Aug 16, 2015

Celtic Festivals: Guys in Kilts, Phallic Symbols, and the Most Homeorotic Game in the World

When I was a kid, the Celtic world was everywhere.  Every year there was a Celtic Festival in downtown Rock Island to celebrate the heritage of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  Nazarenes weren't allowed to go to festivals, but I always found some way to sneak in.

You got to see lots of cute guys walking around in kilts -- and occasionally you glimpsed the something underneath.  Well, maybe it only happened once, to a friend of a friend, but the possibility was enough to make us snoop assiduously all day.

There were tents with long wooden tables where you could get haggis, neeps, and tatties (Scottish for "turnips" and "potatoes," but we turned them into something dirty.)  For some reason the phallic Wienermobile was there, selling hot dogs.

There were vendors who would write your name in Irish or find your Scottish coat of arms.

There were musicians, dancers, and dunking booths.

But the most popular events were feats of strength.

Only the biggest, beefiest guys could compete in throwing the heavy objects like cabers (long, heavy phallic symbols), Scottish hammers, and bundles of hay.

But maide leisg (pronounced "made leash") was for anyone: you and your partner sit facing each other with your heels together and your hands on a stick, palms touching, and try to pull each other off the ground.

When two guys compete, it's decidedly homoerotic. Especially when they're gazing into each other's eyes.  And when they're wearing kilts with nothing underneath.  And when you think of the stick as a phallic symbol.

Maide leisg means "lazy stick" in Scots Gaelic.  Let the dirty jokes begin.

Celtic Festival, Davenport Iowa
When I was a kid, my boyfriend Bill and I played maide leisg all the time.  As I grew older, I made a point of challenging the cutest guy at the festival.

Sometimes I won, sometimes not, but that didn't matter: the point was two guys straining and struggling together, separated by only a lazy stick.

Since 1998, the Celtic Festival has been held across the river in Davenport.  It's now the biggest festival in the Midwest.  I haven't gone for many years, but no doubt the gay symbolism is still there.

See also: 10 Things You Should Know About Kilts.; and Dunking Booths.