We build structures that result in sustainable, long-term community for gay, bi, trans and queer faeries outside of what is imposed by heteronormativity. These are safe spaces where we can be ourselves, live in heart-centered community, express our feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgment. Committed to helping one another heal from the collective and individual impact of oppression on our lives, we’re always trauma-informed.
“According to the Polyvagal Theory, our range of social behavior is limited by our human physiology, which has evolved from that of more primitive vertebrates. When we are frightened, we are dependent upon the neural circuits that evolved to provide adaptive defensive behaviors for more primitive vertebrates. These neural circuits provide physiological mechanisms that reflexively organize mobilization or immobilization behaviors before we are consciously aware of what is happening. When, on the other hand, neuroception tells us that an environment is safe and that the people in this environment are trustworthy, our mechanisms of defense are disenabled. We can then behave in ways that encourage social engagement and positive attachment.”
“Neuroception: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety,” by Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.
Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. He is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation, The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, and co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies.
Practice ideas for building community.
Practice: We use Heart Circles to share our journey with one another. Your truth is welcome here. We create a safe and accepting space as a group so each of us can speak openly and honestly, be heard without judgment and enjoy the support of our community. The key to a Heart Circle is found in the intention we bring to it. Here is a place far removed from the demands of our daily lives where we can meet, share our true feelings and witness others’ stories without being judged, interrupted or offered advice. There are few places like it, and from this it draws its power.
Guidelines for Heart Circles:
- Be present. Relax. Breathe. Have no distractions. Turn all technology off.
- Speak from your heart about what you are feeling right now. Own your feelings (“I feel…” is a good way to begin). You can choose not to speak if you have nothing to say.
- Listen to others. Witness what they are sharing.
- Respect others. Be accepting and nonjudgmental. Honor confidentiality.
- One person speaks, others listen. No crosstalk or fixing. Show agreement by “hissing.” Put your hand to your ear if you can’t hear.
- Take care of yourself. Come and go quietly in between sharings.
- Whoever begins the circle, ends the circle and ensures the spirit and safety of the circle are maintained throughout.
Practice: We use hugging meditation to connect and know that we’re not separate beings. To practice, we first bow and recognize the presence of the faerie we will hug. After taking three deeply conscious breaths to bring ourselves fully into the present, we then open our arms and begin hugging. We hold one another for three in-and-out breaths.
- With the first breath, we are aware that we are present in this very moment and we are happy.
- With the second breath, we are aware that the other is present in this moment and we are happy as well.
- With the third breath, we are aware that we are here together, right now on this earth, and we feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness.
We then release the faerie we’re hugging and bow to one another to show our thanks. This can be repeated several times with new partners.
Practice: We use cuddle groups to increase the amount of touch and intimacy in our lives. Cuddling puts us in a naturally healing environment that results in calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits. Cuddling not only has amazing therapeutic benefits, but creates a unique place to experience the diversity of gay, bi, trans and queer identified faeries who are HIV positive and negative; and diverse in race, class, age, body and views.
Guidelines for cuddle groups:
Before You Arrive
- Come with an open heart
- Our events are drug and alcohol free (Oxytocin allowed)
- Arrive as clean as a daisy, you’ll be close to others
- Bring pajamas or sweats/tee shirt, you can change at the event (Street clothes are fine, but not as comfy)
- Bring some snacks and drinks to share
After You Get There
- Keep your jammies on mister
- Physical attraction is not relevant (say no to a suggested cuddle position, not to a whole person)
- It is OK to laugh, cry, nap, talk
- If something makes you uncomfortable, take a break and/or talk to the facilitators
- Mostly, just sink in and enjoy!
Practice: We use our faerie names when in community with one another. Once you have selected your faerie name, bring it to Heart Circle, and we will call out your chosen name three times. We’ll use your chosen name when you’re in community with us. You’re always welcome to keep your given name but walk among us with a magical name if you wish.
- The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions (pdf), Larry Mitchell, Ned Asta
- radfae, find other Radical Faeries
- FaeNet, a Radical Faerie social network
Building Loving Community
- “The Mystery of Holding” via The Sounds True Blog
- The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life, Piero Ferrucci
- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships, Marshall B. Rosenberg
Healing from Trauma
- The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.
- “Neuroception: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety,” Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.
- The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance, Matthew McKay, Ph.D., Jeffrey C. Wood, Ph.D. and Jaffrey Brantley, MD
- “Trauma: Frozen Moments, Frozen Lives,” Gaetano Vaccaro, Ph.D. and Joni Lavick, M.F.T
- “Surviving Trauma and Anxiety As a Result of Events of Discrimination,” Jackie Mascher