Where are we that….?

Over the years that I have been doing things under the banner of Queer Burner (formerly Gay Burners) it has taken many forms. As the primary voice on this project it has been my chief goal to unite queer burners and make a fun play space for all those who would like to play in this amazing sand box.

Like on any playground, there are bullies. There are people who would thrust their point of view on other around them in spite of facts or truths. We do live in an age where there is “truthiness” and “alt-truths” and revisionist history that seek to drive a narrative that is increasingly questioned by some and ignored by others.

In the scope of that, calling out white privilege has been a big subject. At the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference this April 2017 in Oakland, California there was a 2 hour discussion from a black woman to a widely mixed audience. The smartest thing a white male could do was to listen and observe, but that was too much for some of us. You can imagine the results.

This week we put a survey on one of our Facebook Groups : Queer Burners Global Social Network :

  • Patience. Calm. Honesty. Maybe reflect a moment before answering. There is a reasonable expectation that the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road is going to be very different in 2017. If the Queer Neighborhood is decentralized will this effect your burn?

The feedback has been amazing. The ability to answer in the scope of the poll was limited. Read through the comments and see some of what happen, because it is awesome. However, a lot of people had no problem with the dissolution of the Gayborhood. BTW: they were mostly white and male (as of last check).

Some battles have been strange and interesting. If you read the trip report from the 2016 Burn there was a meeting with Placement at a queer camp (Sun Guardians) where in mostly queer camps came to meet with Placement and have a conversation about being neighborly: this was not a meeting about Queer Camps.

There were two attendees that highjacked the meeting and tried to make it about the merits of the Gayborhood, but we were able to steer it away. Among them was a person with a complex and strong voice from the White Ocean camp who clearly was dealing with his own demons.

The second person was a member of the temple crew  whose partner wanted nothing to do with the direction of the conversation.

This week someone named Tom Steward posted publicly his feelings about the Gayborhood and this submission was an echo of sentiment from other voices in the minority about the Gayborhood:

  • Gays are in no more danger than anyone else at burning man. No need for a gayborhood unless you want easy cruising. Gays should be sprinkled lightly over the entire city. We are a gay camp and have never felt threatened and dislike that gays are segregated.” – Tom posted this with his email address and IP. It was a public submission through the feedback form and he had some feelings to share.

Tom reflects the feelings of some other burners; most often it is a voice of people who feel rejected by the Gayborhood and it’s residents. In my 9 years burning I have seen an amazing evolution of queer camps who have worked very very very hard to make their camps and residents more inclusive and welcoming. We have evolved and ask to see if your perception can evolve with us.

Even if the Gayborhood is broken into 2, if it is dissolute, it will evolve and survive. But with that, people who find a sense of safety with it are the people Burning Man is trying to reach. It’s not just an ethnic loss, it’s the loss of diversity on another level.

E very person I have seen asking for the breakup of the Gayborhood was a gay white male sharing a point of view that excluded anyone else in the scope of what they proposed to be destroyed. Objectively these people are missing a lot of facts.

  • we conducted surveys of the community and found clear data that there were significant threats to personal safety against gender ambiguous, trans and specifically female identified people in the scope of the survey sent to Queer Burner members.  The results are on this site from last year.
  • his expression of “we” seems to be limited to his white, gay camp mates of a mysterious camp yet unidentified.

Queers and people of color do not move through community like everyone. We (they) are usually aware of their environments for specific safety reasons. We do not walk through a neighborhood assuming safety. It is the same in the world and the same at Burning Man. With the commercialization of Burning Man, with the Bucket List thinking, we have to step up our game for safety and community support more and more.

GLC: Gayborhood Broken up?

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

The Rumor Patrol was running around the event and reported:

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

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

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

Per Answergirl: (paraphrased quotes)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Talk About … IT

Starting somewhere around 2006 an active member of the community named Mario Cisneros started a gay pride parade event that would begin at the foot of the man and wind into the city. It was usually a well turned out event because politically there was a lot still going on in the United States and in some other parts of the world where LGBT and other sexual self identifying people were struggling for rights and not to forget Mario’s flare for getting people together.

Burning Man Gay Pride
Mario: Left Side of Screen

Mario was part of Moonbow camp. It was, at least for a period of time, usually found near 3:00 and C in Black Rock City and was where the original Official Queer Burner Meet & Greet was before it moved over to the Down Low Club. All of this was done, at least through 2016, in Mario’s memory thanks to several members of the community struggling to keep it alive.

Mario Cisneros
Mario Cisneros

In 2014 the popularity and attendance started to wain and the organizer tried to update the concept to make it more interesting to the community at large but it never really caught fire. Mario passed in 2012 so from 2012 to 2015 Toaster from the Sun Guardians Village tried mastering it with a more pub crawl / parade vibe. Justin from Camp Proper took over in 2016 and had about the same, perhaps slightly better success than what Toaster finished with.

What Happen to LGBT Pride at Burning Man?

When talking about LGBT Pride in Black Rock City there was a dichotomy that was grossly apparent even in a part of the city that has been traditionally called the Gayborhood (to Rainbow Road for inclusivity). On one hand there was a thought that ALL burners were playing on the same field and there was no more us versus them. In fact, the powers that be at Burning Man Headquarters have stated they want to see queer camps dispersed through the city.

On the other hand, there are a lot of Queer Burners who have asked the Burning Man Organization to keep the queer neighborhood in tact for reasons of safety and security which has already been discussed in previous posts on this site. There was a theory that LGBTQAI feel threatened physically and emotionally on various levels; specifically female and non-conforming gender identities based on a recent survey (May 2016 by the Queer Burner Leadership Network); that the close quarters of Queer Camps help created a layer of safety and refuge for vulnerable queers and women.

The various positions on Pride at Burning Man made even a seasoned queer pause and doubt the importance of celebrating ones social/sexual self as opposed to others. The drive behind pride, at least within the fence around Black Rock City, became lost in the dust at some point.

Why Pride?

Why to Burning Man of all places? Most people think of Burning Man as the adult playground of love and harmony. EVERYONE loves each other and free hugs abound. This is the story that touches every soul who is compelled back annually and let nothing get in their way. All of that is absolutely true.

The dark underbelly of that has been physical and sexual assault that has resulted in a powerful and present campaign by great organizations like BED (Bureau of Erotic Discourse) and Safe Place.

But back to pride… there are a lot of old queerdos that go to Burning Man who are 80 years old and there are a lot of young people who never saw those battles in the streets for equality. To some Stonewall was an honorable mention in a history book (maybe) or something written on a rainbow flag they saw in June (gay pride month).

  • In our lifetime, even today, a person can be killed – loose their job – be thrown out of their home – all just for being LGBT. It does not matter what your age is. This happens today.
  • In our lives we queers are often forced by survival to choose our own faemily (spelling intentional) because the ones we were raised with cannot relate.
  • Queer teens are, as long as records have been kept, have the highest rates of suicide.

Pride, even if YOU as an individual don’t need it in the moment, that you know you have a softer place to go to if your other system fails. It is a light, rainbow colored, that will embrace.

Pride has FAILED some people who feel shamed or ostracized by their contemporaries or elders. As much as we try and sweep up the wreckage and want to heal that soul sometimes we cannot.

Pride and self worth is something we as a community embrace on our own terms, but as a community stand together to be that soft cushion for those in need where we can. The key word: Community. No matter how many people who cannot understand that history and vulnerability that are out there, the rest of us have to stand strong and bright so darkness does not win.

LGBT Pride and Burning Man

It has always seemed clear that the 10 Principles written by Larry Harvey for Burning Man were things that would resonate with LGBT people, specifically because it already represents what we have been trying to do our whole lives. It would seem the white-hetero-heavy board of directors for Burning Man were looking for the same exact thing as Queer Burners and people residing in the Rainbow Road section of the city.

According to the 2015 census 1/3rd of the citizens of Black Rock City are LGBT self identified. In 2016 the questions on the survey changed somewhat thanks to input from members of the Gender Blender camp to the powers that be that included more definitive terms people can self identify in the 2016 census. Look up #demographics on this site to see past census data.

The 10 Principles draw some parallel lines to basic needs from Burning Man participants to Queer Burners as a substructure of that community as a whole.

Out of the 70,000 people of Black Rock City only a small percentage actively engage in the Rainbow Road sector comparatively. However, the energy generated by queer camps has attracted mixed and mostly straight camps to the same sector for the same benefits queer camps have asked for. Camps like Orphan Endorphine identify as queer friendly and have been great community partners who want to be near us.

2017 Pride

There is yet new blood working on a 2017 event at Burning Man with new management. It is with great hope and anticipation we will see more of the community drawing together under the 2017 pride banner. We have a responsibility to represent the best qualities of ourselves and our community.

There have been some true champions in this story over the years. Many are shown in the #Queer Burners People hashtag who have contributed to this effort over time. Collectively Gender Blender, Beaverton and Glamcocks have made great strides in building bridges in and out of the queer neighborhood.

There is a vital need for LGBT Pride! Our fight is not over. All the rights bestowed upon us in the USA could vanish in a month, a week, or any amount of time. Even at Burning Man, there is still a chance that Placement will dismantle the queer camps in spite of our arguments to the contrary. The truth is there are more arguments against it out there than for it. We need to keep pride, community, and being present for those that need a hand always in mind.

If you are the one who needs that hand then talk to people… but a hand is different than a handout and radical self reliance is a scary road.

And finally: Placement has not taken a position to dismantle the queer neighborhood completely but it is a reality we might soon need to face. There was talk about breaking it in half at a 2016 meeting attended by your community leaders. Use your voice for good and together we will be a stronger community. Be engaged and help us promote a better united and supportive hug to embrace those when they need it.

Rainbow Road: WTF?

I wrote a somewhat cutting piece last week about the Gayborhood / Rainbow Road about what I witnessed and I tried to convey a sentiment from myself and the voices of people around me. What I discovered there is a huge leap from what people will say, what they will speak up for and what they will take action for.

There is an inherit danger to writing a piece the is critical of an institution that has unlimited power on your experience at an event that you might hold dear. In spite of a lot of work, commitment and bridge building that one leap of faith can result in a pretty messy splatter. A part of my leadership standard has been to take chances.

Rainbow Road Feedback

The responses on Facebook opened the door for several things.

  1. it gave a segment of people a chance to stand-up for a similar vision; 22 people signed the petition calling for the stronger presentation of the Gayborhood /  Rainbow Road. There were some feelings expressed.
  2. a majority of the voices were actually against the Gayborhood, or so it seemed. We have a lot of people asking for the dissimulation of the Gayborhood stating it was a crutch for people unwilling to engage outside a perceived bubble.
  3. then there were the voices waffling on the idea or being supportive who felt very lost in the feedback

There were 2 conversations on the Facebook PAGE and the Facebook GROUP. Both of which were very powerful and eye-opening. This project (Queer Burners) is a community driven project. My opinions do not represent all queer burners and I  try and stay away from giving that position.

Alas, this post. I lit a torch to carry forward and found out for the most part I was standing alone. I had some powerful quotes that in the 24 hour life of the article were pulled and asked to be removed. They were accurate and complete in the moment, but they were also accurate from the position I heard them in. OR copied/pasted them from their written sources. So there was no other choice but to remove the article.

Placement

The voices say that people are generally happy with the way Placement handled the location of queer camps. The map that we posted and that was enhanced by a member of the community made it look like far less of a spreading than it seemed while out there:

BRC Map

Comfort and Joy really felt like they were off the beaten path and outside the center of the Gayborhood. C&J has been the epicenter of the Gayborhood along with Beaverton for years. We really did not have that anchor camp this year and that was missed. Maybe that was why we seemed so decentralized?

Integrity

All we have is our integrity, and if I can maintain mine then I feel like I can hold my head up. I have always tried to do that in the community (Burning Man wide) and have often walked right into barriers that come from places that would shock people. This propensity to step into someone’s pile of shit has left me gob-smacked on more than one occasion.

There was a bit of a scandal over another camp and some EA passes. I asked a group of leaders in a private message about HOW we can help. The general consensus when all was said and done was there was nothing we could do. One of those campers shared that conversation with Placement; that person is known. Ironically, one of those leaders who was so adamant about the issue shared their EA passes with another camp leaving me completely stunned.

Voices

There was a meeting on playa Tuesday of burn week at the Sun Guardians village hosted by the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizer board that Placement attended. Having Answergirl and several placers there with more than 2 dozen camp leads was very important and appreciated.

There were a couple rotten tomatoes in the mix including Rich Martin who claimed to be a founding member of White Ocean and Opulent Temple. His rants against the Gayborhood and were paired with a member of the Temple Burn crew (name unknown) who railed hard about the existence of the Rainbow Road neighborhood. They had their reasons, and their voices are not unfamiliar, but they seemed to come to upset the table of the meeting that was not about the Rainbow Road. The meeting was about Placement and services for camp leaders.

It is powerful voices like these out of the 29.7% of the LGBTQ, Burning Man Black Rock City Citizens, that talk about the dissimulation of the Gayborhood. Is that where this is headed? Is that the future as it applies to Burning Man?

Conclusion

It is Queer Burners position, as part of the project, is to see the Gayborhood preserved. That Rainbow Road will be the future of the queer burner participants. If the future of Burning Man cannot see color, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or the other things that make us different than the other person then that will be a curious day. What I learned from Burners is that each of us who build and make want to be seen for our individual or group special-ness. All burners are peacocks.

Our integrity is everything. But someone told me this week that sometimes we simply need to be water, we need to flow with the current, and for some people the integrity of a peaceful solution is better than a battle against the current. If Queer Burners went away tomorrow and that was where it was supposed to go, if that was the flow, then that is the natural evolution of this project.

In the end, thanks for ALL the feedback. I encourage everyone to read back and see what was written by community members and share those feelings. Be honest. Be true.

 

Mediation and Neighborly Behavior

This has been a topic that has come up quite often in the community lately in many forms. During a meeting last year at the Red Lightening camp hosted by the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers admins and Placement where it was a seriously addressed issue by the head of Placement/DMV “Retro” making it clear that sound in the city limits was being taken seriously.

If you know Red Lightening they are a venue with performances and education series usually positioned on the Esplanade and are a relatively quiet, if not busy, camp with a lot of foot traffic. As we held our meetup at 11pm on a Wednesday night the camp next door started playing death metal and we could barely hear each other talking. In the not so far distance we could hear the Mayan Warrior on it’s way out of the city with the trademark drums beating announcing it’s arrival.

The look on Retro’s face was awestruck but he understood campers point of view, as he and a placer who was with him at the time, explained they were working on creating new policies to address those issues.

Within our Queer Burner community there were some issues as well. The new sound policy felt like it was getting it’s legs in 2015 but already in 2016 we can feel the full force of these new policies. In 2015 BAAAHS was placed at 7 & D kitty corner from Camp Conception which both played amplified music. And across from both was Sun Guardians that holds yoga and meditation classes during the day. As mayor of SG I found both BAAAHS and Camp Conception amiable in helping me limit the amplified sound when I went to talk to them about it for our day-time classes.

Yet other neighbors complained for various reasons, but asking two sound entities placed in the city was like asking a cheetah not to run.

In another case that came up, Disco Château was not placed this year because of a sound battle they had with their neighbors AEZ (Alternative Energy Zone) and possibly others in 2015. Not being good neighbors, especially to a long established camp, earned them a serious black mark from Placement.

We can do better and are working to do better. BAAAHS did everything they could to be compliant and tried to meet the needs of officials who gave them feedback. Disco Château on the other hand had some renegades who really ended up digging a deep hole that pulled a few people down with them; forcing a change in leadership for 2016.

stole this from the Facebook post

Solution

It is not up to us to confront people over issues that cannot be resolved with a polite neighborly discussion. I found our neighbors helpful from my point of view when I explained we needed the volume down between certain hours in the middle of the day which was pretty reasonable.

If you are not getting a response then seek out a Ranger for conflict mediation. Black Rock City Rangers are trained for that very purpose. When these occurrences happen they are being recorded in a blotter that is reported back to Placement and will / could affect your placement in the coming year.

The old fashion term “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is still the standard. The “Fuck yer Burn” mentality of the past is slowly fading out with troll attitudes and crotchety veteran burners giving way to the flood of festival candy ravers who are flooding into the event.

If Rangers in the field cannot help, then go to the closest Ranger station and make a case for some escalated help calmly and probably with a bottle of booze. There is a strong desire to enforce sound policies this year and going forward that will support you. And if you are the one not complying, then you are inviting unwanted attention.

Conclusion

There was a post in the Burning Man Group that inspired today’s posting (link here) that inspored today’s post. The issues discussed with the named camps above were also issues I was mostly directly/indirectly involved with on some level. We need to have an open dialog with camps in violation of policies so they are not surprised with a denial of Placement the following year. While it may be assumed there should be no surprise, camps need feedback! While we have the benefit of the MOOP map for our cleanliness, we really need a report from Placement / Earth Guardians  or others if there are things we need to improve on.

There is a blacklist that exists that camps and participants do not have access to, nor the feedback necessary to make improvements with, that is a one-sided conversation and is hallmark of a very needed transparency with a department that makes huge decisions. Camps are putting out 10 – 20 – 30 thousand dollars a year to help build the city not to mention the price of a ticket only to be blackballed anonymously by a system rigged against its self.

It is an awful thing to consider. But we have learned to take these things in stride so far and move forward with what we can in spite of the odds. Volunteers make up most of the Burning Man troops and we appreciate their amazing work every year for something so many of us really believe is as close to Utopian ideals as we can imagine.

We all can do better with some effort. Be better humans. Be better neighbors. Be better participants. Be more accessible.

Too White to be Queer

The theme this year was : “Incusivity”. The production team form the 2016 Retreat worked very hard to make the event itself safe, welcoming and desirable for people of mixed gender and race. We had a significant amount of success depending on your point of view.

Another gay, white, male member of this community met with another gay, white, male of this community this week and they talked about the work being done to include those who have been marginalized in the LGBTQQ construct and both had wondered the same thing. How are they continually dismissed for being gay, white, males – thus dismissed – by people not wanting to be marginalized?

There is no right answer, because agreeing or disagreeing is an ‘us versus them‘ thinking that benefits no one. If it is under the LGBTQQ construct then we are eating ourselves from the inside out. Understanding and patience has to be the banner and hopefully it was a rainbow banner.

It’s clear that gay, white males are the overwhelming participants and camps at Burning Man so that is the demographic that carries that loudest voice by volume. Whatever entitlement and perspective came with that no one has to be marginalized and everyone in this community has a voice.

Safety

In the wake of Orlando, many of us are just stunned. It is probably more surprising that something as bad as that did not happen before. Every week it seems we are hearing about some horrible tragedy with guns in the world, but Orlando hit close to home for all of us. Queers have been targets for years by zealots.

In recent weeks we have been talking to BMorg about safety on the playa and in the Queer parts of the city and how it is important. That reason exploded this week. Believe it or not: many BMorg leaders and community participants have this misshapen view that Burning Man is all hippies and hugs which is not true.

Safety everywhere is a real issue. Listen to our older members of the community; to those who grew up in rural, scary places, to those who could not come out of the closet. Gay marriage was not the golden rainbow bridge that made us all equal. The things we did to survive in a hostile world in a country where all people were never really equal.

When the BMorg asked us if the flood of 7:30 Sector requests was queer camps we figure out the answer was no. Camps want the 7:30 sector because of alleged reasons such as better weather, streets in good condition, energy and more entertainment. While queer camps coalesced for safety, we hear BMorg uttering the dull roar of breaking it up again. We can’t have that. Now more than ever we need to safety and security of a united community.

Does that exclude non-queer community members? Not at all. We are a radically inclusive community but we have not always felt that inclusivity. Many see themselves and have experienced clear and defined marginalism. Our strength is in our perseverance and our chosen family and our community pride.

NOTE: BMorg Placement has not said they are breaking up the area typically known as the Gayborhood. But they are talking about making two distinct spaces in future events. This year it looks like we are going to see a Rainbow Road scenario and many of us are excited for that. But as Placement is taking on new leadership this year we need to be vigilant that the dialog of integrating queer camps through the city simply does not happen to dissolute the magic we bring as an attraction year after year.

All in Placement’s hands now…

Many community members were given a jolt with the news that BMorg’s Placement wanted to talk to LGBTQQ leaders about the state of the Gayborhood. Was it getting too big? Why are there 350 applications for the 7:30 sector and is it because they were from queer Camps? Is the high number of self identified queer attendees a correlation of these applications to the sector?

The above graphic came from the BMorg meeting showing that, according to BM Census almost 1/3rd of attendees identified as LGBTQQ (BMorgs choice of acronyms). Queer Burners has posted similar numbers on this before showing significant results of the impact of queer patrons on the Burning Man event but we have been marginalized in the culture every year.

A majority of our community have been marginalized in society and it was still prevalent in the Burning Man event except in the Gayborhood; which is not 100% true. Burning Man queers are predominantly gay, white males which to some are still vilified on some level for the same reasons as our straight, white part of society.

At the 2016 Queer Burner Retreat we were part of a well attended workshop about inclusivity and how simply respecting basic pronouns for people of various gender identification make a huge difference in the area of respect.

The popularity and attraction of the Gayborhood provides 1 outstanding feature for many people of all orientation and gender identity and that is Safety.

  • gender queer people (people of other ethnicity as well) are more vigilant about their environment  in the world and will react and go to the aide of other queers who might be in trouble.
  • that environment of awareness and networked safety has attracted people outside that demographic seeking the safe spaces just like they do in gay communities in cities all over the world.

The 7:30 sector, in this burners 8 years, has been a zone with the best camps with the best attractions including but not limited to the Gayborhood. Camps like Orphan Endorphine, Party Naked Tiki Bar, AEZ, Playfully Yours, Suspended Animation and so many more have been based in that same zone.

The 3:00 zone tends to be a popular zone as well with camps known for making that space highly entertaining.

The 10:00 and 2:00 zones speak for themselves.

So the Gayborhood is just one part of the attraction that makes that sector so big and under demand. It is close to Center Camp. It is a hub of activity and entertainment especially at night.

So when members of the BMorg talk about a dream that one day all of Burning Man will be integrated and there is no need for a Gayborhood, I see this as fundamentally offensive. We are not always welcomed with open arms and we have been faced with threatening behavior by other burners. We have the numbers showing that. And many of us do not want to turned into processed cheese slices that fit nicely into someone’s bland world where we are all marching around in our gray suits.

Out of 302 respondents on a survey about personal safety in the gayborhood:

  • 14.57% say they were threatened or felt endangered at Burning Man
  • 21.67% say they knew someone in the same circumstance

IMPORTANT: removed the white, gay male respondents and the numbers jump up to nearly 100%.

Based on our conversation with Placement this week we can anticipate the Rainbow Road layout of what we have been calling the Gayborhood. However, with changes coming in 2017, there is a chance the Gayborhood will be split into 2 sectors or Rainbow Road might be extended; although we want the community to be prepared for both possibilities.

To see the results of the recent survey follow the following links:

Footnote: “Gayborhood” is a term a lot of people are looking to see retired. Queerborhood has been thrown around but it is not a marketable phrase. Neither is “Gayburbs” (the 4:30 & J mini queer collective). As Placement releases the placement of camps that we consider a new brand; like Rainbow Road or something else that might better represent our community as a whole.

Burning Man Placement is asking for Feedback

We did it! A collective of local queer camp leaders met with Placement at BMHQ to discuss how to manage the number of request for 7:30 sector, which are almost double the number requesting any other sector of Burning Man. Besides providing a safe space for LGBTQIA folks, we’ve created a tight-knit community that produces amazing art and a powerful experience on the playa. Other burners have responded, and queers and allies alike are flocking to our rainbow colored beacon.

Using survey data you, the Queer Burner community, provided us, we discussed what makes the Gayborhood (or more inclusively “Queerborhood”) such an important place for our community and for Burning Man in general. We tried to tackle issues of safety, inclusion, freedom, self-expression, and all the powerful themes that you all wrote to us about!

The Placement Team also brought data of their own. Using the BRC census data, almost a third of the BRC population self-identify as “LGBTQQ”.

Scan_20160602

And, now, BURNING MAN PLACEMENT needs actionable information so as to not break up the Gayborhood/Queerborhood and still solve the logistics challenge of cramming too many camps in a limited amount of space. So…

URGENT: Before Friday afternoon we need the community to answer a few more questions (not many, really): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GPJFRLZ

Answering the questions above will directly guide the ongoing logistics discussion with Placement. You and your camp leaders are invited to participate so that we can continue to create a supportive space for those who want to share in the community.

This year we anticipate seeing a Gayborhood “Rainbow Road” scenario much like 2016 (possibly extending beyond the bounds of 7:30 and into the adjacent sectors). However, in the not so distant future, we are likely to see TWO Gayborhoods and new questions in the Placement Questionnaire for camps to self-identify as queer and wanting to be in the Gayborhood/Queerborhood (rather than just requesting 7:30).

For now, use the Queer Burners [dot] Com Forums to share your opinions. Help us continue the dialog by letting us know what you need!

Leaders of Queer Camps facilitating the discussion:

– *Tiger (Glamcocks) – *Christian (BAAAHS) – *Cyndi NoPants (Gender Blender) – *Toaster (Sun Guardians / Queer Burners) – *Indigo (Astropups) – *Dare (Glamcocks) – *Foxy (Beaverton) – *Ariel (Gender Blender) – Terry Grossman (Gaylactic Village / Time to Burn) – Ed Edmond (Burner Buddies) – Zach Bunker (BloAsis)  *in attendance at meeting w/ Placement Team

URGENT: Changes to the Gayborhood

Placement @ Burning Man wants to hear from the community about the role of the Gayborhood. We need feedback from the community NOW as we are meeting with the BMorg on June 1st. Please complete this Survey Monkey post right away and give us your feedback. [link here to survey – UPDATED]

Some of the collective leaders of queer camps are being asked to communicate with Placement @ Burning Man about the logistics and purpose of The Gayborhood. The Gayborhood has become a huge presence. Now Burning Man is asking us questions about HOW to manage requests to camp in the 7:30 sector and HOW to fit the concept of the Gayborhood into their current policies.

Toaster reached out to some of the most active leaders he knew about creating a survey so we can come to the meeting better prepared with data. What we have surmised from the Queer Burner Leadership Summit discussions is that there are clear and compelling reasons for the gayborhoods that have appeared on playa.

Did you know there are 2 annual Gayborhoods? One is the Gayborhood usually falling in the 7:30 sector most people seem familiar with. Another is the 4:30 and J self placed camps like Burner Buddies and Nacho Daddies that have made that area their own space. In 2010 there was also a Gay Ghetto. (Yes, they called it that) It appeared over on the entire block of 3:00 & C. A group of campers independently made that happen.

[link here to survey – UPDATED

Safe Place: You will see reference to the term “safe place” in the questionnaire. This is not the same things as the project “Safe Place.” Some camps are going to be implementing a project called Safe Place for people under duress to retreat to while at the burn where they can be safe from predators or the effects of “too much.” A meeting about “Safe Place” the project will occur on June 8th if you would like to learn more. [Facebook Event]

The HIVE mind behind the survey includes: Toaster (Sun Guardians / Queer Burners Admin) Foxy (Beaverton / Ranger Torchwood) Cyndi Vee & Ariel (Gender Blender) Terry Grossman (Gaylactic Village / Time to Burn) John Pacheco (GlamCocks) Russ Smith (AstroPups) Ed Edmond (Burner Buddies) and there were others included in the discussion who may or may not have added but were included in the conversation: Yogen Kushi (GlamCocks) Jered Floyd (HIVE Boston) Micheal Cooper (Comfort & Joy) Brian Busta (Comfort & Joy) and Zach Bunker (BloAsis)

 

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