I want to take a moment to announce what I hope will be my next big project. For a long time, I’ve been contemplating the idea of starting a campground of some type. I’ve often thought it might be a retirement project, but I’ve become more and more compelled to make it a reality sooner. Perhaps it’s dissatisfaction with my current day-to-day job, the call (or perhaps crisis) of midlife, feelings of deep loss after my mom sold my childhood home, the desire to get back to living in a rural area closer to nature, or some combination of the above. Whatever the reasons, I’ve decided to embark on the journey to making this dream of a campground a reality. I’m still in the early stages, and don’t know entirely whether the dream will be achieved, but I know it’s the direction I want to be heading.
Over the past year, I’ve been researching LGBTQ, Pagan, and even a few other types of campgrounds; I’ve formulated a business plan; and I’ve created a web page to mark the start of the project and to track its progress, as well as to start building an interested community. The first major milestone will be purchasing land and relocating. I hope to do this within the next year or two, and will also need to find a new job in the new town to hold me over until the campground opens. The likely location will be somewhere in central Virginia. I’ll be looking for a second business partner to help found and run the business. Things really won’t get moving in a big way until after the land purchase. At that point, I’ll be looking for investors and other sources of start-up finances to build the rest of the campground. I’ll also be looking for campground members and outside groups looking to host gatherings there. I’m hoping the campground itself could open within the next 3-5 years.
My concept uses many of the gay and bi men’s campground resorts already out there as a base, but merges those with other communities such as Pagans, and some adult lifestyle communities. While gay and bi men, and Pagan men will likely be the base audiences, other adult audiences would be welcome regardless of sexual orientation, gender, etc. This will be a membership-based adult campground resort. I hope to host a variety of theme weekends and even a handful of gatherings. I’d also open up the campground to outside conferences and gatherings. I’d like to create an open air Pagan / Hellenistic temple that could host drum circles and solar / lunar celebrations and rituals.
I wanted to take a moment to announce the start of the project, but I also look forward to input, advice, etc. If anyone is interested in helping this dream become a reality; if you think you might be interested in becoming the second business partner (or know someone who would be interested); if you think you might want to become a future investor once I get to that stage; if you think you might want to become a member, camper, or host a gathering there; if any of these things intrigues you, please visit my website for the campground and feel free to contact me with your ideas or to be put on the mailing list.
The website is: www.olympuscampgroundresort.com
In episode 14: The Update Show, I provide updates on what I’ve been up to including:
- Conferences and gatherings – The Hero’s Adventure, Querent, and Between the Worlds
- Updates on my book and an LGBT werewolf workshop I’m hoping to do at Marscon
- My photography
- My local LGBTQ / Pagan / Alternative website
- Groups including the New Order of Chaeronea and Order of the Stone Circle
- My big project – I’m working toward starting a campground / retreat center
- Personal updates
You can find my show on my website: http://www.melmystery.com, and through iTunes and Podbean.
You may have heard the expression in school never to wear green on Thursday because that makes you a “queer” or a “fairy”. What seems like a cruel made up children’s game to identify gay people actually underscores a long history of the color green being associated with gay men.
The term “fairy” has long been a term used to identify gay men. Its use has been largely derogatory, but some gay men have reclaimed it. In the book, Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, by Judy Grahn, the author points out that green was the primary color worn by mythical fairies, and this connection ties into this tradition. The fairies have freer sexual morals than Christian cultures are comfortable with. In fact, given their extremely long, perhaps even immortal lives, the idea of eternal marriage and coupledom would only give way to boredom. So homosexual bonds were likely to have been acceptable. The color green is a useful color for mythical fairies because it helps them to blend in and remain hidden in their natural environment among the plants and trees.
As for the connection with Thursday, Thursday was considered by some to be “Fairy Day”. There is an additional connection to Thursday with medieval witches. When questioned under torture about their practices, some witches confessed that they practiced different sexual rites on different nights, and Thursday was the night associated with homosexual rites.
But the association with the color green and homosexuals goes back even further. Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit has more to say on the color green. At Ephesus, the transgender and often homosexual priests of the goddess Artemis / Diana wore garments of scarlet, violet, saffron, and yellow-green. In ancient Rome, green and especially yellow-green was associated with male gender variance and especially the passive role in male homosexual acts. These men were called galbinati, and are mentioned in Martial’s Epigrams. Martial talks about how these soft, effeminate men garbed in green lie on purple couches while being fanned by other men using red feathers. It sounds like the good life to me, but Martial criticizes their morality as being quote “grass-green.”
In pre-Modern France, bisexual and homosexually inclined courtiers called mignons wore green as the primary color in their tights, along with yellow or red. Often one leg of their tights would be green and the other yellow, and they might have a red cape. Their costumes were derived from three sources — the costumes of traditional troubadours, the costumes of fools, and the costumes of the legendary fairies.
Because green was associated with the margins of society, it also became associated with heretics who carried a green cross in their ceremonies.
Green was also a signifier of homosexuality among British poets. The association of the color green with homosexuality survived into the 19th Century and may even have been reclaimed at that time. A green carnation was adopted as a kindred symbol by Oscar Wilde and the English Decadents, and during the same time a band of men in Paris wore a green cravat to signify their homosexual inclinations.
So as you can see, the color green has a long history of associations with homosexuality, fairies, and magick. Wear it proudly — especially on Thursdays.
One of my favorite adult memories of Halloween was from a time I was living in Colonial Place in Norfolk. The whole neighborhood got into the spirit of the holiday with decorations, haunted yards, adults dressed up in costumes ready to give candy to the trick or treaters. On Halloween, the whole neighborhood looked like a place out of a spooky movie. I lived in a house with some artistic folks. The landlady even made an authentic looking werewolf costume out of paper mache and fur. She was already a tall, lanky woman, but she made herself even taller with wooden blocks on her shoes. On Halloween night, unsuspecting tweens and young teens would round the corner onto our porch only to be confronted with a realistic looking seven foot tall werewolf standing over the bowl of candy. Many would run away screaming and then their parents would reassure them, come up onto the porch, spy the werewolf, and run away screaming themselves. My landlady believed that the children should “earn” their treat. She also didn’t give candy to those children who didn’t wear an actual costume.
I’ve told this story time and time again over the years, most folks sharing in the fun that the parents were scared too. Last week I told the story to a co-worker and she suggested that this was terrible. The children were probably traumatized.
As I handed out candy to trick or treaters last night, I reflected on this. I’m no longer in a neighborhood that gets so much into Halloween, but my next door neighbors did and I watched as they handed out candy while in costume in their front yard. I watched as the reluctant kids backed away in droves from the woman in the pumpkin mask handing out candy. I watched as some “earned” their candy by confronting their fears, while others avoided the house and their promised treats because their fear got the better of them. I watched as parents encouraged their children to face their fears, and then I realized… this has all the hallmarks of a rite of passage.
The whole scene reminded me of historical rites of passage and coming of age rites where the adults in a community or village conspire to help the youth gain confidence and independence by confronting their fears and proving they are ready to ascend to the next age grouping. This can be done by sending the youth out into the woods to survive and to hunt on their own, by sending them out for a vision quest, through enacting a mythic ritual, or even by forcing them to face a monster or a wild beast (usually an adult in a mask).
Trick or treat has a number of elements associated with rites of passage and the hero’s journey. There’s a call to adventure – the chance to dress up, roam the streets, and get candy. There are gifts given to the child to help them on their quest – a costume so they can blend in, a bag to hold their bounty, maybe a flashlight or glow stick to light their way. The child meets the guardian at the threshold – the mundane or masked adult handing out candy at the door, porch, or property boundary. If the adult is masked, the children have to face their fear if they want receive their boon. The adventure takes place at a liminal time – dusk on All Hallow’s Eve. The children’s parents act as guides encouraging them that there’s nothing to be afraid of – only a person in a mask. Sometimes the person will take off the mask to show them there’s really nothing to fear. After trick or treat is over, the children bring their bounty back to their homes. Their parents and siblings often share in their prize.
The next year the ritual begins anew. The child is a little older and has more experience than they did the year before. As they grow older, they may start to taunt the masked guardians. “You’re just wearing a mask.” They still may be reluctant to get too close. The years go by and they master their fears (or they become dominated by them). At some point they’re too old for trick or treat, so they start going to Halloween parties at school or hosted by friends. This is another chance to prove their independence, though someone’s parents are probably close by. For good or ill, some start using Halloween as an opportunity to pull pranks, while others go to haunted houses, watch scary movies, and so on. These are yet more opportunities to assert their independence and to face their fears.
Eventually the children, tweens, and teens grow up. They may enact this ritual yet again with their own kids. They may act as parental guides or threshold guardians bearing candy. Or they might fall into the category of those who have become cynical and chose not to celebrate Halloween. Even adults have to face their fears on this day — their fear of the worst in humanity. They know that it’s only other humans under the masks, but that’s not necessarily reassuring. What else might the mask hide – serial killers, rapists, sex offenders, folks who might poison or put razor blades in the candy, human traffickers, body part snatchers, and all our other unconscious fears brought to life? Most folks are normal, everyday people under the masks, but it only takes one or a few bad apples to spoil the celebration. Adults too have to decide whether to face their fears or to be owned and dominated by their worst nightmares.
With all rites of passage there’s always the opportunity to grow by facing fear and asserting confidence and independence, but there’s also always the risk of trauma. Not everyone can face their fears, and those who don’t pass their test often become traumatized by the test and owned by their fears. Trick or treat can be an adventure or a trauma. It all depends on how you approach it and whether or not you let your fears haunt you.