Another story I was told about the Carpathian Rainbow Gathering this year was that the locals were under some misapprehensions about what a Rainbow is.
It often happens that rumours spread in the nearby villages about the strange, possibly Satanic, cult gathered in the forest and, especially if Christianity still rules the minds of the locals, they tend to stay away. In the European Rainbow Gathering in Romania I was asked by the librarian if it was true that we prayed to the moon. A friend of hers had been present at food circle when the moon rose and a thousand hippies howled wildly.
At other times it’s assumed that the Rainbow Gathering is a debauched month-long orgy. How else to explain all the screaming and nudity? Not to mention the acro-yoga and Tantra workshops? Locals drive in from all around hoping to get a taste of the free love the media talk about to sell their coverage of the Gathering. In the European Rainbow in Lithuania this year, a friend of mine had to run out of his tipi with a length of iron in his hand to chase away a couple of local guys who were attempting to crawl into a sister’s tent. They took one look at him and ran.
But in the Carpathians, the locals did some research of their own online and their searches for Rainbow led to images of gay parades with flamboyant people dressed in nothing but body paint and fetish clothing. A panic descended upon the village. Would the sleepy streets soon be full of people in thongs and less, masturbating in public and corrupting the children?
With his political future at stake, the mayor of the nearby town informed the seed camp focalisers by SMS that we did not have permission to gather. The priest began collecting signatures for a petition against the Festival of Homosexuality that was about to erupt in the forest.
It took some time to persuade them that a Rainbow Gathering was a slightly different affair.