2015 Burning Man: Global Leadership Conference

The Burning Man Global Leadership Conference happened again this year and Toaster went representing QueerBurners.Com. There were a lot of other LGBTQ++ burners there working the event as well as participating.

Toaster, Jim Taflinger the Georgia Regional, and Bobby (aka Poohbear) from the New York Community
Toaster, Jim Taflinger the Georgia Regional, and Bobby (aka Poohbear) from the New York Community

The 9th Annual Global Leadership Conference runs Thursday, April 9th through Sunday, April 12th, 2015. Each day will be action-packed with incredible workshops, presentations, and fun gatherings. The 2015 Burning Man Global Leadership Conference will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. The conference theme is “The Next Creative Renaissance: Buildin’ it up, Bustin’ it Out, and Bringin’ it Home” aimed at inspiring civic engagement through art and community. We want participants to return home full of ideas about how to make a meaningful impact in their hometowns, cities, and regions. Featured speakers and programming will address and explore activating and nurturing Burning Man culture and communities across the world.

– taken from the conference web site page

There were queer burner leaders in attendance, but only one wore the badge that said “QueerBurners.Com” LGBT Burners; that was your very own Toaster.

Scope

This was a weekend full of amazing dialog and communication building for the “Carnival of Mirrors” event, but the scope of the Leadership Conference is developing community and the Burning Man ideology (brand, projects and identity protection). One thing is definitely sure, what Burning Man IS has changed. The up and coming leaders (in the community, not necessarily employees) have changed.

Burning Man is a business and the many limbs of Burning Man are wrapping around themselves building a stronger core by collapsing those ancillary entities into the whole. In recent months: the Black Rock Arts Foundation and Burners Without Borders are now internal elements of the Burning Man Project instead of satellites. Those employees are now Burning Man employees and they now have the resources that Burning Man has developed as well as the influence.

Politics and Wrangling Not Your Thing?

This ‘thing’ has grown and is still growing. Burning Man is not just Burning Man (in the desert) anymore. It is a corporation that works hard to maintain it’s identity. It seems to work hard from being too mega and from being marginalized.

  1. It fights to maintain representation of the 10 Principles and the gray area surrounding them while increasing its ability to give the people who are a part of the culture a chance to really have a piece through community effort.
  2. It also fights to be seen as something more than a rave-like festival in the deep Nevada desert filled with cracked out naked hippies.

Burning Man is in that wide field in-between all that. While this is all an opinion being shared here as a participant, it became clear to me that some of the ugly parts of Burning Man are being matured away from by a generation that does not accept the snark, sexually aggressive, community destructive ideas. But at the same time while the community as a whole is growing into new shoes the struggle to really maintain the 10 Principles every day has also been a struggle.

10 Principles

See the 10 Principles here… CLICK. One of the questions that came up was: What is Radical Inclusion … Really? Here are two scenarios:

  • Creepy individual in camp stalking or pushing themselves on other members of the camp; does this person have the right to be a part of the camp under the Radical Inclusion umbrella or not? Most say no, but those that do not have to deal with the consequences say maybe or yes.
  • A camp of people with a certain “body type” or an “aesthetic” with an age limit or gender requirement is approached by someone that does not meet that standard; do they have the right to say no? Many would say no, but we have the right to choose who we camp with. The value of that individual is not known until we get to know that person.

Both these were discussed at the summit and in one case a unsolicited comment was made by one of the Gayborhood camps in a session of leaders. Most had never heard of the camp before, but as a member of the community behind this camp I was stunned and reeled.

the 11th Principle

There was a lot of talk about an eleventh principle. Seems like communities all over have developed something with the word “radical” put in front of it and found meaning with it. Among them, for a long while anyway, was the word Gratitude.

  • Radical Vulnerability: among leaders needing permission to look for a support team/system when working/building/launching events.

(See our post on this that started this conversation at the GLC: CLICK)

Conclusion

BMGLS2015 attendeesAll those leaders who went to this event (400 of them) should be bringing these tools back to their communities. It should be a trickle down idea and it will hopefully see some people be inspired and step up to help make leadership better. To all Queer Burners… I give this site to you. I present this whole project to you. Only you can take the baton and raise the bar for the future and yourselves and your communities.

Web Site Updates

There have been a lot of changes to the web site and there is still more editing to happen. A lot of information has been consolidated that was getting kinda old and some of the more current topics made more clear. With Spring Break and other cool things happening on the horizon it’s time to get those ducks in order.

The fund raising campaign was successful in that it gave me (Toaster) enough money to help out with some of the web site upgrades. While they cost a little more than we got in, it will all balance out in the end.

Spring Break is the major news item as ticket sales launch later this week from the web site. All access will be made from the site for ticket sales. There will be limited sales (if any) from the front gate. We expect to sell out.

Launched!!!! A Campaign…

indiegogo_square_logo_color_print_black_vWell, there ya go. Our fund raising campaign for 2015 launched this morning and we are asking burners all over the place to help us out. The goals is to make this project more but setting the bar higher and creating new means of developing community.

Relative nature of the Gayborhood and the people in it.
Relative nature of the Gayborhood
and the people in it.

We are not looking to segregate our LGBTQ++ participants, but help make the world we walk in and network through a little stronger. By upgrading the web site (the small potatoes) and making the Leadership Summit stronger, then a camp out for Queer Burners, it is a way of massing and further forging our community.

Another important factor by Toaster and some of the other Admins is the security and safety of the Gayborhood. How this manifests is still in the air, but the ultimate pass/fail this year is going to be who steps up. Who steps up to make this project a success. Who steps up to make a better stronger project?

Toaster: I am willing to foster and stand behind someone/people willing to work for the goodness of the community with the mindfulness of LGBTQ issues; which the Borg is not. When it comes to issues around Women and Queers in the community the Borg has a history of turning a blind eye until 2013-2014 when somehow along the way they started paying attention. Nothing changed much, but this project has hopefully been an answer to that on some levels.

Is Burning Man getting too Gay?

Burning Man Gay Pride

The message that Burning Man started off with, the 10 Principles, are the same thing the LGBTQ community has sought from the world at-large as long as many of us have been alive. When a group of San Francisco based hippies are screaming it we believe it because the bay area has been the voice of independence and personal liberties for many years. But since June 28, 1969 we started fighting back for it. The messages attracting queers is:

  1. 08282012_burn-303Everyone is welcome
  2. No money needed, give from the heart expect nothing back
  3. Let’s get rid of the corporate bullshit
  4. Stand strong on your own
  5. Express yourself freely and honestly
  6. Stand strong on your own but a community is stronger
  7. Your community is stronger when it is responsible to itself and the environment
  8. Keep our world clean
  9. Get involved and no sitting on the sidelines
  10. …and act. Act now. Act up.

While these are interpretations of the official 10 Principles from the Burning Man web site the words are the dream of many LGBTQ++.

Demographics

See the data for 2013 and 2014 where we can clearly see a surge in fluid sexuality out numbering the self identifying heterosexual attendees.

“The largest percentages for the overall, male, and female samplings represented heterosexual Burners, however, for the group identifying as fluid/neither gender, only 17% of them chose heterosexual as their orientation. The overall data depicts the Playa as a largely hetero, but bicurious environment. The same was true for females Burners. However, the male population was largely hetero with the second-most reported orientation as gay, while the fluid/neither Burners were mostly bisexual and refused labels”. [quote]

The 2014 data was presented in much more detail than in previous years and put the details in a well written presentation. #demographics

The Gayborhood

3This space along the 7:30 corridor since 2013 is an attraction at Burning Man and an impact on the event itself. There has been a lot of information posted over the years under the category #gayborhood. It is huge! It’s a huge leap from the beginnings back in the late 90’s detailed here and on the Mudskippers web site.

What people are saying…

While the culture of Burning Man is that all their kids should be able to play nicely in the same sandbox many of us know homophobia on the playa in spite of the glitter in our eyes. But we have a huge gulf between ourselves and how we approach the culture we are a part of. While snarky queers look down their nose at the Gayborhood there are still others exploring it for the first time even with a lot of playa time behind them.

Burning Man is not a gay event. No, it is not. There is an undeniable effect on identity and orientation as people selectively explore the boundaries of their sexuality at the burn. There are more and more stories of gay men having self-identified straight boyfriends while out there.

While the diversity in our approach to our sexual orientation, lives and sexual identity are as diverse as our heterosexual community, snark and

all, tearing ourselves down or putting others down for who they are – is self destruction.

Burning Man Gay Pride

Conclusion

The demographics from Burning Man are amazing. We are a strong presence and more than what the census says. One simply cannot turn around without running into people who would be under the LGBTQ banner whether they accept the label or not.

QB Leadership

Our community is expansive. We are part of the Burning Man community and by the latest numbers it appears to be somewhere around 66,000 people who show up in the desert and up to 200,000 around the world.

Where does leadership come into play with these numbers

  1. The Borg : The Burning Man Organization who are based out of San Francisco
    There is an annual event called the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference / Regional Contact Conference that focuses on major projects and community leaders.
  2. Regional Contacts : R.C.’s are official representatives of Burning Man who are volunteers who help guide communities all over the world and help protect the brand.
  3. Community Leaders : also voluntary roles where people take on various Burning Man related projects that are on all kinds of scales. They often are a source of leadership for groups.
  4. Camp / Project / Art Leaders : often involved in smaller groups but are engaged on some level with any of the above.

Queer Burner Leadership

There is no one in charge of anything related to the Queer Burner Community. The work through the Queer Burners pages is also voluntary and many of the people who are self identifies leaders in the LGBTQ Burning Man scene have also gone to the Global Leadership Conference in order to better engage our community.

Since 2012 (3 years) Queer Burners host Toaster has held a leadership conference in San Francisco. The Queer Burner Leadership Network operates under handle Quire : Queer and Fire. We have had great success at these events and hope to see them continue in whatever form they take in the future.

Who’s Who in Queer Burner Realness

Several people have been very responsible for helping make this successful. We have leadership throughout the LBGTQ who have great successes in their own areas but occasionally amazing people reach out past that.

Mario CisnerosA personal note from Toaster: While I have many people to thank it cannot go without mentioning Mario Cisneros of Moonbow camp who left us in 2012. He called me on the phone days before he left the earth and gave me the most amazing pep-talk.

He started the Gay Pride parade at Burning Man and was the host of the Offcial Queer Burner Meet & Greet which I took over for now at least until the mantel is taken over by someone else.

Kitten CaffeeOne of the earliest people on the queer burner train was Kitten from Comfort & Joy. He has been a fantastic ally in many of the projects initiated by this group.

08282012_burn-3033 of the Mayors of Camp Beaverton have also been fantastic partners in this process and that includes Bucket, Foxy and Glo. It was hard getting in and meeting this amazing group of people but what fantastic people.

Scott BeardetteScott Beardette from camp Conception has also been a huge asset and partner over the years. His ability to network, troubleshoot and respond to community issues is amazing.

1959620_614030481983786_1056781635_nCyndi Vee and Pink Pants from Gender Blender have been  rock stars in this community. Running the largest trans/fluid sexual identity camp at Burning Man. Not only that, has really brought it to San Francisco Decom and have been a great ambassadors for Trans issues in our culture.

A lot of thanks and love out to many many others as well. Catcher and Red from the Down Low Club have allowed us to host the Official Meet & Greet at the Down Low Club the last 3 years and were strategic partners with Mario too.

Ranger Sirius from BloAsis who has been a great asset to the community and has also been helping Toaster on some additional projects beyond the QB banner.

manAndEdAnd Ed Edmond and all his amazing people out of Burner Buddies who have also hosted the after party for the Gay Pride parade for… more years than I can count. The also hand out the official Gay Cards!

It is more than a handful of people. Because voices make up a chorus and that is what Quire is all about either directly or indirectly. Kelly Kidd from Mudskippers, Matty from Yes,Please, Tom and Matt from Camp Stella, Turtle from Coffee Camp and more more more.

When Brian from Crisco Disco, Chickpea – Cody – Blitzy – Coop – Poohbear … oh so many from Comfort & Joy … all these people are more engage they are bringing something amazing.

So what about it?

The people talked about here have been real givers. They believe in this community and are engaged and always willing to give to their communities; not just queer burners but their regional and social communities.

THANK YOU!!!

2014 Census Results

2013 Census Results
2013 Census Results

In the 2013 post census report there was a radically different report when it came to LGBTQ++ people who attended Burning Man. It was more detailed than previous years, but one of the most notable factors was that queer presence was growing.

Not everyone wants to be associated with the gayborhood. In fact, there are a number of active Burning Man participants that do not even know the gayborhood exists.

  • there are queers who actively see out the Gayborhood and seldom venture beyond it for a variety of reasons.
  • there are queer / questioning that float in and out of the Gayborhhood to tap into that energy to get-off or just touch base
  • there are some that are just seeing it for their first time and may or may not come back
  • and there are some who call it the Gay Ghetto and dismiss the validity of the Gayborhood for all it is without rhyme or reason….

The gayborhood has, however, become an attraction at the burn. The carnival like, high visibility, feature inclusive has blossomed especially since 2012. Since the Gayborhood migrated into the 7:30 corridor we have been given a chance to really show our talent!

Below is a copy of the census report re:LGBTQ : to read the whole report click here.

Identity: LGBT

Black Rock City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Burners are 15.4% of the overall population, but that data alone cannot paint the wider panorama that is gender and sexual orientation on the Playa. Remember as you review the information that both gender and LGBT status is self identified, and that these questions were asked of all Burners, not just the subsection of those identifying as LGBT.

LGBT
Of all females, 15.6% identified as LGBT, compared to 14.1% of males.

Of Burners who listed their gender as “fluid or neither,” 61.7% identified as LGBT.

Another Census question asked about sexual orientation, with options wider than just “gay, straight, or bi*.”

LGBTorientation

The largest percentages for the overall, male, and female samplings represented heterosexual Burners, however, for the group identifying as fluid/neither gender, only 17% of them chose heterosexual as their orientation. The overall data depicts the Playa as a largely hetero, but bicurious environment. The same was true for females Burners. However, the male population was largely hetero with the second-most reported orientation as gay, while the fluid/neither Burners were mostly bisexual and refused labels.

LGBTcomparison.update
If you compare Black Rock City to these cities in the United States, it is most similar to the urban areas of San Francisco or Seattle, which is representative of where many Burners come from, and where the event was originally birthed.

How does this compare to your (other) hometown or nearest urban area?

Written by: Tabicat
Edited by: Wendi Corbin goulette

————————— end copy / paste

Burning Man is a community event and we are a distinct and contributing part of that. We are a part of that culture. We are also Burning Man.

 

Coming Together in Hard Times

There have been a lot of high profile deaths in the Burning Man community and when we see people grieving it is hard to know where to take those feelings. The death of a regional community member has an impact. It can be devastating.

Please know you are not alone!

There are Black Rock City Rangers in every community and a special section of them called Green Dot who have special training when it comes to issues of the heart and mind.

Green Dots are Rangers who help participants through situations that have a strong emotional, psychic, or internal component. Green Dots are first and foremost patient listeners who seek to hold space for participants undergoing inner transformation or experiencing internal distress.

Whatever the case, you might need something closer to home. Maybe just a voice. We have friends all around and do not be afraid to use them. Here are some more resources:

Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

 

2014 Queer Burner Survey

The 1st ever survey just about the resources offered on our web site and on Facebook; which are abundant! While the site is maintained for the community part of the idea behind it was that the community would add to it to keep it current and relevant. The Facebook pages have really become that with a feed to twitter for people not on the Fbook. Here are all the resources:

Gay Burners (Master Page) | Queer Burners Group | Quire: QBLN | Google+
QB Regionals: Bay Area | SoCal | ATL | Las Vegas

Never ask a question you do not want the answer for, right? Well, feedback on this 5 year old project is good. If things are prospering then that is a win. If things are stifling, then it is time to change it up.

chart_1Here is what you said:

We asked about the web site and clicked through a variety of the resources we offered. While the 29 people out of 3000 that answered the survey were not aware of some resources there seemed to be some strong opinions about what they knew of.

(if you see an error message here it is okay, it will be fixed soon. To get out of the gallery preview use Esc or click in the gray area around the image.)

While not all the responses made it you the pretty graphics above there was some requests. What would you like to see more of. Ironically, half the items listed and a majority of answers were things that already exist on the site; which means maybe we need to demonstrate that better. Here is what was asked for:

  • Perhaps more academic or queer theory articles or original blog posts.
  • merp? [author note: I have no idea what that is]
  • Camps Events
  • Naked pics of Toaster 🙂 [author note: already there! It’s true.]
  • Keep it up to date and timely I stopped using it as a resource a couple years ago because it was never up to date to have timely information. As a camp organizer I could never post our events or provide information directly on the site so it was not useful to communicate to the community
  • More info for newbies, maybe some kind of 1 on 1 sponcered / mentor type relationship.
  • Need more visibility and scholarships to helps those without funds to be able to travel to leadership conferences.

 

Queer? WTF?

GeneshesDreamI joined the site a short time ago and am a pretty quiet guy. I live in a world where the “q” word means bad things, but I get it is like some other words that people have taken back and use in a darkroom.baltimoresun.comway that is not so negative. But this word, like the “n” word, it is still a bad word for many people.

My generation is caught in the middle. I see younger people treating these words like it is nothing, while older men  get really offended.

EXCEPT when it comes to burners. Words are offensive based on their context more than their face value and if someone is being a dick a burner will say “Don’t be harsh.” But there is still a stigma, because I cannot seem to get my friends to jump on board Queer Burners stuff because their first words are: “I’m not gay.”

There is nothing I have seen that mean you have to b gay to be a part of these events. It;’s just burners. Weirdly enough, I feel like the bay area has more hangups on the subject than people I met in L.A. or other burning man communities that I enjoyed.

If you don’t recognize me, I am the fly on the wall.who is in the fur coat, a smear of tribal makeup, and makes some polite conversation but usually shows up alone. The burners I meet are the best people. But in spite of all the illuminated thinking I see so many get hung up on some scary words.

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