Letter to Members

Hey everyone…

While at Burning Man and since I have had the pleasure… no “pleasure” does not even describe… bliss of meeting members of the site in all corners. Sometimes in some surprising places.

The site and our Facebook page is really busy and it goes far beyond the numbers of registered users at each location.

  • 390 People on Facebook
  • 273 Fully Registered on GB
  • 319 according to the backend which means about 40ish people have not finished their registration.

August is ‘shockingly’ a busy month for Burners. The facebook page in August had 100,000 freaking views!!!!! I was awestruck when I saw that information. The web site had 5,200 visitors 3,600 of which never saw the site before!

Of course in September the numbers dropped more dramatically on the Facebook to 23,500 for September, but that is nothing to sneeze at. Web site 3,160 views with 2,690 new visitors; at least according to Analytics and Insights.

Why is this important?
This is not a pat on the back for me. NO! Sounds like it maybe, but when I meet people who tell me they appreciate this site and the links/info on it I want you to see it’s relevance to us as a whole. Each one of you are a cell to a body and that body is part of a collective community and we all are so strong together irregardless of gender identity, race, orientation or social status. This site is a gift to you from each other.

On the site…
There are a few very relevant articles on the site right now I want people to take a look at when you get the chance. The last two major postings were themed with the 10 principles:

There is more. There seems to be a natural link between Queer Burners and the Radical Faeriecollective and the site will put it’s toe into that. Would love your feedback. A couple members are going to be talking about that more moving forward.

New Security
I am working on trying to find the best solution for protecting the site from Spam postings. Most of which you all never see because I have filters protecting the integrity of the site. If you have problems let me know. Too many bad attempts at logging in will lock you out. So, if 3 times you try and can’t get in use the reset feature.

Getting Traction!
I am looking for suggestions on what you want to see this site do. If you are a PHP guru and can help develop some ideas in the form of widgets for a WordPress site like this please let me know.

The guys that made the interactive maps that were unveiled this year like burnermap on Facebook and the one on BurningMan[dot]Com … I talked to both hopefully putting a bug in their ear for widgets or something for sites like ours that would benefit.

Closing
Thank you all so much for being a part of this. I will be posting this on the site as  an article for those not receiving email. About 1/3 of you are not getting email from the site. I would also like to thankComfort and Joy for their amazing support.

We also have a new domain pointing to the site and all new art! We have www.queerburners.com pointing to www.gayburners.com … after all we’re all queer.

Love&Light to you all…
Toaster aka Scott

RF + Burner = huh?

Increasingly since this site was put together he subject of Radical Faeries has been injected into some of the discussions and even hold a couple places here on gayburners.com in the Groups section [Radical Faeries in Groups]. There is some thought that these are two worlds that can fit together.

There is an influence in San Francisco among such legendary camps as Comfort & Joy that operate  under the RF flag. Many of the key leaders in that camp these days are also leaders in that community.

Kyle and Kitten will probably be the main people injecting some content here from the RF part of the community. They will talk a little more about the marriage of these two groups as time progresses. Certainly their web site www.playajoy.com has links and resources that could be very valuable.

What is a Radical Faerie?

There is a hesitation to define that here, but the description on the group now was borrowed. So borrowing once more:

“Generally, we tend to be gay men who look for a spiritual dimension to our sexuality;many of us are healers of one kind or another.

Our shared values include feminism, respect for the Earth, and individual responsiblity rather than hierarchy. Many of us are Pagan (nature-based religion).

Our defining events are Faerie Gatherings, where we’ll get together for an extended retreat, usually in the woods, separated from the outside world. A lot of that time is spent in “heart circles,” where we open up emotionally.

Of course, that’s just this circle’s attempt at a definition.” – radfae.org

How does this tie to the Burners? Well – hello! It sounds like a trip to Burning Man in this quote alone. As time progresses more information will come, but the core of this site is BURNING MAN! QUEERS AT BURNING MAN or ….or…. living the life of a Burner by the 10 principles.

Love&Light

Homo/Hetro Genus of…

Very often an invitation goes to a person in the Burning Man Culture/Community to be a verified member on GayBurners.Com and post their activities or their schtik because it is of interest to this community in the opinion of the various admins. The reply is always: “…but I am not gay”.

Radical Inclusion

Referring to one of the 10 principles and applying it to Black Rock City for 8 days a year, there really are few exclusions. An individuals sexual orientation is not on the surface most of the time. It can be assumed and ass-u-me-d is a bad word. When a “Gay Camp” or a “Gay Burner” web site or resource is set out for general consumption it really is not literally ‘exclusively gay’ as exclusion is not part of this culture.

“Gay” or “Lesbian” or “Trans” or more are labels. Resources like these help to bring together resources for people who live their lives with these identities. Sexual Orientation becomes passe.

I had a wonderful time meeting and hanging out with my gay neighbors. They were all really nice guys and we got along really well. It was fun sharing burning man “war stories” with them. Jay and I were a straight guy island surrounded by a sea of homosexuality, and it was awesome. The major downside was that the area didn’t exactly attract many ladies, but then again, I was out playing and enjoying the art more often than not anyway! I think that it helped that there didn’t seem to be any Sparkle Ponies in the Dust Haven camp. Those guys have their act together!”  – Cromatest J. Pantsmaker R.C. Arizona

The Blurry Lines

2006 DemographicOn the playa the “Down Low Club” has been touted as being a place where “straight” or “questioning” men can explore their sexuality. It goes without saying that a lot of self-identified “straight”-ish men explore life that cannot be executed in the default world. They explore cross dressing and making parodies of the women in their lives or fantasies. Sometimes it is purely the sexual exploration.

There are several camps where sexual exploration is all they do. And then there are camps like “Poly Paradise” that provide resources and information for partnerships that have a varied gender makeup.

As free and open those 8 days are, there are still men and women who are outwardly defensive with their sexual identities. ‘Homo-Phobia’ in whatever degree is still present.

Playing Nice Together

There are camps that define themselves as gay or lesbian or gender blending. Most attendees know ‘Comfort & Joy’ as one of the largest gay camps on playa. The same thing with ‘Camp Beaverton’ and ‘Gender Blender’ for lesbians and trans. It seems to also be widely known there is open sexual behavior at 2011 Black Rock Citythese camps on some degree, but they are also entertaining and educating and offering support for people looking for it.

The “Gayborhood” and the “Gay Ghetto” is where queer camps tend to collect. These are definitely non-exclusive and very welcoming.

Burning Man has some traditional events that really tend to blend people with no exclusions and on some level allows people to be vulnerable in their sexuality on some level. “Critical Tits”, “Critical Dicks” and “The Naked Pub Crawl” strip away the exterior with nudity but turn people into this tossed salad of self defined sexual orientation where that orientation becomes unimportant to enjoyment of the event itself.

Demographics

Census results  for 2006 on BurningMan[dot]Com are the most current available. Since then attendance of the event has shifted in popularity and in 2011 (for example) the event sold out for the first time. In a recent article by Burgin attendee Oscar Remundo in the Huffington Post he stated that queers accounted for 1/3 of the attendance. Not sure how accurate that was but it feels like queer attendance is growing.

Afterburn Reports for 2007 are not available and 2008 only asks no specific gender and only if the person completing the survey are attracted to men or women. 2009 is not compiled according to the site.

How does Burning Man see Queer Camps?

It is hard to say without direct knowledge of how Burning Man sees the strong queer presence at the event. We are actively contributing to the culture and the event. We actively live the 10 principles. We have put blood, sweat and tears every year. ‘We’ is all encompassing.

At the Regional Leadership Conference in April 2011 the question was posed: “Do Queer Burners need their own regional representation?” For those who do not know, communities all over the world have a person(s) that represent Burning Man to them as a contact and they also watch out that the Brand is not being abused; they are called RC’s or Regional Contacts.  Some communities have 3 to 5 people representing them.

Regions are represented by geography like Southern Nevada is a region and Northern Nevada is a region.

The answer that was given was an example: [paraphrased] “…a similar request came from the BDSM community and it just was not practical…” Lifestyle cultures versus a community of people living in a shadow of prejudice in the default world cannot compare. Do you think queers should have regional representation?

Do you think the Queer people of Burning Man need Regional Contact representation?

  • No (57%, 4 Votes)
  • I do not know (43%, 3 Votes)
  • Yes (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes, but all queers should have someone: gay man, lesbian woman, transgender (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 7


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In a way we sorta have people looking out for Queers and the relationship with Burning Man. There are some great unofficial relationships that exist and active leadership working hard to represent. There are Queers working for Burning Man, but are they speaking for Queers?

If the Queer part of the Burner culture was given representation what would stop the Poly or BDSM or Swingers or those wild rabbits that show up every year. Although us Queers are not just simply a chosen ‘lifestyle’ or organization – Burning Man represents people by geography.

Conclusion

Homo/Hetero life for 8 days a year generally blends nicely with Radical Inclusion. No gay camp is exclusively gay; there are bisexual, pansexuals, asexuals and more. In the default world we occasionally revive Burning Man in our Regions through Precompression and Decompression. For the most part the blend carries over.

When it comes to the Regional Contact list where is the representation there matching the demographic of Burning Man? It is a Hetero heavy list, while many have nothing against Queers, who is the voice of a community as large as ours.

Sexual orientation/proclivity is a big subject in Burning Man census data as there is a sexual part of this event.

There are strong relationships exist between Burners generally Hetero & Homo. There is a natural ebb and flow that draws similar people into similar groups. We have proven that individually we (all inclusive again) are mighty. Together we are unstoppable. Together we make Burning Man the community that is the envy of the world.

Civic Results

In the world that we have all opted into called Burning Man, we the pee-ple have a varying commitment to the 10 principles. The 10 principles of Burning Man are not biblical scripture. Everyone sees them with different shades of gray. In this case we are talking about “Civic Responsibility”.

Payasos L.A.

Several members on this site and some of their friends, many of who are Burners, have created an organization committed to making their community stronger.

Through self-respect and self expression, Payasos-L.A. is a brotherhood of gay/bi Latino men whom are committed to keeping and enhancing the quality of life for the future generations and our communities. Through fund raising, public appearances and volunteering that support youth programs, promoting Latino presence in the Arts, and generating awareness on issues that affect the Latino community in Los Angeles; Payasos-L.A. is dedicated to a better tomorrow.

This is just one example of efforts made by members of our community and how their reach goes beyond the playa. Many of the guys were camped in Dickstracted Camp this year. The founder of this great organization is Leo Iriarte (a.k.a. Stinky Foo) wins 2011 Mr. L.A. Leather contest and scored 5th Place on International Mr. Leather 2011.

Find out more at their web site www.payasos-la.org or their Facebook.

The history of payasiando/clowning is a history of creativity, evolution, and change. Payasos-L.A. honors and maintains this tradition for the benefit of it members, friends and the community.

at Large…

There are others in our community that have been paying it forward on their own missions.

Anyone paying attention to the many postings before Burning Man this year would have seen the many efforts by Comfort & Joy in their support of the Native Americans (Indians) who live in the land where once a year we call Home. They had a successful canned food drive and are often promoting books that talk about the tribes.

Certainly they these fine examples of burners giving back. Note I did not say Gay Burners, because this is not a principle related to any one person’s sexual identity.

[much of the contextual information is taken from Payasos web site or their Facebook]

Days gone by…

Another year has come and gone. It went by so quickly and with that some of the biggest events to date, not to mention Burning Man’s own Rite of Passage with ticket sales and other grand schemes.

22 effigies under the CORE project burned on Thursday night and the single largest burn ever attempted. Some went up with mind blowing beauty while others quietly passed along, all of which celebrating the hard work of their communities.

There were something close to 800 art pieces out there according to the Artery and they crossed from the simple to the divine themselves! Who can see ALL of them… and how many try? What about the interactive ones and the ones one just watches to marvel at the creative genius behind them.

What is Burning Man about? The focus seems to be largely about the art as it takes center stage and is featured in the hearth (Center Camp) of the event. How many great projects were clamoring for money while some were funded easily? There is no cosmic balance on how that works, but the finish line is getting it out there the best you can.

It went by so fast.

Safer Sex Camp

This is a repost from an email received. The excep worksheet refered to is not present:

Greetings from Safer Sex Camp with Locator (5:30 and Birthday)

Attached is a Theme Camp Locator for 2011. It is a MS Excel workbook tool used to find theme camps near your or any camp. Each row has the name of a theme camp, its playa address, and contact information. The three spreadsheets are identical, but sorted differently: by theme camp name, by front street, and by cross street.

Get in touch with your playa neighbors before you meet them in person. Set up cooperative activities.

My thanks to WhereAreYouCamping.org and BurnerMap.com (redirects to Facebook); two very nice, place-yourself, web sites and to those of you who posted your location for the theme camp address repackaged into the attached Locator.
If your theme camp location is not already on both of these sites, consider posting your on-playa location with them. See the comment in cell A1 in the “By Theme Camp” worksheet for instructions on how to use this Locator. I hope you find it useful and encourage you to forward is as widely as you choose. Printed versions of one or two of the worksheets are useful on the playa.

Burning Man has nothing to do with this Locator. Your e-mail addresses come from the list of registered theme camps on the Burning Man web site.

If you are one of those to whom the following does not apply, enjoy the Theme Camp Locator, blow away what is below, and accept my apologies for including it. This is a mass e-mailing.

Safer Sex - Keith HarringSafer Sex Camp distributes Safer Sex Kits, a bag containing condoms, lube, latex gloves, latex barriers (dental dams), a trash bag, and a thanks to note. One way we distribute these kits is to put a number of them in a larger cloth bag (the Outpost Bag) and hand the larger bag where people passing through your camp’s event can pick up a Safer Sex Kit. We place the larger bag where you tell us to (out of the sun, where it can be seen), we restock it, and we remove is Saturday or Sunday (your call).

We are looking for theme camps interested in having such a Safer Sex Kits bag placed in their theme camp.

We are not suggesting that the kit be used at your camp, but, if you camp’s activities might, shall we say, encourage such elsewhere, Safer Sex Camp would be glad to provide a stock of Safer Sex Kits. The kits are given away for free, without trade or barter. If interested, could you reply with your theme camp’s location and a contact person, or forward this note to your theme camp’s appropriate person?

The address used to send this e-mail may be a temporary one, in any event all replies should go to me, Robert Wilson at WalkingOak@hotmail.com.
If your camp IS planning activities calling for safer sex supplies at your event, supplying your event is probably beyond our means. But, get in touch if you need an inexpensive source for such supplies.
Thanks for your time and attention – have a good burn.
Robert Wilson

Events at Safer Sex Camp 2011 ( 5:30 and Birthday)

  • Belly dance basics Tuesday 30 August 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm  Thursday 1 September 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
  • Getting the Sex You Want Tuesday 30 August 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
  • So, you want to be a SLUT ? Wednesday 31 August 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
  • Erotic Fetish Wear from Rubber Inner Tubes  Tuesday 30 August 9:30 am to 11:30 am  Wednesday 31 August 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm Saturday 3 September 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
  • Women’s Only Liquid Latex Body Adornment – for Critical Tits Bike Ride Friday 2 September 11:00 pm to 3:30 pm

That’s All – Enjoy the Burn

 

 

 

ALERT: Bringing Alcohol?

Hey all,If you are bringing alcohol to the playa (and I think about 3/4 of the registered theme camps in the 7:30 sector have bars so this means you) please please please make sure that every one of your camp mates is aware of the state and federal laws about serving alcohol.Toaster and Queer DJ Shifta at BRC in 2010 wasted! Hot Messes!If someone looks under 21 – ASK THEIR AGE – better yet as for their ID. They were sending decoys into theme camp areas asking for alcohol last year. 5 camps along our avenue got $1,500.00 tickets for serving alcohol to an underage participant. You can also get a ticket for allowing a person under 21 to hang out in your bar area.

They have even sent a decoy into a camp that was having a private camp dinner and the decoy ‘pestered’ folks until someone gave him a beer so that he/she would leave them alone. PLEASE NOTE – this camp did NOT even have a bar that was serving to participants. It was a private camp dinner.

Yes – it sucks to have to ask for id. But I’ll tell you something – I’ve looked younger than my age my whole life, hell I occasionally still get carded in the real world for buying beer at a grocery store and I just turned 40 (in fact I got carded for buying beer FOR my 40th birthday). And I’ll tell you what, I would have no issue carrying my id with me at burning man if it meant the difference between being served and not being served. It’s not as big a deal as you might think – I mean you’ve got to carry your camelback with your water/tp/hand sanitizer etc with you any way, right?

And post a few signs in your bar area (or around your alcohol if you don’t have an official bar) that says “no one under 21 will be served”. You (and your bartenders) still have to ask the question – “are you 21 or older?” but posting a sign is not only a reminder to your folks to ask that question but also hopefully will discourage under age  drinkers from trying.

I’m not sure if it counts to john Q law – but I would say it’s a reasonable way to prove that your camp has no intentions of serving alcohol to minors. I’d also suggest that you post something behind the bar that only your  bartenders can see that gives you the month days and year that would make a person of legal drinking age.  So you can ask them what  their birthday is and you can gauge their reaction (ie thinking too long) as a way to judge.  Note:  that still isn’t a substitute for an ID – if they don’t look 21 and have no ID don’t serve them.

Cause I don’t know about you all, but I don’t have the spare $$ these days to not ‘trouble’ someone who looks under 21 about asking for their id.

It would be REALLY nice if Reverend Bloodshot or myself didn’t have to spend a day going around to all the 160+ camps in the 7:30 area and ‘reminding’ them of this policy (which has happened for the past two years because the cops like doing stings in our neck of the woods).  PLEASE do forward this to EVERYONE in your camp and make sure the policy is well known.

Thanks

HepKitten & Reverend Bloodshot

*******************************

Here’s the official language:

** Bars on the Playa

Local law enforcement would like to see us continue to address the potential issue of underage drinking at our event.  Though we, the project, are not offering alcohol to anyone and are not responsible for bars at Burning Man, there are possible consequences for camps with bars and us if we do not address this concern. Please read the following to make sure you are fully informed.

We do not believe that there are any rampant problems with underage drinking at our event that would merit investigation. However, you should be aware of Nevada laws on underage drinking.  Here are some useful facts:

– It is a misdemeanor to serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 years old in Nevada.  The law still applies if the alcohol is gifted as opposed to sold. Theme camps are considered public space and subject to enforcement of this law. (NRS 202.055)  In 2001 the Nevada State Supreme Court limited the application of NRS 202.055 to only servers who had actual or constructive knowledge that the person seeking the alcohol was under 21.  This means that you must card someone who looks underage. Conversely, if someone looks of age you are not required to card him or her.

– It is a misdemeanor for a minor to consume or possess an alcoholic beverage in a public space (e.g., theme camps, open playa, center
camp, etc).  (NRS 202.020)

– It is a misdemeanor for a minor to pass him or herself off as being of age. (NRS 202.040)

– Misdemeanors carry the following penalties: Up to 6 months in county jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000.  Alternatively, community service may be sentenced in lieu of, or in conjunction with jail time and fines.  (NRS 176.087)

– If a minor loiters in a place where alcoholic beverages are consumed (besides a food establishment) then the minor could receive a fine up
to $500.  (NRS 202.030) Also, if the person in charge of the “tavern” allows the minor to loiter then he or she could be fined up to $500 also.  (NRS 202.060)

Enforcement of the laws is either done by carding the person outright, or through undercover sting operations. None of this is new and not terribly different from most other state laws.

But what can you do to #1 Avoid illegally serving minors?, #2 Avoid being cited, or #3 If cited, demonstrate the due diligence against serving minors you used when operating a bar on the playa?

1) Don’t serve anyone without ID, who appears underage.
2) Ask for ID for anyone who appears underage. Learn to read it properly and determine by the date of birth if the person is old enough to drink.
3) Post “No Minors Allowed – No Minors Served” signs to discourage minors from committing a misdemeanor by loitering, requesting, or consuming alcohol at your bar.
4) Do not allow minors to loiter at your bar: ask them to leave.
5) Confer with a co-server — get a second opinion — when a patron  appears “youthfully” over 21.
6) Work together – if you have refused to serve a patron because they do not appear to be of legal age, notify all your bar servers of your decision. There may be undercover operatives working with local law enforcement that attempt to be served more than once.

(NOTE: Federal and local law enforcement priorities differ on one or more of these issue. If you find yourself in an unfortunate encounter please get a badge number and/or name and note what agency you are dealing with. It might come in handy.)

Bottom line: NEVER, NEVER knowingly serve alcohol to a minor! It’s illegal and it’s not cool.

 

Burner + Virgin = Birgin

General Burning Man Image

So many people lately have told me they have never been to Burning Man and always wanted to go. The ones who are not blowing smoke out their asses sometimes ask questions about it. It’s definitely not all naked people and drugs! It is so much more.

The question often asked: what is Burning Man? Anyone who thinks they can answer that question and do it successfully should have a Pulitzer. The experience at Burning Man is so personal, so individual, and not dependent on anyone else. Even if you go with your best buddies, the only person that can screw your burn or make it the best ever is YOU.

Burning Man Survival

Burning Man has resources for you on their web site for what to prepare for that are an absolute necessity to read. There are any number of members out there sharing their experiences and their variations of survival out there. Do me and every other burner a favor before going out at a minimum:

Respect the world you are going into and respect the people ahead of you as well. Don’t get caught up in the party and miss out on the art and performances that are mind blowing, inspiring, and life changing.

Image from tamalerocks.com

Preparation

Besides and the resources above there is some evaluation you need to consider and this too shall help shape your burn. Where are you camping and with whom? Our Queer Camp list here on GB will get an update soon of the Gay /  Lesbian / Queer / Trans friendly camps of which there are many. You are not limited to a Gayborhood / Gay Ghetto (areas where gay camps have collected) because they still span the width of the city. While some are private and some require a camp fee.

Maybe you want to go it alone and camp on the outer rim? A lot of people do that with a lot of success. All you have to do is arrive and plop your butt down in any free space. Often I hear the benefit of that is you may have access to cleaner toilets through the event.

A Personal Note

This coming year will be my 3rd year on the playa while we have many members on the site who have many more. Burning Man has changed over the years. I have managed to spend some time reading and learning the history of Burning Man to what it was before the Opulent Temple, before Root Society and Distrikt. It is a value to know where this sprang from and what started it.

Contribute in the way that works for you or dabble in the different things you can do because if you go as a spectator for the event it will be very different than if you participate and add yourself to the machinery that makes the city work. I found my passion in the art of Burning Man while I know a lot of people who find their passion as a Greeter, or as a Front Gate attendant and Ranger. Working at the ARTery, the DMV or the Cafe is all rewarding, but that depends on what gets your vibe going.

And finally get involved with a local Burner Community. Stay out of politics if you can and let your relationship with the local community grow naturally and with the idea that you are there to support the concept of community. COMMUNITY! This is the big word that I think some people gloss over. Being a member of a/several communities means you are a part of that element. YOU are one of the neurons of that atom. Without you that atom is incomplete.

I am going to "Rites of Passage" and staying:

  • With a Gay themed camp (45%, 46 Votes)
  • With any camp that will take me (26%, 27 Votes)
  • ...on the outer rim (17%, 17 Votes)
  • With them Beavers (7%, 7 Votes)
  • Comfort & Joy (5%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 102


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In Closing

Gay Burners has a place in the culture of Burning Man because when it comes to Radical Self Expression and Radical Self Reliance it is definitely something we queers have been doing for generations. Some times just to survive in a world hostile to us.

In my observation I have seen people exploring their concepts of sexuality, sexual identity and the boundaries of their body image. Some of us from the older generations can appreciate that and maybe rural gays. We can support and honor not only our queer identity as Burners, but the exploring blurry lines of all the other Burners.

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