The Fierce Tribe
Masculine Identity and Performance in the Circuit
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Utah State University Press
Download PDF (146.0 KB)
Download PDF (79.2 KB)
Download PDF (250.2 KB)
Public attitudes toward Gay men in the United States and Canada have improved immensely in the last few years. Some books in recent popular literature highlight the positive impact Gay men have made on society. How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization by Cathy Crimmins (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2004) and The Soul Beneath the Skin...
Introduction: Fascists and Whores
Download PDF (132.0 KB)
The Circuit, a series of dance parties where thousands of shirtless men get inebriated, flirt, and dance with each other, caters to a community full of narcissists and drug users. Two Circuit stereotypes say it all: body fascists, men who judge others solely on physical beauty, and and crack whores, those who use illegal...
Part I: Fierce
1. Banishing the God of Mediocrity
Download PDF (167.2 KB)
When I first came out, I felt out of place in the local Gay scene. Most of the Gay men I knew were effeminate and not into bodybuilding—I had little in common with them. I used to tell people I was “stray,” that is, both Straight and Gay. I finally came to the conclusion that I was a Straight guy who happened to sleep with other guys. I was especially...
2. The Few, the Proud, the Cracked
Download PDF (176.2 KB)
The Circuit community is a loose-knit, transregional association of men and women from many backgrounds that come together for extended weekends to dance. Circuit participants make up an urban nomadic community of revelers that reconstitutes itself for a few days and then disperses until the next Circuit party. In addition to the movement of...
3. Thousands of Dancing Gay Men
Download PDF (220.6 KB)
Dance is powerful. It is a source of profound sensual, emotional, and spiritual pleasures for people from cultures around the world. At a certain level, people who dance for pleasure understand each other, in much the same way that people all understand what it is like to breathe. I am a dancing fool. I dance around my house. I dance in the shower....
Download PDF (330.8 KB)
One of the highest compliments in the folk-speech of the Circuit community is to be called “fierce.” One may have a fierce body, fierce attitude, or fierce haircut. A drag queen in a striking outfit may be fierce. DJs who play a good set are fierce. People who dance well are fierce. Those who are the life of the party...
5. The Girlfriends
Download PDF (199.2 KB)
In the early days of the Manhattan/Fire Island Circuit, the Gay male party scene underwent a serious shift that reflected the new confidence and raw sexuality of proud Gay men, a strong sense of self-worth, and an obsession with muscle that fostered body fascism. It was also the dawning of the age of club drugs beyond the old standards of alcohol...
6. Harm Reduction
Download PDF (187.4 KB)
In response to the excessive and self-destructive behavior of too many Circuiteers, there has been a strong movement within the community for harm reduction, strategies and programs to reduce health risks associated with intoxication and unsafe sex in the Circuit community. The basic principles of harm reduction are as follows: drug addiction...
Part II: Tribe
7. A History of Festive Homosexuality: 1700–1969 CE
Download PDF (238.7 KB)
As a Gay festive movement that celebrates the forbidden, the Circuit has ancestors. The oldest Gay communities are remembered today because of parties and scandals that occurred 300 years ago. In fact, modern LGBTQ history revolves around Stonewall, the most notorious and publicized Gay party-scandal in history, a pivotal event in 1969...
8. A History of the Circuit(s): 1969 CE–Present
Download PDF (363.1 KB)
Just as there was a circuit of drag balls in the eastern part of the United States during the 1930s, so were there annual Gay events before Stonewall. But it is a bit of a stretch to consider any of them Circuit parties because of some features that came into existence only...
9. A Tale of Two Cities: NOLA and MIA
Download PDF (238.3 KB)
I have included detailed accounts of two major Circuit events I attended in the last few months of 2007: Halloween’s in New Orleans and White Party Miami. Halloween’s in New Orleans was held on the last week-end of October. White Party Miami was held Thanksgiving weekend. These parties are fundraisers for AIDS charities: Project Lazarus in...
Part III: Pulse
10. Popular Dance
Download PDF (226.8 KB)
Dance and LGBTQ history go together. From molly house to drag ball to rent party, same-sex dancing inspired persecution by the state but also promoted solidarity among those within the outlaw community for hundreds of years. During Stonewall and its aftermath, dance accompanied, sustained, and accelerated liberation. The AIDS epidemic dampened...
Download PDF (212.9 KB)
In order to understand spirituality-in-motion on the Circuit dance floor, it is not enough to look at the history of dance by itself. Rhythm and music are the sources of energy that fuel the performance of dance in the Circuit and, like dance, have African roots. Music is also the primary means for participants and performers to transmit Africanized...
12. From Marching Soldier to Dancing Queen
Download PDF (238.6 KB)
The most important feature of dance in the Circuit is the awareness of pulse, the energy imparted to the body that comes at specific points in rhythmic repetition. Awareness of the pulse as a means of unifying people from different backgrounds predates the Circuit, disco, and the United States. It goes back thousands of years to the first military...
Part IV: Ecstasy
13. The DJ
Download PDF (200.1 KB)
The most important professionals in the Circuit are the DJs. In a groundbreaking study of the Gay male party scene in Sydney, Australia, Lynnette Lewis and Michael Ross state that DJs carry the highest status as sacred persons. Party promoters and drug distributors, who likewise occupy positions of power similar to that of religious leaders, are...
14. Stepping Out
Download PDF (354.1 KB)
Ecstasy1 is the common goal for those who wish to push things outside of their normal boxes, including themselves. Although most societies allow some form of ecstatic expression, undisciplined ecstasy is often considered dangerously excessive because it may lead to transgressive behavior. Substances and behaviors that produce ecstasy are...
Download PDF (162.9 KB)
Download PDF (125.2 KB)
Download PDF (224.1 KB)
Publication Year: 2008