Mediation and Neighborly Behavior

This has been a topic that has come up quite often in the community lately in many forms. During a meeting last year at the Red Lightening camp hosted by the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers admins and Placement where it was a seriously addressed issue by the head of Placement/DMV “Retro” making it clear that sound in the city limits was being taken seriously.

If you know Red Lightening they are a venue with performances and education series usually positioned on the Esplanade and are a relatively quiet, if not busy, camp with a lot of foot traffic. As we held our meetup at 11pm on a Wednesday night the camp next door started playing death metal and we could barely hear each other talking. In the not so far distance we could hear the Mayan Warrior on it’s way out of the city with the trademark drums beating announcing it’s arrival.

The look on Retro’s face was awestruck but he understood campers point of view, as he and a placer who was with him at the time, explained they were working on creating new policies to address those issues.

Within our Queer Burner community there were some issues as well. The new sound policy felt like it was getting it’s legs in 2015 but already in 2016 we can feel the full force of these new policies. In 2015 BAAAHS was placed at 7 & D kitty corner from Camp Conception which both played amplified music. And across from both was Sun Guardians that holds yoga and meditation classes during the day. As mayor of SG I found both BAAAHS and Camp Conception amiable in helping me limit the amplified sound when I went to talk to them about it for our day-time classes.

Yet other neighbors complained for various reasons, but asking two sound entities placed in the city was like asking a cheetah not to run.

In another case that came up, Disco Château was not placed this year because of a sound battle they had with their neighbors AEZ (Alternative Energy Zone) and possibly others in 2015. Not being good neighbors, especially to a long established camp, earned them a serious black mark from Placement.

We can do better and are working to do better. BAAAHS did everything they could to be compliant and tried to meet the needs of officials who gave them feedback. Disco Château on the other hand had some renegades who really ended up digging a deep hole that pulled a few people down with them; forcing a change in leadership for 2016.

stole this from the Facebook post

Solution

It is not up to us to confront people over issues that cannot be resolved with a polite neighborly discussion. I found our neighbors helpful from my point of view when I explained we needed the volume down between certain hours in the middle of the day which was pretty reasonable.

If you are not getting a response then seek out a Ranger for conflict mediation. Black Rock City Rangers are trained for that very purpose. When these occurrences happen they are being recorded in a blotter that is reported back to Placement and will / could affect your placement in the coming year.

The old fashion term “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is still the standard. The “Fuck yer Burn” mentality of the past is slowly fading out with troll attitudes and crotchety veteran burners giving way to the flood of festival candy ravers who are flooding into the event.

If Rangers in the field cannot help, then go to the closest Ranger station and make a case for some escalated help calmly and probably with a bottle of booze. There is a strong desire to enforce sound policies this year and going forward that will support you. And if you are the one not complying, then you are inviting unwanted attention.

Conclusion

There was a post in the Burning Man Group that inspired today’s posting (link here) that inspored today’s post. The issues discussed with the named camps above were also issues I was mostly directly/indirectly involved with on some level. We need to have an open dialog with camps in violation of policies so they are not surprised with a denial of Placement the following year. While it may be assumed there should be no surprise, camps need feedback! While we have the benefit of the MOOP map for our cleanliness, we really need a report from Placement / Earth Guardians  or others if there are things we need to improve on.

There is a blacklist that exists that camps and participants do not have access to, nor the feedback necessary to make improvements with, that is a one-sided conversation and is hallmark of a very needed transparency with a department that makes huge decisions. Camps are putting out 10 – 20 – 30 thousand dollars a year to help build the city not to mention the price of a ticket only to be blackballed anonymously by a system rigged against its self.

It is an awful thing to consider. But we have learned to take these things in stride so far and move forward with what we can in spite of the odds. Volunteers make up most of the Burning Man troops and we appreciate their amazing work every year for something so many of us really believe is as close to Utopian ideals as we can imagine.

We all can do better with some effort. Be better humans. Be better neighbors. Be better participants. Be more accessible.

URGENT: Changes to the Gayborhood

Placement @ Burning Man wants to hear from the community about the role of the Gayborhood. We need feedback from the community NOW as we are meeting with the BMorg on June 1st. Please complete this Survey Monkey post right away and give us your feedback. [link here to survey – UPDATED]

Some of the collective leaders of queer camps are being asked to communicate with Placement @ Burning Man about the logistics and purpose of The Gayborhood. The Gayborhood has become a huge presence. Now Burning Man is asking us questions about HOW to manage requests to camp in the 7:30 sector and HOW to fit the concept of the Gayborhood into their current policies.

Toaster reached out to some of the most active leaders he knew about creating a survey so we can come to the meeting better prepared with data. What we have surmised from the Queer Burner Leadership Summit discussions is that there are clear and compelling reasons for the gayborhoods that have appeared on playa.

Did you know there are 2 annual Gayborhoods? One is the Gayborhood usually falling in the 7:30 sector most people seem familiar with. Another is the 4:30 and J self placed camps like Burner Buddies and Nacho Daddies that have made that area their own space. In 2010 there was also a Gay Ghetto. (Yes, they called it that) It appeared over on the entire block of 3:00 & C. A group of campers independently made that happen.

[link here to survey – UPDATED

Safe Place: You will see reference to the term “safe place” in the questionnaire. This is not the same things as the project “Safe Place.” Some camps are going to be implementing a project called Safe Place for people under duress to retreat to while at the burn where they can be safe from predators or the effects of “too much.” A meeting about “Safe Place” the project will occur on June 8th if you would like to learn more. [Facebook Event]

The HIVE mind behind the survey includes: Toaster (Sun Guardians / Queer Burners Admin) Foxy (Beaverton / Ranger Torchwood) Cyndi Vee & Ariel (Gender Blender) Terry Grossman (Gaylactic Village / Time to Burn) John Pacheco (GlamCocks) Russ Smith (AstroPups) Ed Edmond (Burner Buddies) and there were others included in the discussion who may or may not have added but were included in the conversation: Yogen Kushi (GlamCocks) Jered Floyd (HIVE Boston) Micheal Cooper (Comfort & Joy) Brian Busta (Comfort & Joy) and Zach Bunker (BloAsis)

 

Queer Camps Directory

The AstroPups in front of BAAAHS 2014
The AstroPups in front of BAAAHS 2014

The Queer Camps list have been updated. With some reservation there are things about it that I struggled with when making it. The camps listed were from any list of any year I made in the past, BUT the landscape changes quite a bit:

  • not all the camps listed identify as queer
  • I know very little about some
  • and some are brand new

check out the new listing here at this link

If you have a camp you would like to have listed please use the contact form. Please include the name of your camp, some details and your social networking links.

2014 Updates

So much is going on and it is hard to keep up with everything. A majority of things seem to get updates on the Facebook over the site. The good thing is that the Facebook Page feed the Twitter which feed to the web site. That’s good news!!

About Facebook

The name of the Facebook Page has changed to reflect the web site. The link to it is still the same, because it is likely linked on more sites than I can count. What was formerly Gay Burners is now Queer Burners at facebook.com/gayburners.

We also have the Facebook Group: called Queer Burners. Seem confusing? Well, it was not meant to go that way, just got twisted a little is all. Facebook policies made this hard to fix.

About the Web Site

With Burning Man a month away there are a lot of updates made. Seems a lot of Queer Camps have appeared out of no where. With the Gayborhood becoming such an attraction in the city it is no shock that we are growing.

If you need anything added to either of these pages add in the comments or use the contact form in the menu bar.

Queer Burner History : 1993 to Present

History is important. Yes, knowing the past and what came before is the launching platform for the future. No, this is not based on Stonewall. No, this is not a freedom march up- Market Street.

No, this is about Burning Man and the queers of Burning Man. Today we have something called the Gayborhood, but how long has that been around?

burningManQBHThis project page so far goes back to 1993, but if you have any more info you can share please let us know. Contact the site admin.

Anyway, check out the article and comment you little hearts out… xo

Gender Blender Starts New Chapter

Nieuwe afbeelding (5)

Dear Beloved Amazing Queer Burner Community:

Here is a special and important update on what’s new for Camp Gender Blender this year! So after 4 fabulous years of partnering with Camp Beaverton, sharing resources, being allies, and combining forces to be CBGB – this year we are doing something different! Leadership of both camps have decided that for the highest good of the missions of both camps, it is best to be separate camps.

We will still be loving allies, we will still help each other out, we will still be family but we will not be camped in the same location and we are separating our resources so that each camp is sustainable on its own. This will give Gender Blender the opportunity to focus on our mission – being a safe place for Trans, Gender Queer, Gender Non-Conforming people, educating, and having fun.

gender-blender-teaser

When Gender Blender first started in 2009 we were our own theme camp. We partnered with Beaverton from 2010-2013 and we are thankful for all the many connections and dreams we built together. Now is our opportunity to once again shine as a solo theme camp and for Beaverton to do the same. We are really excited to take this step forward and to build an awesome, powerful, fun, Gender Blender theme camp! So welcome home to GB – Gender Blender!

GB-Logo

For more information on what we are up to please go to www.genderblenders.org or to get more involved FB message Pink Pants or Cyndi Vee.

x-post: from Comfort & Joy playajoy.org

Toaster: I am not sure who the original author of this is, but sharing the info and linking it back from where I stole it.

Why Burning Man?

Photos by Dot

Going on 27 years, the Burning Man spirit has evolved so much over the years and grew from something quite intimate to a space where one gets lost in a sea of nearly 70,000 people. Yet we Why we do it....still manage to find one another and discover relationships /  friendships that maintenance on social media for 50 weeks a year but shine bright at our annual reunion. In the time we reconnect on the playa it is always fresh and like we were always there.

Why do we do it?

If this is your first year of Burning Man and the culture you are likely that person who is drunk on the kool-aide and carrying the shield of the 10 principles for all 4975816313_2b15a74de8they represent. Many newbs tend to loose some perspective in their early years depending on their adaptation to the culture. We tend to forget there are gray areas around those lines.

Why do we do it? Well, it could be all those sexy people? It could be that kinetic creative force out there that is intoxicating. Is it the drugs? The booze? The hugs? naked people… or maybe a little bit of everything.

All we know that by Labor Day all of us come away from TTITD changed.

History

While we will soon have a whole section on queer-story on QB [dot] Com it is important to reflect on where it came from to where it is in the modern day. There are some great articles out there on the

Larry Harvey - 1986
Larry Harvey – 1986

origin of Burning Man on Baker Beach, San Francisco 27 years ago. What started out with 20 people is hovering around 70,000 people. According to Burning Man’s census now almost a full third of those people are LGBTQ++ (lots of blurry lines out there).

Not bad for an event started by three heterosexual white males brooding over a lost girlfriends and decided to burn a ‘wicker man’ in effigy to drown their woes. What does that have to do with us queers?

sexually-attracted-toAll the Radical this-and-that are something we homos have been doing since the edge of time. It naturally appeals to our basic instincts while hetero men are snicker over putting on their mom’s skirt, we are looking for the right accessories and eye makeup – hunty.

Burning Queers

So when and how did so many queers get involved in this little shin-dig in the desert over all these years? While BMorg (Burning Man’s head quarters) has a lot of utopian ideals when it comes to

Photos by Dot
Photo by Dot

population all fitting together  like some kind of tapestry that tells a profitable story, the reality is that its not all puppies and unicorn farts. Homophobia does exist out there. There are dangers and that brings us to the Gayborhood.

The Gayborhood first evolved as queer camp started coalescing and it created an oasis that became a safety zone for LGBTQ++ members of the community. Safety and familiarity are the corner stones of the Gayborhood.

Do you remember?

There are some famous moment in Burning Man history and some of those have been featured in various video produced over time.

Only the last three were specific to the Queer population. Although some things some people might want to forget they were important growing points in the community.

Impact

The LGBTQ++ part of Burning Man is growing but our impact is sometimes glossed over, but we still take a lot of pride in what our community brings to the event and the culture.

RuPaul and Burning Man

Seeing Queer Burners (meaning the population/membership not the web site) in the media these days has become a common thing. In 2013 we saw 2 movies, tons of art and more. Biggest items out there was Meet the GlamCocks and Meet the Beavers that were both seen at Film Festivals all over the world featuring camps by the same names.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race Premiering Season 6 Jan 14th

172642__santino_lThe web site on logotv.com features the usual stunning goddesses includes the gorgeous Courtney Act (@courtneyact) who has in the past camped with GlamCocks at Burning Man and appears in their movie.

indexIt’s not clear if she was there in 2013 when RuPaul Drag Race and judge on the show Santino Rice made his maiden trip to TTITD. Santino seems to have loved his journey to the flames as noted on his Twitter page (@santinorice).

Do these two have a past together and is it something he would need to recuse himself for this coming season? In just a couple days we are set to find out.

It is exciting to know Santino has set himself to come back for 2014 and maybe he will come and party with in the Gayborhood. Meanwhile. in just a couple days.

Celebrities at Burning Man

There are no shortage of famous people at Burning Man every year. Some have been very open about their participation.

  • Adam Lambert and his fun group….
  • Rosario Dawson and her giant vagina tent
  • Michelle Rodriguez and her fun crew

So many more…. that was just to name a few. Yet, we respect their journey and in the BRC they are just another citizen of the city…

(Note: I did reach out to Courtney and Santino hoping to talk to them and expand on this story more, but with the upcoming show I am sure they were very busy. We wish them the best in the coming year and look forward to their success.)

Critical thinking….

This author has thrown a lot of jabs at BMorg and has lobbed quite a few compliments as well, so I think it has been pretty balanced. Alas, while critical feedback has come right back for a variety of reasons I stood tall with feet planted in the ground defending the ideology behind my Queer Burner projects.

Queer Burners as a Project

It has been 5 years of this project and I am hoping to see it expand in the next 9 months with your help. Along the way, some people in BMorg and some members in the LGBTQ community have seen QB and the existence of the Gayborhood as an idea in opposition to the 10 Principles and Burning Man ideology. Frankly, it seemed like the people making the most noise knew the least about it.

At the 2013 and 2012 Queer Burner Leadership Summits (the first two years of such an event) it was determined that the Gayborhood was an oasis for Queer Burners for several reasons that served a special purpose:

  • Security for LGBTQ people
  • a place to connect easily with other LGBTQ people and their friends
  • and a place for people to explore their boundaries.

With the critical feedback there may have been some truth in the bad information.

  1. The Gayborhood promotes exclusion by keeping people inside the zone or people outside the zone

THIS IS NOT TRUE: or is is in some cases. And it always is ‘some cases’; but that comes down to individual responsibility. I heard about someone in the Comfort & Joy Village  who had a camp responsibility who was so focus on his tasks but forgot to enjoy themselves. Why some people never really leave their camps defies explanation, but it does happen. Is that the fault of the Gayborhood or an individual choice?

Queer Camps Win, Lose, Drawl

While the Gayborhood and camps stretching out from it have created a fantastic space for many years; even longer than I have been a burner, I watched it become and vital and important space over the last 5 years plus. I saw Comfort & Joy as well as Camp Beaverton/Gender Blender be the nexus. They created some amazing energy and it has drawn in so many great camps and parts of their Village.

  • To find out more about LGBTQ Camps at Burning Man see the older Camps Lists and the Groups section here on the site.

While we have had a wonderful variety of camps in the Gayborhood and it is my hope to see more diversity in that moving forward. Some camps have been around a long time and in some cases very comfortable in their identity or schtick as one might say. Along that lines in some cases a reputation earned or not.

GlamCocks

What can I say about this camp is but they have an amazing infrastructure and a presence that just radiates and calls people in. This year a movie came out called Meet glamcocksthe Glamcocks to their credit got them a lot of acclaim and was featured at several film festivals. In 2013 they had an amazing site at Burning Man on the 7:30 Plaza where they would be highly visible.

  • Clicquish, self-absorbed, L.A. and N.Y. attitudes on the playa
  • Twink filled camp, very unfriendly, unwelcoming

While this author visited their camp on several occasions and had similar perceptions, it became clear to me that this really was an amazing camp that did not deserve this easy labels. While these were a lot of young and attractive people in the camp dismissing them on the basis they were bringing the wrong idea to the playa was unfair. Yes, they dance to their own beat and if that makes you feel unsure then find another camp to enjoy.

Another camp that gets some curious dust is Astropups

AstroPups

This is a group that have been on the playa for a long time. AstroPups are also one of few highly structured camps on the playa annually with a very well greased machine 4975816313_2b15a74de8(no pun intended) and infamous shower system. Do they ever leave their own camp?

  • Non-participatory, anti-social, exclusionary
  • Bear body type focused and their friends

While the Pups have an amazing and hard working group of great people, their camp is always open and welcoming to people. They are a little careful who is invited beyond the front because in the last couple years there has been more criticism on their most popular feature: showering with Bears. A group shower that is a lot of fun.Whether they venture beyond their amazing camp is all – again – an individual decision.

Conclusion

Seems like a lot of critical feedback forgets some very special things: the 10 principles. And whatever your radical self expression is it can be less than radical and more chill if that is how you roll. So,

  • let’s stop bashing someone’s vibe because it does not mix with yours and find somewhere that does
  • find the positive nature of your new experience over how theirs is not your groove.

Especially in the case of the Glamcocks above: my initial experience was like a couple people who shared their thoughts but after some reflection I realized that it was more my baggage then the perception. I looked at them again with a visit and saw the absolute beauty in these camps. So drop your baggage at the door and find the positive in your world rather than staying in the negative.

Community Care in the Big Tent

(x-post from Comfort & Joy mailing list)

As many of us prepare to leave for the Playa in a few days, I wanted to bring up a subject that I feel very strongly about —- caring for our community in our big tent (and our camp in general).

We are not anybody’s mothers, but we need to keep in mind that for some of our guests our big tent is a completely new (and hopefully magical) experience. They may NOT be ready/able to fully practice self-care, and may need us to look out for them.

If you see anybody who looks out of it, lost, or freaked out, it is always good to politely ask “are you OK?, “Do you need some water?”, or “Can I help?”. If needed, find out if they are here with friends and get them. If you need to wake somebody up because you think they may be out of it, then do it. If you feel someone needs medical attention, then insist on it. Someone passing out is a medical problem and should be handled (with love and without judgement).

Part of the magic of C&J is our sex-positive energy. This can be abused (especially against people experiencing it for the first time). Excess alcohol/etc can cause people to lose the ability to provide consent. This loss of consent can result in unwanted sexual advances or non-consensual unsafe sex. If something doesn’t look right, you are empowered to step in and investigate. If you feel that someone is out of it and unable to consent then end it. You may make someone unhappy or cause a scene, but this is our camp and we need to care for our guests. If you can’t do this, then find another camp member who can.

I’d love to hear any discussion from others of how to best keep ourselves and our guests safe while we are in Comfort & Joy.

Dot

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