The Future of Queer Burners

Happy New Year Queerdos. Welcome to 2020, the roaring twenties part deaux! I am reaching out to everyone asking about the future of Queer Burners, it’s children pages and Facebook groups, and the Queerborhood. What does the community want from leadership? What do you want from Burning Man?

Back in 2016 a group of LGBTQ leadership went to BMHQ to be heard about why Queer camps are collecting in the 7:30 sector. It was based on concerns that Placement had received about so many applications for that sector. We did surveys and collected a lot of 411 and were able to show BM Placement that personal individual and group safety was the key. (see this entry from 2016)

Since then the role of Placement Manager has turned over 2 more times, life in other sectors has started to glow spectacularly, and smaller Queerborhoods have taken shape either on their own or with Placements help. The new head of Placement is Level Placer, Trippi Longstalking was before him, and AnswerGirl was the one whom we met with along with a couple placers in 2016.

Do we feel safe still? My perception is “yes”, because I think I am hearing this from our community. It is not a question for a CIS gendered white male to answer. QPOC (Queer People of Color) and our Transgendered are the most at risk. Female and GNC (Gender Non-Conforming) have been targeted by hostility and assault as well. These things happen on playa and in areas of our community we need to be safe places.

Strength training has many additional benefits other than building your muscles. Many individuals think that strength training is just for men. It is not true at all. Women can also gain immense benefits from strength training.

Meeting with Placement 2020

I do not believe we have anything to worry about in regards to major changes to Placement and Queer Camps. The biggest new thing really happened in 2019 when BAAAHS bravely volunteered as an anchor camp on 4:30 and D a shown on the 2019 map. In speaking to Level from Placement he wants to check in with camp leaders and catch up from 2016.

This will likely happen about March-TBD, because the teams at BMHQ are actively focused on the Cultural Direction Setting which has gone from Phase 0 (proposal to BM Leadership) to Phase 1 (setting the ground work and surveys) to now on Phase 2 where up to 11 teams are working on how to implement changes to benefit how Placement sets up theme camps on playa. I am on this team on Team 8 – Communications Team. And announcements will be coming out in January.

For the leadership that was at the 2016 meeting with Placement many are listed on this site as voices in this community here (link). This definitely needs to be updated because there have been more people engaged since.

Who are some of the new voices who will bring fresh ideas and breath to this discussion?

In January I will put out a survey asking who wants to be present for the meeting. Of course, the people who were present at the last meeting should be invited to the table. I will follow up with Level about getting something on the calendar so people in other parts can plan on being present if needed.

Suggest Reading

Of course everyone should be ready for the big event in May where the leadership and participants will have a chance to start working on Cultural Direction Setting as we steam head first into the upcoming Burn – Multiverse!

Stay tuned and maybe consider these questions below. Feel free to comment and add questions… or get involved.

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year

Here we are going into a new calendar year! In the year 2020 some of say it is a year of new focus and direction for those who can see. The things we are working toward are coming into focus. And for those of us who have counted on our community to grow stronger it does with all of us participating. Thank you all for being so amazing!

It feels like an important time of growth along with very positive changes to the ways theme camps will lead us in Cultural Direction Setting in 2020. Community leaders have been meeting over the last year working on an objective to put our participants back on course for the best possible us.

Read about Cultural Direction Setting (CDS) on the Burner blog (link)

Where does that leave the Queerborhood? CDS is a very positive spin on setting the vision for the future of Burning Man? Rest assured these changes are set for the community at large with a lot of focus on acculturation and making neighborhoods at Burning Man stronger. The impact on the Queerborhood seems minimal. Details coming out through official channels soon.

However, I am asking LGBTQAI+ leaders to spend some time thinking about the changes we have experienced specially since 2016 and where we see the future. Because, Burning Man Placement is asking to meet with us once more in 2020 to touch base. It will be late in the first quarter or perhaps in the beginning of the beginning of the 2nd.

Who wants to be a part of that conversation? If that is you please make sure you are part of the QBLN Queer Burner Leadership Network on Facebook or seeing links on the web site.

QBLN: Queer Burner Leadership Network on Facebook

QBLN: On QueerBurners.Com

Thank you, Toaster

Note: I have been blessed to be part of the Phase 2 CDS team along with a lot of other theme camp leaders from all across our community. I led a theme camp for 7 years and resigned from it in 2019 after the burn to start new projects. My role in Queer Burners has been a facilitator to network and organize queer camps and as an advocate for the Queerborhood(s). And help do great and wonderful things for all those who like fun things.

Why AOU2019 failed to launch

For the past 4 years from 2015 to 2018 Queer Burners / Scott K (Me) created an event with the goal of building bridges in our community. Before that for 3 or 4 years there was the Queer Burner Leadership events that also tried to do the same. Queer Burners has been a conduit of my personal agenda for a platform for leadership and participation for the LGBT participants of Burning Man. It would be a place that let us reach beyond our camp borders and help foster collaboration and more.

The Queer Burner Retreat we held at Groundswell for 2 years before moving to Saratoga Springs Retreat Center never really broke 150 in the last 3 years. Our first year we had 90. I feels like a tremendous success. In 2018 it started feeling like a real “Regional” style event, the kind of which maybe Burning Man Org could start getting behind. By all accounts, as a participant, it was a huge win.

Unfortunately the production team really struggled and some key players in the event moved on and away from this project. I have been involved with productions and events in the Burnerverse for almost a decade and discord is not an uncommon thing. Having different points of view are valid and my critics were standing on some very valid points. I do not want to get mired down in the details of that as it would not serve anyone to finger point or drag out any negativity further than it has.

For me – personally speaking – I am dealing with my own health crisis, my mothers serious medical issues (cancer, COPD and pneumonia to name a few), and struggles financially of my own. I never seem to have enough time and when the call went out for help to run AOU there were some answers but 20% of the team I needed. As we rolled into February (3 months before launch date) I realized I was not equipped (on several levels) to pull this off.

Before I signed a contract that committed me to a debt I could not climb out of. Before I paid for insurance for the event. I had to be sure I had the steam to do it. It was clear that I was not equipped to make this event happen.

If you want details why I had to pull out, and why this had to shut down AOU2019 as we knew it, I may share that soon as long as it does not seem or give the impression of negativity. Over the last year I feel like I learned a lot of hard lessons in life because 2018 really kicked my ass. Why is this about me? Queer Burners and LGBTProduction has been a sole proprietorship even though it had not-for-profit events like the ones listed above. Insurance, media, licensing and identity fell squarely on my shoulders. Hardly any of these things could be mentioned without my name being associated with it for all the work over the last 11 years.

Thankfully some of the people who worked with me in the past found a way to keep this possible magic alive. These are some of the brightest lights we have in our community. They are people of whom I think are amazing and better equipped to carry a torch into the future.

As for me? I have been forced to take a step back in order to move forward. For medical reasons and peace of mind I had to make this move. I dearly hope people can relate and understand. Maybe one day forgive me. Walk a mile in another person’s shoes before you think you understand what they are going through.

Finances:

Tickets Sales and Fund Raising was only about $5k since August of 2018 with the Indiegogo Campaign and Eventbrite ticket sales.

– All Eventbrite Ticket Sales were refunded as of 2/23/2018
– All Indiegogo Donations minus some expenses will be refunded over the next week

Expenses Include (but not limited to):
– $120. Facebook in Boosted Posts
– $250. Eventbrite Fees
– $250. Bank Fees (Checking Account and QuickBooks online)

Donations to cover fees:
– $500. – thank you

Queer Caucus: Community Meeting

LGBTQ leadership from the Queerborhood met at The Box Factory on Wednesday the 28th of November. There were about 50 attendees in person and between 6 to 10 approximately on the remote connection via ZOOM. We received an outline from BMorg (Placement) as the meeting was part of a larger initiative that Placement is taking on for 2019: Black Rock City Cultural Direction Setting. 

As a group, we decided to add to the outline in order to stay connected to our previous meeting with Placement (in 2016) where we addressed our concerns and needs as LGBTQ. We were facilitated by Ariel from Gender Blender and Pickle from Camp Beaverton. Out note taker was Ultra from Comfort & Joy. he list of attendees and camps represented were many.

By the end of the meeting when it was close to 9:30 pm this is who was left for the final image. Wish everyone could have stayed for it. What amazing people!!!!

We were charged with answering 3 questions as per the Conversation Kit supplied by BMorg. We did add one.

  1. What are the most impactful ways a theme camp can contribute to Black Rock City? Define impactful and why that matters to you.
  2. What are the characteristics and traits of theme camps that you would want to
    1. encourage and
    2. discourage? Why?
  3. Do you notice any divisions in residential Black Rock City that you are concerned about and if so what are they? How do you think about the balance between Radical Inclusion and any divisions in residential BRC?
  4. Extra: What is the most important part of the Queer Agenda?

 

While the results of the meeting are still being put together the final bits will be released depending on the consensus of the participants. I want to stress that the scope of this meeting was not limited to this group. The top 3 questions were being addressed by a lot of regional communities all around the world.

2016 Survey Data: Reapplied

In 2016 we published a Survey Monkey questionnaire once we were contact by BM Placement. Some of us in leadership were being asked to meet with them in an effort to discover why there were so many applications for the 7:30 sector over other parts of the city. Were these LGBTQ camps seeking to be close to other LGBTQ camps.

The answer may have been more likely “no” than otherwise, but there was a factor we discovered in the process. There are some non-LGBTQ specific camps who wanted to be close to the vibe the gayborhood offered. And camps who were mixed who had LGBTQ camp members who had benefit from being in that proximity.

Placement (BMOrg official) placed camps intermittently in an effort to weave queer and non-queer camps together.

All of the above was true at least through June 2016 when we met with Placement to discuss our place in the 7:30 sector as well as our friends at 4:30 and J.

As of 2018 there have been no major changes. See more detailed information on www.queerburners.com.

This is not the original report that was submitted to Placement at the meeting. We have the original information from the survey. Upon request from BMorg Placement to meet we conducted an adhoc survey addressing the needs of our community and came to some important conclusions:

  • The most vulnerable people in our community rely on the Queerborhood as a safe space and to give many a sense of preservation
  • Many of the same people feel or have experienced discrimination and danger while at the event

We heard from about 285 people in the quickly assembled survey. While a great many people included in the survey were gay white males, we can extrapolate that removing that feedback in the scope of the feedback the data changes heavily.

What is your sexual orientation?

286 Respondents

 

What is your Gender Identity?

285 Respondents

 

How many years have you gone to Burning Man?

286 Respondents

 

Have you ever visited the Gayborhood?

What is your perception of the Gayborhood?

Mark all that apply.

 

If you needed a safe space at Burning Man would you go to the Gayborhood?

Have you ever felt threatened at Burning Man because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender presentation?

Do you know someone….

Have you…

What aspects…

Comments & More

There was a section of comments that were added and mostly left off of the data presented to Answergirl who was representing BMorg Placement at the time of the meeting. This was left of with the concern it would contain some personal information that some may not appreciate being released. So, with some minor edits, here are almost all the comments.

There are some comments that make more recent event resonate more about some subjects that have come up in 2018:

  • The call for Safe Spaces
  • The need for sober safe spaces on the community

The information we collected was truly spectacular. If so many people in such a short time could be truly heard by Placement then our concerns would be unnecessary perhaps.

 

Queer Caucus

I am so excited to see that leaders in this community have taken up a torch for the benefit of the 7:30 sector for the Queerborhood (formerly the Gayborhood). Over the years Placement (a burning man office that oversees the way the city is populated by placing camps) has threatened to break up and separate the Gayborhood time and time again. It was originally something that came together because camps made it happen organically and out of a need (see link: refer to 1997 date).  In 2015 (link to details) we had our first Rainbow Road where queer camps were generally placed along “D” road between 7:00 and 8:30 under the influence of a staunch community ally in Placement named Hepkitten.

Former head of Placement Answergirl called us all in around May 2016 under the assumption that LGBTQ camps were the reason the sector received an unusually high amount of applications. Was this queer camps setting the scales off? I think in the end the real truth was that queer camps were bringing something very special to the sector and that ally camps and camps with some LGBTQ wanted to be part of that vibe.

The thing is, I have visited other sectors of Black Rock City, and each has it’s own special feel. Breaking the Gayborhood into 2 pieces will not solve the high number of applications for the 7:30 sector. 4:00 has it’s own energy. 2:00 and 10:00 as well as 9:00 have a flavor, culture and consciousness of its own.

New head of Placement is Trippi Longstalking who has seem to shown she is an advocate for the culture and creative energy we as LGBTQ people bring to the table. Us, along with ally camps, work hard to build something special out there. But even as late as Burning Man: iRobot 2018 we were still peppered through the sector in clumps and just like the map from 2016 showed (along with the notes Dare: Glamcocks made on a photo graphic of the official map). In the beginning of the 2018 season this year the Placement newsletter gave foreboding information about a sector shakeup that sent a wave of nervousness through the community given our extremely uncertain place in it.

We seem to be fighting for several things that some people have lost sight of: the right to radically represent LGBTQ culture in the most positive way possible. We are fighting to make sure that people represented in those letters are not further marginalized and taken advantage of  by assault, rape, gay bashing and trans-phobia. They happen out there today. They happen at Burning Man, Regional Events and IRL. Safety was the primary concern for people who were surveyed: Results 2016 P1 and Results 2016 P2 [Pending review]

Yet there are those dismissing voices who call for the Queerborhood to be dismantled and dismiss it with prejudice as the Gay Ghetto. They also claim that the Gayborhood keeps people locked in the bubble and others out. See the results of the on-playa Placement meeting with camps from 2016 where voices determined to squash queer camps showed up and hijacked the meeting for their own agenda.

Why do requests of LGBTQ camps to be placed closer together go unheeded even with all the information given to them? Not everyone is going to want to be in the cluster, but those asking for it should. Some would say they were already doing that, but smaller clusters. And why should they do that and not for anyone else? Well, they do for Kidsville but that was a whole other bag of bees. And do they think by spreading us out more this will resolve anything more for them or us?

It seems like Placement is evolving and we have yet to see how we are fitting into the discussion. The conversation in 2016 with Answergirl left more confusion that results especially for me when she said: “Imagine the Gayborhood [changes or goes away or something like that]…” and used the eraser to remove it from the whiteboard and then back peddle wildly to clarify.

It is time for Placement to acknowledge the Queerborhood as it has been present at Burning Man in one form or another for 15+ years. Answergirl told myself and Cyndi NoPants with a wave of her hand at the 2017 GLC that the Gayborhood does not exist so there is no reason to talk about it going away or not. Trippi Longstalking was in the room preparing to take over Placement quietly observing and I looked at her. I looked at Trippi who had the most interesting expression on her face because it said something to me I have yet to understand. Was it the hope that a new sheriff was in town or was she considering how she might have handled that discussion. I have yet to know. And this whole post is my own interpretation of the events.

I know we have allies in the BMorg. I know that BM fundamentals that have built the city do not want to group camps by specialty. No more red light district? Kidville is in tact. This year a lot of food driven camps were clustered closely. Musician camps like Rootpile camp have started consolidating. When Placement talks about the future what exactly are they getting to? And when will they acknowledge our progress?

See the following links for more information on this subject:

Action Events Taking Place:

Thank you for 10 years… a little early

We are excited to see the many arms of ALL OF US coming together and ready to launch on January 1st. Ticket sales open then for the event happening in the end of May 2018. This is a unique and amazing period for us as Queer Burners hits 10 years of service to our community. Many people have taken advantage of our networking and leadership resources here. Many other people have been critical that our mission creates a bubble around queers at the event. Either way people are talking.

Thank you Scott Burdette for being so awesome.

We have learned over the years that LGBTQ people at Burning Man that are marginalized in the default world can experience the same things on playa. There are real dangers there as well as anywhere else in the world. In 2012 there was a visible shift in the people who were discovering Burning Man. Likely there were points in the past where seasoned burners could also note. Certainly the Queer Burner History portion of this site shows significant points of change on the playa.

Many of us still hold true to the 10 Principles that were created by Burning Man founders. They are dogma. With varying degrees of commitment we hold those principles in our daily lives even beyond the scope of the 5 square miles at Burning Man. In some cases we might have been guilty of building that bubble, but our strength is the ability to reflect and see it and refuse to be captured by it.

The “Gayborhood” has been through some serious transitions over time (also detailed in the history pages). It is a very important space for the safety of some burners who do not feel safe in a largely hetero-centric space with aggressive sexual and misogynist tones. The Placement part of Burning Man has struggled with understanding some needs at the burn and still have a blind eye when it comes to members of the population who need that recognition in order to be part of the rich blanket of diversity it wants to foster so bad.

We lost a valuable ally at the burn and at Placement named Hepkitten who really tried to make the Gayborhood everything we asked for. Not saying Bravo and their team are working against us, but they are not hearing the community and have forced a large spread of queer camps and from my point of view it has somewhat dimmed the light on the 7:30 sector. I am not sure what happen to Answergirl, she left Placement too, but I saw her slowly breaking down and struggling with the conversation with lgbt camp leaders.

Foxy: the voice in my head when I need it.

Anchor camps have taken on a whole new dimension with the 7:30 sector too. Glamcocks have risen to really shine on the playa taking center stage. They have proven themselves as being able to master the art of interactivity and evolution. They bring a pretty amazing setup with their dance club, led art, a speak easy, and a new and amazing bar. This is a camp that has really grown and embraced performance and participation on the playa. They have also made a lot of effort to be engaged in the community as a whole.

Art cars have been the new growth factor among queer camps. BAAAHS is still the super star and it has also innovated and been a real community partner. The energy and visibility of this amazing moving art piece has been the anchor of queer arts. In it’s wake other BAAAHS village camps have also been adding art cars, inspired by there silver balled older sibling. The Salamander car has been around a while based at the Comfort & Joy village. And AstroCats art car made it’s maiden appearance in 2017 which is very exciting. Rumor has it more are coming in 2018!!!! Stay tuned.

Thank you to all the people who help Queer Burners shine. Many of you are listed on the page about leaders who really step up (click here). Thank you toAdam Adam, Justin, Juzten, Pretzel, Foxy, Russ, Jason and more for walking this journey with me. To so many over the past who have also helped Queer Burners get to 10 years.

Site Update

Saratoga Springs Cabin Map
Saratoga Springs Cabin Map

So if you check the feed you will see a few changes to the site including a few pages added to the over all program. Got a little behind as the Burner season was chilling out and started working on other projects. Never too much time to watch mama’s stories and eat bon-bon’s because sissy got stuff to do. Like ALL OF US basic planning along with some of the fine folks already helping to get the wheels turning!

2018 ALL OF US banner

ALL OF US is going to be at the same place this year, which is very exciting. Back to Saratoga Springs Retreat Center we go and tickets are already selling. Wait? What?? Well, the people who are already on the production team are getting their tickets as well as those who pledged some cash flow for us last August during the fund raiser. Check your inboxes or your Eventbrite logins, If nothing there then hits us up through the contact page.

Have you seen this land yet? Maybe you did not make it last year, but it is so beautiful and plush. The land is owned by radical faeries who are an amazing community with principles much like our 10 Principles. They are also radical, queer and have an amazing positive world view. You can see even more on the event page (linked here) and not to be confused with the official web site link here www.allofusevent.com.

TICKET SALES: Jan 1, 2018

Prices are going up a little from last year, but we will make it well worth your while. This space is super amazing and just refreshing on all levels. We see people coming in from all over the world to join us here and that in itself is exciting. To join in and be a part of the production team please fill out the questionaire: including art installations, work shops, or whatever you think will make this event even more exciting.

Ticketing Link: Eventbrite Link (https://allofusevent.eventbrite.com)

Production Team / Art / Performance Application: Google Form Link

This is a 18+ event. No pets. No children. All ticket sales are final.

We’re doing it…

We are blessed and we are working to make this magic every year. As queer people going to the playa we have a specific goal : let’s do it again next year but better. Some of us the execution of those ideas is easier than others. Find the right people around that are the right “coo” to your coo.

Queer Burners [dot] Com

Is getting a redo right now, if you have not noticed all the changes slowly taking shape on it. This should be a resource for you. This is not political, but there are some discussions and notes about some shitty things. But mostly it is about great things and doing super cool things to make Burning Man better for you, your friends and your community.

LAWeekly Article
Tom and Pretzel are genius (click to see better)

Tom and Pretzel are FAMOUS!

Both boys hail out of the Glamcocks now. Tom used to be more with BAAAHS but I think he has gone full poly-camping. Both are vivacious and spirited young men who I have seen work themselves into a stupor to make a project go well whether it was their own or helping with someone else’s success.

They got a nice pat and on the tushie from www.LAWeekly.com this week because of a piece of art they created at Burning Man. The art piece will also be seen at the upcoming San Francisco Decompression at Pier 70 where, thanks to the same two wunderkinds there will be a recreation of the Gayborhood at this usually very hetero-centric event.

Decom 2017 in San Francisco

Several camps have banded together to create a mini Gaybohood at the event in San Francsico with BAAAHS (the Big Ass Awesome Amazing Homosexual Sheep) or better Pearl (the bus that is the shaven version of the sheep, will be the center of the attraction. camps participating include but not limited to:

  • BAAAHS
  • Glamcocks
  • Sun Guardians
  • Mystopia
  • Camp Beaverton/Gender Blender
  • AstroPups
  • Vietnamese Iced Coffee Experience
  • Paradise Motel

Come join us at Pier 70 on October 14th. Link to Facebook spiel. (link) Ticket prices are kinda high but they are at a new venue that sounds very exciting.

October 2017

Its been a busy past couple months and I want to thank everyone who has been sticking around. Joining and registering on this site should mean something and I have been hoping to make it worth everyones while for a long time. #1 is that you can come here and get information about what is going on out there. That includes:

  • Links to camp information
  • Links to local information
  • What Queer Burners is up to near or far from you
  • …and more to come.

The bimonthly news letter we started last year has been put away for lack of interest. We gave it a shot a while so we are back to this and Facebook. The Facebook gets A LOT of attention and all those links are here for your use. Stay turned, more to come.

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