The Gayer Side of the Ren Faire
By Noah Michelson
One thing is certain, they sure do love tights, flamboyant hats, and a healthy mane of well-conditioned hair. But often as is the case when straight guys do things that are, well, kinda gay, a sort of knee-jerk hyper masculinity seems prevalent among many of the men here.
The word pillage comes to mind when I walk around the fairgrounds and eye many of the beastly men putting themselves on display. As in, the Celtic warriors captured the village and pillaged all the women. The event, although very child-friendly, has a potent adult subtext of sexual vitality. The breasts are busting out of the corsets and the men walk as though they’ve got mason jars between their legs. Undoubtedly, genders are put on display. From the brawny, Nordic god-like men to the buxom beer maids to the nimble stable boys (who during real Renaissance times would have probably seen their own share of being pillaged) gender roles are heightened to create a bawdy and campy take on life in the period.
I spent a good deal of time at the pub slogging back pints of ale and listening to offensively bad British accents. There are Faires all over the country. The largest is outside of Houston, Texas and draws roughly a quarter-million people. Many of the actors, vendors, and attendees here today in Upstate New York spend their year traveling around on the circuit. I couldn’t help but feel an immense warmth and tenderness for most of them. There was an incredibly powerful air of acceptance and kindness and, yes, even some gays.
“We’re a place for fantasy,” said Schryver. “Often here we have middle managers, office workers, people who sit at a desk all day and might be complete nobodies. But when they come here they can suddenly be the lord of the manor.”
-- CHADWICK MOORE
Previously > Catfighting for Michelangelo's David