APPOINTMENTS: Montrose Softball League hosts its first golf
tournament as a charity fund-raiser this weekend. Page 19.
THEATER: 'Big Voice' shows that a delightful theater
experience can include a little bit of religion. Page 18.
Otrt on the Bayou
APRIL 11, 2003
Reclaiming the great outdoors
renewal leads nature lovers
to hit the trail this season
By MIKE FLEMING
and PENNY WEAVER
THERE ARE NEARLY AS MANY "TYPES" OF gays
as there are gay people. Social and support organizations abound for gays of every ilk based on a
wide variety of interests and demographic factors.
And that includes gays who love getting
together for "back to basics" outdoor activities
that not only engender camaraderie, but for many
an overt or indirect renewal of their personal spirituality
The gay men's spiritual group for outdoor enthusiasts
that springs to mind for many is the Pagan-based Radical
Faeries, founded in 1979 by gay rights pioneer and
Matachine Society founder Harry Hay, who died last year.
"The Radical Faerie Fellowship is a diverse and unorganized group of gay men who center their spiritual lives around
various and sundry pagan doctrines," according to the group's
Web site. "While no particular doctrine predominates, the
movement is deeply rooted in the precepts of Native American
spirituality There are also Druids, Wiccans, Taoists, Shamans,
Hindus and any number of other recognized and unrecognized
beliefs present among Radical Faeries."
"Basically, it's a bunch of guys who get together in the
70s spirit of free love," says Ian Schmitz, a longtime participant in outdoor Radical Faerie "gatherings" like the
one scheduled this month in Tennessee.
"We aren't afraid of, and in fact celebrate, our sexuality
through guileless acts of appreciation for each other," Schmitz
says. "Woodsy retreats are perfect settings to be back in touch
with Mother Earth and with our feelings for our fellow faggots."
Some Faeries have reclaimed the word "faggot" as a
rebuttal to negative use of the term in the same way some
gays embrace the word "queer," he says.
The only aspect of the group that every Radical Faerie
seems to agree on is that there is no one philosophy that
governs their activities.
"We are self-defining," says the group's Web site. "We choose
to be who we are, and there is no authority but our hearts. We
gather together, get naked and beautiful in oh-so-many different
ways, drop the world and open to each other — unless we don't
feel like iL in which case we do something else."
GROWING TO INCLUDE MEMBERSHIP NATIONWIDE, GAY
Spirit Visions is "committed to creating safe, sacred space for loving gay men to explore and strengthen our spiritual identity that
is open to all spiritual paths," according to the group's Web site.
The Atlanta-based group accomplishes its goal to create a healing, spiritual community and help its members
live with integrity by supporting each other and by sharing experiences and insights.
Gay Spirit Visions considers itself tribal in nature to
provide escape, community and solace to its members.
"We at CSV use this tradition to provide a safe place for men
who love men to speak from their hearts," the Web site states.
Members of the Radical Faeries get in
touch with nature with a variety of
activities at their 'gatherings,' including
a retreat to Tennessee this month.
(Photo courtesy Ian Schimtz)
Gay outdoor groups from the specifically spiritual to the more activity-
focused concentrate on escaping the
city and enjoying the region's rich natural wonders. Members of groups
such as Gay Spirit Visions offer new
activities tor spring. (Photo courtesy
f| MORE INFO
Houston Outdoor Group • 713-KAMP-OUT
Bird watching on High Island ■ April 19
Endianted Rock Weekend * April 25-27
Rainbow Fishing Club • 713-523-6381
Radical Faeries • www.radfae.org
Gay Spatit Visions • wwwgaysprrtvisionsorg
Spring Retreat • April 18-20
Mountain Retreat & Learning Centers
Summer Camp • June 18-22
Mountain Retreat & Learning Centers
Fall Conference • Sepl. 17-21
Mountain Retreat & Learning Centers
THE LOCALLY FOCUSED HOUSTON OUTDOOR GROUP
brings together gay Bayou City residents for a number of
activities based on enjoying nature.
HOG is defined in its monthly newsletter as "a social
group for gay men, lesbian women and gay-friendly persons who enjoy the outdoors." The group sponsors events
ranging from sports activities to social activities.
This month, HOG members plan an outing for bird
watching on High Island. Known as one of the best bird-
watching spots in the world, the island is home to Boy
Scout Woods and Smith Woods.
According to HOG's newsletter, April is the best month to
see North America's most colorful songbirds here, including
Scarlet Tanagers, Blue Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles and
more as they migrate from South America across the Gulf of
Mexico to the Texas coast. During the April 19 HOG trip, mem
bers also will visit a nearby rookery to see Roseate Spoonbills,
Great Blue Herons and other birds raising their hatchlings.
Cost for the trip is $5, which benefits the Houston Audubon
Society and the group will leave from the House of Pies on Kirby
at 10 am. For more information, contact Jeff at 713-7295072.
During the weekend of April 25-27, HOG members will
hold an Enchanted Rock campout at the state natural area
about 70 miles west of Austin. Reservations must be made.
Pets are welcome; vaccination papers must be shown at the
park gate and pets must be on a six-foot leash.
The group plans a pre-camp meeting at 7 p.m. Monday April
21, at Cafe Express on Kirby between Alabama and Richmond.
For more information, contact Howard K at 713528*174.
Future events for the Houston Outdoor Group include
Guadalupe River rafting from June 6-8.
ALSO FOCUSED ON GAY HOUSTONIANS IS THE
Rainbow Fishing Club, which frequently sponsors deep-
sea fishing in addition to other fishing trips.
Upcoming deep-sea fishing trips include an eight-hour
tour on Saturday, April 26; a 12-hour trip on Sunday, May
11; a 12-hour trip on Saturday, May 31; a 12-hour trip on
Sunday, June 15; an eight-hour trip on Sunday, June 15; and
a 12-hour trip on Saturday, June 28.
For eight-hour trips, cost is $60 with a
deposit of $20 required. Cost includes the
use of rod, reeL bait and tackle. The eight-
hour trips depart at 7 arn. and return at 3
pm. For 12-hour trips, cost is $75.
The group also invites experienced and novice anglers
alike for fishing at the Galveston Pier. This event will be held
Saturday, May 17, at the pier at 89th and Seawall Boulevard.
Cost of admission to the pier is $8 per person, or $4 for children age 12 and under, or $6 for senior citizens over age 60.
Womyn' festivals celebrate great
outdoors with music, camaraderie
By MIKE FUMING
A love of the outdoors inspires live music festivals that begin as soon
as outside temperatures rise and continue through the fall.
The Gulf Coast Womyn's Festival and the huge Southern Womyn's
Festival kick off the season with popular performers and camping under
the"stars with a distinct lesbian bent.
First upi the 15th Annual Gulf Coast Womyn's Festival takes place at lesbian-owned Camp Sister Spirit in Ovett, Miss., over Easter Weekend. April 17-30.
"This festival creates a community of sisters of many ages, many
races and many walks of life for empowerment, encouragement and
entertainment." says Brenda Henson, who founded the Camp Sister Spirit
site with her partner. Wanda Henson.
The couple faced adversity from neighboring residents when they
decided to found the site. After years of harassment, deliberately set fires
and failed legal attempts to shut down the site based on moral objections,
the Hensons haven't experienced any such actions in more than four years
and now co-exist peacefully with neighbors, they say.
This year's lineup at the festival includes vegetarian and meat dishes, a
craft show, 12-step meetings for those who desire them, i^ani^ tooths arid workshops. Musiciaans scheduled to perform include such lesbian favorites as Lucie
Blue, Dorothy Hirsch. Trish Williams, Shelley Graff and Flash SilverMoon.
Pre-registration is required, and men and accompanied children are
welcome. Henson says.
As the homier Gulf Coast Festival attracts hundreds of visitors from
around the region, Southern Womyn's Festival books big name lesbian
acts that draw national crowds of thousands to its women-only festivities.
The May &12 event this vear features godrw
Cris Wilhamsoa Other bigname period
Halcyon, comedians Vidkx Shaw and Marga G(irnez find spoken-*^ artists Robin
G. White and C.C. Carter are set to appear'There's son^
ter what your musical ETrfeenca'' says L^
Guff Coast Womyn's Festival • April 17-20 • Camp Sister Spirit • Ovett MS
1 wwwcampsisterspirrt.com • Southern Womyn's Festival • May 8-12 •
wwwqavwomynorg • Dragon Hills • Bowdon, Georgia 30108