Queer Burner Leadership Summit (QBLS)

We did it. I could not do it alone. Although I did put a lot of effort into this event it could not have happen if a few people had stepped up and lend a hand here and there. Whatever their efforts were I am grateful. Some of the people I would like to specifically thank is:

Bernadette Bohan | Kd Calfee aka Kitten |
Jean-Jaques | DJ Momme aka Fathom

This was our 2nd year and believe it or not year 3 is already somewhat on the calendar, but no real planning will go on until after the beginning of the year (September).

The expenses in 2012 for the event was $1200 and that may not sound like a lot, but it is when this is a non-money making operation. In 2013 we spent almost 50% of that to bring a stronger overall event.

Check out the reports and please make comments. If you can, please join us next year!

My eyeballs were falling out of my head the Friday night before. I was hoping to get out to First Friday in Oakland, but it was not meant to be. Alas, we had such an amazing day in the end.

We had attendees that traveled in from Georgia, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

2nd of 3 announced

The 2nd of 3 projected events by Queer Burners was “announced” this week… but only in the planning stages. Almost as quickly as we started planting seeds we got growth and will keep working to make these great things happen:

  1. Sweet Think & 2013 QBLSMarch 2013 “Sweet Thing” Camp Out and 2nd annual Queer Burner Leadership Summit all at the same time; YOU DO NOT have to attend any leadership summit stuff to enjoy the camp out.
  2. July 2013: “The Village Q” at Salt Lake City’s regional event called Element-11 (element11.org)
  3. Although it has not been released yet, the 3rd event is a proposed presence in the 2013 San Francisco Gay Pride parade

These things sound pretty cool, huh??? Well, a lot of this focus on these projects is being driven on Facebook, but we do have resources here online. There is the Queer Burners page (where one would presume you are reading this entry) and the Quire Page: Queer Burner Leadership Network.

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The first of 3

The first of 3 major QB events has hit the airwaves today on our Facebook page. This is your chance to discover a Regional event if you have never been to one. Better yet, having a wicked good time with a bunch of queers rep-prez-zentin’! We do have a lot of members and friends in Salt Lake City, which is close to the event, it is their Regional Event after all.

This is the exploration stage to see what kind of steam we can get behind it. Of course we are all amped up being less than a month after Burning Man itself. We have a lot of time to work it out.

What about the 2013 Queer Burner Leadership Summit – you ask??? Yes, that will be announced soon too. Stay tuned! XO

Response to Burners.Me Article

When working on building something with passion and meaning behind it, there is likely to be no shortage of detractors. The win is when there are cheerleaders out there too. This thing that is QueerBurners.Com, what could be Quire, or become a voice in the Burning Man regional construct, these are all things very foreign to some members.

My name is Scott aka Toaster and I started Queer Burners, once known as Gay Burners, with a desire to create a place for LGBT+ men, women and various transitions to connect. I believe we have a unique spin to this lifestyle under the 10 principles that offers something special to the community as a whole. It was never meant to be political or divisive. It is growing and maturing. I hope Quire will elevate it to the next level.

A couple of times people have posted on Facebook, told me in person, and complained on ePlaya that there could be no reason for a site like Queer Burners dot Com. Hundreds and thousands of people say otherwise based on membership and guests visiting the site.

BMorg has been supportive of this site on some level. Partially by letting it exist. Partially by donating a lot of take-aways for the QBLS. On a couple of occasions with posts in the JRS.

One of my mistakes in the evolution of QueerBurners [dot] Com and the projects I have undertaken since joining the burner community in 2008 is that I have looked to BMorg for approval. Sort of like an unconfident child seeking a parents support. It never came and often that parent was too busy to acknowledge. But there were times when there was something of a relationship there. Before moving to San Francisco.

QueerBurners [dot] Com will do everything it can to be supportive of BMorg and the mission of Burning Man under the gray lines of the 10 Principles. Although not acknowledged officially, not disavowed, we have enjoyed a nice and almost polite coexistence.

Burners.Me

An article posted May 4/2012 on www.burners.me used a lot of quotes from this site extended from the Burning Man Leadership Summit. Turns out another attendee posted very similar comments that were also included in the article. Combined they were highly critical of BMorg in their response to safety concerns expressed at the Summit. Although the issue was rather poorly answered on Saturday (dismissively so) the conversation continued through Sunday at the Summit.

3 queer R.C.’s had very different points of view about QueerBurners [dot] Com but all were supportive in general. I listened carefully to all the feedback. There was a lot of shock and surprise that there were these kinds of concerns; even though women have been issuing these same concerns about aggressive male behavior before we spoke up.

There should be no mistake that the words shared on Burners.Me are those of myself (Toaster aka Scott), but I do not want to make good things happen by being a bully. The words expressed were real and came from those who attended the QBLS. Those words were my mission when attending the BMLS. I wrote them, but tried to convey a message, one that I hoped would make something positive happen.

The fact people are talking about it is a win. The fact that some R.C.’s have made a joke out of those concerns is a concern which makes the Burners.Me article very pointed. But we want BMorg as a partner. Even as BMorg crumbles from a series of mistakes in 2012 damaging it’s relationship with its own community and it turned a blind-ear to the concerns we still stand strong to carry the message of the 10 principles bravely forward because they do really mean something and work.

The path of least resistance

Any sense of drama or discourse seems to send a lot of Burners packing. Many will quickly put their hands over their eyes, ears and whatever protects the rosy image of the perfect Burner world. Many employ a tactic openly discussed called “Shunning” to shut the voice of discourse down rather than take any critical feedback. The path of least resistance is to deflect it or ignore it.

We have a challenge right now to be the best we can. I was forced to acknowledge the dismissive comment by Andie Grace that: Burning Man attendees are responsible for their own safety … Yes we are. Radical Self-Reliance is a major principle we live by. But by some estimations 70% of the people attending Burning Man in 2012 have never participated or understand the 10 principles.

I am not an advocate of more L.E. or BLM! But if Burning Man is not going to acknowledge the danger, we have to create something within our community that makes us more aware and less vulnerable in Black Rock City. In the end we, in our regional and social communities, have to be much more security conscience this year. More so than ever before.

Bottom line… QueerBurners [dot] Com and Quire is not here for politics or to battle BMorg. We are here to be a community center point to help network people. Find Queer camps, Queer resources or more. Some of our members are not interested in politics or to see any official representation with Burning Man… they just want to have fun and look at cool stuff. You still have that… some people will be organizers while some will be the participants/partiers or whatever… enjoy that. If that is your groove then be groovy, baby.

Conclusion

The article by Burners.Me was very unnerving as I read it because it was the sharpest points of a conversation splayed out and they sounded like a lot of frustration. While there is some frustration from someone like me who has put himself into the line of fire. I cannot help but feel like Don Quixote when looking to Burning Man for any real acknowledgement.

I suggested it was time for queer Regional Contacts representing the Queer Community of Black Rock City and beyond, but there was no real support. But, who is out there taking our issues seriously? We have friends in BMorg and there are some amazing people there, but the Regional team who should be listening is not. When our concerns are treated like a joke on their private boards there is something wrong. When I ask about safety I am dismissed – there is something wrong.

The dialog is still going on and all we can do is see where it goes. Burning Man is not Burning Man anymore, they are the Burning Man Project. The ticket disaster is still a shit storm. And now the BLM sanctions against Burning Man for their attendance issues last year are causing havoc. It really is a year of evolution for Burning Man… certainly Fertility 2.0 can have a deeper meaning in the end. Will the Queer community have a voice? Time will tell…

 

Queer Burner Community

There has been a lot of talk from Queer Burners: Toaster (me) about what this web site is meant to accomplish. There is a mission statement that anchors its meaning. At the 2012: Queer Burner Leadership Summit where there was a deliberate attempt to get Queer identified and Queer friendly camps to work together and support each other.

To rally our culture inside a community inside a city of like minded (BRC) to strengthen our participation by uniting and overcoming challenges that might come our way. Uniting Queer Burners for their creative and proactive efforts in the BRC and beyond the trash fence.

Our community does not end at a blue flag at the end of a dirt patch in the Black Rock desert. We are layers and layers of titles, identities and passions and aspirations that put something like this somewhere in the wide matrix of our individual lives.

That was the intent and at the beginning of 2012 there was an effort to start taking that a step further with Quire.

The Leadership Summit (QBLS)

In it’s first year there was a degree of success getting leaders to talk to each other and on some levels has sustained. Not everyone has opted into this network an no official membership has emerged to keep leaders active with each other with the exception of the Facebook page. That does get a lot of the cross-posting.

There is no reason why a bunch of people who are camping in the desert 7 days a year should sustain a network that:

  • helps cross-promote community service events
  • fund raisers
  • member support
  • individual and groups special projects

We are not those people. We have adopted a lifestyle based around the 10 principles and have merged that into a life of self expression that in some ways is different than many of our counterparts out there. (I will explain more about this, but trust me it is a perception*)

Quire

In the agenda for the QBLS this subject was listed as the “Queer Burner Fund, llc” and presented to the attendees as a proposal to create a legal entity that will let Queer Burners [dot] Com do new things. Those ‘things’ continue the points made above but also:

  • create a window for funding artists connected to the community
  • create a channel for a financed civic project
  • sponsor and insure our own events
  • create an emergency fund

Why do we need something like Quire for the above points? We can do all of these things without it, but creating a legal entity named Quire provides the community the ability to produce using a limited liability structure and a financial format that does not put an individual or persons at risk while working to do those things.

Quire also lives beyond an individual like me who would be trying to manage people, money and resources while hoping to avoid being sued if someone got hurt on any endeavor. That could have included the QBLS!!! If someone got hurt or food poisoning over lunch I could have been sued and there would have been nothing I could have done about it.

Quire, beyond the legal crap, is a good platform for Queer Burner leadership to engage. Use the web site (linked to Queer Burners [dot Com) to help cross promote and seek resources. Leaders will have a private registration with a lot of control on the data exchanged on the site.

Conclusion

There has been some (SOME) criticism against what this site is. It usually comes from people in the burner community that have not bothered to really engage what is here – OR – have no use for it. We invest in what we think is missing. From my point of view we have this world or amazing queer people unlike any other demographic that talk to each other 7 days a year.

At the Burning Man Leadership Summit this year I met three queer Regional Contacts with very different points of view on this project (queerburners.com). One was supportive but had a hard time grasping why this was ‘needed’. Another gave me the impression that I was just off the mark. The third was extremely supportive.

Fact is there are many queers who are burners; they blend in and engage the community as a whole feeling no different than the others. There are burners that are queers, loud and proud, and project life through EXTREME radical self expression.

Queer Burners Project (queerburners.com) is not unlike it’s own theme camp with a lot of couches and a posting board in the desert. We have leaders and followers. Since we are all over the world (literally!) and have leaders in all these places, let’s help each other along the way.

Quire allows for a network inside the Queer Burner structure to help with all those lovely points above and protects those who do. We as a community are still leaves on the branches of another community to the trunk of another.

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