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.

March 2917 News Letter P2

Queer Burners News Letter

Thank you to all of you who have subscribed and been subscribed to this news letter through joining the web site (www.queerburners.com). Our list is an important channel to the LGBTQ++ community. Help keep this list alive and keep up to date with our event announcements that go out every 2 weeks! Thank you again.

In this issue of the monthly news letter:

  • All Of Us Update
    • The Art Garden
    • Artist coming to All Of Us
  • Burning Man Ticket Sales
    • it’s time to get ready!!!
  • Burning Man Global Leadership Event in Oakland
  • 2017 Queer Camps List
  • Events
  • The Mechanics: How this email works

Next Week

 

All Of Us Update

Tom Seago, aka DJ Traaven, aka Wizard of BAAAHS, aka one of the sweetest humans we know has been working on the Art Garden for “All Of Us event” and it is coming together. You heard us talk about in the last issue a little but since then we had some new amazing additions:

All of Us is excited to announce an artist discussion featuring renowned Burning Man artists Rebekah Waites (The Church Trap), Dan Sullivan (Catacomb of Veils), and Dan Reeves (The Journey). Tickets for All of Us on sale now: www.tinyurl.com/AllOfUsArtPanel

So excited to have Steve Dudek back and bringing an amazing piece that was at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It is one of the highest traffic technology and art showcases in the city. Steve has also contributed to the Burner community and art for many years.

And 3 (visualby3.com) will also be there in a few roles. He will have an amazing project light piece in the garden and will also be engaged as our lighting/graphics artist for the Afterworld Party and will be performing on the Sunday showcase. Yay!!

Burning Man Ticket Sales

In just a few weeks, TICKETS for the event go on sale, and Ye need to do some things to PREPARE

  • You must create or update your “burner profile” to register for the 2017 ticket sale. https://profiles.burningman.org/
  • You should also create or update a “ticketfly” account http://www.ticketfly.com/
  • MARCH 22nd Wednesday 12:00 noon PST
  • Main sale REGISTRATION begins – No need to rush on this one, all you’re doing is registering for the MAIN sale.
  • MARCH 24th Friday 12:00 noon PST
  • Main sale REGISTRATION closes
  • MARCH 29th Wednesday 12:00 noon PST
  • MAIN SALE starts – Be ready to click at NOON or you will NOT get a ticket!!!

Burning Man Global Leadership Event in Oakland

An annual conference of Burning Man community leadership that happens each spring. From humble beginnings in 2007, where 70 Regional Contacts joined us at Burning Man HQ, the GLC has since grown to include over 400 participants from around the world.

These highly-energized folks are Burning Man’s global representatives and community leaders, ambassadors of Burning Man culture in their regions who throw any of 65 Regional events in 20 countries. They participate in the GLC to share ideas, best practices and inspiration, and to make the invaluable face-to-face connections that may just lead to the next big thing. – burningman.org

There is a chance for leaders on almost all levels to go in 2017 and that deadline to apply is Friday (tomorrow). Email glc@burningman.ord to request access to the event. It does cost between $200 and $695, so be prepared to buy a ticket if one is afforded to you.

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.

Let’s Talk About … IT

Starting somewhere around 2006 an active member of the community named Mario Cisneros started a gay pride parade event that would begin at the foot of the man and wind into the city. It was usually a well turned out event because politically there was a lot still going on in the United States and in some other parts of the world where LGBT and other sexual self identifying people were struggling for rights and not to forget Mario’s flare for getting people together.

Burning Man Gay Pride
Mario: Left Side of Screen

Mario was part of Moonbow camp. It was, at least for a period of time, usually found near 3:00 and C in Black Rock City and was where the original Official Queer Burner Meet & Greet was before it moved over to the Down Low Club. All of this was done, at least through 2016, in Mario’s memory thanks to several members of the community struggling to keep it alive.

Mario Cisneros
Mario Cisneros

In 2014 the popularity and attendance started to wain and the organizer tried to update the concept to make it more interesting to the community at large but it never really caught fire. Mario passed in 2012 so from 2012 to 2015 Toaster from the Sun Guardians Village tried mastering it with a more pub crawl / parade vibe. Justin from Camp Proper took over in 2016 and had about the same, perhaps slightly better success than what Toaster finished with.

What Happen to LGBT Pride at Burning Man?

When talking about LGBT Pride in Black Rock City there was a dichotomy that was grossly apparent even in a part of the city that has been traditionally called the Gayborhood (to Rainbow Road for inclusivity). On one hand there was a thought that ALL burners were playing on the same field and there was no more us versus them. In fact, the powers that be at Burning Man Headquarters have stated they want to see queer camps dispersed through the city.

On the other hand, there are a lot of Queer Burners who have asked the Burning Man Organization to keep the queer neighborhood in tact for reasons of safety and security which has already been discussed in previous posts on this site. There was a theory that LGBTQAI feel threatened physically and emotionally on various levels; specifically female and non-conforming gender identities based on a recent survey (May 2016 by the Queer Burner Leadership Network); that the close quarters of Queer Camps help created a layer of safety and refuge for vulnerable queers and women.

The various positions on Pride at Burning Man made even a seasoned queer pause and doubt the importance of celebrating ones social/sexual self as opposed to others. The drive behind pride, at least within the fence around Black Rock City, became lost in the dust at some point.

Why Pride?

Why to Burning Man of all places? Most people think of Burning Man as the adult playground of love and harmony. EVERYONE loves each other and free hugs abound. This is the story that touches every soul who is compelled back annually and let nothing get in their way. All of that is absolutely true.

The dark underbelly of that has been physical and sexual assault that has resulted in a powerful and present campaign by great organizations like BED (Bureau of Erotic Discourse) and Safe Place.

But back to pride… there are a lot of old queerdos that go to Burning Man who are 80 years old and there are a lot of young people who never saw those battles in the streets for equality. To some Stonewall was an honorable mention in a history book (maybe) or something written on a rainbow flag they saw in June (gay pride month).

  • In our lifetime, even today, a person can be killed – loose their job – be thrown out of their home – all just for being LGBT. It does not matter what your age is. This happens today.
  • In our lives we queers are often forced by survival to choose our own faemily (spelling intentional) because the ones we were raised with cannot relate.
  • Queer teens are, as long as records have been kept, have the highest rates of suicide.

Pride, even if YOU as an individual don’t need it in the moment, that you know you have a softer place to go to if your other system fails. It is a light, rainbow colored, that will embrace.

Pride has FAILED some people who feel shamed or ostracized by their contemporaries or elders. As much as we try and sweep up the wreckage and want to heal that soul sometimes we cannot.

Pride and self worth is something we as a community embrace on our own terms, but as a community stand together to be that soft cushion for those in need where we can. The key word: Community. No matter how many people who cannot understand that history and vulnerability that are out there, the rest of us have to stand strong and bright so darkness does not win.

LGBT Pride and Burning Man

It has always seemed clear that the 10 Principles written by Larry Harvey for Burning Man were things that would resonate with LGBT people, specifically because it already represents what we have been trying to do our whole lives. It would seem the white-hetero-heavy board of directors for Burning Man were looking for the same exact thing as Queer Burners and people residing in the Rainbow Road section of the city.

According to the 2015 census 1/3rd of the citizens of Black Rock City are LGBT self identified. In 2016 the questions on the survey changed somewhat thanks to input from members of the Gender Blender camp to the powers that be that included more definitive terms people can self identify in the 2016 census. Look up #demographics on this site to see past census data.

The 10 Principles draw some parallel lines to basic needs from Burning Man participants to Queer Burners as a substructure of that community as a whole.

Out of the 70,000 people of Black Rock City only a small percentage actively engage in the Rainbow Road sector comparatively. However, the energy generated by queer camps has attracted mixed and mostly straight camps to the same sector for the same benefits queer camps have asked for. Camps like Orphan Endorphine identify as queer friendly and have been great community partners who want to be near us.

2017 Pride

There is yet new blood working on a 2017 event at Burning Man with new management. It is with great hope and anticipation we will see more of the community drawing together under the 2017 pride banner. We have a responsibility to represent the best qualities of ourselves and our community.

There have been some true champions in this story over the years. Many are shown in the #Queer Burners People hashtag who have contributed to this effort over time. Collectively Gender Blender, Beaverton and Glamcocks have made great strides in building bridges in and out of the queer neighborhood.

There is a vital need for LGBT Pride! Our fight is not over. All the rights bestowed upon us in the USA could vanish in a month, a week, or any amount of time. Even at Burning Man, there is still a chance that Placement will dismantle the queer camps in spite of our arguments to the contrary. The truth is there are more arguments against it out there than for it. We need to keep pride, community, and being present for those that need a hand always in mind.

If you are the one who needs that hand then talk to people… but a hand is different than a handout and radical self reliance is a scary road.

And finally: Placement has not taken a position to dismantle the queer neighborhood completely but it is a reality we might soon need to face. There was talk about breaking it in half at a 2016 meeting attended by your community leaders. Use your voice for good and together we will be a stronger community. Be engaged and help us promote a better united and supportive hug to embrace those when they need it.

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 cptc.edu

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.

Conclusion

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.

Placement

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:

BRC Map

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?

Integrity

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.

Voices

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?

Conclusion

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.

 

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!
PersonX
—————
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.
Love,
Uncle Coop (aka Michael Coop Cooper part of Comfort & Joy)

_______

Burning Man Zodiac
zodiac

Naked Pub Crawl

source: www.aussielicious.com.au

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

Solution

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.

Conclusion

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.

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