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).

Stay Informed!!!

See the new section in the above menu called “Announces” where I will endeavor to post important announcements and their sources! One of the most important out there is the JRS… see the links below:

  • [BManUpdate] V16:#25:07.20.12 GREENING YOUR BURN‏
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#26:07.24.12 LOCAL TOWNS & RESOURCES‏
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#27:07.27.12 BIKES‏
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#28:08.1.12 TRANSPORTATION & TRAFFIC‏
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#29:08.4.12‏
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#30:08.6.12 LAW ENFORCEMENT
  • A gentle reminder from Comfort & Joy; Kitten
  • E-Mail Announce: Burning Man Placement
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#32:08.11.12 HEALTH & SAFETY‏
  • Post by Catcher from the Down Low Club
  • [BManUpdate] V16:#33:08.15.12 KIDS AT BURNING MAN‏

 

Keeping up with them Burners

The site has been through a lot and it is not done yet. It is vital that this site provide you useful information and help you to be prepared for your burn. Registration was closed for a while because of spamming, but this site gets a lot of attention, so it is bound to attract attention.

Note the new Announces section (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose) where I will repost important information and the source of that info. Things coming from the JRS are vital so grab hold and enjoy the ride.

Events and Stuff

A lot of people have asked, but this is the first year no one has taken it upon themselves to help us compile a list of queer events going on in the BRC. Not to mention camps! Speaking for myself, I have started a full time job and have a relationship that has taken a lot of my time away from the site and I apologize that I have not been able to give my all. If you can help… you can do it. All member can update the calendar on the site with events listed here.

Yes, site registration has been temporarily closed, but almost all resources are here for your immediate access. Use the contact form for any unanswered questions. Or get registed by sending me your name, desired login name, and I will set you up manually.

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.

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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