GLC: Gayborhood Broken up?

The Burning Global Leadership Conference (#bmglc2017) (GLC) was last weekend and one question has been on my mind: will Placement be breaking up the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road / Queer Neighborhood? We do not know. But there were people who approached me saying the same thing:

The Rumor Patrol was running around the event and reported:

  • “…there was a placer in one of my sessions who confirmed that the Gayborhood was being broken up”

Burning Man Placement is about to undergo some major changes in that Answergirl is leaving her role as the head of Placement; a role she held for about a year. She has been and acted as a advocate for LGBT needs and the needs of the citizens of our community. On top of that a favorite Placer for Burning Man who had traditionally handled the Gayborhood is leaving Burning Man altogether; Hepkitten is moving on.

When asked for an official statement about the breakup of the Gaybohood; e.g. where Placement is on the issue Answergirl had a very defensive posture and reaction that took me back.  I assured Answergirl I was not an adversary but I should be looked at as a tool for communicating to the community as a whole.

Per Answergirl: (paraphrased quotes)

  • we have 350 applications for a space that holds 250
  • the theme camp application form is still open we do not know how many are asking
  • we included a part of the form about lgbt allies and will group people accordingly…

Burning Man’s official position from Answergirl is that they try and meet everyones needs in the scope of the application process. They do their best to meet everyone’s needs. There is no official Gayborhood to consider breaking up, because it is not officially recognized. So, asking if Placement is breaking up the Gayborhood is not the right question.

All that is certainly true within the scope of how Burning Man looks at it’s community and placement. Queer camps are not acknowledged differently than non-queer camps.  The Gayborhood has existed since the late 1990’s and has only come together because of the way people filled out their applications and with some support with placers like Hepkitten.

How do we keep the BMorg from dividing us? Do we care if they do. It is my opinion that placement in 2016 did splatter us on the map. With the shooting at the Pulse night Club in June 2016 was the idea to break things up pushed back?

And what about safety for vulnerable LGBT burners on playa? Check out that information and more on this page under the tag: #controversy

Answergirl went on to say in a way that was heartfelt, that it breaks her heart to know that some people go to Burning Man who do not feel safe there. It is not just LGBT people who struggle with safety, but a lot of women and other ethnic people in a world dominated by:

  • straight, white, (mostly) male entitlement and
  • an upsurge in tourist and festival goers (See Burn.Life article)
  • a steady loss of burners bringing the burner ethos & life style

The answer is… we don’t know. Answergirl had no answer other than a few bullet points on official policy but would not say there is any plan officially. Bravo Placer is likely to be her replacement and though we met him at the May 2016 meeting with Queer Camp leaders, we really do not know him. No matter what, I think we can be best to be prepared for something different in 2017. One thing I know is for certain, we have people who know how to roll with the punches and bounce back strong.

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