April 2017 Part 2 News Letter

There is a new voice to the posts on Queer Burners and soon some new looks. Check out some of the latests posts and be sure to consider one of your own. Just let the admin know you are posting so we can make sure it gets out there. Posts only, please.

In this issue of the monthly news letter:

  • All Of Us Update
  • Burning Man Global Leadership Event in Oakland
  • 2017 Queer Camps List
  • Events
  • The Mechanics: How this email works

All Of Us

Full steam ahead. Don’t wait too long to get your tickets. And, stay in touch to see all the super mazing things that are happening [click] with all our banners for all the cool stuff!

Burning Man Global Leadership Event in Oakland

Want to know a wee bit more about the GLC and the Gayborhood. How are we responsible for our own future? Here is a nice follow up from the previous post [click].

2017 Queer Burners Camp List

The list is taking shape and camps are seriously gearing up to get ready for “Radical Ritual” Burning Man 2017. Do not be one of those people who wait til the last minute to commit because you WILL be left out. Check out the 2017 Queer Burners Page on our web site. 

Events

This is a list of events we know about:

Submit your events for the news letter in the link below.

The Mechanics

Thank you to everyone who has contributed and helped keep this network thriving. As we get closer to event season there is room for more people to play in this garden. If you sign up on the Queer Burners web site and are verified, then you too can write posts and continue conversations relevant to the community at large. Thank you to so many of you.

GLC: What about it?

The Global Leadership Conference hosted by Burning Man in Oakland at the beginning of the month was an amazing experience. This was my 5th or 6th one. When one starts forgetting those details then it feels like maybe it’s time to slow down? IDK… but I was super grateful to see so many people there.

People have since asked regarding the last post: “GLC: Gayborhood Broken Up?” questions like where is the queer representation at BMorg? With the Census showing an LGBTQ population hovering about 30% [2016 Report] of Black Rock City are we represented in the org the same way? When it comes to Ethnic Diversity and other populations anyone can ask the same question.

After my experience at the GLC and my interactions with BMorg there is a resounding yes (regarding representation), but there are some consistent problems with the BMorg as far as being able to react to Sexual Identity and Ethnic needs in the community that are slowly getting the recognition they have sorely needed over the years.

This is my 9th year in the community and when I tell you I have seen some real shit hit the fan, I have. BUT, I have also seen certain bodies of the BMorg really bounce right back to save the moment. There are some heroes up there.

The Conference

Let’s focus on some of the positives. This year there were more community leaders brought into the fold than ever before. This also included Theme Camp leaders and more diverse community leaders with various agendas. While some of these agendas were Ethnic, some were about Disability Access, and others were about creating new space to commune and make community.

Not to harp on myself, but my first GLC was as a Community Leader for the Las Vegas community and then each year following I went to talk about the Gayborhood. I also talked vigorously about safety for queers and women which is already documented well in the scope of this site.

There were queer leaders from all over the country. Many of whom lead Queer Burner regional message boards listed here on this site. It is also fair to say, without outing anyone who is not ready to be outed, that there are top level people who identify as LGBTQ.

We have many many allies, but that does not mean we have a free pass. Queer Burners as a community has to toil and resolve issues like everyone else in the community. There are issues we have to fight against but that is minutia compared to the scope of what we do for a week out of the year and how we bring Burning Man ideology to our communities.

And that is the key! Burning Man mission statement has been pared down to something very simple about bringing the 10 Principles to the world and creating community with that. Burners Without Boards and the Burning Man Project have been the pivot point on all that.

Us v. Them

Thinking there is an ‘us versus them mentality’ is not really conducive to a positive outcome. There is no such thing. If we want something from this community, we have to ask or demand it. If it happens through our Theme Camp Applications or where we spend our money then those are strong voices.

  • Going back to the Gayborhood question: Radical Self Reliance means we have to put in our applications who we want to be camped near and where.
  • If queers feel unsafe at Burning Man because of dangers growing out of a surging tourist culture then there are other places to spend and get value from that $425 dollar ticket.
  • If the dissolution of 10 Principles ideology is making it hard to be part of the burn, then become an activist and use Immediacy to start your own – thing.

As with any institution there are ways to work within the scope of the community or with our freedom; we can make our own. For many of us Burning Man is something we cherish. We might see some scars but the bigger picture is the value of those few days a year we get to create something amazing.

Schedules

The GLC had a lot of sessions that were very valuable. If you can go next year then by all means go. As this was my 5th or 6th year it has become almost a 2nd Burning Man trip for me… without the dust. I have allies that are there as well as people who would see my work torn apart.

I will post about the workshops and some feedback about them in my next post.

Conclusion

Sorry about the brevity and lack of content in this post. I wanted to share some thoughts about what I perceive as our individual responsibilities in this community to our goals in the Burning Man Community. Queer Burners comes in behind that somewhere as well as your Theme Camp and Yourself in any order that works for you.

We get what we petition for. If this is a chorus rather than one guy shouting like a crazy guy in the street that is very different. If we want the Gayborhood then we have to ask for it. We have to find our strategic partner camps and unite with them and put that in the application.

As far as who is representing us at Burning Man we have a lot of strong voices. For every twenty people there is maybe 1 neigh-sayer. We really do have more allies than not. The only thing I would like to discourage is letting other people be your voice… be your own voice and be heard.

Where are we that….?

Over the years that I have been doing things under the banner of Queer Burner (formerly Gay Burners) it has taken many forms. As the primary voice on this project it has been my chief goal to unite queer burners and make a fun play space for all those who would like to play in this amazing sand box.

Like on any playground, there are bullies. There are people who would thrust their point of view on other around them in spite of facts or truths. We do live in an age where there is “truthiness” and “alt-truths” and revisionist history that seek to drive a narrative that is increasingly questioned by some and ignored by others.

In the scope of that, calling out white privilege has been a big subject. At the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference this April 2017 in Oakland, California there was a 2 hour discussion from a black woman to a widely mixed audience. The smartest thing a white male could do was to listen and observe, but that was too much for some of us. You can imagine the results.

This week we put a survey on one of our Facebook Groups : Queer Burners Global Social Network :

  • Patience. Calm. Honesty. Maybe reflect a moment before answering. There is a reasonable expectation that the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road is going to be very different in 2017. If the Queer Neighborhood is decentralized will this effect your burn?

The feedback has been amazing. The ability to answer in the scope of the poll was limited. Read through the comments and see some of what happen, because it is awesome. However, a lot of people had no problem with the dissolution of the Gayborhood. BTW: they were mostly white and male (as of last check).

Some battles have been strange and interesting. If you read the trip report from the 2016 Burn there was a meeting with Placement at a queer camp (Sun Guardians) where in mostly queer camps came to meet with Placement and have a conversation about being neighborly: this was not a meeting about Queer Camps.

There were two attendees that highjacked the meeting and tried to make it about the merits of the Gayborhood, but we were able to steer it away. Among them was a person with a complex and strong voice from the White Ocean camp who clearly was dealing with his own demons.

The second person was a member of the temple crew  whose partner wanted nothing to do with the direction of the conversation.

This week someone named Tom Steward posted publicly his feelings about the Gayborhood and this submission was an echo of sentiment from other voices in the minority about the Gayborhood:

  • Gays are in no more danger than anyone else at burning man. No need for a gayborhood unless you want easy cruising. Gays should be sprinkled lightly over the entire city. We are a gay camp and have never felt threatened and dislike that gays are segregated.” – Tom posted this with his email address and IP. It was a public submission through the feedback form and he had some feelings to share.

Tom reflects the feelings of some other burners; most often it is a voice of people who feel rejected by the Gayborhood and it’s residents. In my 9 years burning I have seen an amazing evolution of queer camps who have worked very very very hard to make their camps and residents more inclusive and welcoming. We have evolved and ask to see if your perception can evolve with us.

Even if the Gayborhood is broken into 2, if it is dissolute, it will evolve and survive. But with that, people who find a sense of safety with it are the people Burning Man is trying to reach. It’s not just an ethnic loss, it’s the loss of diversity on another level.

E very person I have seen asking for the breakup of the Gayborhood was a gay white male sharing a point of view that excluded anyone else in the scope of what they proposed to be destroyed. Objectively these people are missing a lot of facts.

  • we conducted surveys of the community and found clear data that there were significant threats to personal safety against gender ambiguous, trans and specifically female identified people in the scope of the survey sent to Queer Burner members.  The results are on this site from last year.
  • his expression of “we” seems to be limited to his white, gay camp mates of a mysterious camp yet unidentified.

Queers and people of color do not move through community like everyone. We (they) are usually aware of their environments for specific safety reasons. We do not walk through a neighborhood assuming safety. It is the same in the world and the same at Burning Man. With the commercialization of Burning Man, with the Bucket List thinking, we have to step up our game for safety and community support more and more.

April News Letter

Queer Burners has been around since 2008 and is meant to be a platform for LGBTQ Burners who are Burning Man participants who want to ground and do things together. It was done for you. It can only last and thrive as long as it is a value to the community. Later this year, before Summer, a couple of us are going to revamp the site. Pretzel from Glamcocks has volunteered to help me work on the site and anyone who has something to offer can join in the project when that comes to light.

Also, any member of the site can write for the site. Any one of you can write a post for the site and have it published. For some there is moderation until you have been approved just to avoid calamity. It would be helpful if you filled out the contact form after writing to let us know we can publish.

Right now, Scott K / Toaster does most of the day to day writings and posts on Queer Burners. The impression has been crafted as to give people the idea that there are more people involved then what there are. While there is the odd occasion where he (I) gets help it is mostly me unless someone else writes something and has their name on it.

Queer Burner is being folded into a business entity called Life Grand Brilliant Triumphant Production that includes All Of Us event and anything else Queer Burner does not and in the future. Any and all proceeds will be funneled through that org as it is designed to protect all of us working on said projects for tax and legal purposes. No one is getting rich off this structure. The money goes back into the organization except to pay bills and people whose work gets stuff done. (www.lgbtproduction.org coming soon)

In this issue of the monthly news letter:

  • All Of Us Update
  • The future of the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road
  • Burning Man Global Leadership Event in Oakland
  • 2017 Queer Camps List
  • Events
  • The Mechanics: How this email works

All Of Us Update

omg… there is so much energy and stuff going on it is hard to know where to begin. Galaxy from Beaverton is starting to work on the Volunteer lists and get that published in the near future. Our PR team is working hard to keep you updated on all the cool things. There is a list of fliers so far on this page [link]. Then there is the Food & Bev team working on the menu to get everyone fed!!!

The future of the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road

The future of the Gayborhood or Rainbow Road …or the Queer Neighborhood or whatever it is now is not clear. It has existed in some form since the mid 1990’s. Maybe once it was called Avalon Village? It evolved over time as camps asked to be put together.

Officially Burning Man has said they cannot officially recognize it. There is a post about it briefly on the web site by Toaster [link].

Burning Man Global Leadership Event in Oakland

As it turns out there are still a lot of Queer Burners that do not know about this project or about the many resources out there to help the community. There will be a trip report on the web site before the next news letter.

2017 Queer Burners Camp List

The list is taking shape and camps are seriously gearing up to get ready for “Radical Ritual” Burning Man 2017. Do not be one of those people who wait til the last minute to commit because you WILL be left out. Check out the 2017 Queer Burners Page on our web site. 

Events

This is a list of events we know about:

Submit your events for the news letter in the link below.

The Mechanics

Thank you to everyone who has contributed and helped keep this network thriving. As we get closer to event season there is room for more people to play in this garden. If you sign up on the Queer Burners web site and are verified, then you too can write posts and continue conversations relevant to the community at large. Thank you to so many of you.

GLC: Gayborhood Broken up?

The Burning Global Leadership Conference (#bmglc2017) (GLC) was last weekend and one question has been on my mind: will Placement be breaking up the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road / Queer Neighborhood? We do not know. But there were people who approached me saying the same thing:

The Rumor Patrol was running around the event and reported:

  • “…there was a placer in one of my sessions who confirmed that the Gayborhood was being broken up”

Burning Man Placement is about to undergo some major changes in that Answergirl is leaving her role as the head of Placement; a role she held for about a year. She has been and acted as a advocate for LGBT needs and the needs of the citizens of our community. On top of that a favorite Placer for Burning Man who had traditionally handled the Gayborhood is leaving Burning Man altogether; Hepkitten is moving on.

When asked for an official statement about the breakup of the Gaybohood; e.g. where Placement is on the issue Answergirl had a very defensive posture and reaction that took me back.  I assured Answergirl I was not an adversary but I should be looked at as a tool for communicating to the community as a whole.

Per Answergirl: (paraphrased quotes)

  • we have 350 applications for a space that holds 250
  • the theme camp application form is still open we do not know how many are asking
  • we included a part of the form about lgbt allies and will group people accordingly…

Burning Man’s official position from Answergirl is that they try and meet everyones needs in the scope of the application process. They do their best to meet everyone’s needs. There is no official Gayborhood to consider breaking up, because it is not officially recognized. So, asking if Placement is breaking up the Gayborhood is not the right question.

All that is certainly true within the scope of how Burning Man looks at it’s community and placement. Queer camps are not acknowledged differently than non-queer camps.  The Gayborhood has existed since the late 1990’s and has only come together because of the way people filled out their applications and with some support with placers like Hepkitten.

How do we keep the BMorg from dividing us? Do we care if they do. It is my opinion that placement in 2016 did splatter us on the map. With the shooting at the Pulse night Club in June 2016 was the idea to break things up pushed back?

And what about safety for vulnerable LGBT burners on playa? Check out that information and more on this page under the tag: #controversy

Answergirl went on to say in a way that was heartfelt, that it breaks her heart to know that some people go to Burning Man who do not feel safe there. It is not just LGBT people who struggle with safety, but a lot of women and other ethnic people in a world dominated by:

  • straight, white, (mostly) male entitlement and
  • an upsurge in tourist and festival goers (See Burn.Life article)
  • a steady loss of burners bringing the burner ethos & life style

The answer is… we don’t know. Answergirl had no answer other than a few bullet points on official policy but would not say there is any plan officially. Bravo Placer is likely to be her replacement and though we met him at the May 2016 meeting with Queer Camp leaders, we really do not know him. No matter what, I think we can be best to be prepared for something different in 2017. One thing I know is for certain, we have people who know how to roll with the punches and bounce back strong.

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