2014 Updates

So much is going on and it is hard to keep up with everything. A majority of things seem to get updates on the Facebook over the site. The good thing is that the Facebook Page feed the Twitter which feed to the web site. That’s good news!!

About Facebook

The name of the Facebook Page has changed to reflect the web site. The link to it is still the same, because it is likely linked on more sites than I can count. What was formerly Gay Burners is now Queer Burners at facebook.com/gayburners.

We also have the Facebook Group: called Queer Burners. Seem confusing? Well, it was not meant to go that way, just got twisted a little is all. Facebook policies made this hard to fix.

About the Web Site

With Burning Man a month away there are a lot of updates made. Seems a lot of Queer Camps have appeared out of no where. With the Gayborhood becoming such an attraction in the city it is no shock that we are growing.

If you need anything added to either of these pages add in the comments or use the contact form in the menu bar.

Queer Burner History : 1993 to Present

History is important. Yes, knowing the past and what came before is the launching platform for the future. No, this is not based on Stonewall. No, this is not a freedom march up- Market Street.

No, this is about Burning Man and the queers of Burning Man. Today we have something called the Gayborhood, but how long has that been around?

burningManQBHThis project page so far goes back to 1993, but if you have any more info you can share please let us know. Contact the site admin.

Anyway, check out the article and comment you little hearts out… xo

Trip Report: GLC 2014 by Toaster

Burning Man Global Leadership Summit #bmglc14 happened April 3rd-6th in San Francisco and Inside CELL Space for GLScould not be contained a single space. It was in three large buildings with 300+ attendees with a mass of workshops and meeting spaces. This includes Burning Man HQ and the infamous CELL Space.

My name is Toaster and though it is my policy (with the exception of 3 previous posts) not to make posts in the first person; so apologies by a slightly more personalized position of this particular trip report. I am hoping that Gloria and Bobby will also give in depth reports from their perspective.

Day 1: April 4

10168035_820639437950897_1230827200_nI skipped the pre-conference schtuff at the BMHQ for a variety of reasons mostly due to the fact I had to go to work after the daily meetings and wanted to minimize the stress on my weekend. So, I opted to come in Friday and had a rather interesting day.

After meeting some queer community partners like Bobby, Jim from Atlanta and more, I dug in to listen and hear about all the changes happening at Burning Man and the welcoming of so many leaders from all over of the world.

Changes:

  • Larry Harvey & Micheal Mikel are effectually retired.
  • Marian Goodell is the Burning Man CEO
  • Burning Man is almost completely transferred over to Burning Man Project; a non-profit

Day 2: April 5

We got a great sneak peek of the temple and a variety of other art projects, community regionals events and more being produced all around the world. There were many workshops, deeper conversations, and a party later that evening. But, Larry and Marian talked to the crowd, too.

Day 3: April 6

The wrapping up… the slow cumbersome completion of the event that some people had to flee in the middle of in order to catch flights all over.

Is that it? No…

Starting off, this is my 3rd Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (2011, 2012) and each year has been vastly different. This year cam with some baggage so note or ignore the items in italics. Having skipped 2013 and just came out of the Queer Burner Leadership Summit a week ago I came with something of an agenda to help positively promote the Gayborhood and other queer camps.

Side Note: I was also dealing with some real issues still pending with the Regional Network of Burning Man where there have been a number of challenges. Seeing Meghan R, Marian and others have been a challenge.

Major Topics

There always seems to be some vein of topics people want to know more about each year and come up at these events. This is beside the normal topics of discussion like getting people motivated and whatever ticket drama is going on.

Conflict /  Physical & Sexual Assault: There were two sessions on this subject. I attended the second and ease dropped on the first one for a bit. Part 1 seemed to be filled with a lot of emotion while the second was more focused on processes and mechanisms in place combating this issue.

  • Transformus: North Carolina Burners have an acculturated process already in place for their Regional Event; it has virtually eliminated these problems and given them the mechanism to confront these issues quickly as a community. (web site)
  • Secure Sanctuary: New project looking for people to start jumping on board. It seeks to add a new layer of acculturation for camps to provide a very temporary safe space for people in trouble while on the playa and speed them into whatever services they need: EMS, Rangers, Etc… (Facebook front page / Facebook group work project page)

There is some genuine concern on this issue and it seems that the Boston and N.C. community have made huge strides into this subject on their own local levels.

Secure Sanctuary is a bit of shameless self promotion as it is something that a group of us started to visualize out of a recent burner meetup. Although I have been the loud voice on it so far I am hoping to see this get wings.

Getting the Burning Man Project Word Out

The word of the day is Art and Community. If someone were counting the repetition of words out 10009317_820639474617560_2124767676_nthere those two might have seen themselves more than any.

According to Harley K. DuBois, Burning Man is coming to the fruition of many changes this year and is almost fully migrated to the Burning Man Project as a Non-Profit. Her core expression was about the Community of Burning Man. This project will help promote art in every way possible.

While Harley spoke about Community “…in any form…” we are still missing something important to this writer; an acknowledgement of LGBTQ++ needs and the realization that part of the physical threat on playa includes homophobia.

This is a capital concern for me and something the Regional Network does not seem to be able to wrap their heads around. They refuse to deal with the LGBTQ community stating our needs are really the same as any member of the community and are not special; that from a group of stright white people.

The Regional Network, with all it’s flaws and successes, falls under that new non-profit. Regional Contacts (R.C.’s) are all volunteer liaisons to their communities and guardians of the Burning Man brand.

Jim “Ron John” Graham – Burning Man PR Guru

“Larry Harvey is interested in community and all the manifestations that it brings…”

Burning Man Regional Network

There are some new and old faces at the wheel for the this part of Burning Man that is an active doorway to the Burning Man communities. They have official representatives called Regional Contacts and they represent geographical locations and 1 cyberspace location of Burners.

For most of my engagement with the Regional Network there has been this passive denial of right to exist from the Regional Network for the LGBTQ community within Burning Man like the one created with Queer Burners. It has been quite frustrating as their occasional support would be helpful in the building of this community. Network Guru: Sauce spent a lot of time with me at the GLS promising to renew this relationship in a positive way and let see what happens.

While Marian Goodell is now CEO it seems like the Regional Network has become the project for Meghan Rutigiano (aka Megs). Since she is is the remaining voice of the network since Marian and Andie Grace moved on (another story) it comes with a lot of hope that the future will be brighter.

What could the Regional Network offer that is important? There are a number of things including resources and support that are generally helpful in building community. Tools for leadership and the occasional voice of reason.

  • An LGBTQ set of regionals? Why not?
  • A channel into their closed off network?

Our own Kitten has been a voice for me more often than I can count. He is of the feeling that we really do not need the Regional Network anyway. I feel that this community is a self evolved and important service to LGBTQ++ people. We do not deserve anything. We do, however, deserve the same respect as the other communities in the Burning Man culture and not to be discounted just because LGBTQ++ is attached to the name.

This network also helps keep community leaders above board with Regional Events like Lakes of Fire, Element-11, Apogea, and Forgotten City. Check these out on your own.

Conclusion

Along with the new Burning Man (Project) there is still a lot of the old Burning Man people still around. Harley spoke of those so in love with their roles that they refuse to leave and it makes the flow of growth stagnant. Some people have been pushed along while some remain steadfast in their places.

We cannot so easily brush off the dust and cast out the ghosts. There are A LOT OF Burning Man Regional Contacts who hang on the network and get the perks but do nothing to advance it.

Change has made an impact on the Burning Man culture, but the many of the same people at the GLS were the same people from 2 and 3 years ago in the same outfits, same hair, same ideals. Many are in the same clicks with all their fame wrapped up in their burner personality. How creative is that?

We cannot evolve without change. Burning Man itself is radically evolving right now and faced with having to be more commercial and maintaining their identity and commitment to the 10 Principles. The Org (Burning Man Organization) is doing a pretty good job overall. The GLS and local leadership events springing up all over the world are proof of that. However, we have to get them to be more sensitive to people needs even if they do not fit perfectly into a utopian dream where we all are one loving culture. Because, there is homophobia and hate out there and some come to Burning Man.

I arrived at the GLS and kept largely to myself burdened with a feeling of being spurned largely by the community because I want LGBTQ++ needs heard. Safety is important. Plus, I personally want the community at large to know the Gayborhood has an important role for people. There have been a few incidents where leadership withing Burning Man has been disparaging of LGBTQ people and derogatory about the Gayborhood and the people in it. Making them understand it is a place of safety and a part of the city the really dives back is important. If not to quell snide remarks by calling it the Gay Ghetto, but to be just a bright part of the city with neon flags at the center of it all.

Gender Blender Starts New Chapter

Nieuwe afbeelding (5)

Dear Beloved Amazing Queer Burner Community:

Here is a special and important update on what’s new for Camp Gender Blender this year! So after 4 fabulous years of partnering with Camp Beaverton, sharing resources, being allies, and combining forces to be CBGB – this year we are doing something different! Leadership of both camps have decided that for the highest good of the missions of both camps, it is best to be separate camps.

We will still be loving allies, we will still help each other out, we will still be family but we will not be camped in the same location and we are separating our resources so that each camp is sustainable on its own. This will give Gender Blender the opportunity to focus on our mission – being a safe place for Trans, Gender Queer, Gender Non-Conforming people, educating, and having fun.

gender-blender-teaser

When Gender Blender first started in 2009 we were our own theme camp. We partnered with Beaverton from 2010-2013 and we are thankful for all the many connections and dreams we built together. Now is our opportunity to once again shine as a solo theme camp and for Beaverton to do the same. We are really excited to take this step forward and to build an awesome, powerful, fun, Gender Blender theme camp! So welcome home to GB – Gender Blender!

GB-Logo

For more information on what we are up to please go to www.genderblenders.org or to get more involved FB message Pink Pants or Cyndi Vee.

x-post: from Comfort & Joy playajoy.org

Toaster: I am not sure who the original author of this is, but sharing the info and linking it back from where I stole it.

5 Years of Queer Burners

One of the best pieces of advice I got when in the first half of this project came from Kitten was that the posts and so forth from this site were not written in “I” statements. This project is not about me. It is about a community of people inside a community in side… etc. Why is this project to important to me and what am I asking people to do with it? This is more of an “I” entry…

Here I come!My name is Scott. On playa I am known as Toaster. I am a queer male who loves people of all genders and joined the Burning Man community to grow and I did. One of my early specific goals was to improve my relationship with women. I since then learned to accept and relate to people of all gender identities and am so blessed for it.

2008/2009: the beginning

When I became involved with my first Burning Man collective it was the Las Vegas Burning Man group. I arrived on a beach on Lake Meade one night and met Debbie and Mike; older wild ass couple you would fall in love with immediately. The Vegas community was in a huge transition at the Me and the girlstime with identity and base. I quickly became deeply involved and at some point along the way was being considered for a Regional Contact (R.C.) role.

At the time Cameron Grant was the core R.C. and his girlfriend Melissa were real heroes in keeping the community on track. Captain Bill and his wife Amber were also strong leaders in the community and I did great things will all of them.

  • Fact: there was a true embrace of people from all walks of life in this community. The lines between LGBTQ++ and other burners was never an issue. There were a lot of blurry lines.

So Why?

It became clear after my first year to Burning Man in 2009 that there was a huge presence of LGBTQ++ people. The Gayborhood was established and Comfort & Joy was the jewel of the crown. There was the last ember of “Stiffy Lube” in the shadow (history). I met a shining star under the mylar rain out front… and I wondered how could it be possible to make this amazing feeling last.

While queer burners had their own camps, clicks and factions there was no single unifying presence that understood LGBTQ++ needs. And, there was something clearly missing from the burner culture at large. There was direct and indirect homophobia. Not to mention on the onslaught of trolls on message boards; ePlaya etc….

This project is designed to provide safe space for people to network from. This is the space to get camp information and general information from the community within and without the LGBTQ part of it.

The web site

It started off as Gay Burners [dot] Com. An accident by a member who called it Queer Burners got me wondering… “who is looking at this site and who is the audience?” After all, this is for every person regardless of gender of orientation with a focus on the LGBTQ++ population.

It is about a place for community. While Burning Man [dot] Com is the premiere source for all things Burning Man there is a bevvy of sites out there for the pockets of communities out there. This is just another one. This speaks to the fastest growing segment of the Burning Man demographic.

Burning Man is not a gay event and many LGBTQ people who attend never go near the Gayborhood. But, the Gayborhood is so vital and important as an entity. Why? If you cannot see that now it simply cannot be explained any more than explaining Burning Man to normal people.

Keywords to note: safety, security, sanctuary, familiarity.

Bottom Line

I hope with all my heart that people see the value in this project and embrace it. We have groups to make us feel safe. Many of us queers have CHOSEN our families and made new and unconventional ones. We have our queer neighborhoods at home cities. We have groups of friends. We have so much and asking you to see the pride and community that blooms from queer burners inspires passion and more. It’s about community. It’s about a pocket of light that wants to shine back on all of you.

Leadership in the Community

While the discussion is heating up for the upcoming Queer Burner Leadership Summit (QBLS) and Community Building Conference (Facebook / Eventbrite) there is another event that this

2012 Global Leadership Summit at the Kabuki Hotel
2012 Global Leadership Summit at the Kabuki Hotel

one is designed to bleed into. Burning Man will be hosting their Global Leadership Conference (GLC) the following week.

In attendance representing the Gayborhood and the LGBTQ++ Queer Burners will be your Toaster and the new Mayor of Camp Beaverton Home for Wayward Girls – Glo.

The Burning Man (Burning Man Project formerly Burning Man, LLC) has had this conference for years. It used to be called the Regional Conference, but in/about 2011 they started including local leaders who are actively engaged in the community. That was when Toaster was first invited.

What we are bringing:

In the past we have brought what the overwhelming voices of leaders at the QBLS to the GLC have noted as community issues. This has been about safety and viability of the Gayborhood; especially in the wake of the 2012 ticket fiasco where we expected an outpouring of tourists who could not appreciate burner ideology.

qbls2We have set to face the misrepresentations of the Gayborhood as a space where LGBTQ++ persons have made a place to separate themselves away from the rest of the city. AND! That the reality that there is homophobia and danger to our people because of gender and other physical differences.

  • we will bring what / if any items from the GBLS
  • we will talk about LGBTQ++ history in Burning Man

*we is in the royal sense as Toaster plans on doing the usual networking and chatting people up through the GLC hoping to get people more on board with seeing the Gayborhood as an important part of Black Rock City as much as a Castro is in San Francisco.

QBLS & CBC

by Mark DemmaWhen considering if you are a fit for the conference for the community consider how much people have walked away with every year. There is a refreshing and amazing network of people who typically attend. It is:

  • A gathering of leaders who share and learn from others
  • The net step to taking your idea or project from launch to spring board
  • Community Town Hall

In the past

2011 was this Toaster’s first year at the GLC and it was an amazing experience.

2012 your Toaster went to the event as a voice/set of ears for the Queer Burner community realizing we were not really a voice. The result was a really ugly reality that official leadership of Burning Man had a distinctively low opinion of LGBTQ++ participants who dared to celebrate our own voice within the scope of the Gayborhood.

  • the Regional Chat private message board had a destructive message string that was outwardly abusive (unfortunately I only have the word of queer participants on the message system who passed on the information verbally and it was confirmed by multiple people at the 2012 event)
  • the Regional Contact board manager Meghan/Mega equated LGBTQ++ needs with lifestyle groups like the BDSM community and summarily dismissed any concerns brought to the table relating to the Gayborhood

2013 Toaster skipped the GLS to focus on the QBLS.

See all past details here:

RuPaul and Burning Man

Seeing Queer Burners (meaning the population/membership not the web site) in the media these days has become a common thing. In 2013 we saw 2 movies, tons of art and more. Biggest items out there was Meet the GlamCocks and Meet the Beavers that were both seen at Film Festivals all over the world featuring camps by the same names.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race Premiering Season 6 Jan 14th

172642__santino_lThe web site on logotv.com features the usual stunning goddesses includes the gorgeous Courtney Act (@courtneyact) who has in the past camped with GlamCocks at Burning Man and appears in their movie.

indexIt’s not clear if she was there in 2013 when RuPaul Drag Race and judge on the show Santino Rice made his maiden trip to TTITD. Santino seems to have loved his journey to the flames as noted on his Twitter page (@santinorice).

Do these two have a past together and is it something he would need to recuse himself for this coming season? In just a couple days we are set to find out.

It is exciting to know Santino has set himself to come back for 2014 and maybe he will come and party with in the Gayborhood. Meanwhile. in just a couple days.

Celebrities at Burning Man

There are no shortage of famous people at Burning Man every year. Some have been very open about their participation.

  • Adam Lambert and his fun group….
  • Rosario Dawson and her giant vagina tent
  • Michelle Rodriguez and her fun crew

So many more…. that was just to name a few. Yet, we respect their journey and in the BRC they are just another citizen of the city…

(Note: I did reach out to Courtney and Santino hoping to talk to them and expand on this story more, but with the upcoming show I am sure they were very busy. We wish them the best in the coming year and look forward to their success.)

Balance

It had occurred to me that there is at times a lack of balance with some of the things we involve ourselves within the community (Burner community). As a blogger here on this site and others I have been very critical of BMorg on those occasions; they do make it so very easy. I will explain this a little more later.

Balance is a key to life in many areas of our existence and finding it ideally brings harmony. At least that is what some spiritual good feeling stuff tells us. While we can be critical of BMorg and it’s operators true analysis comes in examining the whole picture.

BMP-Board-of-Directors
Burning Man Project Board of Directors

The Scales of Thought

The ticket fiasco in 2012 is one of the best examples of finding balance in a difficult situation that hit the community and affected all of us. As most know, the ticket lottery in 2012 was a solid brown poo on the heads of many of us who have been engaged in the community. Many seasoned burners were so pissed off from it they walked away and never looked back. While these extreme reactions are not un-typical here is something as an example:

– ticket lottery | + expanded ticket dispersal for theme camps /  artists
– BMorgs initial reaction | + acknowledgement of problem (though late)

Albeit extremely simplistic in its context you kinda get the idea with the handy +’s and -‘s, right?

Balance comes in other areas too, which we recently explored in another article where this author reflected within the Queer Burner community. Camp leadership needs to be present and have their heads in the game, especially when they have multiple souls under their roof. Much of Comfort & Joy has learned to master this balance and will hopefully be sharing that wisdom at the 2014 Queer Burner Leadership Summit.

lead camp | find personal time
setup, build and breakdown camp | enjoy the fruits of labor
get people doing their chores | enjoy the kinship formed

Courage Under Fire

The community and the leadership are always up to whatever challenge is laid at their feet. Recently in Burners.Me an argument was made about the long existing Burner Man Project leadership stepping down. While rolling into a non-profit was a solution for protecting the cohesion and brand of Burning Man with a clever legal structure with the facade of bringing more to the community what has it really done?

So who is under fire more? BMorg leadership or the community? While the house of the BMorg is made of glass the villagers are too stoned to really grasp the complexity of this relationship. Balance often comes late from the people held so highly and balance gets mired down in the expectations of the people who consider themselves devotees to the cause.

Many members of the community demand a drama free zone without concern or focus on the leaders of this community. Being held to the light of the flames the people driving Burning Man bear the cross when the gray lines of the 10 principles are being applied ___ like they were scripture.

Burning Man Leaders

Let’s go back in time to “Green Man” in 2007 where for the first and last time ever the people who brought you Burning Man allowed sandwiches to be sold at center camp and ‘green vendors’ showing their wares. The green_manramifications of allowing these elements into an event that talked about Decommodification was loud. But, who can fault the organizers for trying something new?

Selling coffee was new once, but these days no one could imagine center camp not having coffee or the amazing people selling it.

Going back one last time to the 2012 Ticket Fiasco the leadership recovered very well in the end, but their proximity to the issue seems to have clouded their ability to revel in their success. The SPARK movie was an unnecessary revisit to that mess, but a win with giving me a visit to the playa while in the default world; see it’s all about balance.

Burning Man Participants

2012 made a lot of people fall off the fence with the obscene growth of the attendance at TTITD. For reasons of their own, the days of HELLCO and FrogBat (in their glory days) are gone, and some people have moved on in their journey.

Has Burning Man jumped the shark with the numbers swelling? Who is still adding Burning Man to their bucket lists? And… are the people who made it what it is still going?

  • 1st Year attendees never shut up about Burning Man
  • 2nd Year your new Mega-Theme Camp is destiny
  • 3rd Year you are a seasoned veteran and are living the dream
  • 6th Year you’re so old school burner
  • 7th Year, you think Burning Man has sold out
  • 12th Year, Burning Man sucks but you keep going….

Look, we’re all basically insane for doing this year after year. Anyone we know outside of the community thinks we’re out there fornicating endlessly and tripping out on drugs anyway. This ki-ki is cra-cra… (yeah, I thought that right after typing it too…. I already regret not editing it out).

Can we be critical of the BMorg without destroying the people that make this elaborate event happen every year? We are the people who pay for the ticket and they are the engineers who make fantasy land reality.

As long as we keep going things will continue to evolve and whether we choose to believe it or not, I think the BMorg Board is willing to meet us along the way. Keeping the community happy is in their benefit, so we think, but to keep this going we cannot be afraid of change.

WTF?

As mentioned above, Burning Man leadership has made it incredibly easy to take a pie in the face when it comes to criticism. Over the many years some decisions were made and their presentation was so mired in arrogance that it was dumbfounding. Arrogance? Maybe ignorance is the better example, because this nest of heterosexual white hippies are so busy defending their ideology that they often forget the emotional and fiscal needs of the people who have pledged loyalty.

One of the latest controversies was Rape Kits on the playa. At the 2012 Burning Man Regional Conference and Leadership Summit in San Francisco I brought some very real issues to the table in a forum attended by community leaders, board members and Regional Contacts from around the world. Because of the projected (at the time) 70% of expected attendees who were unfamiliar with our 10 Principals we were concerned for people vulnerable to physical attack including women and fae queers.

While we have the Gayborhood where ANYONE can find safety (a promise made by Queer Camp leaders at the 2012 Queer Burner Leadership Summit) we were worried that given the expanse of the attendees was not being matched to assure education and safety of people in attendance; particularly women and fae.

Andie Grace (aka Action Girl, formerly with the communications team with Burning Man) very confrontationally stated in the public forum said that people were responsible for their own safety. Well, that year sexual assaults were on the rise AND there was a very publicized rape behind the Emerald City just off the Esplanade. There were others too and Burning Man was moot.

However, it appears that in 2013 Rape Kits did make it to the playa but how they were implemented is not clear. The fact is that a Rape Kit is a very complicated thing to implement and the balance is that Burning Man simply cannot have a hand in it. But, an official agency can.

While the short sighted reactions to things much like Angie Grace’s comments make the leadership look very dull in their ability to respond to their community.

Tearing Down the Man

There are not shortage of critics. There is also no shortage of people with glitter in their eyes when it comes to how we see Burning Man leadership at the BMorg. It is so easy to find holes in the thinking, but this event and this community is really doing a lot of very positive things. The hypocrisy of BMorg is second to the results. And, the future of  Burning Man itself is unclear.

In an article that came out today (update 1/6/15: the following url ceased to exist and was unlinked: http://www.groundedmedianetwork.com/fuck-burning-man/) the above video was attached. You can see here where there is a lot of holes in thinking and what this is all about, but maybe this is being take too seriously?

Conclusion

When we criticize are we looking at destroying Burning Man? Are we demanding they see reality from our perspective? Do we not give them the gay area to make mistakes and come back with a solution? Do we consider balance? While almost everyone who has gone says that this has changed their lives or made an impact that in itself is the big win.

This pre-season rhetoric has seen so much criticism lest we forget the gift of evolution. Yes, the environmental impact of the event might be questionable. The motivation of the BMorg might be questionable. We can find holes in anything, but if Burning Man were to throw their hands in the air and say “fuck it, we’re fucking done” we would all feel the world got a little more darker that day.

Let’s face it. The BMorg has made some stupid decisions. So have we as individuals. Yes, ticket prices are obscene and becoming more and more out of reach for the average person. The cost of going is less for the accessible for the average person and more so for the privileged. YET, many of us without much cash still manage to get out there (myself included).

Balance is the key. Knowing the difference between attacking windmills versus standing up for a real issue impacting the community is key, too. Right now we have Regional Contacts (R.C.) (except for San Francsico) who represent BMorg to their regional communities and R.C.’s who have a voice back to Burning Man. Hold your Regional to the fire, because he or she is like your state senator for Burning Man.

——————————————————-

BMorg – Burning Man Organization usually referring to the home office in San Francisco, CA.

TTITD –  That Thing In The Desert aka Burning Man

Mainstreaming the Culture

One cannot go to Burning Man, as a queer person, and not see there is a large LGBT presence if you are looking for it. In 2011 Huffington Post writer and blogger Oscar Raymundo (@OscarRaymundo on Twitter) made some awkward observations in an article he posted way back when.

  • One side of the coin: Not everyone at Burning Man is in touch with their desire to be part of the LGBT community in Burning Man or out… and the variety of gray lines in between. Some choose simply to not put any kind of rainbow flag on their experience whatsoever.
  • Other side of the coin: Some actively engage in queer events, sex and other LGBT offerings.

In 2013 this author met a participant of Burning Man who at 33 years of age, 14 years of Burning Man, had come out of the closet that year AND was going to his first Queer event at Burning Man. It seemed I discovered a purple unicorn in the crowd, but as my experience grew with people in 2013 I met more just like him.

Demographics

The company that runs Burning Man is called The Burning Man Project (formerly Burning Man, LLC) and have  sexually-attracted-toasked participants to complete an anonymous census every year and published it on their web site, but in 2013 they started an online census that provided great live information on attendees. Queer Burners is not affiliated with any official channel to Burning Man.

2013 Census Report | 2012 Census Report | Previous After-burn Reports

Much of the data is selectively compiled and presented significantly down-playing the LGBTQ role in the city. While we have been attacked in the past by some of the regional community (Regional Contacts and other members of the community – this story was already told in older posts – so refer to those) for having a Gayborhood, The impact of LGBTQ on the event itself, whether mainstreaming or not, is very significant.

The data above shows a full 3rd of the populace LGBTQ or blurry lines at least during the time of the event as of 9/2013. This includes a collective number of burners who were willing to answer the census randomly. The data does get updated on the link provided for 2013 and as of this date is still taking information.

Queer Burners

Well, outside of this project (this web site) we can clearly see there are a lot of Burners out there who are LGBTQ++ even if they are partaking in their own way and not with the Gayborhood or any other gay, lesbian or other camps/events/whatever. Blurring into the mainstream is a comfortable place for a lot of people.

It is the dream of some that we all mesh into one society anyway, which I believe is what the creators of Burning Man dreamed of with no lines for orientation, race or gender. It seems so Utopian until you point out this ideology was created by three white, heterosexual males* and then it sounds a little aryan nation. It’s not, just idealistic.

Embracing our ideological and social differences is as important as embracing our radical self expression. If that means you mainstream or engage other LGBTQ people that is an individual call.

Conclusion

While this project (QueerBurners [dot] Com) will continue to cater to LGBTQ++ Burners this includes mainstreamers, people who have their sexuality as part of their experience, and our friends who do not fit the cookie cutter shapes (straight and otherwise).

We are not fighting the BMorg (The Burning Man Project leadership) but we are fighting not to be marginalized. The existence of the Gayborhood has a very important purpose. There are people within the BMorg that are our friends and understand why the Gayborhood has an important role at Burning Man.

Everyone uses the space for their own needs temporary or not. This is Radical Inclusion at it’s best and we plan on keeping it that way.

————————————————

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

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 Village  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.

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