What’s Queer?

You might be asking yourself… this site is for Queers how do I fit in? Of course, the question is obvious on other more relate-able terms.

Queer?

Adjective:Strange; odd: “she had a queer feeling that they were being watched”.

Frankly anyone who goes to Burning Man is queer, and while this site focuses on the LGBTQ++ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender, Queer and all the blurry lines) anyone fits in. We are totally Radical Inclusion here and though many burner communities are strongly united we embrace openly.

Stand outside Comfort & Joy any night at Burning Man and see people from all walks of life gliding through the amazing and engaging camp. Whether coming into the big tent to chill or play or just enjoying the mylar rain outside.

We’re all queer in our own way and we like it.

X-Post from Gay Burners Facebook

(This is a repost from the Gay Burners page on Facebook. It, according to Facebook, was seen by 261 people as of this x-post and almost no one made comments on the content of it.)

With all the fun stuff there is some serious things too. We take the good and the bad and we deal with it as a community. Never be afraid of offering critical feedback. And if you have suggestions please feel free to share them. Even when a subject makes a person feel uncomfortable it is still important to deal with them. If you have something to add then pARTticpate with immediacy and do it… this project Gay Burners / Queer Burners / Quire is a community driven series of projects.

This is Scott aka Toaster writing after the last 2 posts. Some members of the community have been critical about some of my postings in the past as having been too controversial. The phrase “…more flies with honey” has been thrown around a lot.

Truth is I have struggled a lot with the comments made to me by Andie Grace in the main hall during the Burning Man Regioanal Conference that I attended for the 2nd year in a row in 2012.

Now I see these posts about rape while on the other hand the Placement team did such an amazing job helping build the Gayborhood; and from that came the Gayburbs (see trip report on queerburners.com for details on that).

I read the @Burners.Me article as soon as it came out and let it flow around in my head until I saw the Huffington Post’s article. Even then I held my tongue because I started to realize on Thursday night with a group of Burners that I am invested in this culture very differently than many of my fellow burners.

I see us as being not unlike a congressional district desperately in need to a voice and I think I was trying to be that voice. I have, from the heart, taken on some ugly tasks in this culture where I believed strongly that the 10 Principles were being violated by people who were charged to enforce them. I also took on a Burning Man representative and his partner who were actively attacking specifically female members of the community and ended up landing on my face. I have taken on battles against some great people in this community in leadership positions with a hell of a lot more influence than I and have been knocked down again and again.

Andie Grace aka ActionGirlWhen I stood up at the Leadership Conference for Burning Man Regionals and spoke out I realized I just took another grenade thrown by the Regional Network; specifically Andie Grace. I was at the front of another losing battle when I talked about the concerns that were addressed at the Queer Burner Leadership Summit 2 weeks before.

When I asked for other representatives from the Queer Burner community to come with me to the Regional Leadership Conference the Regional Office said “no”. I was fortunate to attend, but this office in particular ( that includes Megs, Andie Grace [formerly] and Marian Goodell [one of the 6 owners of Burning Man, Director of Communications, and Board Member of the Burning Man Project]) has been highly resistant to giving us an official voice even though we make up a huge part of their census.

There is a flaw in my argument though! When I say we should have a Regional Contact (or 2 or 3) for LGBT people I am not unaware that Radical Inclusion is not part of our community.

My home community, the regional community I was once a part of before moving to San Francisco was Las Vegas and they were so loving and inclusive generally speaking. There was no need, in my opinion, for a separate Regional Contact in my mind back then.

Yet, as I became more involved in the landscape of this culture and invested myself to an “all-in” position I see where this is actually important. We are a community in a community.

When I asked the Regional Network team about this I was dismissed. I was told the BDSM community asked for their own regional, too, where would it stop? Again, the LGBT community was dismissed as if we were part of some chosen quirky lifestyle making unreasonable demands. Yet, 2nd Life (a computer game) has its own freaking regional?

There are Regional Contacts out there who have done NOTHING for the community in years but still hold on to this title for their free ticket to Burning Man each year (a reward for all their work). We do have queer Regional Contacts and I met a lot of them this year; but who are they representing?

Yes, they have a voice for Queer subjects but who is watching out for the LGBT part of burning man. Imagine when Jiffy Lube was being told they had to relocate (way back when) if there was a buffer between them and Larry Harvey… have you seen the videos?

Note to beat a dead horse, but there are some serious disconnects at BMorg and I am personally trying very hard to make this project be a positive representation of what we are bring to the playa and the default world every day.

My personal investment is a little OCD compared to others I see around me. At our San Francisco meet & greet Thursday night I looked around at the people around me. I saw in them a deep commitment to this life. I saw how different it was from mine; NOT THAT MINE IS BETTER! I am saying mine is a little too much sometimes. The issues I bare might not be mine to carry, but I try to do it to make things better for us all and better networked so we queers can help each other with our projects and other functions inside and outside the trash fence.

So with respect and love I invite critical feedback. Don’t shove daisies up my ass and pretend everything is lovely… some have. We need to be able to talk about things and your involvement at the next Queer Burner Leadership Summit in the beginning of 2013 will be invaluable.

When Wal-Mart meets Burning Man

By Christopher Reynolds
Los Angeles Times staff writer
September 19, 2012, 7:30 a.m.

Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers, Wal-Mart workers and Burning Man personnel. Maybe your hopes and dreams aren’t so different after all.

A couple of weeks ago, traveling in Arkansas, I stopped in at the Bentonville storefront where the Wal-Mart empire began. It’s a visitor center now with exhibits on corporate history. I picked up a brochure listing Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s 10 rules for building a business. All very sensible and offered in six languages. I stuffed the brochure into my pocket.

Then a few days later, visiting San Diego, I heard a speech by Chip Conley, who is, among other things, a board member of the Burning Man Project. That’s right, the annual later-summer tribal party in the Black Rock Desert outback of northern Nevada, where about 50,000 artists and revelers unite amid throbbing music, body paint and an ignited effigy or two. Not only does Burning Man have a board of directors, those directors have business cards, and on the back of the business cards are  10 guiding principles. Conley gave me a card, and I stuffed it in my pocket.

So now I’m back from the road with one list (printed on orange paper) to my right, and another (printed on blue paper) to my left. This is a nice reminder that travel will mess with your mind as thoroughly as any drug or management-training program. It also shows that human beings love lists, and the number 10, and making plans for other people, whether we’re moving merchandise in a suburban big box or dancing naked in the desert.

But surely, it’s easy to tell Burning Man’s principles from Wal-Mart’s rules, right?

Not so much. I’ve combined the two lists into one, alphabetically ordered. Go ahead. Sort these out.

— Appreciate.

— Celebrate.

— Civic responsibility.

— Commit.

— Communal effort.

— Communicate.

— Control.

— Decommodification.

— Exceed.

— Gifting.

— Immediacy.

— Leaving no trace.

— Listen.

— Motivate.

— Participation.

— Radical inclusion.

— Radical self-expression.

— Radical self-reliance.

— Swim (upstream).

Ok, so a few were easy — “control” and “decommodification,” especially. And you can eventually figure it out, because one organization prefers verbs and the other likes nouns. (By the way, Burning Man was born in the late 1980s, when Wal-Mart was in its third decade. Sam Walton died in 1992.)

Here’s a little more on Burning Man’s principles, and here’s a little more on Walton’s rules.

We can agree, I think, that nobody playing at Burning Man and nobody working at Wal-Mart lives up to all of these ambitions every day. But, hey, it’s good to have goals. Maybe some district manager out there will adopt all 20 here and create the grooviest big box ever.

(via When Wal-Mart meets Burning Man – latimes.com)

Memories of 2012

Seems like a lot of people are energized and motivated for 2013 by their experience in 2012. Who would have known that people would have been encouraged with all the misgivings that came out of Mario Cisnerosthe ticket fiasco to get to renewed energy about Burning Man and its culture.

This year the Gay Pride Parade and the Official Meet & Greet were held in honor of one of our burners that passed on. Although many friends have gone, this man named Mario Cisneros was an active leader and participant in the Queer burner community as well as his region. That means he was active in the general community with Burners in Los Angeles where he was from.

Enjoy these pics from the pride parade this year… and click here to see all the pics uploaded by members or add your own below.

[ngg_uploader id = 15]

The first of 3

The first of 3 major QB events has hit the airwaves today on our Facebook page. This is your chance to discover a Regional event if you have never been to one. Better yet, having a wicked good time with a bunch of queers rep-prez-zentin’! We do have a lot of members and friends in Salt Lake City, which is close to the event, it is their Regional Event after all.

This is the exploration stage to see what kind of steam we can get behind it. Of course we are all amped up being less than a month after Burning Man itself. We have a lot of time to work it out.

What about the 2013 Queer Burner Leadership Summit – you ask??? Yes, that will be announced soon too. Stay tuned! XO

Add your images!

Add your pictures to the site and share your adventures! Please use the uploader (members only) and we will make sure it get’s published as soon as possible. Images and posts are held for moderation unless you have published before.

  • upload 2009 Pics |
  • upload 2010 Pics |
  • upload 2011 Pics |
  • upload 2012 Pics | Trip Report (for QB.Com)

And why does this only go back to 2009???? Well this is the year GayBurners[dot]Com was founded and Toaster’s first time at Burning Man. The web site will have it’s 5 year anniversary in 2013!

2012 Burning Man Trip Report

While this site continues to be a launching platform for Queer and Queer Adjacent members of the Burner Culture it also has an intent to keep the 10 Principles alive in our day to day living. Whether you also include the 10 commandments, Buddhist beliefs, Kaballah, Torah, or whatever the 10 Principles are merely ideas for community living.

The following is a different kind of trip report and talks about a lot of things. There are criticism but there is also a lot of appreciation for a lot of work people did to achieve something amazing. This is a single person’s point of view and you are encouraged to add comments or write your own trip report with all your exciting stories.

Burning Man (Fertility 2.0)

The theme itself, this year, left us somewhat perplexed at first trying to figure our how the LGBTQ++ community fit into it. We did studies, videos, testimonies and in the end there was very little of the theme in the scope of the event n the delivery. It came across a little 2d unlike recent years like “Rites of Passage” and “Evolution” that had an umbrella of possibilities and translations to art and culture that were represented on the playa.

Keep in mind that there was …WAS an estimation of 70% of ticket sales went to people with no previous affiliation with Burning Man either in theory or pARTticipation who – in all likelihood – did not know how to bring it. Many probably learned while it seemed that many fled early from the event. Fled? Yes, wicked dust storms scared off the less sturdy and left us with a max attendance at one point of 52,000 or so people; less than last year and way short of the 60,000 tickets actually sold.

Bottom line, there was a great deal of success to the event because as the vacationers fled the play ground became a lot more burner-centric; which means experienced burners slowly became a majority again. This also includes de-burgined newbies that embraced the scope of Burning Man principles and will be coming back. Joy.

 Nomenclature

This year we had a very strong Gayborhood thanks to the placement team at Burning Man HQ and (finally) someone listening to some LGBTQ++ concerns with the influx of new people that might further inflame some homophobic issues in the past. So far there has been no direct reports of those problems but we will be seeking feedback from the community moving forward.

The Gayborhood basically started around 7:00 and E in the city stretching back to approximately 7:30 and F; not to exclude anyone just outside that zone. Some of us started calling the surrounding area the Gayburbs. Camps in the Gayborhood included:

  • Comfort & Joy
  • Camp Beaverton
  • Gender Blender
  • Camp Montage
  • Celestial Bodies
  • Dusthaven
  • AstroPups
  • Camp Crack Whore
  • Camp Stella
  • Glamcocks
  • Quixote
  • Camp Blo Pop
  • Down Low Club
  • Poly Asylum

The Gayburbs on the other hand was a little more spread out. This might be a new term coined this year, or recycled, who knows. But there were an awful lot of Queer Pride Rainbow flags out there flying. Some had the word PACE on them which is the Italian word for Peace. Some of those camps included:

  • Motel Paradise
  • Tiny’s Lounge
  • Yes, Please
  • Vietnamese Coffee Camp
  • Camp Conception
  • Area 69
  • Run Free Camp
  • Camp Homoerectus

Wait? Is that all? No… there were a lot of camps, either overt or not, that surrounded the area who were self identified queer camps or queer-adjacent.

Gayburbia was a term that we came to agree to call the far off smaller circle of gay camps on the other side of the city that 2 years ago was coined the Gay Ghetto. The fine folks at the center of that area over near 4:00 and J was Burner Buddies. These were smaller, more clustered groups who camped close to each other for “safety” purposes. That was the exact word used. Queer camps that could look out for each other through the event.

Placement

RevBloodshotHuge thanks to Placement for their continued follow up, interaction and support to the queer and queer friendly camps at Burning Man. Rev. Bloodshot was the star player in the placement team who was extremely active in making sure there was support and security included in the placement of the Gayborhood.

The outstanding work and follow up by this team was a topic of discussion among the Queer Burner Leaders and generally agreed that they deserve huge levels of appreciation.

Processes

Without a doubt getting in and getting out of Burning Man was a win-win. A one to three hour max Exodus has not been experienced in nearly a decade and talk about a finely executed ballet. I was traveling with Foxy (Mayor of Camp Beaverton) and we both anticipated a 6 to 8 hour wait along with our newbie Uniboob (just kidding Sarah) and were braced for the long wait and we rolled right out without a single pause or surge.

Streets: Traversing the city, though huge, was very well laid out as usual though the roads were in BAAAAD shape by Friday. The ruts were deep and teeth chattering on most bikes and some art cars.

Toilets: maintained remarkably well and occasionally decorated and left smelling of lavender by wonderful fellow burners.

Center Camp: The strongest and best year of my experience, plus a great haven from the dust.

Law Enforcement

In 2011 with an increase in population there was an increase in Law Enforcement (aka L.E.). With the addition of 10,000 tickets sold for a sold out venue you better believe there was even more police presence out there. If you were paying attention, there ‘seemed‘ to be a lot of police activity. Specifically, they appeared to be searching for illegal substances.

Camp Poly Asylum was raided by police and dogs and apparently little was found. Was this harassment or was this an honest attempt to discover behavior that endangered the camp as a whole?

One member of my camp was stopped at the front gate and was subjected to a dog search of his car even though he has nothing to do with drugs.

However!!!! (Taken right from Burners.Me)

For an event with a peak attendance of 52,385, attended by eagle-eyed Law Enforcement Officers by the hundreds, Burners did incredibly well at keeping the peace, staying out of trouble, and obeying the law.

According to the Associated Press, this year’s scorecard was:

  • 22 Arrests
  • 230 Citations for drug and other violations
  • 441 verbal warnings for everything from speeding to washing their hands and dishes on the playa

Well done Burners – except for 22 of you –  and well done LEOs.

In comparison to previous years, there were more arrests but fewer citations. Here’s some recent statistics regarding arrests and citations at Burning Man 2010 and 2009.

2010- 293 citations; 8 arrests
2009- 287 citations; 9 arrests

I found one site on the Internet claiming that in 2011 is that there were 4 arrests for battery. However this site says:

2011 – 42 citations; 3 arrests – this might only be the BLM though and not include County cops

(end – Burners.Me repost: it was too good not to share. There is more if you will to follow the link in the header of this section.)

Who’s Who

Before the last 10,000 tickets went on sale there was a projection that about 70% of the people attending this year would be people who have never been experienced to Burning Man or it’s culture; 10 Principles and more. Even with the additional 10,000 tickets the event became sold out. Yes – selling out for the 2nd year in a row.

Who actually attended this event that resulted in 52,000 attendees which is way short of the 60,000 tickets sold? It should also be noted that a lot of those bucket list burners could not take the extreme conditions of the dust and wind and went home with their tails tucked.

  • 40% returning and contributing Burners
  • 20% ravers and crackheads looking to party
  • 25% circuit queens
  • 15% posers /  tourists / people abducted

*strictly subjective

The above is all in good fun. It is as accurate as what the Huffington Post published last year from Oscar Remundo’s popular blog.

Enculration: Did it work?

Many camps had processes in place to make sure Burgins staying with them were enlightened with an understanding of the 10 Principles and how they applied to their stay at Burning Man and their camp. Among the toughest to make this culture work for their newbies was Comfort & Joy, Camp Beaverton and AstroPups.

MOOP: There was still a lot of MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) out there; basically littering. However, it seemed that there was generally less crap blowing around this year than I saw last year.

pARTticipation: There was the usual great participation out there that makes the city what it is. It did seem, from personal observation, that there was a little more active recruiting to help out between experienced burners.

Art: There was a notable lack of creativity on the playa save the amazing CORE projects out there on some level. While a few pieces really stood out: (note: this is a personal observation)

  • Shipwreck w/ The Pier
  • Mumuration (Queer Project)
  • Aztec Calendar
  • …and the new Orbitron*

*from the people who brought you Cubitron in previous years.

Theme Camps

New standards were breached on amazing camps! There was some definitely excellent work that went into many of them. Although we are a world of radical inclusion, non-judgyness,some should genuinely be rewarded for their amazing work:

Most Welcoming Ambiance

  • Comfort & Joy
  • Beaverton/Gender Blender
  • AstroPups
  • Celestial Bodies

Best Construction

  • Comfort & Joy
  • Glamcocks
  • BaalMart
  • Celestial Bodies
  • Motel Paradise

Most Chillin at Home Vibe

  • Yes,Please
  • Camp Conception

Best Entertainment

  • Comfort & Joy: Friday’s Full Moon & AfterGlow Party
  • Burner Buddies: post Gay Pride celebration
  • Camp Conception: Thursday’s Dance party with DJ Dan
  • AstroPups: Wednesday Night feat. Rocket Collective
  • Down Low Club: Monday Official Meet & Greet
  • Celestial Bodies… every night

Radical Inclusion and Intimidation

One of the best camps for creating a welcome atmosphere, certainly the most successful depending on your point of view, has been Comfort & Joy. I witnessed people from all corners come into their camp and structures because they provide such a secure and safe space.

This could be said very much the same for a camp like Celestial Bodies who attract a very eclectic crowd and have a loving and special atmosphere; AstroPups and Down Low Club were very open.

While some camps are not open to street traffic through the week it is usually relatively clear who those were. Camp Conception hosted an amazing party on Thursday night and were raffling off some amazing art pieces; but visiting the camp felt awkward.

Glamcocks had this amazing open structure, they hosted and published some top notch parties, but in my 3 visits there it never felt welcome. I observed a lot while visiting and it felt very cliquish.

PLEASE DO NOT BE OFFENDED… this is a perception and one held from a removed point of view. I have and had no agenda other than working on networking camps so be can be supportive with each other and develop a better leadership collective.

Flow is important for a camp setup and clear boundaries for what is welcome space versus private space. Nectar Village is very good at defining these boundaries. A host or an active engagement with people visiting the camp can mean a world of difference if you have the people in your camp that flower in this area.

On another note: I received an email from a recognizable member of our community who complained he went to one of the above mentioned camps and was ignored; C&J. Upon reflection I realized I feel the same in some camps, but it is up to me to engage people in order to socialize. This is radical Self-Reliance in motion.

A host can be a great tool, but sometimes you (the individual) have to make the first step. As much as one can feel like they are not welcome at a camp, the camp and the individual each have the power to embrace someone new into their world.

THE BURNING MAN EVENT

Finally, with all the blah blah blah above we get into talking about Burning Man (Fertility 2.0) 2012. As this trip report it concludes with a solid thumbs up. The Gayborhood was a huge success to itself, but it is one element of the whole city. The Gayborhood was really a village that was larger than any other with Comfort & Joy and Beverton/GB at the nucleus of it.

Although the art was not quite up to par as years before there were some memorable pieces that includes the Pier with Shipwreck and a queer project called Murmuration. Yet, the CORE project (all 34 of them) were the best ever seen before (it is only the 2nd year for CORE).

Socially, queer camps really brought it big time and in pockets and in the Gayborhood we had branches that constantly reached into the city and welcomed anyone and everyone to participate along with us including the Gay Pride parade and a Naked Pub Crawl; which totally rocked. OMG Duck Pond was a hoot with their giant slip ‘n Slide.

The vibe was very different and though it might have felt a little foreign at the beginning of the week it felt very familiar by the end. Huge thanks to Placement at BMorg and the Exodus team. No no no… the whole freaking outfit!!!! Recovering from the ticket explosion in January to such a successful finale was sheer brilliance.

Welcome to the Default World

Fertility 2.0 is now at an end and a new year begins marching toward August 25th, 2013 with a yet to be themed event (to be announced this Fall according to the JRS). Last time Larry had to take some time to name the theme he came up with this unimaginable Fertility thing. Five or six years before this the theme was announced after the man burned through BMIR radio.

For some of us, myself included, September always was the beginning of a new chapter. Maybe it was because when I was a kid typically the new school year started? Effectively, there has been a succession of changes that happen to me and the world about this time of the year and though it really has nothing to do with Burning Man specifically it is a nice punctuation culminating with the temple burn.

All members are encouraged to share their stories and experiences. The trip report will be published here soon, so look forward to some of those exciting details.

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