People: Cindy Vee

One of the leaders of Gender Blender (Website); the camp name says it all. Cyndi generally runs the camp along with David, Ariel, Katt and have picked up some interesting new leaders and participants along the way seeking a place 11898898_10153046704695814_687867377196457503_nof gender queer and trans folk on the playa.

Gender Blender made its debut in 2009 and the following year joined with Camp Beaverton and then for a few years coexisted as CBGB, but they split in 2012 but remained close friends. Since then they camped directly across the street from each other supporting each of their missions of Sex positive thinking and gender awareness/queerness.

Gender Blender has been the only consistent camp for gender queer people since their inception. Cyndi and her team have been advocates for queer gender issues and education and support.

From the web site:

Cyndi “NoPants” Vee is a decade-long burner and part of the Gender Blender Leadership Team.  Cyndi has been described as a “punk rock mountain femme”.  As a transgender being, Cyndi is as comfortable backpacking, camping, and off-roading, as she is rummaging through vintage clothing shops, cinching corsets, and dancing in five-inch stilleto heels. Cyndi is a techie, professionally and playfully.  To relax, Cyndi practices fire spinning and MFR massage therapy (just not at the same time). 

As an advocate, creator, leader and bringer of education for people of all walks of life, Cindy has been a major contributor to our community at large.

People: just one word “Foxy” nuf said

She was head Beaver from Camp Beaverton Home for Wayward Girls for a couple years. She was also the perfect ambassador that created a lot of bridges to other queer camps. She is an enigmatic member of our Queer Burner community: Foxy.

Flash mob idea. Burners show up all at once in playafied gear goggles bandanas etc. Then a zombie flash mob shows up. The apocalypse starting right before the innocent bystanders eyes.

Thinking back, certainly Jessica Allred was the mayor that really started working hard on making the Beaverton camp more accessible to the other camps, genders and people of the gayborhood outside of gender identified women. Mitch was Mayor for a while before Foxy took the mantel and really made the Beavers so accessible and welcoming.

I’m almost 40, wearing a fox onesie and Fox slippers drinking whiskey at home on a Friday night, after 2 weeks of sheep riding, day time dance parties, riding a carousel horse bike, high speed golf cart chases, and writing on a huge typewriter . It’s only the 40 part that seems ridiculous.

Her unlimited energy and exuberance and willingness to play in other people’s sandbox has made her the darling Lesbian of the community. She is not limited in any form, because she welcomes people and engages with vigor any and all.

12107223_10153647663934431_5443737548542265661_nThis year she has taken on a new title and something of a new journey by becoming a Ranger; that is a Black Rock City Ranger. It is a role of distinction in our community because these are the people we engage and help us in and outside the trash fence. We have seen how passionate she has become in her new role as a Ranger and how it has made her stronger and a better shaker in the community as a whole.

Foxy was one of the founding organizers of the 2015 Queer Burner Retreat called “Spring Retreat” and is planning on joining the production team for 2016.

In 2012 she was in a internationally distributed film called Meet the Beavers where she shared some of what she stands for in the Queer / Lesbian community. The making of the movie was a project she was very proud of, featuring the best parts of her collective, and putting the Beaverton crew as an even more important presence in the Gayborhood at Burning Man.

She loves pussy, in fact hers has a name: Augusta. It’s a kitty cat… with a lot of white fur. With four legs… not a euphemism.

 

 

People: They call him Chickpea

Do you know his birth name? For so many years he has been simply known as Chickpea. But in recent years we have been introduced to another persona that stemmed from the soul of the man: Amber Alert; yeas hunty has a drag(ish) persona both lovable and disturbing.

He is one of the leaders in the theme camp Comfort & Joy that started at Burning Man in 2001 (See Burner History X for more) but Chickpea first year was 1996 and he showed up without a tent.

my first year was 1996 i went with my good friend Damien Grey, we didn’t bring much not even tents just a tarp to put over the car to sleep under , sandwiches and popcorn for meals …. its kinda a funny story

He joined Comfort & Joy in 2002 at the encouragement of his close friend and today is the President of the Comfort & Joy board known as the Purple Circle. He is also responsible for all the neon decorations you see on playa and at every Comfort & Joy event including Touch and the Afterglow Parties. Yes, she makes the magic happen.

…my first year was 1996. That was the year Helco happened. When we arrived in the desert we asked a girl where Burning Man was. She said drive six miles that way and turn right, go another 2 miles… we came upon 20 grand pianos stacked together with a guy playing one. We asked if that was Burning Man… he said no, it’s two miles that way…” [paraphrased]

307881_2461318768820_898814095_nThen there is Amber Alert. She came into being around 2013 and family members emerged from dark alleys, cracks in the soil and some place near the bowels of hell. LOL. One of the most disturbing sibling was Playa Hole.

Above all else Chickpea (Brian) is a solid and engaged member of the community with a passion for art and creative endeavors. He has a huge aviary (yes, for real) in his home filled with small birds he cherishes and cares for. He is active with the Radical Faery community and extremely supportive of fellow creatives naturally drawn to him.

People: John Major aka M*J*R

He is one of the many captains of the Giant Sheep roaming several venues from Burning Man, Folsom Street, Palm Springs Pride and more and more and more. The art car came to life in 2013 with M*J*R as one of the guiding 11986487_10208601768028292_4745951768043673427_nwarriors of it’s creation. BAAAHS stands for Bad Ass Awesome Amazing Homosexual Sheep. He is currently featured in Polyglamorous parties and can occasionally be seen with GoBANG, Honey Sound System and has been seen hanging out with Digital Wildlife all based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.

M*J*R is a romantic behind this hot, tattoo, leather covered exterior. He has been in a partnered relationship.  He loves San Francisco and lives in the heart of the Mission. In spite of a shitty housing scenario last year he stayed here and continued to be an active member of his community and gives back with his music and art.

Those tattoos M*J*R sports are beautiful and worth a see. Ask him next time you see him.

Above all, M*J*R is a sincere and good soul with passion and heart. Just ask any of the many people he makes music with including Collin Bass and Mark O’Brien. He loves sunsets over the city and sunrises on the playa with a couple hundred dancing friends.

Posted on M*J*R’s Facebook today: I think it says a lot about the man described above and his passion:

“Seeing all of the queer kids (And I mean KIDS… teens and younger) dancing around/on/inside BAAAHS, sliding through the hole over and over, was so heart swellingly beautiful.
This was so worth it.
It’s easy to forget that the impact projects like this can have on people go so far beyond the immediate outcomes one(me in this case) often have of “throw a good party”, “have fun”, blah blah blah.
Touching peoples lives in positive ways (and young’uns!)… **that** is worth enduing working with this often scalding hot cauldron of culture to try and make something transcendent with.
Seriously strong work everyone past&present in BAAAHS.
What an incredible success.”

People: Toaster

The web site for gay burners started a long time ago, but not nearly as long as the Burning Man ideology existed. Some say Queer Burners and Burning Man cannot co-exist under the same theory. Burning Man is about radical inclusion and  everyone JasonTang3playing in the same sandbox on the same level. The theory is this is a gifting economy so sexual orientation, gender and economic class are irrelevant. In theory.

Gay Burners became Queer Burners less than four years ago by accident. It was an idea by Scott Kay aka Toaster in 2008 that evolved from a static site to the less static site it is today. His goal has been to make a site that gets contributions from various members of the community enriching everyone as a whole, which it has not really taken off. Much of the information is like a sign post.

p1060872-viDoes the Gayborhood and queer focused camps keep lgbt Burners from integrating? Another important question is should we want integration?

Toaster brought Queer Burners to life to bring lgbt burning man people together with growing success. The 2015 Sprint Retreat in Northern California and the last 4 years of Queer Burner Leadership events were great examples of growth in the community.

Acculturation in 2015

I think most people will agree that over the last 28 (or so) years the thing that started off as Burning Man has evolved into something else. The word “festival” is used more than it should. Does not matter if it meets the definition of festival or not, people who made this a lifestyle balk at the word.

Larry Harvey and Marian Goodell - The Business Side of Burning Man
Larry Harvey and Marian Goodell

So, when the 10 Principles spilled from Larry Harvey’s golden lips and they were heard by all many of us struggle to communicate what they mean and how they are fed into our daily lives. Some of us adopt these ideals 365 days a year and some for a mere 7 or 8 or less while frolicking in the desert.

The trick is perspective. Many of the burners who discovered this world go a little hard-core in the beginning, but over time the zealot ener-gasm becomes good old fashion snark and sarcasm.

  • Years 1 to 3 head in the clouds, glitter in the eyes
  • Years 4 and 5 Burning Man sucks and it is suddenly changed more than you like
  • …after that somewhere along the way it all settles into whatever it might become…

For many there is a burnout somewhere around 7 years. While this is not the same ride everyone experiences getting used to blurry lines is a matter of survival.

Marian Goodell
Marian Goodell

A personal note: one year I was dealing with a serious community issue with some bad behavior by a leader in our community and was trying to get Burning Man involved. I talked to Maid Marian (Marian Goodell who is the current CEO of The Burning Man Project) who told me that there were times when those lines are blurred and accepting that is a reality.

10 Principles

The foundation of what Burning Man culture has set itself on is the 10 Principles which is also more stoically defined right on the Burning Man web site. We tried giving your the dummy’s version of the 10 Principles in one of our past articles about them like this:

 

  1. Everyone is welcome
  2. No money needed, give from the heart expect nothing back
  3. Let’s get rid of the corporate bullshit
  4. Stand strong on your own
  5. Express yourself freely and honestly
  6. Stand strong on your own but a community is stronger
  7. Your community is stronger when it is responsible to itself and the environment
  8. Keep our world clean
  9. Get involved and no sitting on the sidelines
  10. …and act. Act now. Act up.

Of course, follow the Burning Man Blog link for the precise wording of the 10 Principles at the top of the paragraph above.

So, what is Acculturation?

It is the process where you are prepared for your accession into the community and to know what is expected of you while you are on the playa. While it may come across as cultish and kooky the fundamentals of these ideals can be a strong foundation for a gifting culture like we enjoy.

There are drawbacks and there are pieces missing, but keeping this fundamentals and not letting anyone harsh your burn. We don’t focus on what’s missing but endeavor to add to the richness of what is laid out in front of us.

So, we support each other but count on everyone to be self reliant. We keep our nature clean and leave no trace. We play well with others and rally when needed. We build out community even if it lasts a few days in the desert.

 

QB Network Numbers

One of our claims is an audience of 5000 on our network. While many have opted in and signed up in one form or another many are accessing the free resources on the web site on a daily basis. That number is a wide reaching number based on the engagement of our social networking and web site numbers.

Web Stats provided by Buddy Press plugin

Above are stats provided by software on the site / Below is from Google Analytics. See how they compare.

Web Site Analytics from Google

While it is not clear which is more reliable for data, they are showing very similar algorithms happening. It’s clear there is a lot of activity and people are seeking out information we have on the site. 1400+ sessions in the last 30 days and 1200 visitors with 80% being unique and new as far as software tracking can determine.

Social Networking Links

  • Queer Burners [dot] Com Web Site : 600 Members
  • Queer Burners Facebook Page : Link : 2009 Followers
  • Queer Burners Facebook Group : Link :  1373 Followers
  • Bay Area Queer Burners : Link : 591 Followers
  • SoCal Queer Burners  : Link : 111 Followers
  • Atlanta Queer Burners : Link : 40  Followers
  • Las Vegas Queer Burners : Link : 25 Followers
  • Europe Queer Burners : Link : 3 Followers (newest board)
  • Quire (Queer Burner Leadership Network : Link : 97 Followers
  • Twitter @queer_burners : Link : 650 Followers
  • MailChimp Mailing List : 583 Recipients

3rd Party Queer Burner Boards

  • NYC Queer Burners : Link : 284 Followers
  • DC – MA- VA Brothers of the Man : Link : 27 Followers

What are they looking for?

An overwhelming number of people coming to the site are looking for Queer Camp and networking information for their planned expedition to Burning Man in 2015. They are looking at:

  • Pictures from previous burn years (mostly 2014 right now) : Link
  • Queer Camps on the 2015 List : Link

There is a clear sense they are looking for more and are not exploring some of the more interactive features on the site like the Groups and Forums. If we can get the site to allow a more robust social networking feed, better than what the RSS page offers, then I think on these accounts the site will be more than just a spot to check of static information.

The 2015 Fund Raising Campaign

The first goal of the campaign is to improve the site. We can do that by paying someone to help or having someone in the community volunteer. This is a Buddypress driven site and if worked more like a Facebook feed then it would make the project a lot happier:

  • cleaner feed on what is now called the RSS Page
  • Greater personalization of the profiles
  • Easier to communicate between members
  • Better way to share projects and events

Then we will focus on the Queer Burner Leadership Summit for the late Spring and/or a structured campout for Queer Burners.

Launched!!!! A Campaign…

indiegogo_square_logo_color_print_black_vWell, there ya go. Our fund raising campaign for 2015 launched this morning and we are asking burners all over the place to help us out. The goals is to make this project more but setting the bar higher and creating new means of developing community.

Relative nature of the Gayborhood and the people in it.
Relative nature of the Gayborhood
and the people in it.

We are not looking to segregate our LGBTQ++ participants, but help make the world we walk in and network through a little stronger. By upgrading the web site (the small potatoes) and making the Leadership Summit stronger, then a camp out for Queer Burners, it is a way of massing and further forging our community.

Another important factor by Toaster and some of the other Admins is the security and safety of the Gayborhood. How this manifests is still in the air, but the ultimate pass/fail this year is going to be who steps up. Who steps up to make this project a success. Who steps up to make a better stronger project?

Toaster: I am willing to foster and stand behind someone/people willing to work for the goodness of the community with the mindfulness of LGBTQ issues; which the Borg is not. When it comes to issues around Women and Queers in the community the Borg has a history of turning a blind eye until 2013-2014 when somehow along the way they started paying attention. Nothing changed much, but this project has hopefully been an answer to that on some levels.

What’s up with Queer Burners?

We are gearing up for some new changes and also trying to make the site more dynamic and interactive for the 2015 season moving forward. We are so excited about the Carnival of Mirrors theme and what Burning Man has predicted with the upcoming event. The new Midway… if it is anything like the Souk from 2014 …wow.

How things happen?

We are looking for people to invest in a few ways: 1. Fund Raising which is starting mid January and ending March 30th that will provide us funds for the following 3 things: improve the web site, prepare and set the Leadership Summit for 2015, and then create a meetup for Queer Burners, 2. Get more people writing on the site, 3. …and finally give more people the tools to engage each other and promote and create an unbelievable kinetic energy for the upcoming season.

IndiGogo

The fund raising campaign will begin in mid January and we are looking for up to $4000.

It is time to take the project up to another level. This has been a strictly grass roots level project managed by a single person with occasional help from committed leaders in various regions elsewhere geographically.

  1. Upgrade the web site with more user friendly features and a better social networking strata; upgrade software, upgrade hosting, buy and install applications to make it more independent and user focused. About $500.
  2. Originate a Queer Burner Campout on private land that we can get campers to and from easily so we can get maximum attendance; deposit for land, insurance, a fund to help artists and performers, and just enough to get started as the rest and a bank will be created by charging a fee for the event. About $2500.
  3. Create a more intense and focused Leadership Summit for 2015 with  sound principles that will fulfill and help camp, project and community leaders with LGBTQ++ (all inclusive) in our community forge ahead strong. Provide programs that might require outside speakers. About $1000.

While more details will appear below, above are the bullets of what this funding is requesting. The goal is to provide a strong resource for LGBTQ burners that stands on its own since it is a project that is not associated with or connected to Burning Man, LLC or the Burning Man Project TM; this is a project created for the community and strength of the Gayborhood* that is not for profit and not a private entity.

It’s getting steamy out there! NEW DATES!!!

According to Twitter Handle @DaysToTheBurn we are 271 Days from when the Man Burns at Carnival of Mirrors. While it is usually about this time people get excited the reasons are different this time:

  1. No Christmas pre-sale; while there was not one in 2013 either it is also a time when people start seeing tickets going on sale but this year it’s not.
  2. The theme was announced: Carnival of Mirrors; important to stay in the loop on what is happening because people ARE already getting excited.

Positive or negative they both speak to the excitement brewing for this theme. The tent used for the Souk will reappear as the tent for the Midway of the carnival. And, Burning Man is pushing people to shit or get off the pot early setting a deadline for LOI (Letter of Intent) by December 19th.

Important BRC Dates

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