Time for a (name) change
On the 1st July 2017 (1/7/17), I changed my name from London Faerie to Newman Alexander. Quite a few people have asked me why I decided to do this, so I thought I’d share a bit of what’s behind the name change.
Nearly 7 years ago, on the 10th October 2010 (10/10/10), I adopted the name London Faerie. I had never changed my name before – I’d been Justin Newman Allen from the day I was born until then. I had the handle London Faerie on a few web boards, but no-one called me that in person. I was still Justin, the name my parents had chosen for me, inspired by a bottle of Justina wine they’d drunk on holiday while they were pregnant with me. (Yes, really!)
It felt like a significant thing to do, to adopt this new name London Faerie. Hearing myself called by the new name reminded me that I was a spiritual being in physical form (as I believe we all are). It was a way to keep myself on track, to recall that a calling had chosen me and to stay focussed on what was really important: The Work.
Seven years on and the name no longer feels like a good fit. There are a few reasons for this:
- I don’t have much to do with the Radical Faeries these days – in fact, I stopped hanging out with them in 2012. Although I maintain friendships with some of the people I met at Faerie Gatherings, I no longer have the strong connection with the tribe that I once did.
- Lately I find myself less and less in tune with London, the mighty city where I was born and raised and where I’ve lived most of my life. I crave to be closer to nature and I want to live somewhere less intense. Although I haven’t taken that step yet (it would be a big deal for me to leave London), I feel like not being called “London” anymore supports a movement in that direction.
- London Faerie has a quirky, alternative feel to it. I’ve been told over the years that it put some people off approaching me or engaging with The Work because they thought it might be too weird or far out for them.
- While I was in the jungle in Peru, I was inspired to reclaim my middle name: Newman. It’s my grandfather’s name and it’s what my mother wanted me to be called. My dad said no because he was afraid it sounded too Jewish and that I’d be teased for it at school – so they settled on Justin as a first name and Newman as a middle name.
By adopting Newman, I feel that I’m honouring my ancestors, acknowledging my essential Jewishness (though I do not practice in the religion) and making a shift in my relationship with the world. Newman is a strong positive name and it feels like a fresh start, a welcoming-in of the new.
And what about Alexander? Well honestly, I made it up! As I had a lot of free time in the jungle, I made a list of possible surnames to go with Newman, and I tried them out on the people I was on retreat with. Quite often I’d get quite excited about a name but the response was not that enthusiastic; then I hit on Newman Alexander, which got a universal chorus of approval.
A few weeks before he died, my wise friend Jon Underwood (founder of Death Cafe) said to me, “Once you’ve changed your name once, you realise you can do it as many times as you like.” As my work sits on the cusp of something new, it feels like the right moment to change my name again: from London Faerie to Newman Alexander (pronouns: they/them/their)
I look forward to meeting you again in my new incarnation, the same yet different. And I know that it takes a little while to adapt when someone changes their name, so please don’t worry if you call me Faerie sometimes as the transition takes full effect.
If you have any questions about the name change that aren’t answered above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: hello @ newmanalexander . com.
With much love