Critical thinking….

This author has thrown a lot of jabs at BMorg and has lobbed quite a few compliments as well, so I think it has been pretty balanced. Alas, while critical feedback has come right back for a variety of reasons I stood tall with feet planted in the ground defending the ideology behind my Queer Burner projects.

Queer Burners as a Project

It has been 5 years of this project and I am hoping to see it expand in the next 9 months with your help. Along the way, some people in BMorg and some members in the LGBTQ community have seen QB and the existence of the Gayborhood as an idea in opposition to the 10 Principles and Burning Man ideology. Frankly, it seemed like the people making the most noise knew the least about it.

At the 2013 and 2012 Queer Burner Leadership Summits (the first two years of such an event) it was determined that the Gayborhood was an oasis for Queer Burners for several reasons that served a special purpose:

  • Security for LGBTQ people
  • a place to connect easily with other LGBTQ people and their friends
  • and a place for people to explore their boundaries.

With the critical feedback there may have been some truth in the bad information.

  1. The Gayborhood promotes exclusion by keeping people inside the zone or people outside the zone

THIS IS NOT TRUE: or is is in some cases. And it always is ‘some cases’; but that comes down to individual responsibility. I heard about someone in the Comfort & Joy VillageĀ  who had a camp responsibility who was so focus on his tasks but forgot to enjoy themselves. Why some people never really leave their camps defies explanation, but it does happen. Is that the fault of the Gayborhood or an individual choice?

Queer Camps Win, Lose, Drawl

While the Gayborhood and camps stretching out from it have created a fantastic space for many years; even longer than I have been a burner, I watched it become and vital and important space over the last 5 years plus. I saw Comfort & Joy as well as Camp Beaverton/Gender Blender be the nexus. They created some amazing energy and it has drawn in so many great camps and parts of their Village.

  • To find out more about LGBTQ Camps at Burning Man see the older Camps Lists and the Groups section here on the site.

While we have had a wonderful variety of camps in the Gayborhood and it is my hope to see more diversity in that moving forward. Some camps have been around a long time and in some cases very comfortable in their identity or schtick as one might say. Along that lines in some cases a reputation earned or not.

GlamCocks

What can I say about this camp is but they have an amazing infrastructure and a presence that just radiates and calls people in. This year a movie came out called Meet glamcocksthe Glamcocks to their credit got them a lot of acclaim and was featured at several film festivals. In 2013 they had an amazing site at Burning Man on the 7:30 Plaza where they would be highly visible.

  • Clicquish, self-absorbed, L.A. and N.Y. attitudes on the playa
  • Twink filled camp, very unfriendly, unwelcoming

While this author visited their camp on several occasions and had similar perceptions, it became clear to me that this really was an amazing camp that did not deserve this easy labels. While these were a lot of young and attractive people in the camp dismissing them on the basis they were bringing the wrong idea to the playa was unfair. Yes, they dance to their own beat and if that makes you feel unsure then find another camp to enjoy.

Another camp that gets some curious dust is Astropups

AstroPups

This is a group that have been on the playa for a long time. AstroPups are also one of few highly structured camps on the playa annually with a very well greased machine 4975816313_2b15a74de8(no pun intended) and infamous shower system. Do they ever leave their own camp?

  • Non-participatory, anti-social, exclusionary
  • Bear body type focused and their friends

While the Pups have an amazing and hard working group of great people, their camp is always open and welcoming to people. They are a little careful who is invited beyond the front because in the last couple years there has been more criticism on their most popular feature: showering with Bears. A group shower that is a lot of fun.Whether they venture beyond their amazing camp is all – again – an individual decision.

Conclusion

Seems like a lot of critical feedback forgets some very special things: the 10 principles. And whatever your radical self expression is it can be less than radical and more chill if that is how you roll. So,

  • let’s stop bashing someone’s vibe because it does not mix with yours and find somewhere that does
  • find the positive nature of your new experience over how theirs is not your groove.

Especially in the case of the Glamcocks above: my initial experience was like a couple people who shared their thoughts but after some reflection I realized that it was more my baggage then the perception. I looked at them again with a visit and saw the absolute beauty in these camps. So drop your baggage at the door and find the positive in your world rather than staying in the negative.

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

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 inĀ  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.

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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.

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.

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