News letter from 10/13

October Part II View this email in your browser

** October Part 2 ————————————————————

Here is to hoping everyone and their many touching #ComingOutDay messages seen on line this week. This is a great primer as we see the announcement for ALL OF US 2017 (the new Queer Burner Retreat) is on the horizon. BUT, we are looking for help still… we are looking for:

* An Accountant

* Stage Manager

* Choreographer

Just email us or reply to this email. The production Team will be meeting in the beginning of November and are looking for someone engaged as soon as possible. It is best if this person is in the Bay Area, but not absolutely required. These are paid positions, part time.

Big Announcements coming in the mid November mailer about ALL OF US 2017 – including tickets sales, ways camps can make a presence, the ways people can access the event that could not do it before, and out campaign for INCLUSIVITY!

** EVENTS & HAPPENINGS ————————————————————

From the calendar!
* San Francisco: Cosmic Ranch 2016 Burning Man Deco (
* World Wide: Hugs Across America (
* New York City: Playa in the Park (
* Colorado: Denver DeCOmpression – The Atomic (
* Oakland: Exxxhibition – An artistic celebration of (
* San Francisco: SpiceRack: Trumpacolypse! (
* San Francisco: 7th Annual SuperHero Street Fair 2016 (
* New York City: Haus of Yes – Pink Mammoth (http://Tickets:
* Yorkville: Groundswell Halloween 2016 (
* San Francisco: Ghost Ship Halloween: Atlantis (
* Sacramento: Spark the Dark – Sacramento Burning Man (
* San Francisco: ALL OF US Production Team Meeting – closed meeting for producers Nov 3rd

LAS VEGAS: Going to Vegas anytime soon? The Phoenix Bar 4213 W Sahara Ave is Burner and Queer Burner owned space! They have weekly meet-ups. Check them out!

COLORADO: has a new Regional Queer Burner Page!!! More to come, but this page has already taken on some amazing life!!!

SAN FRANCISCO: Did you know that there are a lot of local businesses owned by burners? QBar, Midnight Sun and Beaux are all owned by a local burner business man who is committed to the community.


** COMMUNITY AWARENESS ————————————————————

How many people on your feed are experiencing a hard time? The increase in Cancer in the community is scary! Keep your thoughts, prayers, well wishes and wallets available for those asking for help! #fuckcancer hashtag for those supporting the fight for cancer.

Mental Health is also something very important! Many camp leaders and participants suffer from Anxiety and Depression and can’t … literally can’t ask for help. Be mindful of our community and be a supporter. All it takes to start is a smile and the show of love and support. Don’t find out when it is too late.

Radical Inclusion: Doing Better

There were 2 highly visible incidents during burn week where people had a wide audience who complained they did not feel welcome in the queer neighborhood affectionately known now as Rainbow Road. This is not news to a lot of people, because we have had problems in the past, among LGBTQAI people exploring the area of Black Rock City.

Given the conversations we have had among leadership in the community, it is hard to believe that such a thing can still happen today. We strive to make Rainbow Road accessible to everyone.

A few years ago Camp Beaverton has a hard nut to crack. That is a women only space (women identified too) and there is a need to protect and honor that space. But the gay men-folk love their lesbians and thanks to the efforts of camp leadership starting with Bucket and then someone like Foxy and Galaxyled the way to make the Beavers more engaged and invigorated community partners.

The Beaverton space is still a space to be honored for women as Gender Blender is to gender queer and trans people which are all spaces that need to be respected. The GB’s have always maintained a sense of welcoming.

Nobody can deny how much The Glamcocks have worked to build into community awareness and to make sure that their camp was accessible by people of all shapes, sizes and ages. It’s been YEARS since there were any complaints and anyone holding into the past needs to explore the future.

That was the Past: The Now

Incident 1: As mentioned in a previous post, there was a meeting at Sun Guardians Village that was attended by a lot of Queer Burner Leaders, non-Queer specific and others. This was attended by Placement and Placers from Burning Man HQ. One of the attendees complained he was ostracized by queer Burning Man participants because he was an ex-porn star, ex-escort and so forth. In fact his position was so anti-Gayborhood and loudly spoken that it derailed the meeting with Placement for at least an hour.

This one person claimed that he posted on the Queer Burner boards and was treated horribly, though I have not been able to find that discussion. In fact the only thing I can find is an offer to help camps with grey water back in August this year.

This was a powerful situation, highly visible, from a person who has a voice in the Burning Man community at large and should never have had a negative experience, but things happen. We have some strong opinions and defenses out there but not to the point of exclusion.

Another Instance

Big Gay OwlIncident 2: A Facebook Queer Burners user Matt Melnicki  posted his misgivings about they way he was received in the Rainbow Road camps. As someone in the process of coming out of the closet, plus putting out an art piece as part of his coming out process, I think from the discussion it was important for him to find that radical acceptance that even his own family hard a hard time giving him; a story we all know (depending on that generation you stem from).

This was his coming out piece, one which he was very proud of. As for some of the supporting posts on the Facebook feed he had a lot of admirers for his work.

Matt Wrote:

Hey, I’m the artist who did the little owl piece (near the library). I came “home” to some disconcerting messages from my mother urging me not to post about it on social media, and I don’t know how to respond to her (nor do I want to). She was initially supportive when I told her before I went into BRC last week. (The owl was a coming-out piece, for those who missed it). I don’t have the pictures yet to do my big FB post, but now I’m feeling a lot of the empowerment gained at BRC to be dissipating. (I also had several disappointing experiences of unwelcomeness at gay events/camps this year, but that’s another issue). Anyway, I feel alone and confused and sad again and I actually could use some advice if anyone wants to help me finish taking the biggest step of my life..

  • Rich Martin Matt: I also have enjoyed the same cold reception from the “gay ghetto”,…and I’ve created some of the pieces that have helped make BRC a destination for my fellow citizens 🙂
    Don’t take it personally. As you are finding, charting your own path and being answerable to no one but yourself is a big deal. As an artist, it’s important to realize that your self-worth depends on no one but you. The Ten Principles play big here: radical self-reliance is one of the heaviest hitters.
    Personally…I REALLY HEART THE OWL. ***Please*** post pix. Definitely a piece worth sharing.
  • Matt Melnicki i just spoke on the phone with my brother, who for most of my life has been closed-minded…. UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT! wow. i’m crying so much. he told me to ignore our parents and do whatever i feel i need to do to be happy.
  • Jay Michel Hi Matt! The owl is wonderful. 🙂 I would love some details on your experience with gay events/ camps this year. As a member of one I hope it was not us that made you feel unwelcomed! But I know we and all the camps are always looking to improve so sharing might be helpful for next year. If you rather not post here, you can always message me.

There were a lot of other posts that went along with this and this is not even a good representation of the highlights. The problem is bigger than this because a lot of people have had similar experiences. I am also personally aware of some camps who have made tremendous efforts to improve accessibility of camps. I am aware of some camps who have done nothing, but the beauty is the people that have – have accomplished a lot.

Balancing Perception v. Bias

Some of us walk into a space with our own baggage or prejudice and see people of a group in a certain light. The challenge in Radical Inclusion is a two way street which means to be received as an open heart, you have to go in with an open heart. To be accepted openly that person has to come in openly.

Each of us has a biased world view because we are all limited to a single camera perspective. That is we can only see what comes before us, we can only hear what is around us, and we can only read that which is in front of us. No one has the definitive version of reality, including the the author of this lesson. Our social locations helps inform our world view – our race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, culture, etc.Our world view impacts how we view, respond, and react to every experience. Our job in this lesson is to learn what stereotypes and biases are, how to recognize our own biases…” – Recognizing & Understanding Stereotypes and Bias on

I have seen two very different reactions to the same kind of interaction in a camp like Glamcocks (or any camp) for example. It is no secret that the Glamcocks live up to their name filled with gorgeous men who are smart, witty and on the cutting edge of their respective communities. A middled aged man walks into camp and:

  • circumstance A: he sees all the lovely people and feels like he is part of that vibe and dances with joy. His expectations are open. His defenses and fears are practically null. He dances and enjoys the vibe and leaves thinking he had a great time. While he was there during his fun, he met several camp members and will be back. He felt connected to the vibe, music and space and will come back.
  • circumstance B: he sees all the lovely people and wants to be part of the vibe and dances but looks for acceptance. He fears he will not click with people. He engages and was greeted and welcomed to the camp. He continues dancing and makes some superficial connections but, although attracted to a lot of the crowd, find himself detached and leaves. It’s their fault for not connecting with him because of his age (weight, hair color or whatever).

I have been on other sides of these equations. This is almost a personal testimony. Where is my heart in this interaction in the reality of the situation. What baggage am I bringing to the table? We all need to ask ourselves these questions and reflect.

In the last few years I have not seen a situation where a camp has not been welcoming. But then again I have a certain level of comfort and ownership that I bring into my interactions that are a lot different than where I was 8 or less years ago.


Without being in Matt’s shoes, or Rich’s shoes, we cannot speak for them. In no way can we blame these folks or apply fault for their perceptions. We can apply tools to help for the future. Or maybe provide tools for others. There is a lot of stuff online including a cool Huffington Post article.

In the end what we take into a situation is what we will experience. Smiles are contagious. An open heart is a road paved in gold.

The thing about our Burning Man world is that it is diverse in it’s psychology. We are all looking for something to hold on to. We want to hold on to each other but we have to be prepared for that union.

Rainbow Road: WTF?

I wrote a somewhat cutting piece last week about the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road about what I witnessed and I tried to convey a sentiment from myself and the voices of people around me. What I discovered there is a huge leap from what people will say, what they will speak up for and what they will take action for.

There is an inherit danger to writing a piece the is critical of an institution that has unlimited power on your experience at an event that you might hold dear. In spite of a lot of work, commitment and bridge building that one leap of faith can result in a pretty messy splatter. A part of my leadership standard has been to take chances.

Rainbow Road Feedback

The responses on Facebook opened the door for several things.

  1. it gave a segment of people a chance to stand-up for a similar vision; 22 people signed the petition calling for the stronger presentation of the Gayborhood /  Rainbow Road. There were some feelings expressed.
  2. a majority of the voices were actually against the Gayborhood, or so it seemed. We have a lot of people asking for the dissimulation of the Gayborhood stating it was a crutch for people unwilling to engage outside a perceived bubble.
  3. then there were the voices waffling on the idea or being supportive who felt very lost in the feedback

There were 2 conversations on the Facebook PAGE and the Facebook GROUP. Both of which were very powerful and eye-opening. This project (Queer Burners) is a community driven project. My opinions do not represent all queer burners and I  try and stay away from giving that position.

Alas, this post. I lit a torch to carry forward and found out for the most part I was standing alone. I had some powerful quotes that in the 24 hour life of the article were pulled and asked to be removed. They were accurate and complete in the moment, but they were also accurate from the position I heard them in. OR copied/pasted them from their written sources. So there was no other choice but to remove the article.


The voices say that people are generally happy with the way Placement handled the location of queer camps. The map that we posted and that was enhanced by a member of the community made it look like far less of a spreading than it seemed while out there:


Comfort and Joy really felt like they were off the beaten path and outside the center of the Gayborhood. C&J has been the epicenter of the Gayborhood along with Beaverton for years. We really did not have that anchor camp this year and that was missed. Maybe that was why we seemed so decentralized?


All we have is our integrity, and if I can maintain mine then I feel like I can hold my head up. I have always tried to do that in the community (Burning Man wide) and have often walked right into barriers that come from places that would shock people. This propensity to step into someone’s pile of shit has left me gob-smacked on more than one occasion.

There was a bit of a scandal over another camp and some EA passes. I asked a group of leaders in a private message about HOW we can help. The general consensus when all was said and done was there was nothing we could do. One of those campers shared that conversation with Placement; that person is known. Ironically, one of those leaders who was so adamant about the issue shared their EA passes with another camp leaving me completely stunned.


There was a meeting on playa Tuesday of burn week at the Sun Guardians village hosted by the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizer board that Placement attended. Having Answergirl and several placers there with more than 2 dozen camp leads was very important and appreciated.

There were a couple rotten tomatoes in the mix including Rich Martin who claimed to be a founding member of White Ocean and Opulent Temple. His rants against the Gayborhood and were paired with a member of the Temple Burn crew (name unknown) who railed hard about the existence of the Rainbow Road neighborhood. They had their reasons, and their voices are not unfamiliar, but they seemed to come to upset the table of the meeting that was not about the Rainbow Road. The meeting was about Placement and services for camp leaders.

It is powerful voices like these out of the 29.7% of the LGBTQ, Burning Man Black Rock City Citizens, that talk about the dissimulation of the Gayborhood. Is that where this is headed? Is that the future as it applies to Burning Man?


It is Queer Burners position, as part of the project, is to see the Gayborhood preserved. That Rainbow Road will be the future of the queer burner participants. If the future of Burning Man cannot see color, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or the other things that make us different than the other person then that will be a curious day. What I learned from Burners is that each of us who build and make want to be seen for our individual or group special-ness. All burners are peacocks.

Our integrity is everything. But someone told me this week that sometimes we simply need to be water, we need to flow with the current, and for some people the integrity of a peaceful solution is better than a battle against the current. If Queer Burners went away tomorrow and that was where it was supposed to go, if that was the flow, then that is the natural evolution of this project.

In the end, thanks for ALL the feedback. I encourage everyone to read back and see what was written by community members and share those feelings. Be honest. Be true.


Rainbow Road Story Redacted

I decided to pull the post and delete the petition because this was bringing a lot of things to the surface that were not desirable over all. It seems like there are a lot of feelings people have about the Gayborhood and what Placement offers. While these feelings do not specifically coincide with mine and what I observed it is the mission of Queer Burners to perpetuate the needs of the Queer Burning Man participants. (period)

What people will say, what people will commit to in writing, and then what people will take action for are very different things. And especially with Mercury still in retrograde and this crazy full ellipse stuff going on in the universe… it’s best to pull back and re-evaluate.

My position is that I want to fiercely protect the Gayborhood. It has been my mission for 8 years. Maybe we are going through a typical phase of change and sometime change needs to thrive.

The wide feeling is people are happy with Placement. And with that… I thank eveeryone for their feedback. Stay tuned as we look to keep this community live and vibrant. Much love to you all.

Burning Man 2016

What an amazing year. Rainbow Road (Inner and Outer) found itself spread out really thin in 2016 as opposed to the way were concentrated in 2015. There will be an article posted about that on Monday right here on QueerBurners.Com.

We would love to post highlights, camp photos, group photos of everyone’s burns. Please send them to info (at) queerburners (dot) com so we can put them in a group image gallery. Naughty bits okay in our gallery, not like F***book.

The BAAAHS sheep roared like a lion and the Glamcock showed in style as usual. Comfort & Joy brought a slightly new spin to their whole presentation and we loved it. 8-Bit Bunny  heated it up and the Gender Blenders served it cold. Mudskippers had table service and Camp Conception blew it up.

Sun Guardians hosted a Burning Man wide event for Placement that fell into the merits of the the Gayborhood that got super ugly (details coming).

The general consensus is, except for those taken down by the Norwalk virus, this year was a general success! We have some things to work on to make sure we keep our place in the sun, but community strong and united we stand.

What’s a Sparkle Pony?

The following was an email received and answered: (The name of the inquisitor was changed)

Can you please tell me what a sparkle pony is? It sounds fabulous!
Well, hi there, PersonX!
You ask a very serious question. One that requires a history lesson and a warning for your safety. A Sparkle Pony is an evil, clueless race of heartless parasitic people who live off the sweat and hard work of others. They come from a far off land that they destroyed by neglect and carelessness while they focused on looking more beautiful. Without a home, they now invade all other lands trying to take as much air out of a room as possible.

12_sparklepony_withcopySparkle Ponies run around trying to look cute (but usually look desperate), trying to get attention from their costumes and their looks, while doing nothing to contribute to community or build a better world. In our history, we had a nasty infestation of Sparkle Ponies that we have successfully shunned and we must remain diligent to prevent them from trying to take over our little paradise in the desert – because they try every year.

But to be fair, I feel a little sorry for Sparkle Ponies. They’re just immature, clueless and have no idea how to enjoy the emotional benefits and personal growth that come from building community, serving others, acting in others’ best interests or nurturing their fellow human beings. But they do have a choice. A very important choice that can change their experience and their reputation… The changes in biochemistry that comes from truly bonding, wanting to get along with others, creating together and accomplishing great feats as a group, while glistening with sweat are what turns people into….Sparkle Stallions!

Now, you didn’t ask, but I feel it’s really important to explain what a Sparkle Stallion is. They are revered, beautiful creatures who know how to get shit done and look fierce while they are doing it. They work hard and play hard. They are professional partiers who create the party, make the party fun and clean up after it. Our camp is full of Sparkle Stallions! They are known for their hard work ethic, their ability to smile and have fun while glittering it done. They are a beacon of hope for humanity. So, if you can, choose to be like Sparkle Stallions. They are much more popular with sincere, kind, generous, heart-centered people anyway. And they have better sex lives, I hear 🙂

I hope this is helpful, PersonX! I know you’ll choose the positive path and stay away from those Sparkle Ponies.
Uncle Coop (aka Michael Coop Cooper part of Comfort & Joy)


Burning Man Zodiac

Naked Pub Crawl


2016 Mens Naked Pub CrawlWell it’s out. One of the most popular events happening on the playa is the Naked Pub Crawl aka Men’s Naked Bike Ride… although not technically synonymous. It is of course a radically inclusive event, but also attracts mostly gay men. By the time it is done people are feeling… well… no pain.

(click to view image > and hit the back button in the browser to escape)

This typically happens on Wednesday at 11am and lasts until the early afternoon. There are hundreds of people engaged in it and is is a lot of fun.

The organizers posted this imaged on the Queer Burners Facebook group and have indicated there might be more changes coming. But, we can be assured that the event is scheduled and will start at The Man* then off to Barbie Death Camp.

One big change this year is the giant Circle Jerk is not happening at the end of the ride. The organizer has moved the Circle Jerk to Thursday asking for a focus on the ceremony of a circle jerk. This is good for a variety of people. The limits and strengths are +/- for people because in the ceremony you can’t go-down on someone or start fucking. There is a discipline needed and the challenge of patience.

Link to the Bike ride in Playa Events

Link to the Circle Jerk in Playa Events

The writeup from Playa Events (linked above):

Since 2004, hundreds of burners meet at the Man and pedal off into the City for a few hours of bar hopping and good cheer! Multiple host camps will have bartenders standing by with icy libations prepared exclusively for the riders. Among this year’s host camps are Barbie Death Camp & Wine Bistro, Duckpond, Cubhouse, BAAAHS, and Celestial Bodies. The ride culminates with an 80s Jazzercise Dayglo afterparty hosted by the wonderful folks at Comfort & Joy. If you’re willing to meet the dress code, join us for one of the goofiest parties on the playa. No statement or political agenda; just riding our bikes, drinking some cocktails, and making new friends. Oh yeah, and we’re naked. Mugs for the first 500 riders (and yeah, we always run out). Cheers!


Mediation and Neighborly Behavior

This has been a topic that has come up quite often in the community lately in many forms. During a meeting last year at the Red Lightening camp hosted by the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers admins and Placement where it was a seriously addressed issue by the head of Placement/DMV “Retro” making it clear that sound in the city limits was being taken seriously.

If you know Red Lightening they are a venue with performances and education series usually positioned on the Esplanade and are a relatively quiet, if not busy, camp with a lot of foot traffic. As we held our meetup at 11pm on a Wednesday night the camp next door started playing death metal and we could barely hear each other talking. In the not so far distance we could hear the Mayan Warrior on it’s way out of the city with the trademark drums beating announcing it’s arrival.

The look on Retro’s face was awestruck but he understood campers point of view, as he and a placer who was with him at the time, explained they were working on creating new policies to address those issues.

Within our Queer Burner community there were some issues as well. The new sound policy felt like it was getting it’s legs in 2015 but already in 2016 we can feel the full force of these new policies. In 2015 BAAAHS was placed at 7 & D kitty corner from Camp Conception which both played amplified music. And across from both was Sun Guardians that holds yoga and meditation classes during the day. As mayor of SG I found both BAAAHS and Camp Conception amiable in helping me limit the amplified sound when I went to talk to them about it for our day-time classes.

Yet other neighbors complained for various reasons, but asking two sound entities placed in the city was like asking a cheetah not to run.

In another case that came up, Disco Château was not placed this year because of a sound battle they had with their neighbors AEZ (Alternative Energy Zone) and possibly others in 2015. Not being good neighbors, especially to a long established camp, earned them a serious black mark from Placement.

We can do better and are working to do better. BAAAHS did everything they could to be compliant and tried to meet the needs of officials who gave them feedback. Disco Château on the other hand had some renegades who really ended up digging a deep hole that pulled a few people down with them; forcing a change in leadership for 2016.

stole this from the Facebook post


It is not up to us to confront people over issues that cannot be resolved with a polite neighborly discussion. I found our neighbors helpful from my point of view when I explained we needed the volume down between certain hours in the middle of the day which was pretty reasonable.

If you are not getting a response then seek out a Ranger for conflict mediation. Black Rock City Rangers are trained for that very purpose. When these occurrences happen they are being recorded in a blotter that is reported back to Placement and will / could affect your placement in the coming year.

The old fashion term “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is still the standard. The “Fuck yer Burn” mentality of the past is slowly fading out with troll attitudes and crotchety veteran burners giving way to the flood of festival candy ravers who are flooding into the event.

If Rangers in the field cannot help, then go to the closest Ranger station and make a case for some escalated help calmly and probably with a bottle of booze. There is a strong desire to enforce sound policies this year and going forward that will support you. And if you are the one not complying, then you are inviting unwanted attention.


There was a post in the Burning Man Group that inspired today’s posting (link here) that inspored today’s post. The issues discussed with the named camps above were also issues I was mostly directly/indirectly involved with on some level. We need to have an open dialog with camps in violation of policies so they are not surprised with a denial of Placement the following year. While it may be assumed there should be no surprise, camps need feedback! While we have the benefit of the MOOP map for our cleanliness, we really need a report from Placement / Earth Guardians  or others if there are things we need to improve on.

There is a blacklist that exists that camps and participants do not have access to, nor the feedback necessary to make improvements with, that is a one-sided conversation and is hallmark of a very needed transparency with a department that makes huge decisions. Camps are putting out 10 – 20 – 30 thousand dollars a year to help build the city not to mention the price of a ticket only to be blackballed anonymously by a system rigged against its self.

It is an awful thing to consider. But we have learned to take these things in stride so far and move forward with what we can in spite of the odds. Volunteers make up most of the Burning Man troops and we appreciate their amazing work every year for something so many of us really believe is as close to Utopian ideals as we can imagine.

We all can do better with some effort. Be better humans. Be better neighbors. Be better participants. Be more accessible.

Events Information for BM 2016

The creator of the Time to Burn App has provided one of the most widely used online tools for the playa for your smart phone. While many people argue that devices like that are one of the reasons TTITD is in the middle of the desert, it is also more useful that the What Where When booklet because it holds a lot more events than are listed in it.

The What Where When booklet you get upon arrival, with the official sticker inside, can only hold approximately 15000 entries while there are a lot more than that on playa. Apps like Time to Burn and iBurn utilize the whole playaevents database. The more value added side of Time to Burn is that he has been able to ferret out many of the LGBTQ camps/events and associate the #lgbt hashtag that makes it more useful to our community.

Has need and technology voided the usefulness of the What Where When booklet? That is for the future participants to decide. We have the links where you can download your copy of the app for free. 


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