums up how QUEER has evolved in the statement: “The term can represent a kind of freedom and acceptance which allows space for individuality and acknowledges that each person’s sexuality and identity is distinct from every other.” That is, queer just lets us be ourselves.

At the 4th Queer Spirit Festival this summer at Bridwell Park in Devon we will be celebrating the natural magic of gender-fluid and same-sex loving people, as we reclaim queer nature in all its glory as the cross-weave on the loom of human consciousness! We celebrate Queers as weavers and warriors who bring magic to life, who are able to cross boundaries – between classes, religions, nations, races, genders: our potential in consciousness is nothing less than to wake up the world from the deep sleep of division and conflict that has trapped humanity for so long, to remind ourselves and all people of the presence of the spirits of nature, the gods and the goddess in our souls, to the LOVE that is the nature of the Quantum Oneness that gives birth to life.

At Queer Spirit Festival we also appreciate that not everybody relates to queer in such positive ways: I've written this short history to explain why we have chosen the name for our amazing festival where we seek to express and celebrate the creativity, spirituality and sexuality of lesbians, trans people, gay men and all who feel they belong under the RAINBOW UMBRELLA OF LIBERATION:

Let's find other terms for ourselves too!

I have been active among the Radical Faeries for two decades and find FAERIE a highly apt, positive, gender-free, nature-magic term for people like us!

The Power and Meaning of 'QUEER' by ShoktiIn the 1860s, a few years before 'homosexual' was first coined in Germany by Hungarian writer Károly Mária Benker, the term URANIAN was proposed by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a lawyer from Hanover who is now called by many the “Grandfather of Gay Liberation.” He borrowed the term from the Symposium, in which Plato describes love between men as belonging to the Heavenly ‘Muse Urania.’ Uranian was adopted by English intellectuals such as Edward Carpenter and Oscar Wilde, who once said “To have altered my life would have been to have admitted that Uranian love is ignoble. I hold it to be noble—more noble than other forms.”

How about we add FU - F for Faerie and U for Uranian - to the LGBTQ+ alphabet: as a statement to the heteronormative, mind-controlling, spirit-denying, earth-destroying culture of greed and domination, stating exactly what we think of the soul crushing belief system that has damaged our beautiful world?

For the time being I feel the boundary-traversing, paradigm-punching, creatively-dynamic, concept of QUEER, with its hint of magic and transverses the norms of a society that has for centuries been persecuting people it disapproves of in its attempts to impose conformity and 'normality,' is a term that calls together all who question and are ready to go beyond the dominant narrative of division and conflict - be that over sexuality, gender, religion, race or whatever – to manifest a new paradigm of self-discovery and realisation, that honours all beings and all life as unique manifestations of OUR DIVINE MOTHER: NATURE!

At London Gay Pride in the late 80s we chanted: “We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Not Going Shopping!”… but times changed, the power of the pink pound rose and nobody shouts that any more. But at QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL, as we reclaim queer nature in all its healing and magical potential, the chant has evolved:

“We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Cosmic”


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