Proto Faerie Gathering - Fault of the Earth

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Proto Faerie Gathering at Fault of the Earth 1972

My first lover, Guy Mannheimer, attended the first Radical Faerie Gathering in the Arizona desert in 1979. I got to thinking of those days--and the start of our "gay spirituality movement"--while reading the article "Diggers, Free Land and Diablo Canyon: A story of Faeries and Reclaiming" by Covelo in the last issue of RFD (Spring 2009 #137).

The article was a wonderful reminder of how what we call Gay Consciousness arose in harmony with the hippie counterculture of the 1960/70s. Covelo's article recounts bits of gay history that are practically lost. I want to add a few details to his recounting.

Covelo's interesting--and nostalgia-inducing--article begins with a report on the idealism and communalism of those times, particularly associated with the Haight-Ashbury collective known as The Diggers. The name derived from a 17th C English utopian movement which "had promulgated a vision of society free from private property and all forms of buying and selling." That communtarian/"hippie poverty" ideal gave birth to the Free Land Movement and the dispersal of many of the first Summer of Love participants into rural communes mostly in Northern California.

As Covelo begins to focus on the gay community that evolved out of those ideas and ideals, he mentions a gay/straight consciousness raising retreat in 1972, commenting that it "had all the markings of a faerie gathering--heart circles, mysticism, nudity, vegetarianism, neo-paganism." The gathering was held at a ranch owned by singer/peace activist Joan Baez called "Fault of the Earth"; it was in the mountains above Palo Alto, CA, located directly above the San Andreas fault.

I attended that gathering. Though, of course, the 1979 Spiritual Conference for Radical Faeries in Benson AZ was the actual start of the Radical Faeries, I have always thought, as Covelo commented also, that that retreat in 1972 was really a sort of Proto-Gay-Consciousness-Fairy gathering. It was my own introduction to Gay Consciousness as a spiritual phenomenon.

I was actually part of the organizing team from the San Francisco end (or, at least, as a newcomer, a tag-along). Covelo mentions the Fault of the Earth Retreat was organized by Randy West in Berkeley, Lucky Mollin and himself in Palo Alto. In the City, it was promoted as a follow-up to a gay-straight retreat that had been held a few months before at a building called Alternative Futures (on West Pine St near Laguna in the neighborhood known as the Western Addition.) Alternative Futures was a former boys' club/youth recreation facility that had been transformed into a countercultural community center.
San Francisco Gay Rap met there once a week.

Gay Rap was a consciousness-raising meeting for gay men. It had original started in Berkeley in the mid-60s. John Newmeyer, renowned for his work with the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, brought the Gay Rap program to the City. The building where the meetings were held had a large gymnasium and many small meeting rooms. The weekly events began with a plenary session in the big room; there was almost always a relaxation/guided meditation exercise. Then people spontaneously suggested topics for discussion and the assembly would break up into small groups. This was peer psychotherapy/encounter group at its most egalitarian. There were no leaders (though, of course, there were a few people who took responsibility for leading the relaxation exercises, for instance, and putting out snacks at the end of the evening).

One of the outgrowths of Gay Rap was The San Francisco Gay Counseling Service. Another was the Gay-Straight Retreat(s). There were two such retreats, as far as I remember: the first at Alternative Futures, the second at Fault of the Earth. I'm sorry to say I don't remember names of any of the organizers other than Cliff Kraus whom I had a passing crush on and who was my introduction to the organizing committees for both the Counseling Service and the Retreats. I might be wrong about this, but I think I met Ron Lanza and Hank Wilson (who is eulogized in this same Spring 2009 issue of RFD) at Gay Rap. Many of the original Gay Rap people later joined Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL). Other names I remember from that time are:
Jim Garver, Gary Titus, Howard Wallace, Cosmo the Massage-therapist, Mark Freeman, Michael Feri, Tom Fry, Gary Freeman, Bill Paul.

I started attending Gay Rap just after the group had been approached by a "Men's Movement" Consciousness Raising group of straight men whose female partners were Women's Lib Feminists and wanted their men to experience similar C-R. Even then--or maybe especially then, in those psychologically sophisticated days when group encounter and psychological marathons were so popular--the straight men wanting to raise their consciousness on gender issues understood that meant getting the help, wisdom and understanding from gay men.
So they'd come to Gay Rap to seek assistance. During one of the Gay Raps, I elected to go to the small group that was meeting with the straight men to organize a retreat. That certainly proved to be a life-changing choice for me.

At that first retreat, I met my first partner Guy Mannheimer. As I mentioned, years later he attended the Benson, AZ gathering that birthed the Radical Faerie Movement. At the time of the gay-straight C.R. retreat, Guy was involved with men in Palo Alto centered around the group practice of the first openly gay psychologist Don Clark. Several members of Clark's circle of psychotherapy clients, peer counselors, volunteers and professional psychologists came to the Alternative Futures retreat.

Through my association with Cliff Kraus, I'd stayed on the organizing committee for Gay Rap and so helped get Gay Rap people to the Fault of the Earth event.

I remember driving down in a carload of gay men on an advance mission to inspect the "facilities" at Baez's property--really just a big dilapidated barn with space for bunking indoors in sleeping bags and a kitchen and dining area. Stretching out around the barn was extensive acreage with lots of room for camping and "camping."

A few weeks later, we were back there for the retreat itself. I remember sitting in circles in that big barn sharing life history stories. I remember dancing. And I remember participating in some sort of creative ritual to honor our spiritual identity. I have three very specific and vivid recollections.

The first is of washing carrots in the kitchen and laughing with the other men out of such deep friendship and trustful interconnection. The second is of wandering out along the trails and discovering some of the guys had erected wonderfully decorated bowers with streamers of fabric draped around camp tents; several of the men were dressed in hippie genderfuck drag. This was a revelation to me. The genderfuck styles were not shocking or surprising because they were hippie and obviously derived from the styles of countercultural idealisms and utopianism. And the neo-pagan/nature rituals that were scripted and performed during the event showed we were creating our own religions, clearly a sign that we were on the "cutting edge" of consciousness evolution.

My main recollection was that a private space had been created in the very middle of the barn by hanging parachute silk to form a sort of cube. Inside were massage tables. In the night, the "cube"--reminiscent of the Muslims' Kaaba, I think--was lit from within and glowed magically. I remember making love with Guy on one of those massage tables, right in the middle of everything, but hidden in that sacred space. There was such innocence and positive embrace and celebration of sexuality--yet another sign of evolution at the level of spirit.

Around that same time, at Cliff Kraus's urging, I attended one of Don Clark's weekend encounter group marathons in the City. Together, the Don Clark Weekend and the Gay Consciousness Retreat were the introduction to me of gayness as both a sign of psychological maturity and of spiritual vocation.

Here's Toby Johnson at the Mann Ranch circa 1973

toby 1973

Over the next fours years or so
, by the way, Guy and I dated and lived together (for a time while I was living in the building at the southeast corner of Haight and Ashbury, next door to the apartment Arthur Evans would move into a year or so later), worked at the Mann Ranch in Mendocino County, and then lived in the little rural town of Napa and trained as psych techs together at Napa State Hospital

In 1975, we returned to the City and found an apartment on 18th and Noe. I got a job at Mount Zion Hospital Crisis Clinic and started down the path of professional gay mental health, eventually completing a PhD in Counseling Psych and working at The Tenderloin Clinic that had indirectly evolved out of S.F. Gay Counseling Service and Cliff's lobbying efforts. Guy didn't like psych work and for a while took a job cleaning houses with a gay male maid agency. It was through that job, I believe, and/or through his friend, Sam Blazer, that he learned about BAGL; we attended a meeting at Arthur Evans's on June 19, 1975, and so, after our 2 year absence from the city, we reconnected with friends from the Gay Rap days, now more radical "gay libbers."

toby in 1979

After Guy and I broke up, we moved in different circles. I was part of D.A.F.O.D.I.L. and gay mental health activism. In '79, Guy attended the Benson, AZ event.

More recently, as an editor for Lethe Press/White Crane Books, I had the honor of assisting Don Clark in publishing his memoir Someone Gay.

Googling keywords, like Gay Rap and Fault of the Earth, bring up virtually no hits. This history is being slowly erased by time.

I would love to hear from others who remember.

Here's Toby in 79 in gay hippie clothes: the outfit was white linen, the shirt was embroidered in bright pink and the web belt was pink. He's standing on the back porch at 87 Fair Oaks.

The San Francisco Public Library James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center is a national archive for gay and lesbian history. That's where our various collections of memorabilia should be donated.

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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