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.

Trip Report: 2014 QBLS

This was the third year for the QBLS and it was amazing. See details on previous years, including trip reports at the library of links below. Special thanks to all who came and those who traveled to be a part of it.

2012 | 2013 | 2014

The event was held at The Box Factory in San Francisco; the Box Factory is run by Bernadette Bohan who is a great friend to the community and has been very generous about letting projects use her art/living space.

Who is Queer Burners?

2014 QBLSQueer Burners is a 5 year old project designed to provide a network for LGBTQ++ burners a means of communicating and is also dedicated to promoting the Gayborhood at Black Rock City,  Nevada. We are not political and we are not a whipping post. This is a 10 principles based idea system who seeks to promote those idea on and off the playa.

Starting off…

There was a lot to be said and a lot of feeling expressed at this year’s event the spun off the agenda items and started right out of the gate when everyone introduced themselves and talks about their individual projects. A couple highlights included:

  • Terry Goodman’s Time To Burn App on Android and iPhone
  • Camp Beaverton & Gender Blender’s amicable separation
  • A new system to help the community at-large in personal safety

The Past

Toaster went over some of the key items from previous QBLS including a break down of ways of getting people motivated to be part of camp activities; see the who story from the 2012 QBLS and the amazing TED video posted there.

We also highlighted past discussions of the Gayborhood  and why we feel it is a very important service to the community; safety, awareness, and it has become an attraction.

Social Networking / Fund Raising

Cam Brochu cam in from EBB asking about social networking while Glo from Beaverton was asking about fund raising. While we talked about a lot of things here were the quick highlights:

  • Social Networking: Facebook is the media of choice right now that can networking with twitter.com, pintertrest.com, tumblr.com and more. SnapChat is popular but not always ideal. Always embed, use #tags, call out partners using @name (name or twitter name). More
  • Fund Raising: Few people have the remarkable success of C&J. We all need to find the right niche for those goals. C&J has a captive audience; who is your audience? With that, is crowd fund the right channel for you: kickstarter.com, indiegogo.com and more. More

Intense Feelings

There were a lot of intense feelings over various issues including, but not limited to, what is perceived to be BMorg’s general view of the LGBTQ++ community; which very much seems to be a hands over the eyes approach. Keeping something very important in mind: BMorg ideology as best as we can interpret seems to be that we are all part on one melting pot.

LGBTQ Issues: Theoretically: So, women issues, racial issues, spiritual issues, sexual orientation issues don’t fall on their radar because those are personal and not community issues.

Personal Safety: while the Regional Team has emphasized personal responsibility (as stated on the back of the ticket as an agreement); sexual assault, homophobia and other issues like that still fall on community members for their individual choices.

  • Self Care: Someone asked why these were BMorg problems they had to deal with. What do we as a community do to combat it? A project was discussed called Secure Sanctuary that is in the first stages of development answering all the above.

Feelings were frequently intense as people share beliefs that came from deeply felt positions on the above mentioned items.

Tension Relief

Special thanks to some people who really shined:

  • Theo (aka Turtle) for coming and talking to us about the Cafe in Center Camp. Who also helped out with a lot of history information that will be seen on this site soon.
  • Jean-Jaques who was our chief volunteer and who helped everything around the summit work smoothly.
  • Bradley (aka Badger) for making an amazing lunch!

And on a special note! There was an energizing surprise set up for the late afternoon that would allow us to start shutting down for the day. SF CHEER camp to liven up the scene and wow, did they!

Final Session

After SF Cheer left the scene we were all blown away and excited! The video will tell all. But we managed to get back on track and jump back into the agenda where we hit on Queer Burner History. A page was on this site with a short chronology that was pulled down until a lot of information could be changed or updated.

What was different this year?

Not a whole lot, but it was also very different. We had a lot of new people who came out to play and be involved. We had some strong personalities but our focus was making what we do better and helping each other in the process.

Leadership in the Community

While the discussion is heating up for the upcoming Queer Burner Leadership Summit (QBLS) and Community Building Conference (Facebook / Eventbrite) there is another event that this

2012 Global Leadership Summit at the Kabuki Hotel
2012 Global Leadership Summit at the Kabuki Hotel

one is designed to bleed into. Burning Man will be hosting their Global Leadership Conference (GLC) the following week.

In attendance representing the Gayborhood and the LGBTQ++ Queer Burners will be your Toaster and the new Mayor of Camp Beaverton Home for Wayward Girls – Glo.

The Burning Man (Burning Man Project formerly Burning Man, LLC) has had this conference for years. It used to be called the Regional Conference, but in/about 2011 they started including local leaders who are actively engaged in the community. That was when Toaster was first invited.

What we are bringing:

In the past we have brought what the overwhelming voices of leaders at the QBLS to the GLC have noted as community issues. This has been about safety and viability of the Gayborhood; especially in the wake of the 2012 ticket fiasco where we expected an outpouring of tourists who could not appreciate burner ideology.

qbls2We have set to face the misrepresentations of the Gayborhood as a space where LGBTQ++ persons have made a place to separate themselves away from the rest of the city. AND! That the reality that there is homophobia and danger to our people because of gender and other physical differences.

  • we will bring what / if any items from the GBLS
  • we will talk about LGBTQ++ history in Burning Man

*we is in the royal sense as Toaster plans on doing the usual networking and chatting people up through the GLC hoping to get people more on board with seeing the Gayborhood as an important part of Black Rock City as much as a Castro is in San Francisco.

QBLS & CBC

by Mark DemmaWhen considering if you are a fit for the conference for the community consider how much people have walked away with every year. There is a refreshing and amazing network of people who typically attend. It is:

  • A gathering of leaders who share and learn from others
  • The net step to taking your idea or project from launch to spring board
  • Community Town Hall

In the past

2011 was this Toaster’s first year at the GLC and it was an amazing experience.

2012 your Toaster went to the event as a voice/set of ears for the Queer Burner community realizing we were not really a voice. The result was a really ugly reality that official leadership of Burning Man had a distinctively low opinion of LGBTQ++ participants who dared to celebrate our own voice within the scope of the Gayborhood.

  • the Regional Chat private message board had a destructive message string that was outwardly abusive (unfortunately I only have the word of queer participants on the message system who passed on the information verbally and it was confirmed by multiple people at the 2012 event)
  • the Regional Contact board manager Meghan/Mega equated LGBTQ++ needs with lifestyle groups like the BDSM community and summarily dismissed any concerns brought to the table relating to the Gayborhood

2013 Toaster skipped the GLS to focus on the QBLS.

See all past details here:

Queer Burner Leadership: Announcement

Today we announced the 2014 Queer Burner Leadership Summit and Community Building Conference to be held at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco March 30th, 2014.

This is the 3rd annual event and will celebrate 5 years of Queer Burners [dot] Com as a service working to network the LGBTQ++ (LGBTQS and more) members of the Burning Man community that identity as Queer Burners. We are also greatly focused on the health and well being of the Gayborhood as an important presence at Burning Man.

The Leadership Summit is:

QBLS: The Queer Burner Leadership Network linking leaders / project managers / do’ers to others of the same ilk to network and supportive. Talking to each other in an open forum and carrying that connection away is invaluable.

Community Building Conference: Team building and inspiring people to carry the health, well-being and success of the camp / project /  community (Gayborhood) / city (BRC).

Join us March 30th in San Francisco. Tickets on sale soon, sliding scale, NOTAFLOF*.

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*NOTAFLOF: No one turned away for lack of funds is a philosophy inspired by the Radical Faery community to assure that all people in our community have a chance to participate.

Balance

It had occurred to me that there is at times a lack of balance with some of the things we involve ourselves within the community (Burner community). As a blogger here on this site and others I have been very critical of BMorg on those occasions; they do make it so very easy. I will explain this a little more later.

Balance is a key to life in many areas of our existence and finding it ideally brings harmony. At least that is what some spiritual good feeling stuff tells us. While we can be critical of BMorg and it’s operators true analysis comes in examining the whole picture.

BMP-Board-of-Directors
Burning Man Project Board of Directors

The Scales of Thought

The ticket fiasco in 2012 is one of the best examples of finding balance in a difficult situation that hit the community and affected all of us. As most know, the ticket lottery in 2012 was a solid brown poo on the heads of many of us who have been engaged in the community. Many seasoned burners were so pissed off from it they walked away and never looked back. While these extreme reactions are not un-typical here is something as an example:

– ticket lottery | + expanded ticket dispersal for theme camps /  artists
– BMorgs initial reaction | + acknowledgement of problem (though late)

Albeit extremely simplistic in its context you kinda get the idea with the handy +’s and -‘s, right?

Balance comes in other areas too, which we recently explored in another article where this author reflected within the Queer Burner community. Camp leadership needs to be present and have their heads in the game, especially when they have multiple souls under their roof. Much of Comfort & Joy has learned to master this balance and will hopefully be sharing that wisdom at the 2014 Queer Burner Leadership Summit.

lead camp | find personal time
setup, build and breakdown camp | enjoy the fruits of labor
get people doing their chores | enjoy the kinship formed

Courage Under Fire

The community and the leadership are always up to whatever challenge is laid at their feet. Recently in Burners.Me an argument was made about the long existing Burner Man Project leadership stepping down. While rolling into a non-profit was a solution for protecting the cohesion and brand of Burning Man with a clever legal structure with the facade of bringing more to the community what has it really done?

So who is under fire more? BMorg leadership or the community? While the house of the BMorg is made of glass the villagers are too stoned to really grasp the complexity of this relationship. Balance often comes late from the people held so highly and balance gets mired down in the expectations of the people who consider themselves devotees to the cause.

Many members of the community demand a drama free zone without concern or focus on the leaders of this community. Being held to the light of the flames the people driving Burning Man bear the cross when the gray lines of the 10 principles are being applied ___ like they were scripture.

Burning Man Leaders

Let’s go back in time to “Green Man” in 2007 where for the first and last time ever the people who brought you Burning Man allowed sandwiches to be sold at center camp and ‘green vendors’ showing their wares. The green_manramifications of allowing these elements into an event that talked about Decommodification was loud. But, who can fault the organizers for trying something new?

Selling coffee was new once, but these days no one could imagine center camp not having coffee or the amazing people selling it.

Going back one last time to the 2012 Ticket Fiasco the leadership recovered very well in the end, but their proximity to the issue seems to have clouded their ability to revel in their success. The SPARK movie was an unnecessary revisit to that mess, but a win with giving me a visit to the playa while in the default world; see it’s all about balance.

Burning Man Participants

2012 made a lot of people fall off the fence with the obscene growth of the attendance at TTITD. For reasons of their own, the days of HELLCO and FrogBat (in their glory days) are gone, and some people have moved on in their journey.

Has Burning Man jumped the shark with the numbers swelling? Who is still adding Burning Man to their bucket lists? And… are the people who made it what it is still going?

  • 1st Year attendees never shut up about Burning Man
  • 2nd Year your new Mega-Theme Camp is destiny
  • 3rd Year you are a seasoned veteran and are living the dream
  • 6th Year you’re so old school burner
  • 7th Year, you think Burning Man has sold out
  • 12th Year, Burning Man sucks but you keep going….

Look, we’re all basically insane for doing this year after year. Anyone we know outside of the community thinks we’re out there fornicating endlessly and tripping out on drugs anyway. This ki-ki is cra-cra… (yeah, I thought that right after typing it too…. I already regret not editing it out).

Can we be critical of the BMorg without destroying the people that make this elaborate event happen every year? We are the people who pay for the ticket and they are the engineers who make fantasy land reality.

As long as we keep going things will continue to evolve and whether we choose to believe it or not, I think the BMorg Board is willing to meet us along the way. Keeping the community happy is in their benefit, so we think, but to keep this going we cannot be afraid of change.

WTF?

As mentioned above, Burning Man leadership has made it incredibly easy to take a pie in the face when it comes to criticism. Over the many years some decisions were made and their presentation was so mired in arrogance that it was dumbfounding. Arrogance? Maybe ignorance is the better example, because this nest of heterosexual white hippies are so busy defending their ideology that they often forget the emotional and fiscal needs of the people who have pledged loyalty.

One of the latest controversies was Rape Kits on the playa. At the 2012 Burning Man Regional Conference and Leadership Summit in San Francisco I brought some very real issues to the table in a forum attended by community leaders, board members and Regional Contacts from around the world. Because of the projected (at the time) 70% of expected attendees who were unfamiliar with our 10 Principals we were concerned for people vulnerable to physical attack including women and fae queers.

While we have the Gayborhood where ANYONE can find safety (a promise made by Queer Camp leaders at the 2012 Queer Burner Leadership Summit) we were worried that given the expanse of the attendees was not being matched to assure education and safety of people in attendance; particularly women and fae.

Andie Grace (aka Action Girl, formerly with the communications team with Burning Man) very confrontationally stated in the public forum said that people were responsible for their own safety. Well, that year sexual assaults were on the rise AND there was a very publicized rape behind the Emerald City just off the Esplanade. There were others too and Burning Man was moot.

However, it appears that in 2013 Rape Kits did make it to the playa but how they were implemented is not clear. The fact is that a Rape Kit is a very complicated thing to implement and the balance is that Burning Man simply cannot have a hand in it. But, an official agency can.

While the short sighted reactions to things much like Angie Grace’s comments make the leadership look very dull in their ability to respond to their community.

Tearing Down the Man

There are not shortage of critics. There is also no shortage of people with glitter in their eyes when it comes to how we see Burning Man leadership at the BMorg. It is so easy to find holes in the thinking, but this event and this community is really doing a lot of very positive things. The hypocrisy of BMorg is second to the results. And, the future of  Burning Man itself is unclear.

In an article that came out today (update 1/6/15: the following url ceased to exist and was unlinked: http://www.groundedmedianetwork.com/fuck-burning-man/) the above video was attached. You can see here where there is a lot of holes in thinking and what this is all about, but maybe this is being take too seriously?

Conclusion

When we criticize are we looking at destroying Burning Man? Are we demanding they see reality from our perspective? Do we not give them the gay area to make mistakes and come back with a solution? Do we consider balance? While almost everyone who has gone says that this has changed their lives or made an impact that in itself is the big win.

This pre-season rhetoric has seen so much criticism lest we forget the gift of evolution. Yes, the environmental impact of the event might be questionable. The motivation of the BMorg might be questionable. We can find holes in anything, but if Burning Man were to throw their hands in the air and say “fuck it, we’re fucking done” we would all feel the world got a little more darker that day.

Let’s face it. The BMorg has made some stupid decisions. So have we as individuals. Yes, ticket prices are obscene and becoming more and more out of reach for the average person. The cost of going is less for the accessible for the average person and more so for the privileged. YET, many of us without much cash still manage to get out there (myself included).

Balance is the key. Knowing the difference between attacking windmills versus standing up for a real issue impacting the community is key, too. Right now we have Regional Contacts (R.C.) (except for San Francsico) who represent BMorg to their regional communities and R.C.’s who have a voice back to Burning Man. Hold your Regional to the fire, because he or she is like your state senator for Burning Man.

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BMorg – Burning Man Organization usually referring to the home office in San Francisco, CA.

TTITD –  That Thing In The Desert aka Burning Man

Mainstreaming the Culture

One cannot go to Burning Man, as a queer person, and not see there is a large LGBT presence if you are looking for it. In 2011 Huffington Post writer and blogger Oscar Raymundo (@OscarRaymundo on Twitter) made some awkward observations in an article he posted way back when.

  • One side of the coin: Not everyone at Burning Man is in touch with their desire to be part of the LGBT community in Burning Man or out… and the variety of gray lines in between. Some choose simply to not put any kind of rainbow flag on their experience whatsoever.
  • Other side of the coin: Some actively engage in queer events, sex and other LGBT offerings.

In 2013 this author met a participant of Burning Man who at 33 years of age, 14 years of Burning Man, had come out of the closet that year AND was going to his first Queer event at Burning Man. It seemed I discovered a purple unicorn in the crowd, but as my experience grew with people in 2013 I met more just like him.

Demographics

The company that runs Burning Man is called The Burning Man Project (formerly Burning Man, LLC) and have  sexually-attracted-toasked participants to complete an anonymous census every year and published it on their web site, but in 2013 they started an online census that provided great live information on attendees. Queer Burners is not affiliated with any official channel to Burning Man.

2013 Census Report | 2012 Census Report | Previous After-burn Reports

Much of the data is selectively compiled and presented significantly down-playing the LGBTQ role in the city. While we have been attacked in the past by some of the regional community (Regional Contacts and other members of the community – this story was already told in older posts – so refer to those) for having a Gayborhood, The impact of LGBTQ on the event itself, whether mainstreaming or not, is very significant.

The data above shows a full 3rd of the populace LGBTQ or blurry lines at least during the time of the event as of 9/2013. This includes a collective number of burners who were willing to answer the census randomly. The data does get updated on the link provided for 2013 and as of this date is still taking information.

Queer Burners

Well, outside of this project (this web site) we can clearly see there are a lot of Burners out there who are LGBTQ++ even if they are partaking in their own way and not with the Gayborhood or any other gay, lesbian or other camps/events/whatever. Blurring into the mainstream is a comfortable place for a lot of people.

It is the dream of some that we all mesh into one society anyway, which I believe is what the creators of Burning Man dreamed of with no lines for orientation, race or gender. It seems so Utopian until you point out this ideology was created by three white, heterosexual males* and then it sounds a little aryan nation. It’s not, just idealistic.

Embracing our ideological and social differences is as important as embracing our radical self expression. If that means you mainstream or engage other LGBTQ people that is an individual call.

Conclusion

While this project (QueerBurners [dot] Com) will continue to cater to LGBTQ++ Burners this includes mainstreamers, people who have their sexuality as part of their experience, and our friends who do not fit the cookie cutter shapes (straight and otherwise).

We are not fighting the BMorg (The Burning Man Project leadership) but we are fighting not to be marginalized. The existence of the Gayborhood has a very important purpose. There are people within the BMorg that are our friends and understand why the Gayborhood has an important role at Burning Man.

Everyone uses the space for their own needs temporary or not. This is Radical Inclusion at it’s best and we plan on keeping it that way.

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*Original Founders: Larry Harvey, Micheal Mikel and John Law

Get involved Regionally

Burning Man happens once a year for 8 days of pure bliss in the desert. If you have embraced the 10 principles and want this magic to continue in your life on any level between 1 to 10 then get involved with people like you out there. #1 resource is your Burning Man Regional Network through the Burning Man [dot] Com web site. Want to start a network for Queer Burners in your region please let us know so we can help promote it.

More to come. You might note that the above pages are ones created by Toaster (that would be me) and I knew there were others out there but I cannot find them as I type this but will add to this post as the list grows. Please feel free to reach out.

2013 Cargo Cult : A Trip Report

After 2012’s Fertility 2.0 and the crushing ticket fiasco of all times it would seem hard to bounce back, but Burning Man Project did and pretty darn well. All the pomp and pageantry came to Black Rock City in a glorious way with Cargo Cult and John Frum.2013 Temple

What were the numbers? Anyone will tell you there was a glut of newbies, virgins and tourists on the playa with other terms like dark-tards, weekenders and any of many other words for the people who are more and more becoming the gross of the population.

Speaking of population, another fiercely growing majority are LGBTQ people. We cannot see it in a skin color or any other physical trait but it is becoming more and more clear to the observer.  LGBTQ people have been open to the embrace of radical self expression over our counterparts who are still learning to wake that part of themselves up. This tremendous sense of living is what brings us back every year.

Gayborhood 2013

Before Burning Man 2013 the Placement Team announced where placed camps would end up which included the camps that would normally consist of the Gayborhood. The Gayborhood is a concentration of camps with camps like Comfort & Joy Village, Camp Beaverton and others at the nexus.

In the formation of the Gayborhood camps were spread out along the 7:30 corridor which brought trepidation and curiosity to this admin. In fact, the Gayborhood was just as good as ever, but we also had the benefit of being half of the 7:30 Plaza.

This area is the Castro of BRC and provides a valuable channel for queer, questioning and our friends to enjoy the special vibe LGBTQ Burners bring to the event.

The Gayburbs are the camps radiating around the Gayborhood.

There were some really bright stars in all of this:

  • congratulations to Comfort & Joy for their amazing courtyard and Village. The neon flags, glowing flowers and glow in the dark badminton were popular with everyone.
  • big applause for Crisco Disco who really proved to be a community art car; Brian and his crew who really focused on the community he was a part of and made it special for so many people.
  • and to BAAAHS who seemed to have a lot of mobility problems but were big hits on the playa with a sound system that matched or out-classed many other art cars out there.

In spite of being spread out the city the Gayborhood was a win! BloAsis Village dominated their block with one of the best setups I ever saw. The Beavers and Gender Blender were great hosts and their vagina glory hole even made the BRC newspaper. Many others were business as usual with business that is loved by the community.

Official Meet & Greet on Monday

The official Gay meet & greet was sponsored by The Down Low Club and welcomed over 200 people through the evening. It went on 3 hours with visitors from all over the city. They served a playa cosmo and snacks.

Guests included many people from this web site whom I had the pleasure of meeting face to face; some for the first time. We also saw Terry and Chris who built the ‘Time To Burn’ Aps for Android and iPhone. There was Tacoboy, Craig and so many others!

I did speak at this event for the first time and extended my appreciation to so many people the community. I had to thank Catcher and Red (Down Low Club managers) for once again sponsoring this event. I had warm thanks to Kitt, Matty Morin, Blitzy, Foxy, Scott Burdette, Indigo (Russ Smith) and so many more for being a part of the Queer Burner Leadership Network and helping make this project work over the last 5 years.

BRC Gay Pride @ Cargo Cult on Friday

In memory of a lost leader in our community, Mario Cisneros, the parade left The Man at 1pm. We managed to get everyone on wheels either via art car or bicycle which allowed us to take a slightly longer route that included the Gayborhood.

The Gayborhood had never been included in the parade before. It went from The Man, passing Center Camp, a lap around the Gayborhood and then off to the Gayburbs where a party was sponsored by Burner Buddies.

Crisco Disco was the shining gem in the crown of the parade and special thanks to everyone who brought out flags and banners. Though Crisco Disco was the only art car it really delivered. Kai Noble from Comfort & Joy worked the megaphone through the whole route adding to the amazing energy from the people participating.

Cargo Cult

The theme this year was the best in a long time and filled the imagination of so many. The iconography and pageantry was only matched by the hundreds of thousands of people who came to be a part of it. The weather all week long was optimal and there was very little wind. We enjoyed small bouts of rain, but in the end it was rain that chased many off on the last Monday afternoon of the event.

Entrance wait times were marginal for many, but up to 9 hours for some. Exodus seemed to average about 5 hours according to social networks.

Saturday night’s burn was breathtaking and it was a shock for many when a huge wave of large burning pieces and smoke tumbled into the crowd due to wind on the 11 o’clock side of the construct.

Sunday’s temple burn was moved up an hour to let people escape the city earlier because of the pending threat of rain the next day in an effort to minimize the time to get out the gate.

tumblr_msl9q5TBTv1qb4uc7o1_500Wins!

The weather, art cars, amazing art pieces, camps that filled the city even beyond the outer ring and more events that ever to shake a stick at. More people than ever seemed to state quite confidently than I have ever heard that this was their best year ever. The coolest MAN I ever saw.

Losses!

Unspeakable amounts of MOOP and investments in glow sticks. Darktards out the wazoo! Art-cars unwilling to take on passengers for one reason or another… and on the other hand people who think walking in front of an art car to stop it who think that is a wise decision. There were an unspeakable amount of fake entries in the What Where When, too, frustrating many of the city explorers.

Draw!

A disconnected Gayborhood spread through the 7:30 corridor above D street. More newbs than veterans and an uncommon amount of frat boys, tourists and weekend warriors.

It takes all kinds to make Burning Man happen and all the different flavors can be really fun, but this event and lifestyle are nothing like Coachella or EDC and is in danger of becoming all too much as such.

Conclusion

comfort_and_joy mapBest year yet. And what makes me qualified to levy that claim? Just my own experience as well as the general feeling in the air. Those of decades past might say otherwise, because it is not the same Burning Man of the nineties or the eighties. Although there were a lot of people who could not begin to harness the ideals of community and the 10 principles the city was more amazing than ever.

The art was exemplary and fascinating. CORE delivered and their Thursday night burn was pure gobsmack!

In spite of a spread out Gayborhood we were blessed. This year the Gayborhood had art cars, a spectacular nexus provided by Comfort & Joy, and such amazing life represented by Glamcocks and Paradise Motel among others. BloAsis was a new shining star on the 7:30 Strip! Thank you BAAAHS and Crisco Disco for your amazing service to the community.

Burners on the Playa

This site is a resource for Queer Burners (LGBTQ++ which is Radically Inclusive) who want to connect with and hang out with other burners with similar wants and desires. Those needs might be social and/or it might be sexual. Queer Burners have a lot of talented people. We also have a lot of amazing personalities people want to be a part of.

Gayborhood v. Gay Ghetto

The existence of the Gayborhood has been criticized and discussed in past posts. However, BOTH Queer Burner Leadership Summits (2012 and 2013) the attendees have discussed the real value 2013_Final_Web_LGof this part of the city is in it’s safety and familiarity for LGBTQ+ people. This is a place anyone who needs help will find real sanctuary if needed.

The one sad fact about the Gayborhood is how it is often misrepresented by the perception of those who do not participate in it. Or those from within the LGBTQ community who sit on the sidelines like bitchy gossips peering down their nose and refer to it as the Ghetto; not unlike a gay man being called ‘faggot’ on the street. It’s slanderous and mean-spirited.

The Gayborhood this year sits on the 7:30 corridor and is spread out thinner than it has been in recent years. This is both good and bad as it either undermines the sanctity of the space for queer and queer-friendly people or it gives other Queer Camps a chance to fill in the space and make a bolder statement.

LGBTQ Who’s Who at TTITD*

2006 DemographicAt some point (after 2006) Burning Man stopped sharing the actual numbers that were released through the afterburn reports. Assuming that this is a fair representation 22% of the people polled showed how potentially queers were playing a significant role.

In the same year, in a place with some very fluid sexuality, people were asked if they were bi-sexual. 38% of those who answered were vague at best but it further cements in the need for awareness.

Many of us have seen or participated in the census at burning man which can be found in the Center Camp Cafe. There are more questions than you can imagine in it and yet the afterburn reports give us a fraction of the results.

 2006 Bi Sexual? 2006 Straight ? 2006 Gay ? 2007 Gender ?2008gender-jpg 2009 Gender ?married-jpg 2011 Gender at Birth ? 2011 Gender Now ?

Take a look at the above charts from the afterburn reports and see how the data has been portioned out effectively editing out the queer community and focusing on a homogenized and very heterosexual audience. While the data showed in the past 1/5th and potentially more of the burners out there were or are LGBTQ identified or not. The data released spawns more questions.
(*TTITD: That Thing In The Desert aka Burning Man)

Not every rainbow is gay

Before you get confused about the uncommon amount to rainbow flags out there… they don’t all mean what you think. There are 3 rainbow flags out there and if you were unaware they meant something different one might think there were A LOT of Queers on the playa!

3flags

  1. 6 Color Flag: LGBTQS Diversity (gay)
  2. 7 Color Flag: Diversity (gay or not but usually not)
  3. 7 Color PACE Flag: Diversity with ‘Peace’ in Italian on it (same as #2 but pretending to be Italian)

Not that there are a lot of rules about flying these flags but my initial thought was ‘wow, there are a of gay people in these camps’ as if in many cases these were letting others know where we were… not so! But not necessarily not so either.

Maybe this was the same confusion Oscar Remundo (blogger for the Huffington Post) had when he stated in his post that 70% of Burning Man attendees were LGBT. I know I was starting to wonder myself because gay people were everywhere.

Queer Utopia

LGBTQ people have flocked to this culture because of it’s radical inclusion and acceptance of people irregardless of who they were or where they came from; as long as they can afford a $400 ticket and survive in the dirt for 8 days.

Conclusion

The contribution the LGBTQ community offer a lot to the Burning Man experience inside and outside of the trash fence. Our identity as Queer Burners v. just being referred to as Burners is often at question, but to be minimized by BMorg (the Burning Man Organization) or from within by Queer people is a cancer that is not constructive.

Being aware of each other out there strengthens us as a whole not just LGBTQ but also with Burners everywhere.

We celebrate faggotry and all Queer presence on the playa that gains focus in the Gayborhood and radiates outward. The Gayborhood expands and contracts wildly with layers and satellites that bring diversity all over the BRC (Black Rock City).

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