What’s the word?

In my last post I talked about balance. Although I was talking about one person who was posting some very strong opinions on Burners.Me  it has since come to light that this one voice was not alone.  The tone of some blogs has been quite strong while it seems most burners want nothing but happiness and joy.

While even I have been critical in various posts of BMorg (Burning Man Organization) I have always driven myself to see the big picture. That is to say there is never a black and white in burner-land, I have learned there is a lot of gray area.

Burning Man Blogs of Note

There are tons of burning-blogs out there and many are worth following including burners.me but within context. No one wants to listen to someone ranting about the negative.

Here are a few samples of blogs out there:

The Miscreant

Now, the previously mentioned naysayer has also been a friend to the LGBTQ Queer Burner population and posts under the pseudonym M. Otis Beard“Grant Hitchcock” but on his site as “Whatsblem the Pro”; all aka M. Otis Beard and more.

He was recently under attack by prominent members of our community. He earned a few red rashes from people who took exception to his posts (seen on his new blog site www.BurnerNews.com).

Otis was fired from Burners.Me and it ended up a very public mess, but he moved on to other ventures; hence burnernews.com.

Voices

in the end each of the sites listed above carry a different tone and all are worth following. Burners.Me was founded following the ticket fiasco of 2012 and carried a critical torch on BMorg since. The only thing is, even with the dismissal of Whatsblem the Pro (aka Otis) it still carried a negative tone.

BAR (Burn After Reading) has been a generally balanced and positive view into our Burner community.

BurnCast is run by daBomb (her playa name) and features some great coverage of the community.

Conclusion

We all take away from these blogs what works for us. The king of Burner Blogs is the P.R. machine at Burning Man (BMorg) itself.  Take a look at the Burning Blog here.

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.

——————————————————-

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

TTITD –  That Thing In The Desert aka Burning Man

2014 Tickets: a la Burning Man

Let’s be honest, you better start preparing for your upcoming ticket purchase for Burning Man 2014: __ (unnamed entity) ___. The last few years has been absolutely hell with ticket purchasing. Here are a few heads up, a couple gripes, and a hint or two about making it easier to get your tickets.

  • 2011 ticketing sales were pretty much an attempt to keep people from bitching about the on-line purchase system that was cumbersome and made you wait in an online cue for a long time; sometimes loosing your place and being bounced out.
  • 2012 was the year Burning Man lost their damn minds and put in the lottery system that ended up pissing off enough of their core people that the whole paradigm of Burning Man was forced to change.
  1. to their credit they bounced back in the end quite well
  2. to their discredit, the movie SPARK unnecessarily labored the ticket issue
  • 2013 BMorg said… well, fuck you again, and sold almost all their tickets at the higher tier price of $380. with some set aside for low income.

Ticket Sales for 2014

Of course BMorg (Burning Man, LLC or The Burning Man Project or whatever they are calling themselves now) has not announced ticket sales for 2014 yet but you can pretty much bet a few things will happen and you need to start stashing some cash under your mattress now.

  1. Holiday Sales will be at least 25% higher that the highest starting somewhere in the middle of December-ish for about $650./each
  2. 2014 Sales will start around/about January 16th
  3. 2014 Low Income Tickets will start at some point, BUT!!! If you register to buy full priced tickets you will get screwed out of low income.

2014

I think a lot of people would prefer we went back to the old system at this point and maybe people would find less reasons to bitch and kvetch. If that is the price it takes to get tickets and get them with less bullshit attached then please let’s serve it up. Unfortunately that ship has likely sailed and the Burning Man image has shifted along with it to a slow crawl to being a Coachella.

Let’s also hope ticket prices are less like a fisting and more like a happy-ending. Ticket pricing in 2012 and 2013 were just wrong and are only affordable to those who the privileged class. The same people who show up with their plug n’ play camps and roll in with their moving apartments while many of us barely have tents.

We all know that Burning Man was being raped themselves last year with Pershing County trying to gouge the hell out of the organization. Not to mention, we forget sometimes, how many people have their greasy palms out looking for more grease.

2013 Ticket Sales Applied to 2014*

A flat rate of $380. plus handling fees is a lot for some of us and nothing to others. Imagine if that were to go up. Also, educate yourself with the Burning Man Afterburn Reports where they usually divulge the overall cost of running the big show.

There were AT LEAST 69,000 people at the Burn this year excluding some staff.

Say they sold 64,000 tickets at $380.00 each: $24,320,000
Say they sold about 5,000 Low Income tickets at $190.00 each: $950,000
$25,270,000

A full .08% of tickets were made available to low income ticket people. This is excluding tickets gifted to artists, staff and other performers of this, that or another.

It is in all likelihood that Burning Man oversold the event once again. So we can expect to see dents in these numbers anyway… *AND it should be clear that none of these number above are official and are rough; just to show the displaced nature of tickets for high income people versus low income.

The Secret

There is no secret. Many of us need Burning Man to remember that while their incomes are soaring through the roof that many of us that love this community are simply not as flushed with cash. Hopefully the voice of the community will be heard in this case.

  1. Save your pennies now! Create a piggy bank and put some cash in it from each of your paychecks.
  2. Get involved with your regional community because there is a lot of good people, resources and sometimes a budget that will help “do’ers” get there on a more affordable course

Trip Report: SPARK Movie

Yesterday I went to see “SPARK” in San Francisco at the Roxie Theater where it is showing on Saturday and Sunday at 4:30pm.   And, just a recommendation, right around the corner is Puerto Allegre with some seriously good Mexican food!

I cried through half of the movie as I saw an amalgamation of 5 years of my Burning Man experience played out on the screen with footage that went back to 1989. It did gave the sense of a scabs and all view of Burning Man but that was simply not the truth.

The story was amazing. The visuals were inspiring. It was all very touching and a fairly honest expression of Burning Man and the people responsible for it’s existence.

Three people are credited for the first Burn on Baker Beach in 1989: Larry Harvey, Micheal Mikel and John Law. John dropped out of the scene around 1996 and divorced himself from Burning Man for his own reasons while Harvey and Mikel (aka Danger Ranger) continued on with a new cast of crazies that included Harley, Marian, Crimson and others that are all in the movie and credited as “Co-Founders”.

Queers in the Film

There were quite a few Queers in the movie but only 1 talked about his orientation was John La Grace founder of Playa )'( School theme camp. Although this is not a Queer identified camp it gives that deeply help ideology that BMorg seems to continue to perpetuate is that LGBTQ and the rest of the burner community blur together seamlessly.

The Film

This is a fantastic film but it is clearly a tool of BMorg in answer to their ticketing fiasco of 2012. It is an amazing film in spite of that perception. The often staged sessions of angst in boardroom discussions are 2 dimensional based on some of my personal history with some of the people I have known in those meetings.

Fact or Fiction

The movie is amazing. My previous comments should not be taken as a negative reaction to the film, just an observation based on personal experience. My favorite person in the film was Otto Von Danger working on his project from 2012 called “Burn Wall Street”; he gave the most honest portrayal of anyone there.

It has to be seen. This movie should be seen by every Burner. But then again, it was like a trip back to the playa over my lifetime as a Burner. Joy.

Tickets! Christmas Tickets!

You knew it was coming but did you know it was going to be $650.00? That’s right! Higher price for the benefit of having that tickie in your hand. The upside, the money goes to The Burning Man Project… yeah.

From the JRS:

Early-birds can participate in our Holiday Sale, which allows folks to buy tickets in time for holiday gifting. PLEASE NOTE: Holiday Sale tickets are priced dramatically higher than our regular tickets will be and Black Rock City, LLC will donate 3% of the price of each ticket sold during this early Holiday Sale to the Burning Man Project, a new nonprofit dedicated to spreading Burning Man culture around the world. (In addition, Black Rock City, LLC makes other substantial contributions throughout the year to support the Burning Man Project, including contributing the proceeds from fundraising events and many other forms of support.)

So ... here are the details:

- 3000 tickets will be offered at $650 each for the Holiday Sale.
- In order to participate in this sale, you must pre-register at:
http://tickets.burningman.com/registration-holiday2013.html
- Registration is open NOW and will close at noon PST on Wednesday December 19th.
- Those pre-registered will be able to participate in the first-come first-served sale on Thursday December 20th, starting at noon PST.
- You may purchase a maximum of 4 tickets per person.
- These tickets are not eligible for STEP, but are transferable (you are welcome to resell them on your own, if you wish).
- The only payment types accepted are Mastercard or Visa credit cards, or debit cards with either the Visa or Mastercard symbols. If you don't have one of these cards, you will need to obtain a one-time use card.
- Physical tickets will be shipped between June 1 and July 15, unless you opt for pick-up at Will Call in Black Rock City.

(We will not be implementing identity-based ticketing (e.g. name-on-ticket) ... for more information, see this blog post from Larry Harvey: http://blog.burningman.com/?p=23887.)

As always, you can find find full ticket information on http://tickets.burningman.com, and answers to your questions in our Ticketing FAQ (http://tickets2.burningman.com/faq.php) and spiffy new online ticketing forum (http://ticketsupport.burningman.com/home).

How to get a Burning Man ticket

Many of us who have taken very visible positions in the burner community amongst our wonderful queers have been asked on many occasions HOW do I get a Burning Man ticket. “Can you help me get a Burning Man ticket?” The answer is yes.

10 Principles: Start Here

There are tickets available. While either passively with BMorg’s help or through articulation tickets have managed to become available and wanting badly to be in your hands. In just recent weeks people have been offering tickets for community members in need.

Why start with the 10 principles? Well, one of them is very important when it comes to almost anything in the Burner community… it is the one that will slap any Sparkle Pony… spank any tourist… it is Self-Reliance. Not to sound snarky, because I am going to tell you how to get a ticket either free or a reduced cost if not full price, but you have to be a participant.

Participation is 90% of the infrastructure of the Burning Man event and if it were not for it’s volunteers or do’ers there really would be nothing to go to. You have to be a part of something or be a contributor in some way. You have to add to the fruit salad of Burning Man with blood, sweat, tears or whatever your Radical Self-Expression might be. So the answer is be a part of the salad.

Be part of a camp infrastructure, help on an art project, create your own art project, art car, performance… whatever. If you are a part of someone’s collective and get your face involved in a community of people then you suddenly have more eyes looking to help you get that ticket.

The Answer

If you skipped down to this part you are missing the point. Burning Man is not a tourist destination. Although a lot of people have figured out how to go and offer nothing with Plug N’ Play camping, thinking it is just one big party, or having no understanding of the lifestyle many of these people have evolved with.

If you skipped down to this part reconsider if this is what you really want. Burning Man is not a bucket list item. Coming to this event with no expectations… Giving of yourself over to the Black Rock Desert… unconditionally and without any expectation… then you are on the right journey.

Conclusion

Be a part of a community by representing yourself as part of a collective. It might just be 2 people, it could be 120, but add to the fruits salad! (If you don’t get the fruit salad comment please read back). Just being on this web site is not the answer but could simply be the point in which you tie into something through the Groups section or by talking with another member. The answer my friend is simple: pARTticpate.

Report: Burning Man Leadership Summit 2012

The Burning Man Project is the new face of Burning Man as they move into non-profit status and work on expanding their model as a guide for community growth. While Burning Man is growing limbs  the journey and mission for Toaster was to reach to the roots.

Glossary of terms:

The Burning Man Leadership Summit Mar 29-Apr 1

The 3 day plus summit brought 185 representatives from around the world to network and share resources. Everyone was bringing questions about their own projects, regions and Burning Man related plans. Out of the 185 attendees approximately 60 were Regional Contacts and the remaining were various Community Leaders.

Marian Goodell (aka maidMarian) one of the 6 owners of Burning Man today
Marian Goodell (aka MaidMarian) giving the key note Saturday

Regional Contacts are officially placed representatives from Burning Man who are geographically located (in almost all circumstances) and have a couple of ‘jobs’: 1. they help protect the brand and report back to Burning Man when it is being abused. 2. many help build community events and cultivate the relationship between Burners in their area.

Community Leaders are people in the Burner culture who have emerged and are cultivating the community without any official recognition or remuneration.

Neither get paid for what they do and are voluntary roles.

A Distilling of BM’s New Mission

Burning Man has an amazing network and a lot of people within it looking to make things happen. However, the means to achieving these things has changed. Along with the 501(C)(3) status of the new Burning Man, it’s minions are taking their projects in directions with more legal protection and mechanisms to protect assets and resources under various legal entities.

The network is looking to cultivate more community based projects and are looking for ways of embracing more people into the concept laid out in the 10 principles. That means developing community relationships by sharing our culture and we were given a lot of examples of how to do that and what people have done in their communities.

Burning Man still says the future is in their Regionals. This was a word was called into question a lot. For those unaware (as noted in the opening paragraphs) Regional Contacts have an official role in communities. Regionals are also the names of events that have an official recognition from Burning Man that are micro Burning Man events.

Conceptually the word “Regionals” is deceiving only that with term has become deprecated. R.C.’s are conduits for the community up to Burning Man and down to the communities they represent. It also has a sense that is separates THEM from the community on some level. There was a lot of talk about this word and better ways to communicate the mission of people in these positions.

Steven Raspa clearing the air on ticketsAlso, $teven Ra$pa gave us a great example of the ticket crisis with a visual representation showing why Regional Events are getting more and more relevant over the Burning Man Event in August. Showing us eggs (like ovaries) and a field of sperm working their way in the eggs soon displayed signs saying “Full” and “No Vacancy” representing the ticket sale process that sent so many people into a frenzy recently. He colored in the areas surround the eggs describing those as where people need to flow into; the Regional events.

I have attended a lot of the events like: Element-11 in Salt Lake City, Toast for Arizona, Dark Skies for Las Vegas which went away and now has Forgotten City. Transformus in the Carolinas, Lightening in the Bottle and so many more.

“Regional”

The word Regional was was called into question and with the recent invention of the Meta-Regional roles. Meta-Regionals are a layer between the Regional Contacts and BMHQ. Some are geographical and some are specialized in areas like event planning, conflict resolution or other things relevant to helping stitch the R.C. network together.

Start Here

Okay, so maybe you already read all that stuff above with definitions and floating data about some of the workings in Burning Man that I tried to distil as best as I could. The most frequent question I have been asked so far from OUR community is about the tickets.

Frankly, Burning Man makes limited apologies for the ticket situation but looks at it for some results in a couple ways. 1. Lesson learned; they have tried for years to give us a working ticket system and people get pissed off every year anyway. 2. Who knew??? Who knew there would be such a demand for people wanting to actually go to Burning Man and fill those many Bucket Lists. Well, they should have had an idea since there own mailing list is gi-normous. There is a viral video that went out that is believed to have inspired a lot of attention to the event itself.

If you need tickets there are ways to get them still without having to rely on scalpers; for some people. Be a part of the machine. Be a cog in one of the wheels; an art project, theme camp, volunteer… something integral and save your fucking pennies because you have to be prepared to make sure your needs and safety are met out there no matter what!

Ticket Issue: Done –

Personal Safety on the Playa

The 2012 Queer Burner Leadership Summit revealed one major concern that I brought safety to the table in several ways and I made myself heard: Personal Safety. With the expected influx of people not invested in the Burner lifestyle there is a concern that there will be more aggression threatening otherwise very vulnerable people at Burning Man in 2012.

Vulnerable means EVERYONE! Although we talked about women for the most part, we also talked about our drag queens and trans-gendered people.

At Burning Man many of us have come to feel we live in a place called Home. It is a place where we have learned to drop our guard. Our guard, walls, shields, anxiety protect us from the harsh realities of the default world. The dog eat dog of society where live 52 weeks a year versus where we are thinking about gifting and hugging everyone we meet is something very special.

Many of us might be physically vulnerable, but if impaired and unable to protect oneself, it is even more important to rally each other and always travel in groups.

Why this level of concern? And is Burning Man listening to OUR concerns? I brought this to Burning Man as OUR main concern as it was related during the QBLS.

  • I wrote a report on the QBLS that got noticed and started a dialog. On the private Regional Contact list the topic started to get some serious attention but it devolved into something of a joke among the R.C.’s and this was confirmed by a Meta-Regional as well as other R.C.’s who are active on the list.
  • In a main hall discussion I asked about steps Burning Man would take to help assure personal safety. As usual I was shut down very fast by Andie Grace (aka ActionGrl) when she said: “Everyone attending Burning Man is responsible for their own safety“. And there it died for the day on Saturday. In the main hall this was not a place to chose a battle.

Many more Regionals were genuinely concerned about this subject and were shocked that there was a severe enough issue. Females knew there was a problem especially around Critical Tits and have been vocal.

When I spoke up in the main hall I was trying to channel words spoken by Foxy, Shayna and Kitten; they brought the most real light to the discussion during the QBLS.

The Regional Coordinators (BMHQ) have been incredibly resistant to the idea of any official representation for the Queer Burner Community. Frankly, I am not sure we need our own R.C., but when I discover some of the dialog that has taken place away from the community at large I feel deeply troubled about it.

In the end… Yes, we are all responsible for our own safety so we have to work together to make sure we have safety valves in place for ourselves. It made me smile to talk about the Drag Queens, Drag Kings and Bull Horn use employed by some camps as a great way to defuse situations. Humor and being vigilant is the key and we can help each other with that.

Instead of a response that acknowledged the concern or worry that has been echoed by many of the female population out there already the response was very cold and concise. She called me out by my default world name so she knows WHO I am . I AM not anyone special, but I have been a voice for a long time and sometimes the occasional thorn. However, I sincerely wonder if the question had come from any of the heterosexual women in that audience would we have seen the same kind of response either by delivery (tone) or maybe got a bit more consideration. My question was this:

“With the influx of so many people who are not familiar with the Burning Man culture and lifestyle expected at Burning Man in 2012; is there any plan to increase security for personal safety?”

Maybe from that alone you can see WHY I got the answer I did get?I did have a chance to revisit it through various workshops on Sunday and heard from people more one on one but time will tell how it all sorts itself out.

Queer Burners

There was a perception in some cases that the entity Queer Burners itself was our way of being separate from the BRC community. And it is not unnoticed (in perception only!) that it seems like other Burners and BMHQ perceive us as if WE are asking for some kind of special treatment from Burning Man.

Queer Burners the Community and Burning Man

I described QueerBurners.Com (aka gayburners.com) as a social network for burners of a like mind can come together and find resources within the queer culture inside the community of Burning Man. We are a community as much as Oakland is a community as much as Austin, Texas is a community and we seek each other out for safety, for comfort and for support.

In fact, I also described my experience with the Burner Community in Las Vegas as a community that was very well integrated. Queers blended right in with everyone else and it works pretty much that way in almost every community out there; Burner specific. I was very proud to be a leader in that community. But since then I moved to San Francisco and it plays out very differently here.

In the 9 months I have been here the Decompression is where I witnessed groups blending. There was something called Rites of Massive out on Treasure Island where I was happy to see some more sharing of space among people of various origins.

Personal Note: This might be a time to do some reflection and evaluation. For me, Toaster, I have taken my own position on this relationship with BMHQ. My impression and perception is based on some interesting experiences with Marion and Megs while I was being considered for an R.C. role in Vegas last year. It may have tarnished something in my eyes or jaded my faith.

I could easily say… they don’t get it. BUT! I would be partially wrong. Queers in the Burning Man culture have our own unique and applied perspective just like ALL the others; speaking of geographical regions because we are also a part of those. The irony is that this organization came out of the gayest city of the nation and cannot see the unique puzzle piece like us; it’s pink and covered with glitter and feathers.

Not Burning Man’s Fault

With a lot of listening and absorbing we have to fight for our own place in the sun and not look to Burning Man to fertilize that. Communities, camps and other entities in Burning Man are doing it on their own. Maybe this is a case of Burning Man helping those who help themselves.

I have been looking at Burning Man leadership for a sense of acknowledgement and approval and they are looking up higher in their growing tree and so far I (ME) am that termite that passes in their line of site once in a while.

In the opening of this report I said I was reaching in while Burning Man was reaching out to things past me. I am swimming against the current and risked putting everything in jeopardy for this project in spite of what I was building until this weekend.

We have an opportunity here that is being handed to us and it came from this summit with a gold tray beneath it. We have a tool we can all be a part of, build from, and in turn give back to Burning Man in a way that helps their mission and puts our community in a better position.

At the 2012 QBLS one of the agenda items was the Queer Burner Fund, LLC. We make this a reality and take a step back from wearing a Burning Man label like the word “Burners”. We define our own structure and resources that we can use to help each other raise funds, conduct community projects and provide grants to the community. More to come… so watch out for this one!

Conclusion

It was 3 days of recharging. 185 people went to get their kool-aide containers refilled and we heard about HOW the Burning Man Project is taking on a whole new identity. Burning Man, the event in the desert, has manifested into something else.

Burners seem to hate change, but we embrace it once we get past the lumps. WE, as a community, have to unite and grow with the changing face of what we love. WE need to reflect what is going on around us.

It is, at its core, the same thing we grew to love. Yet this monster sheds its skin and hisses once in a while , it bites, but WE (ALL BURNERS irregardless of identity) rally and find strength in what makes some flake away making way for new.

 

Authors note: I am Toaster, aka Scott, and have had a strange upbringing in this community. Once upon a time I was going to be an R.C. in Vegas and had some pretty terrible problems with another R.C. and a Community Leader who was a lot more old school Burner than I, which there is nothing wrong with. We tangled over an issue and both had strong opinions on it and it spilled over into the community of Las Vegas at large. BMHQ came in to actively mediate the issue, but there was a point where they gave up. I was told, you guys need to resolve your own problems. Again, I hated the answer but it was true. Out of that, although it may not sound like it, I came to have some expectations out BMHQ that were completely unrealistic. Never has Radical Self Reliance hit me in the face with more frequency than anything else; you would think I would finally get it. Well, I learned a lot this weekend. I hope you will join me on this journey and take some of the ownership of what this project (Queer Burner Project) is and help make it something more grand.

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