Burning Man Placement is asking for Feedback

We did it! A collective of local queer camp leaders met with Placement at BMHQ to discuss how to manage the number of request for 7:30 sector, which are almost double the number requesting any other sector of Burning Man. Besides providing a safe space for LGBTQIA folks, we’ve created a tight-knit community that produces amazing art and a powerful experience on the playa. Other burners have responded, and queers and allies alike are flocking to our rainbow colored beacon.

Using survey data you, the Queer Burner community, provided us, we discussed what makes the Gayborhood (or more inclusively “Queerborhood”) such an important place for our community and for Burning Man in general. We tried to tackle issues of safety, inclusion, freedom, self-expression, and all the powerful themes that you all wrote to us about!

The Placement Team also brought data of their own. Using the BRC census data, almost a third of the BRC population self-identify as “LGBTQQ”.

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And, now, BURNING MAN PLACEMENT needs actionable information so as to not break up the Gayborhood/Queerborhood and still solve the logistics challenge of cramming too many camps in a limited amount of space. So…

URGENT: Before Friday afternoon we need the community to answer a few more questions (not many, really): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GPJFRLZ

Answering the questions above will directly guide the ongoing logistics discussion with Placement. You and your camp leaders are invited to participate so that we can continue to create a supportive space for those who want to share in the community.

This year we anticipate seeing a Gayborhood “Rainbow Road” scenario much like 2016 (possibly extending beyond the bounds of 7:30 and into the adjacent sectors). However, in the not so distant future, we are likely to see TWO Gayborhoods and new questions in the Placement Questionnaire for camps to self-identify as queer and wanting to be in the Gayborhood/Queerborhood (rather than just requesting 7:30).

For now, use the Queer Burners [dot] Com Forums to share your opinions. Help us continue the dialog by letting us know what you need!

Leaders of Queer Camps facilitating the discussion:

– *Tiger (Glamcocks) – *Christian (BAAAHS) – *Cyndi NoPants (Gender Blender) – *Toaster (Sun Guardians / Queer Burners) – *Indigo (Astropups) – *Dare (Glamcocks) – *Foxy (Beaverton) – *Ariel (Gender Blender) – Terry Grossman (Gaylactic Village / Time to Burn) – Ed Edmond (Burner Buddies) – Zach Bunker (BloAsis)  *in attendance at meeting w/ Placement Team

Burning Man GLC: Toaster Trip Report

This was my fourth or fifth GLC. The Global Leadership Conference focuses on Regional Contacts and Community Leaders out there in the world making Burning Man style events happen, This includes Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Solar, and Black Rock Arts among many entities.

A lot of people ask me how they can go, too. This was the first year they let me bring someone I nominated. One usually has to be nominated by a Regional Contact, but then of course San Francisco (where I live) does not have an R.C.. The facility where this was held was packed with people and there were people I knew who said were there on Facebook whom I never got a chance to see the whole weekend.

“The 10th annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (GLC) is an annual conference of Burning Man community leadership that happens each spring in San Francisco. 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.

The conference is for organizers and community leaders in the Burning Man Regional Network, and space is limited, so attendance isn’t open to the public, BUT … we’re going to be covering key sessions that are of interest to the larger Burning Man community on the Burning Man Journal, as well as on Twitter.”

Burning Man [dot] Org (linked)

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On @queer_burners on Twitter right from this conversation we tweeted a quote right from Larry Harvey in this Q&A where he talked about funding the arts. He said “Lots of hungry puppies only so many tits.” In fact the word “Money” was bandied about a lot for a corporation always faced with someone eager for a taste of the pie; e.g. the new Nevada tax that added $50+ to our ticket prices this year.

The Burning Man Global Leadership Conference

It happen April 1st to the 3rd at the Marines Memorial Theater / Hotel at 609 Sutter Ave here in San Francisco. Myself and Foxy (of Beaverton fame) went representing the Queer Burner community and a voice that was only about LGBTQ++ burning man participants. There are a lot of Queer leaders in the community whose missions are more specific to the geographic community than a “lifestyle” or “sexual orientation”. Regional Contacts are the primary focus, as well as future leaders, who also do projects in the long cast shadow of what Burning Man is.

Burning Man often looks and complains about a lack of diversity in their culture; specifically in skin color in the United States. There have been efforts to improve the variety of racial demographics. However, with the launching of Burning Man culture into different parts of the world the racial concerns seem to have wained as burns in Africa, Asia, South America, Central America and Europe have brought in a hungry and exciting rush of fresh blood making the 10 Principles their own.

Finally, the misogyny of the culture took more dents with the on-going delivery of messages about consent and personal responsibility. Over recent years these have been strongly related messages to leaders with tools to bring back to their communities. A champion in this area has been North Caroline burners.

The BMOrg is a corporation run by women (and Charlie and the odd board member) which has also sent a whole new set of messages to the community. A lot of Queer people work for the org as well but there is still this lingering blind disregard for a system to help queers, in many cases, and women who are venerable in a sexually charged and space where people have often lowered their defenses. This is still changing.

Some of our biggest concerns about Queer burners also came out of the South with a NC burner talking about degrading behavior toward Trans and queer people at South eastern events; but there are voices that are strong enough to let their peers know that such behavior was unacceptable. It was also refreshing to hear that a Radical Faery group USED TO go to the NC event but sadly they faded away. There was a subtle wake up call that LGBTQ burners are STILL not safe at all Burner events.

So we ask about what kind of diversity is Burning Man really looking for?It starts at the root level and has to grow. Almost anything meaningful has started with members of the community taking action which is why Queer Burners is here without any – ANY official support or injection from the BMOrg. If anything else, it has been clear that events are being driven toward family friendly and diverse audiences by Stephen Ra$pa and his team with less on adult activities. Yet, believe it or not anything with an LGBT label on it is still lumped into the ‘adults only’ category.

Why this summary?

There were leaders all over the world at the Conference (GLC) and for those interested in taking official status with the BMOrg the message was pretty clear what those steps needed were. Queer Burners is and will remain a grass roots project with it’s mission centered on Queer Burning Man participants and community builders.

I listened to everything there and talked to people at the best GLC I had ever been to. I do not know if it was the venue, the improved range of speakers or the delivery. Queer Burners (the project since 2008) has felt like the black sheep of the family year after year. But this year felt more like we were a part of the conversation and we had something to add for a variety of reasons.

If only I could figure out why there is a strong sense of opposition of our presence from a couple key people in the Borg. That is a conversation for another day, though.

Content

The GLC was mostly all business. The workshops followed key tracks:

  • Civic Activation
  • Community Events
  • Leadership Skills
  • Organizational Development
  • Foundation Skills

This year my focus was mostly on Financial and Event related tracks because of the many things Queer Burners is doing with events and planning. This included risk management and working on a better system of transparency. Queer Burners is launching events and making money; all of which will go right back into the community.

Foxy wrote a report on her experience here if you would like to see it. Being a Green Dot Ranger and in Ranger leadership she had a special spin on her experience. As Ranger Torchwood she wants to see more Queers who are a good fit into the Ranger culture. She will be presenting at the Queer Burner Retreat with 4 other Rangers.

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A famous Science Fiction writer was the key note speaker. His Playa name is/was Mez and had the theme camp the Church of Mez. Ramez Naam (Twitter: @ramez) wrote the award winning book APEX (part of a trilogy) and talked a lot about the future through the past. He talked about the possibility of Science Fiction versus reality. And interesting enough he talked about Stonewall and the gay rights movement a lot which I was taken by.

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Marian Goodell (the CEO of Burning Man) welcomed everyone. While she was genuinely excited to have people there she seemed unprepared for her presentation. She complained about her position as ‘having drawn the short straw’ for a role she is perfectly suited for. She took over from Larry though he remains the face of Burning Man. Marian used to run the Regional Network (of Regional Contacts) when I first joined the community less than a decade ago and I got to know her when she interviewed me as a potential R.C. way back then. But what did I do, I did what burners are supposed to do I went out and developed community without the approving nod of the BMOrg.

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There were a lot of people there presenting a lot of impressive projects. Above are two Chicago leaders reporting their event called the Chididerod. It’s decorated shopping carts racing through the city but raise a serious-butt-load of food for food banks in the area there; like – literally tons of food. While these folks had a ton to be proud of the self congratulating with so thickly layered on it was stifling. The ego landed on stage and waved a big flag all the way form Chicago. But they were not the only ones which I will cover soon.

The projects were impressive and part of the content was how to do stuff like this and not get sued, arrested or hurt. It was also about building communication with the local authorities and officials as needed to get the right people on board with your projects so you can find success. Nothing ends a great project faster than one that is misunderstood. How many times have you mentioned Burning Man to someone only to be judged as a hippie, druggie, pervert before the next word came out of your mouth?

We learned a lot about protecting the reputation as much as the people making and benefiting from whatever project a leader is putting out there.

There were so many people patting themselves on the backs or waving their arms around to say how they were doing it better. On the other hand, there were a lot of broken people who were crushed under failed projects like Apogea in Colorado. Pride and Envy are ugly demons and we all hope not to be run over by them.

I learned a lot and hope others learned too because some of the problems people were having seemed to have such obvious solutions, yet so many seemed to be resolvable by setting expectations for oneself and for their communities.

The picture gallery below will depict a lot of the content as it was presented, but maybe one day more leaders will be able to go to the GLC.

Queer Burners Presentation

On a lark, I decided to submit a suggestion for the UNconference. The unconference was a user generated pool of breakout sessions where we could put subject on the table and see if there was interest. We would get 45 minutes to bring the subject to the table and see what happened.

“LGBT issues in the Burner Community”: Foxy called me when I was waiting to get my hair cut on Saturday night after I left and told me I was presenting. I was shocked and excited and when her and I talked I realized I had no idea what I was going to really say.

– who was the audience?
– what if this goes in a completely wrong direction?

We asked ourselves a ton of questions and naturally I asked Foxy to co-facilitate it with me and help me with it no matter what direction it went.

We were originally scheduled to share a HUGE room with the Chididerod people but they asked us to leave because they needed the whole theater. We found space in a public area and managed with the half dozen people that joined us. We learned a lot about LGBT issues in other regions, too. Some feedback  is already contained in the content of this page.

It really felt good to contribute and bring this subject to the table.

What were the issues you ask? In the above section where we talked about the North Carolina regional event, that came from this discussion. Essentially for a lot of queers in various regions there is no “problem” but the emphasis was that out, queer people just want to feel welcome and safe. Perception of safety, even a glimpse, means a lot.

We only had 45 minutes and it went fast, but the topics were amazing. Talking about the regions that were present might make some people feel on the spot, but the NC information was really important and that prejudice still exists in the community; even at Black Rock City.

Personal Note

I got hit by a seriously bad cold on Saturday and I was a soppy wet mess. While this report is not about Toaster the point is that I missed out on some of the best networking time because of it. I missed all the evening events which was a disappointment but thank goodness Foxy was there.

In Conclusion

When these things come up and are offered by BMOrg people in the community should jump in. Whether it is GLC, Placement meeting, or event the amazing stuff offered in the various regions. These resources are a tremendous value. The GLC is really good for the communities when leaders are bringing back what are learned.

Burning Man GLC: Foxy Trip Report

4 days of great sessions, based on tracks such as Civic Activation, Community Events, Leadership Skills, and Organizational Development.

I attended: Effective Leadership Skills in the Burnerverse, Creating a Culture of Consent, Danger Ranger’s (the founder of the Rangers) talk ‘Coyote goes to Burning Man’, Cultivating Strong Regional Rangers, plus the closing Plenary.

What struck me personally was the idea of the ‘grey area’, not only in leadership, but also with consent.

Leadership

Many of you have been in situations where you are asked to make a decision as a community leader on something that does not have a black or white answer. Looking at both sides of the equation, might not garner enough information. What I took from the session, is that we as leaders should exercise good judgement, be empathetic, listen, give and get advice, look at what is good for the community as a whole, and then make a decision based as best you can. If you do your due diligence for those grey area situations, and be open to revisiting the situation if new information arises, you may not make everyone happy, but you have led in an ethical and thoughtful way. Embrace the grey area, you can learn a lot from it.

Consent

Creating a culture of consent is top of mind for many of us, which is awesome. Again, that grey area came up, and I heard an interesting concept, that of Consent Mistakes. Verbal, sober consent should be the norm, but what if you thought you had consent and you actually didn’t. What if you consented to something, but for reasons such as peer pressure, you weren’t actually consenting. I think we can all take a deeper look into what it means to really have and give consent. Even just acknowledging a Consent Mistake, can be empowering if you had an experience that just didn’t sit right with you. You are then able to take steps, have conversations, or get help if you need it.

Regional Rangers

In this session, a lot was discussed about the different cultures of the regionals. Did you know Rangers have to deal with issues with Whales in Victoria BC.? There are many Regional Rangers, that don’t go to TTITD, they just do the Regionals. Perhaps that is something some of you might be interested in doing, if you aren’t set on becoming a Black Rock City Ranger. If so, let me know and I can start the ball rolling for you.

Coyote Goes to Burning Man

This was an amazing, insightful, inspiring, wander through the history of pranksters in San Francisco which ultimately led us to Burning Man and it’s culture. The Coyote as a symbol of pranksterism in Native American culture, was fascinating. In England, the Fox is our prankster, this made me very happy. If you have a chance to listen to this talk, it’s well worth it.

I learnt a great many things, met wonderful people, and heard amazing stories from Burners without Borders, makers, and community leaders. We Queer Burners have an amazing culture, let’s share it!

Community

When listening to old Larry Harvey speeches COMMUNITY is the same reason Burning Man was founded and allowed to evolve. We build a city every year with a gift based economy and sew the seeds of love that inspire almost super-human creations; then we burn it all down and come back the following year. It is the life cycle of a phoenix over and over again.

“Community is the result of a group of people
striving for a common purpose.” – unknown

Most of us strive for a diverse and interesting population we are welcoming guests into our camps for various functions on the playa better than we do in the default world sometimes. We find comfort in out cliques and forget through the glass bubble that people on the outside can just as easily see in. For the Queer Burner population we have been challenged at an even higher standard from within and out to make ourselves accessible and escapable. That is the Gayborhood has been unfairly accused of being a wall keeping people in and out. Some camps have been accused of the same, but many of us have worked hard to show them they have no foundation for that claim.

“Well it seems to me, that all real communities grow out of a
shared confrontation with survival.Communities are
not produced by sentiment or mere goodwill. They
grow out of a shared struggle. Our situation in
the desert is an incubator for community.”
– Larry Harvey

In the comfort of our camps and social groups the unintentional barriers based on looks, social similarities and basic needs exclude some people. Again, some camps have worked very hard to turn that image around with tremendous success. Others have been less willing to forgive and others have enjoyed the bounty of more mature and less synical memories of the past and looked to a shining bright future.

The Gayburbs out at 4:30 & I:
This space developed as queer camps began
coalescing with the familiar for neighbors who
made the experience safer.

As leaders in the community we have a responsibility to our people. Radical self reliance is a good principle to live by, BUT watching your team-mate’s back is also important to solid. We have those camp mates that do not use self-care and sometimes it is by choice or reaction to the new world around them. The weather and the fervor of the TTITD event can be overwhelming. By watching out for a fellow beings we further strengthen the bonds of our foundation.

What defines community?

The people behind the common goal. It really takes those who can see the vision of a unified force to speak up and stand out and then show the leadership qualities that create the wake that others follow in. We have our leadership and we have our participants. The ties that bind us are the thin string of individual faith and unspoken desire to be safe and secure that we rally behind. Sometimes, as we have seen time and time again, is merely proximity. Sometimes safety and community develops out of something greater. But we do it together.

2015 Burning Man: Global Leadership Conference

The Burning Man Global Leadership Conference happened again this year and Toaster went representing QueerBurners.Com. There were a lot of other LGBTQ++ burners there working the event as well as participating.

Toaster, Jim Taflinger the Georgia Regional, and Bobby (aka Poohbear) from the New York Community
Toaster, Jim Taflinger the Georgia Regional, and Bobby (aka Poohbear) from the New York Community

The 9th Annual Global Leadership Conference runs Thursday, April 9th through Sunday, April 12th, 2015. Each day will be action-packed with incredible workshops, presentations, and fun gatherings. The 2015 Burning Man Global Leadership Conference will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. The conference theme is “The Next Creative Renaissance: Buildin’ it up, Bustin’ it Out, and Bringin’ it Home” aimed at inspiring civic engagement through art and community. We want participants to return home full of ideas about how to make a meaningful impact in their hometowns, cities, and regions. Featured speakers and programming will address and explore activating and nurturing Burning Man culture and communities across the world.

– taken from the conference web site page

There were queer burner leaders in attendance, but only one wore the badge that said “QueerBurners.Com” LGBT Burners; that was your very own Toaster.

Scope

This was a weekend full of amazing dialog and communication building for the “Carnival of Mirrors” event, but the scope of the Leadership Conference is developing community and the Burning Man ideology (brand, projects and identity protection). One thing is definitely sure, what Burning Man IS has changed. The up and coming leaders (in the community, not necessarily employees) have changed.

Burning Man is a business and the many limbs of Burning Man are wrapping around themselves building a stronger core by collapsing those ancillary entities into the whole. In recent months: the Black Rock Arts Foundation and Burners Without Borders are now internal elements of the Burning Man Project instead of satellites. Those employees are now Burning Man employees and they now have the resources that Burning Man has developed as well as the influence.

Politics and Wrangling Not Your Thing?

This ‘thing’ has grown and is still growing. Burning Man is not just Burning Man (in the desert) anymore. It is a corporation that works hard to maintain it’s identity. It seems to work hard from being too mega and from being marginalized.

  1. It fights to maintain representation of the 10 Principles and the gray area surrounding them while increasing its ability to give the people who are a part of the culture a chance to really have a piece through community effort.
  2. It also fights to be seen as something more than a rave-like festival in the deep Nevada desert filled with cracked out naked hippies.

Burning Man is in that wide field in-between all that. While this is all an opinion being shared here as a participant, it became clear to me that some of the ugly parts of Burning Man are being matured away from by a generation that does not accept the snark, sexually aggressive, community destructive ideas. But at the same time while the community as a whole is growing into new shoes the struggle to really maintain the 10 Principles every day has also been a struggle.

10 Principles

See the 10 Principles here… CLICK. One of the questions that came up was: What is Radical Inclusion … Really? Here are two scenarios:

  • Creepy individual in camp stalking or pushing themselves on other members of the camp; does this person have the right to be a part of the camp under the Radical Inclusion umbrella or not? Most say no, but those that do not have to deal with the consequences say maybe or yes.
  • A camp of people with a certain “body type” or an “aesthetic” with an age limit or gender requirement is approached by someone that does not meet that standard; do they have the right to say no? Many would say no, but we have the right to choose who we camp with. The value of that individual is not known until we get to know that person.

Both these were discussed at the summit and in one case a unsolicited comment was made by one of the Gayborhood camps in a session of leaders. Most had never heard of the camp before, but as a member of the community behind this camp I was stunned and reeled.

the 11th Principle

There was a lot of talk about an eleventh principle. Seems like communities all over have developed something with the word “radical” put in front of it and found meaning with it. Among them, for a long while anyway, was the word Gratitude.

  • Radical Vulnerability: among leaders needing permission to look for a support team/system when working/building/launching events.

(See our post on this that started this conversation at the GLC: CLICK)

Conclusion

BMGLS2015 attendeesAll those leaders who went to this event (400 of them) should be bringing these tools back to their communities. It should be a trickle down idea and it will hopefully see some people be inspired and step up to help make leadership better. To all Queer Burners… I give this site to you. I present this whole project to you. Only you can take the baton and raise the bar for the future and yourselves and your communities.

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.

QB Leadership

Our community is expansive. We are part of the Burning Man community and by the latest numbers it appears to be somewhere around 66,000 people who show up in the desert and up to 200,000 around the world.

Where does leadership come into play with these numbers

  1. The Borg : The Burning Man Organization who are based out of San Francisco
    There is an annual event called the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference / Regional Contact Conference that focuses on major projects and community leaders.
  2. Regional Contacts : R.C.’s are official representatives of Burning Man who are volunteers who help guide communities all over the world and help protect the brand.
  3. Community Leaders : also voluntary roles where people take on various Burning Man related projects that are on all kinds of scales. They often are a source of leadership for groups.
  4. Camp / Project / Art Leaders : often involved in smaller groups but are engaged on some level with any of the above.

Queer Burner Leadership

There is no one in charge of anything related to the Queer Burner Community. The work through the Queer Burners pages is also voluntary and many of the people who are self identifies leaders in the LGBTQ Burning Man scene have also gone to the Global Leadership Conference in order to better engage our community.

Since 2012 (3 years) Queer Burners host Toaster has held a leadership conference in San Francisco. The Queer Burner Leadership Network operates under handle Quire : Queer and Fire. We have had great success at these events and hope to see them continue in whatever form they take in the future.

Who’s Who in Queer Burner Realness

Several people have been very responsible for helping make this successful. We have leadership throughout the LBGTQ who have great successes in their own areas but occasionally amazing people reach out past that.

Mario CisnerosA personal note from Toaster: While I have many people to thank it cannot go without mentioning Mario Cisneros of Moonbow camp who left us in 2012. He called me on the phone days before he left the earth and gave me the most amazing pep-talk.

He started the Gay Pride parade at Burning Man and was the host of the Offcial Queer Burner Meet & Greet which I took over for now at least until the mantel is taken over by someone else.

Kitten CaffeeOne of the earliest people on the queer burner train was Kitten from Comfort & Joy. He has been a fantastic ally in many of the projects initiated by this group.

08282012_burn-3033 of the Mayors of Camp Beaverton have also been fantastic partners in this process and that includes Bucket, Foxy and Glo. It was hard getting in and meeting this amazing group of people but what fantastic people.

Scott BeardetteScott Beardette from camp Conception has also been a huge asset and partner over the years. His ability to network, troubleshoot and respond to community issues is amazing.

1959620_614030481983786_1056781635_nCyndi Vee and Pink Pants from Gender Blender have been  rock stars in this community. Running the largest trans/fluid sexual identity camp at Burning Man. Not only that, has really brought it to San Francisco Decom and have been a great ambassadors for Trans issues in our culture.

A lot of thanks and love out to many many others as well. Catcher and Red from the Down Low Club have allowed us to host the Official Meet & Greet at the Down Low Club the last 3 years and were strategic partners with Mario too.

Ranger Sirius from BloAsis who has been a great asset to the community and has also been helping Toaster on some additional projects beyond the QB banner.

manAndEdAnd Ed Edmond and all his amazing people out of Burner Buddies who have also hosted the after party for the Gay Pride parade for… more years than I can count. The also hand out the official Gay Cards!

It is more than a handful of people. Because voices make up a chorus and that is what Quire is all about either directly or indirectly. Kelly Kidd from Mudskippers, Matty from Yes,Please, Tom and Matt from Camp Stella, Turtle from Coffee Camp and more more more.

When Brian from Crisco Disco, Chickpea – Cody – Blitzy – Coop – Poohbear … oh so many from Comfort & Joy … all these people are more engage they are bringing something amazing.

So what about it?

The people talked about here have been real givers. They believe in this community and are engaged and always willing to give to their communities; not just queer burners but their regional and social communities.

THANK YOU!!!

Coming Together in Hard Times

There have been a lot of high profile deaths in the Burning Man community and when we see people grieving it is hard to know where to take those feelings. The death of a regional community member has an impact. It can be devastating.

Please know you are not alone!

There are Black Rock City Rangers in every community and a special section of them called Green Dot who have special training when it comes to issues of the heart and mind.

Green Dots are Rangers who help participants through situations that have a strong emotional, psychic, or internal component. Green Dots are first and foremost patient listeners who seek to hold space for participants undergoing inner transformation or experiencing internal distress.

Whatever the case, you might need something closer to home. Maybe just a voice. We have friends all around and do not be afraid to use them. Here are some more resources:

Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

 

2014 Queer Burner Survey

The 1st ever survey just about the resources offered on our web site and on Facebook; which are abundant! While the site is maintained for the community part of the idea behind it was that the community would add to it to keep it current and relevant. The Facebook pages have really become that with a feed to twitter for people not on the Fbook. Here are all the resources:

Gay Burners (Master Page) | Queer Burners Group | Quire: QBLN | Google+
QB Regionals: Bay Area | SoCal | ATL | Las Vegas

Never ask a question you do not want the answer for, right? Well, feedback on this 5 year old project is good. If things are prospering then that is a win. If things are stifling, then it is time to change it up.

chart_1Here is what you said:

We asked about the web site and clicked through a variety of the resources we offered. While the 29 people out of 3000 that answered the survey were not aware of some resources there seemed to be some strong opinions about what they knew of.

(if you see an error message here it is okay, it will be fixed soon. To get out of the gallery preview use Esc or click in the gray area around the image.)

[Gallery not found]

While not all the responses made it you the pretty graphics above there was some requests. What would you like to see more of. Ironically, half the items listed and a majority of answers were things that already exist on the site; which means maybe we need to demonstrate that better. Here is what was asked for:

  • Perhaps more academic or queer theory articles or original blog posts.
  • merp? [author note: I have no idea what that is]
  • Camps Events
  • Naked pics of Toaster 🙂 [author note: already there! It’s true.]
  • Keep it up to date and timely I stopped using it as a resource a couple years ago because it was never up to date to have timely information. As a camp organizer I could never post our events or provide information directly on the site so it was not useful to communicate to the community
  • More info for newbies, maybe some kind of 1 on 1 sponcered / mentor type relationship.
  • Need more visibility and scholarships to helps those without funds to be able to travel to leadership conferences.

 

Trip Report: GLC 2014 by Toaster

Burning Man Global Leadership Summit #bmglc14 happened April 3rd-6th in San Francisco and Inside CELL Space for GLScould not be contained a single space. It was in three large buildings with 300+ attendees with a mass of workshops and meeting spaces. This includes Burning Man HQ and the infamous CELL Space.

My name is Toaster and though it is my policy (with the exception of 3 previous posts) not to make posts in the first person; so apologies by a slightly more personalized position of this particular trip report. I am hoping that Gloria and Bobby will also give in depth reports from their perspective.

Day 1: April 4

10168035_820639437950897_1230827200_nI skipped the pre-conference schtuff at the BMHQ for a variety of reasons mostly due to the fact I had to go to work after the daily meetings and wanted to minimize the stress on my weekend. So, I opted to come in Friday and had a rather interesting day.

After meeting some queer community partners like Bobby, Jim from Atlanta and more, I dug in to listen and hear about all the changes happening at Burning Man and the welcoming of so many leaders from all over of the world.

Changes:

  • Larry Harvey & Micheal Mikel are effectually retired.
  • Marian Goodell is the Burning Man CEO
  • Burning Man is almost completely transferred over to Burning Man Project; a non-profit

Day 2: April 5

We got a great sneak peek of the temple and a variety of other art projects, community regionals events and more being produced all around the world. There were many workshops, deeper conversations, and a party later that evening. But, Larry and Marian talked to the crowd, too.

Day 3: April 6

The wrapping up… the slow cumbersome completion of the event that some people had to flee in the middle of in order to catch flights all over.

Is that it? No…

Starting off, this is my 3rd Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (2011, 2012) and each year has been vastly different. This year cam with some baggage so note or ignore the items in italics. Having skipped 2013 and just came out of the Queer Burner Leadership Summit a week ago I came with something of an agenda to help positively promote the Gayborhood and other queer camps.

Side Note: I was also dealing with some real issues still pending with the Regional Network of Burning Man where there have been a number of challenges. Seeing Meghan R, Marian and others have been a challenge.

Major Topics

There always seems to be some vein of topics people want to know more about each year and come up at these events. This is beside the normal topics of discussion like getting people motivated and whatever ticket drama is going on.

Conflict /  Physical & Sexual Assault: There were two sessions on this subject. I attended the second and ease dropped on the first one for a bit. Part 1 seemed to be filled with a lot of emotion while the second was more focused on processes and mechanisms in place combating this issue.

  • Transformus: North Carolina Burners have an acculturated process already in place for their Regional Event; it has virtually eliminated these problems and given them the mechanism to confront these issues quickly as a community. (web site)
  • Secure Sanctuary: New project looking for people to start jumping on board. It seeks to add a new layer of acculturation for camps to provide a very temporary safe space for people in trouble while on the playa and speed them into whatever services they need: EMS, Rangers, Etc… (Facebook front page / Facebook group work project page)

There is some genuine concern on this issue and it seems that the Boston and N.C. community have made huge strides into this subject on their own local levels.

Secure Sanctuary is a bit of shameless self promotion as it is something that a group of us started to visualize out of a recent burner meetup. Although I have been the loud voice on it so far I am hoping to see this get wings.

Getting the Burning Man Project Word Out

The word of the day is Art and Community. If someone were counting the repetition of words out 10009317_820639474617560_2124767676_nthere those two might have seen themselves more than any.

According to Harley K. DuBois, Burning Man is coming to the fruition of many changes this year and is almost fully migrated to the Burning Man Project as a Non-Profit. Her core expression was about the Community of Burning Man. This project will help promote art in every way possible.

While Harley spoke about Community “…in any form…” we are still missing something important to this writer; an acknowledgement of LGBTQ++ needs and the realization that part of the physical threat on playa includes homophobia.

This is a capital concern for me and something the Regional Network does not seem to be able to wrap their heads around. They refuse to deal with the LGBTQ community stating our needs are really the same as any member of the community and are not special; that from a group of stright white people.

The Regional Network, with all it’s flaws and successes, falls under that new non-profit. Regional Contacts (R.C.’s) are all volunteer liaisons to their communities and guardians of the Burning Man brand.

Jim “Ron John” Graham – Burning Man PR Guru

“Larry Harvey is interested in community and all the manifestations that it brings…”

Burning Man Regional Network

There are some new and old faces at the wheel for the this part of Burning Man that is an active doorway to the Burning Man communities. They have official representatives called Regional Contacts and they represent geographical locations and 1 cyberspace location of Burners.

For most of my engagement with the Regional Network there has been this passive denial of right to exist from the Regional Network for the LGBTQ community within Burning Man like the one created with Queer Burners. It has been quite frustrating as their occasional support would be helpful in the building of this community. Network Guru: Sauce spent a lot of time with me at the GLS promising to renew this relationship in a positive way and let see what happens.

While Marian Goodell is now CEO it seems like the Regional Network has become the project for Meghan Rutigiano (aka Megs). Since she is is the remaining voice of the network since Marian and Andie Grace moved on (another story) it comes with a lot of hope that the future will be brighter.

What could the Regional Network offer that is important? There are a number of things including resources and support that are generally helpful in building community. Tools for leadership and the occasional voice of reason.

  • An LGBTQ set of regionals? Why not?
  • A channel into their closed off network?

Our own Kitten has been a voice for me more often than I can count. He is of the feeling that we really do not need the Regional Network anyway. I feel that this community is a self evolved and important service to LGBTQ++ people. We do not deserve anything. We do, however, deserve the same respect as the other communities in the Burning Man culture and not to be discounted just because LGBTQ++ is attached to the name.

This network also helps keep community leaders above board with Regional Events like Lakes of Fire, Element-11, Apogea, and Forgotten City. Check these out on your own.

Conclusion

Along with the new Burning Man (Project) there is still a lot of the old Burning Man people still around. Harley spoke of those so in love with their roles that they refuse to leave and it makes the flow of growth stagnant. Some people have been pushed along while some remain steadfast in their places.

We cannot so easily brush off the dust and cast out the ghosts. There are A LOT OF Burning Man Regional Contacts who hang on the network and get the perks but do nothing to advance it.

Change has made an impact on the Burning Man culture, but the many of the same people at the GLS were the same people from 2 and 3 years ago in the same outfits, same hair, same ideals. Many are in the same clicks with all their fame wrapped up in their burner personality. How creative is that?

We cannot evolve without change. Burning Man itself is radically evolving right now and faced with having to be more commercial and maintaining their identity and commitment to the 10 Principles. The Org (Burning Man Organization) is doing a pretty good job overall. The GLS and local leadership events springing up all over the world are proof of that. However, we have to get them to be more sensitive to people needs even if they do not fit perfectly into a utopian dream where we all are one loving culture. Because, there is homophobia and hate out there and some come to Burning Man.

I arrived at the GLS and kept largely to myself burdened with a feeling of being spurned largely by the community because I want LGBTQ++ needs heard. Safety is important. Plus, I personally want the community at large to know the Gayborhood has an important role for people. There have been a few incidents where leadership withing Burning Man has been disparaging of LGBTQ people and derogatory about the Gayborhood and the people in it. Making them understand it is a place of safety and a part of the city the really dives back is important. If not to quell snide remarks by calling it the Gay Ghetto, but to be just a bright part of the city with neon flags at the center of it all.

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