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.

————————————————

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

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.

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).

Queer and Burning Man

We have been fighting a battle that may have reared it’s ugly head in 2001 when a protest over a Jiffy Lube sign on the playa caused an uproar on the playa. Even Larry Harvey had to go speak at this protest on the playa… that is a little burner history.

Burning Man Organization (BMorg)

Burning Man has changed a lot over the last couple years as they transition to a non-profit and less about running a giant festival in  the desert. Yes, I called it a festival. That Thing in the Desert (TTITD) reels when called a festival. By virtue of existence of the Gayborhood we have been accused of being divisive; in the sense that we are keeping people out and keeping people in.

tumblr_mekr8bs8221qfld0uo1_500

I got word about this last year from the home office. We are not affiliated with BMorg (Burning Man or the Burning Man Project), but in the 2013 Queer Burner Leadership Summit we attacked this question directly. Were we acting against the principles of Burning Man by creating this neighborhood that seemed to cater to a specific demographic of the experience? Collectively and through a great deal of discussion we determined the answer was a resounding “no”.

We have multiple events inviting people in to participate in this amazing community.

  • The Gaybohood has 2 stops on the Naked Pup Crawl.
  • Camp Beaverton: Workshops for everyone
  • Comfort & Joy: Fantastic workshops and shared space
  • Celestial Bodies: a hub of the playa with Playa Cosmos
  • AstroPups: Naked Showers
  • Camp Conception & GlamCocks: Amazing parties

We are looked at as being exclusionary. We are looked at as being divisive. We are simply misunderstood. While Burning Man wants it’s citizens to be integrated, the level of homophobia at Burning Man and in the community is always surprising to people exposed to it.

BMorg members and leadership camp in an area called First Camp which is positioned just outside center camp. They actually have a wall around their camp. Anyone can walk in and engage people but how many feel welcome?

Visitors stream into the Gayborhood sometimes aware of the principle demographic or not. They run through the silver streamers in front of Comfort & Joy or just enjoy the art and welcoming, open spaces of our community.

The Gayborhood

We went through a lot this year. We had some people within the LGBT community attempt to tear us down from within and we had people looking in from outside making huge assumptions about what this neighborhood represents.

Our leadership has converged and came to a conclusion; we are here and we are queer. We provide to the Burner Community and we have a neighborhood that is a community in every sense of the word. We provide a safe island for some who stay a long while or just a quick visit.

This rich space is filled with art, faeries, sex positive support and expression and so much love it is hard to fathom. We are always welcoming and we are always giving back.

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).

X-Post from Gay Burners Facebook

(This is a repost from the Gay Burners page on Facebook. It, according to Facebook, was seen by 261 people as of this x-post and almost no one made comments on the content of it.)

With all the fun stuff there is some serious things too. We take the good and the bad and we deal with it as a community. Never be afraid of offering critical feedback. And if you have suggestions please feel free to share them. Even when a subject makes a person feel uncomfortable it is still important to deal with them. If you have something to add then pARTticpate with immediacy and do it… this project Gay Burners / Queer Burners / Quire is a community driven series of projects.

This is Scott aka Toaster writing after the last 2 posts. Some members of the community have been critical about some of my postings in the past as having been too controversial. The phrase “…more flies with honey” has been thrown around a lot.

Truth is I have struggled a lot with the comments made to me by Andie Grace in the main hall during the Burning Man Regioanal Conference that I attended for the 2nd year in a row in 2012.

Now I see these posts about rape while on the other hand the Placement team did such an amazing job helping build the Gayborhood; and from that came the Gayburbs (see trip report on queerburners.com for details on that).

I read the @Burners.Me article as soon as it came out and let it flow around in my head until I saw the Huffington Post’s article. Even then I held my tongue because I started to realize on Thursday night with a group of Burners that I am invested in this culture very differently than many of my fellow burners.

I see us as being not unlike a congressional district desperately in need to a voice and I think I was trying to be that voice. I have, from the heart, taken on some ugly tasks in this culture where I believed strongly that the 10 Principles were being violated by people who were charged to enforce them. I also took on a Burning Man representative and his partner who were actively attacking specifically female members of the community and ended up landing on my face. I have taken on battles against some great people in this community in leadership positions with a hell of a lot more influence than I and have been knocked down again and again.

Andie Grace aka ActionGirlWhen I stood up at the Leadership Conference for Burning Man Regionals and spoke out I realized I just took another grenade thrown by the Regional Network; specifically Andie Grace. I was at the front of another losing battle when I talked about the concerns that were addressed at the Queer Burner Leadership Summit 2 weeks before.

When I asked for other representatives from the Queer Burner community to come with me to the Regional Leadership Conference the Regional Office said “no”. I was fortunate to attend, but this office in particular ( that includes Megs, Andie Grace [formerly] and Marian Goodell [one of the 6 owners of Burning Man, Director of Communications, and Board Member of the Burning Man Project]) has been highly resistant to giving us an official voice even though we make up a huge part of their census.

There is a flaw in my argument though! When I say we should have a Regional Contact (or 2 or 3) for LGBT people I am not unaware that Radical Inclusion is not part of our community.

My home community, the regional community I was once a part of before moving to San Francisco was Las Vegas and they were so loving and inclusive generally speaking. There was no need, in my opinion, for a separate Regional Contact in my mind back then.

Yet, as I became more involved in the landscape of this culture and invested myself to an “all-in” position I see where this is actually important. We are a community in a community.

When I asked the Regional Network team about this I was dismissed. I was told the BDSM community asked for their own regional, too, where would it stop? Again, the LGBT community was dismissed as if we were part of some chosen quirky lifestyle making unreasonable demands. Yet, 2nd Life (a computer game) has its own freaking regional?

There are Regional Contacts out there who have done NOTHING for the community in years but still hold on to this title for their free ticket to Burning Man each year (a reward for all their work). We do have queer Regional Contacts and I met a lot of them this year; but who are they representing?

Yes, they have a voice for Queer subjects but who is watching out for the LGBT part of burning man. Imagine when Jiffy Lube was being told they had to relocate (way back when) if there was a buffer between them and Larry Harvey… have you seen the videos?

Note to beat a dead horse, but there are some serious disconnects at BMorg and I am personally trying very hard to make this project be a positive representation of what we are bring to the playa and the default world every day.

My personal investment is a little OCD compared to others I see around me. At our San Francisco meet & greet Thursday night I looked around at the people around me. I saw in them a deep commitment to this life. I saw how different it was from mine; NOT THAT MINE IS BETTER! I am saying mine is a little too much sometimes. The issues I bare might not be mine to carry, but I try to do it to make things better for us all and better networked so we queers can help each other with our projects and other functions inside and outside the trash fence.

So with respect and love I invite critical feedback. Don’t shove daisies up my ass and pretend everything is lovely… some have. We need to be able to talk about things and your involvement at the next Queer Burner Leadership Summit in the beginning of 2013 will be invaluable.

Welcome to the Default World

Fertility 2.0 is now at an end and a new year begins marching toward August 25th, 2013 with a yet to be themed event (to be announced this Fall according to the JRS). Last time Larry had to take some time to name the theme he came up with this unimaginable Fertility thing. Five or six years before this the theme was announced after the man burned through BMIR radio.

For some of us, myself included, September always was the beginning of a new chapter. Maybe it was because when I was a kid typically the new school year started? Effectively, there has been a succession of changes that happen to me and the world about this time of the year and though it really has nothing to do with Burning Man specifically it is a nice punctuation culminating with the temple burn.

All members are encouraged to share their stories and experiences. The trip report will be published here soon, so look forward to some of those exciting details.

10,000 more souls

The more the merrier? With the (oh not so long ago) shit storm with the ticketing situation many disenfranchised and sad-sallie burners could never have imagined any hope of recovery. The mud on BMorgs face could have been a cleanse?

Many of us were pissed off. Many of us saw the lottery for the flaws the minute it was announced. What if it was a success, then who would be wearing the face-mask? Well, it wasn’t and according to a press release a lot of tickets went to people who never participated in the Burning Man experience before. It was estimated to be 70% (yes for real) people who never looked at the 10 principles before.

The Canvas

The fabric of the burner community has been changed, perhaps ripped away, then made into something new. Not only is this the year that Burning Man, LLC became The Burning Man Project 501(c)(3), but the participants who buy tickets also changed. There will be tens-of-thousands of new heart beats out there with new points of view and new expectations.

the future of burning man?

Thankfully before the last 10 to 20 thousand tickets went on sale BMorg (Burning Man Organization) took a step back and setup a system where people had the pleasure of buying Tier 4 tickets for $390/bux each instead of a real chance at getting anything less. Fortunately, some of those tickets also went to help low-income applicants.

So, on the chess board that was the ticket shit storm BMorg made some headway.

Camps were portioned allotments with the ability to purchase for their encampments. Tickets went to Art Cars, Artists and finally moving in the direction they needed to be.

Newbie Orientation

There was a huge emphasis on how we as a community do several things. One of the most important was another new word in the Burner Community: Enculturation. Even at the Leadership Summit in March 2012 that hosted in San Francisco and attracted leaders from all over the world, there was a strong emphasis on this.

Queer camps like Comfort & Joy, Camp Beaverton, and Astro Pups have all embraced this concept in different ways.

The goal is to get  new attendees to embrace the 10 principles and  make their participation meaningful without destroying those already entrenched in the life. This means much more than a party or festival. This is more than a bucket list item. But, for many that is all it will ever be.

10,000 More People

Yes, there will be close to 65,000 people out there this year than last year; more than 10,000 additional souls with a prediction for another 10,000 in 2013. The ticket screw ups earlier in the year aside, there is a flushing out as it were, and change is forced upon us.

Not many burners are really welcoming of “change” in spite of the hippy attitude projected on burner activity. Burners and Burner Leadership have to set the example.

We have no choice. We embrace and move forward. We saw the BLM bring sanctions with a deep inhale and the exhale follows an announcement of 10,000 more souls.

With that comes responsibility, too. For US who need to embrace change and for THEM whom we hope to enculturate. It will hopefully culminate in WE in the light of the temple burn. The 10 principles are the biggest key we can hand over to a new generation or a new breed of burners. But this thing, by Larry Harvey and his cavalcade of 5, is/was something very meaningful and the fear is that it will be lost…. or changed.

Change is… inevitable.

Response to Burners.Me Article

When working on building something with passion and meaning behind it, there is likely to be no shortage of detractors. The win is when there are cheerleaders out there too. This thing that is QueerBurners.Com, what could be Quire, or become a voice in the Burning Man regional construct, these are all things very foreign to some members.

My name is Scott aka Toaster and I started Queer Burners, once known as Gay Burners, with a desire to create a place for LGBT+ men, women and various transitions to connect. I believe we have a unique spin to this lifestyle under the 10 principles that offers something special to the community as a whole. It was never meant to be political or divisive. It is growing and maturing. I hope Quire will elevate it to the next level.

A couple of times people have posted on Facebook, told me in person, and complained on ePlaya that there could be no reason for a site like Queer Burners dot Com. Hundreds and thousands of people say otherwise based on membership and guests visiting the site.

BMorg has been supportive of this site on some level. Partially by letting it exist. Partially by donating a lot of take-aways for the QBLS. On a couple of occasions with posts in the JRS.

One of my mistakes in the evolution of QueerBurners [dot] Com and the projects I have undertaken since joining the burner community in 2008 is that I have looked to BMorg for approval. Sort of like an unconfident child seeking a parents support. It never came and often that parent was too busy to acknowledge. But there were times when there was something of a relationship there. Before moving to San Francisco.

QueerBurners [dot] Com will do everything it can to be supportive of BMorg and the mission of Burning Man under the gray lines of the 10 Principles. Although not acknowledged officially, not disavowed, we have enjoyed a nice and almost polite coexistence.

Burners.Me

An article posted May 4/2012 on www.burners.me used a lot of quotes from this site extended from the Burning Man Leadership Summit. Turns out another attendee posted very similar comments that were also included in the article. Combined they were highly critical of BMorg in their response to safety concerns expressed at the Summit. Although the issue was rather poorly answered on Saturday (dismissively so) the conversation continued through Sunday at the Summit.

3 queer R.C.’s had very different points of view about QueerBurners [dot] Com but all were supportive in general. I listened carefully to all the feedback. There was a lot of shock and surprise that there were these kinds of concerns; even though women have been issuing these same concerns about aggressive male behavior before we spoke up.

There should be no mistake that the words shared on Burners.Me are those of myself (Toaster aka Scott), but I do not want to make good things happen by being a bully. The words expressed were real and came from those who attended the QBLS. Those words were my mission when attending the BMLS. I wrote them, but tried to convey a message, one that I hoped would make something positive happen.

The fact people are talking about it is a win. The fact that some R.C.’s have made a joke out of those concerns is a concern which makes the Burners.Me article very pointed. But we want BMorg as a partner. Even as BMorg crumbles from a series of mistakes in 2012 damaging it’s relationship with its own community and it turned a blind-ear to the concerns we still stand strong to carry the message of the 10 principles bravely forward because they do really mean something and work.

The path of least resistance

Any sense of drama or discourse seems to send a lot of Burners packing. Many will quickly put their hands over their eyes, ears and whatever protects the rosy image of the perfect Burner world. Many employ a tactic openly discussed called “Shunning” to shut the voice of discourse down rather than take any critical feedback. The path of least resistance is to deflect it or ignore it.

We have a challenge right now to be the best we can. I was forced to acknowledge the dismissive comment by Andie Grace that: Burning Man attendees are responsible for their own safety … Yes we are. Radical Self-Reliance is a major principle we live by. But by some estimations 70% of the people attending Burning Man in 2012 have never participated or understand the 10 principles.

I am not an advocate of more L.E. or BLM! But if Burning Man is not going to acknowledge the danger, we have to create something within our community that makes us more aware and less vulnerable in Black Rock City. In the end we, in our regional and social communities, have to be much more security conscience this year. More so than ever before.

Bottom line… QueerBurners [dot] Com and Quire is not here for politics or to battle BMorg. We are here to be a community center point to help network people. Find Queer camps, Queer resources or more. Some of our members are not interested in politics or to see any official representation with Burning Man… they just want to have fun and look at cool stuff. You still have that… some people will be organizers while some will be the participants/partiers or whatever… enjoy that. If that is your groove then be groovy, baby.

Conclusion

The article by Burners.Me was very unnerving as I read it because it was the sharpest points of a conversation splayed out and they sounded like a lot of frustration. While there is some frustration from someone like me who has put himself into the line of fire. I cannot help but feel like Don Quixote when looking to Burning Man for any real acknowledgement.

I suggested it was time for queer Regional Contacts representing the Queer Community of Black Rock City and beyond, but there was no real support. But, who is out there taking our issues seriously? We have friends in BMorg and there are some amazing people there, but the Regional team who should be listening is not. When our concerns are treated like a joke on their private boards there is something wrong. When I ask about safety I am dismissed – there is something wrong.

The dialog is still going on and all we can do is see where it goes. Burning Man is not Burning Man anymore, they are the Burning Man Project. The ticket disaster is still a shit storm. And now the BLM sanctions against Burning Man for their attendance issues last year are causing havoc. It really is a year of evolution for Burning Man… certainly Fertility 2.0 can have a deeper meaning in the end. Will the Queer community have a voice? Time will tell…

 

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