Many of our newer community members in South Africa are now starting to participate in international VC groups on FB and, as they encounter a more established community that has been around a lot longer, they encounter some well-known names in these circles. They often don’t know who these people are, or what they’ve contributed to the growth of our respective communities, as well as to the total culture of the VC. In this first episode in a series of interviews aimed at introducing some of the prominent figures from the international Vampyre Community to the locals, we chat to Deacon Gray.
Deacon Gray is a writer and the founder of the Grave Yard Press, a VC news group based in the USA. The subtitle of the GYP is “A Modern Magazine For A Modern Vampire Community”. Deacon has been a feature of the OVC for a number of years, and shares a little about his journey with us.
SAVN: Deacon, please introduce yourself to the South African Community, including a little bit about your background in the community, when or how you awakened, joined a VC group, or began participating in the VC, and so on.
Deacon Gray: Hello my name is Deacon Gray. I suppose it all goes back to those early days when the internet was finding its footing, and I was a young Specialist in the US Army. I had not come to look at myself as Vampiric at all, but I stumbled upon a internet chat group called “Vampyres” on AOL. It must have been around ’94 though if I think back really hard it might have been closer to ’95. At that point the majority of the room was Sanguine, and I really wanted to learn more about them, but I didn’t consider myself one of them.
It was later while hanging out at a BDSM event in Boise Idaho that someone caught my attention, and I caught hers. She explained later that it was called “The Beacon” i.e. “one vampire knows another”. In all honesty I don’t think she was very involved in the community, she suggested some books and of course I read them, but it was finding the online community that really helped me learn.
Learning was…difficult. I had the BDSM Dom mentality and I butted heads with a lot of people in the early years. I went through a process of tossing everything against the wall to see what stuck, and annoyed a lot of people by doing it. I suppose it was finding out, though conversation and written essay, what made the most sense, seeing how things could fit together or if there wasn’t any way for them to fit. Spiritualist Vamp’s got mad at me when I asked about possible philological issues, Practical Vamp’s got mad at me if I asked about spiritual matters, and I admit getting battered around a little, but for someone who liked to be in the fray, that wasn’t a big deal really.
I suppose it was 2004 or so when I found the Yahoo Groups pages that had all kinds of Vampire-based rooms. I got to know a lot of people there but most significant amongst them was Lady Night Dancer, Helene, Wendy, and Lady Aradia of New Orleans. Lady A of House St Germaine is the one who started telling me about the Houses, Clans and Halo’s and it wasn’t more than two years before I was involved with a House that ruled me a “Super Senior Honor Elder” or some other crap, and basically pushed me out the door with the title. While I might have been involved with the AOL vampire chats since about ’94, it was always off and on, nothing sustained or consistent and I certainly didn’t consider myself an “Elder”.
Instead, I decided to focus on a new project I called The Graveyard Press. Lady Nightdancer and I developed it and really started working on the concepts of it with the help of Valiant Hurt’s and many others too numerous to give proper credit.
SAVN: Please discuss or review your contributions to the VC, either in a local sense, or internationally?
Deacon Gray: I seem to like developing projects. I would have to say my biggest contribution to the community to date is the Graveyard Press, and perhaps my writings on Sexual Vampirism. While I have been pretty active in helping organize groups that can reach out to international communities, I would have to say my involvement in those groups has been fairly small.
Mostly I just write articles about other communities around the world but the real hard work was done by people like Octane, Merticus, Heidicia Northernlight and all those who are helping with translations and such. The House of The Dreaming, the organization I am part of today, is international in nature, with its founder a citizen of Portugal and with members in Brazil and here in the USA, so the interest in the translation projects only comes naturally – but Merticus is perhaps the one who got people moving outside of their own organizations to help the community as a whole.
Locally, the vampire group known as the Vermillion Dream, a subset of the House of The Dreaming is working on several projects partnered with past members from the Temple of Set, and several Luciferan and other eclectic beliefs.
SAVN: Community members in SA by now all know about the Grave Yard Press, and your contributions to education on sexual feeding and Tantric vampyrism. Do you have anything you would like to say to them?
Deacon Gray: We are all just learning. We all learn in our own ways and grow according to those things we learn that fit into our beliefs. Just because someone knows a lot about one subject does not make them any better then anyone else, just more educated on a specific subject. The important thing is to better yourself and your community, we all stumble along the way, but as long as we are pushing forward, not allowing out egos to get too out of control, we will always continue to grow, learn and make friends.
SAVN: What are your hopes for the future regarding the general Vampyre Community, and for younger communities like ours?
Deacon Gray: My hope for the community is that we continue to find ways of encouraging individual growth, and thus community growth. I would like to see people stop worrying so much about proving what we are, or putting a good face on for the media, and focus more instead on education, community projects, and support. There are a lot of people who spend too much time trying to tear down what is already in place, rather then working to build up. I am not sure what they expect to accomplish, change comes from within, not from people trying to decry those they see as more established than they are themselves.
Every time there has been major changes in the community it has come not from whining and bickering, it has come due to the actions of people who are driving forward. I think that is why I am so pleased to see groups like the Norwegian Vampire community, the South African Vampire Community and the Russian Vampire Community, stepping up. Those are changes that help the community grow and learn, those few pounding their fists in the air and thinking that being negative and snide are going to be effective are merely stumbling blocks for those serious about change and growth.
A big thank you to Deacon for this interview!