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Sister Mothra Stewart, in and out of face, was the convener for the 34th Fall Conference of Gay Spirit Visions. The keynote speaker and workshop leader was performance artist, Tim Miller.
Miller and three other artists, the so-called “NEA 4”, successfully sued the federal government in the 1990s with the help of the ACLU for violation of their First Amendment rights and won a settlement where the government paid them the amount of the defunded grants and all court costs. Though the Supreme Court of the United States decided in 1998 to overturn part of Miller’s case and determined that “standards of decency” are constitutional criterion for federal funding of the arts, Miller vows “to continue fighting for freedom of expression for fierce diverse voices.”
Based on his recent book and solo performance, A Body in the O, Miller offered reflections on the place of embodied experience, queer connections, and spiritual growth. Jumping off from a day in 1984 when Miller scrambled up inside of the O of the Hollywood sign and imagined the performance space tree house of his dreams (Performance Space 122 in New York and Highways Performance Space in L.A.), A Body in the O journeys through the hoops of the Department of Homeland Security, a queer boy’s truth-telling, a performance at Performance Space 122 in 1980, and finally a wedding day in NYC in 2013 as Miller imagines the full possibility of performance that changes the world inside these wooden Os!
Although for most of the conference the convener was out of face and merely manifesting their faerie persona of Mothra, the veil came out as Sister Mothra Stewart joined Atlanta Sister Right Sarong to participate in the GSV Variety Show on Saturday Night. While it was definitely a fabulous evening of over-the-top performances, it also included a contribution from Mikel Wilson sharing the origins of GSV in the annual Radical Faerie Gatherings at Running Water Farm in North Carolina (the first gathering there precedes Harry Hay's first gathering in California!). You can see Mikel's narration of the origins here: part 1, part 2.
Mothra was happy to travel to and from GSV with T Brown who, among other distinctions, is known locally in Carbondale for whistle-blowing on the Sufi cult. As a result of cult trauma, T found the rituals and traditions of GSV difficult to participate in but, ultimately, was deeply moved by the experience. Mothra and T have a conversation about the experience on this week's episode of Isn't It Queer.
Sister Mothra Stewart received her faerie name, "Mothra," at the 2017 GSV Fall Conference from Sister Unity and Lord Peregrine. Even at that time, the seed was planted for the fuller name and her ultimate SPI manifestation. GSV is central in informing her spiritual practice and sister service.