Burning Man: Struggles with Identity

My journey with Burning Man over the last fifteen years has been awesome. There have been a lot of very problematic moments along the way. Often, those moments were less important than the beauty of creating community. But, these problems keep happening and get bigger and the sweetness of what I felt Burning Man stood for has really lost its shine. This is why I find myself pulling back here and there. 

On so many levels, an organization like Burning Man Project and Burning Man LLC, promoting something as huge as what Burning Man had become, is walking on eggshells all the time and has to be mindful of the different tentacles and what they represent. The 10 Principles that define the spine of the community is extremely attractive to all kinds for a variety of reasons. As a Queer CIS Man myself I was attracted to the radical inclusion and community aspect most of all. But, Burning Man is forcing a new series of narratives that are simply not cool:

  • Their RIDE (Radical Inclusion Diversity and Equity) has never really landed IMHO as a queer man, speaking again, about the lack of support from the org for LGBTQAI burners. Right now, when looking at the RIDE pages on BurningMan.Org, there is a hard focus on BIPOC burners and it was verbally stated in a meeting about a focus on deal and blind burners. I wrote about this on Blog.Queerburners.Org and will not labor the whole conversation here. However, it seems clear to me that Burning Man is trying to Commodify BIPOC Burners because they show up better on posters and pictures to prove Burning Man is diverse, where it is definitely not. – My Blog on Queerburners
  • Having joined the Black Rock Rangers in 2022 I was in love with the idea of being a ranger. There is a lot of good to be part of that element. However, even many of those in that community are aware of toxic people acting as rangers and in the last few months I have run into a lot of seriously shitty people working as rangers. I did not ever really do a lot of rangering in the dirt. Circumstances were against me in that area, but shitty attitudes and misogyny have really put me back on the subject. I can focus on the good parts, but there is a part of my soul that reacts with inequity and being a jerk to other people. I wrote about rangering here too: MY Blog on Rangers on Queerburners

My identity has been tied up in my burner life for almost fifteen years now. It will not go away. But, any connection to the BMorg and the event in the Black Rock Desert may be past me at this point. It’s been very hard for a long time. However, this is might be a good time to change what the future looks like. 

Burning Man

This week I decided it was time to declare I was not going to go to Burning Man. Fifteen years into this, I am starting to feel a lot of things about my involvement with the organization and see where it is a really unhealthy relationship. If I were to focus just on being a BRC Ranger, ignoring all the b.s., I would likely be fine. But, that is not how I roll. I hate injustice and hypocrisy so I cannot understand why so many of my fellow humans continue to support an organization that really forget that we (participants) are funding their jobs. They tell us what we need to know and feel and we gladly go along with it. 

And that – ladies and gentlepersons – is why it is time to take a big fat pause and evaluate the organization and decide if this is worth my time and energy.

I bitched about some of these things already, so no reason to rehash that. Go to www.queerburners.org and check out the blog there! I have to step away, because it has been an up hill battle for more years than it should be. Personal safety, discrimination, and commodification of BIPOC participants is just a lo of heavy shit. 

AND, I cannot really afford to go on a lot of levels. The new house, the dog, no job right now, blah blah blah… all reasons not to go and prevent a divorce. So… I leave it at that to let my own needs and wants figure out a better future for myself with the choice of healthier living. Healthier mind, wants, and people. And there ya go. It’s a toxic relationships as it is today. 

The Last Word on BM2022

This will hopefully be my final post following up my journey to Burning Man 2022. I left the burn early because I was not doing well physically or mentally. I did not take great care of myself and I am too stubborn to let others help me, unless they do. Radical self reliance is not always a healthy perspective (it is one of our community founding principles). 

Physically I may have ended up causing serious harm to my feet and legs. It started with my job, being on my feet all the time, and was exacerbated by shitty shoes, stubbornness, and commitment to doing things I promised even though it was killing me. Good news, I lost some weight while out there…but not nearly enough to make it matter. Now the goal is to be focused on my health and what I can do to be better at that.

Mentally – no one can deny that being in the desert in those circumstances is not stressful. The heat, the exhaustion, and then the crazy shit we do can tear a person down. This is a good thing, but bring the boards you need to build a foundation that can help lift you up when you are broken. Sleep, nutrition, medications… all those things! I tried and did not do as great as I thought.

By Friday, I was seeing my mortality. By the time I decided to leave, I was certain that it would not take much to break me beyond repair. I seriously kept thinking (obsessing) over a friend of a friend who ended his own life fearing I would want to do the same. But, the idea of leaving any pain in the wake of my passing is/was more than I could bare. 

Leave this world better than when you came in to it. Leave people with good memories. Some of those people will never be happy, but leave on the best terms you can… my brain-song.

Burning Man 2022 – Waking Dreams

I thought I might do a better job at recalling all the details, but as I reflected back writing this I know I missed a lot. Without a lot of unnecessary jabber, there were good days and bad days. The bad ones were intensely hard and did my head in, in spite of some of the great things that happened. 

Would I go back to Burning Man again? I am less confident than ever right now. I have 2 ideas about the future. Either bring CMonster (aka Kimchee) with me in a camping situation with a camper or RV? Or, stick to regionals and more basic, local community events. 

So, the future is unclear. 

Day 1: Leaving the Bay Area – Friday, August 27th

It seemed like nothing was going to go right. I left Oakland before 11am and drove out. Traffic was okay and I stopped for food, some last minute supplies and then out to Burning Man. It was a real struggle, but nothing to keep me from moving ahead. 

  • Going to Walmart was an abject failure. In the past the company really stocked up on stuff Burners needed but they really dropped the ball.
    • Reno: out of almost everything I needed.
    • Fernley: Had a bike I could buy but not much more outside of food. The folks in Fernley, NV are so nice. 

Day 2: Arriving on Playa in Black Rock City – Saturday, August 28th

Got through the gates in 2 hours (a miracle) and got to my camp by 2am. The gate team was really rocking it out. I was camping with Scooter (Coffee Cup) and Kickstand (Propeller) + his bf Theo whom I barely got to know through the week. I was in a tent, Scooter slept in his Honda and Kickstand + Theo slept in their very comfy, a/c filled RV. 

Day 3: Sunday

I was genuinely anticipating this day like crazy, because I was working to get certified as a Black Rock City Ranger – and I was successful. I was elated, thrilled, and felt very blessed. I honestly did not think I would make it, but they welcomed me in. It was a 10+ hour shift working with 3 mentors walking through the city and just being there to help people

What is a Black Rock City Ranger? They are a representative of the city that essentially works like a host at a party to keep people happy. Not cops. Not authorities. But, given the wrong circumstances there is problem solving techniques that have authority. I hope to never employ those, because I really enjoyed answering questions from people and helping them help themselves. 

  • Certified as a Black Rock City Ranger after a 10+ hour shift with 3 mentors! 
  • Went out after and had a great evening with my L.A. Boys

Day 4: Monday

Hard, hot day, which was going to be the theme for the rest of the week. 

Got to catch up with a lot of people this day, which I really needed. Still, missed a lot of people I wanted to see. 

Caught up with Raul and Dago after they arrived and visited them over at Comfort & Joy for a while

  • Santa & Zebra at the HOTD which filled me with joy
  • Matt, the rest of Land of Monkey – meeting up and hanging out for a while 
  • The guys from Dickstracted Camp – Estaban & Leo
  • Over to  Beardhaus to see Fireball and saw Migelitoo (a one time serious crush) 
  • Jill and Ron at Orphan Endorphin
  • Megan at Spanky’s (never saw Jonathan at any time I went by)

Day 5: Tuesday

Planned a day with Raul and Dago which did not go as planned. There were a few things that went really verkakte and I might have 2 full blown anxiety attacks over it. It was rough… like rough. It was my first night feeling overwhelmingly defeated and to the point in my head that was truly dark. It was going to happen again later in the week, but I did not handle it well and made some really bad decisions with where and how I spent my time. This might have been a huge breaking point for me. 

Day 6: Wednesday – my favorite night

Me standing over a piece I was excited to visit with Nico on Wednesday

My schedule for Wednesday was super booked. I went over to my old camp (Land of Monkey) to hang out, and as I started out I realized the boots I was wearing were cutting into my foot. So I turned around to change shoes. Ignoring how sore my feet were to begin with, I changed and went on. 

By later afternoon my feet were screaming at me for several reasons. The cut, the soreness of my bottom of my feet, and my knee kept going out. I walked back from Monkey in spite of it. 

Ra and Dago and Dimitri

However I had plans with the boys that evening. My bike had broken down. My feet were all I had. But I was bemoaning how sore I was and the lovely Ra (Raul and Dago) along with Rico managed to get a gold cart that 9 of us could ride on and tour the playa together enhanced to the max and have a great evening. This was the best night I have known in so long. I was so happy, filled with love, filled with pure joy. I sore feet.

Because I was working the next day (starting at 6pm), I bowed out on the kids at 2am and went to bed and got a good night sleep. 

Day 7: Thursday

My first duty night as a Black Rock City Ranger with a 6+ hour shift. I was sooooo worried I was going to end up with some kind of jerk, homophobe, agro-jerk that I had to prepare myself for anything. I did get partnered with a person named Ranger Group Hug. If a Care Bear and a Rastafarian had a baby you might recognize “Group Hug”. She was super amazing. 

On the other hand, my feet hurt so bad I was dissolving on the inside. I was not 100% there, but I pushed through it because I really wanted “Group Hug” to see me as someone fun and a good partner. She was infectious. When I got off my shift,  had to walk back to camp at a super slow pace. I ate something and went right to bed. 

Day 8: Friday – when it spiraled out

I was taking a day off between Thursday and Friday because I wanted to. I considered working another day, but I was at Burning Man to have more fun than work. Maybe that was where I was going wrong, because I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders. The pain from the previous 3 days was breaking me inside. 

Bonus! I was given a meal on the commissary from Burning Man for my Thursday work-shift. So, Scooter and I went down and I had real food – with meat in it! I ate chicken, I’m not that into meat but I did it. And it was tasty. With lots of veggies and iced tea!!! Yeah!!!!! 

On the way over, Scooter managed to get my bike “functioning”, but it was a problem most of the way. I had to step 5x to catch my breath. I was unable to control my breathing. It was crushing. SO, I told him at lunch I was thinking about leaving. It was the last straw and I was dying inside. 

My suite at Circus Circus

To tell you I was in a dark place in my head, would be an understatement. 

If I drove directly home I would have arrived about 1am, and I was already flamed out. So, I stopped at the Circus Circus after using Hotels.Com to find a place… ended up in a 1 bedroom suite that cost a pretty penny. Fuck. Ate at a buger place and slept like a baby in a large king sized bed alone. 

Day 9: Saturday -Circus Circus Hotel and driving home

The night before, I washed some of my clothes in the sink at the hotel because I could not find anything in the car after I parked. I got up, bailed on Reno, and went home to my honey-bunny. 


I have to learn about what brings me joy and what brings me down – in more ways than one. It would seem as plain as the nose on my face, but the mind, heart and id all seem to speak different languages. 

My own personal health issues took over at some point, be they mental or physical. I was not taking care of myself very good and I made it impossible for anyone around me to see how much I was struggling. Anyone who is reading this, any friend of mine who might dismiss this as drama, please unfriend me now and move on. I was in a deep, dark, bad place.

Friends of mine from Orphan Endorphin were dealing with a loss of a campmate, and that impact kept playing over and over in my head. I would never want to leave people I cared about in a wake of pain. Mostly, and seriously CMonster who matters to me a lot. 

I was right there. I could understand why he chose to leave. They… because there were others too. I heard about 2 people that week that planned their end and I was seriously trying to figure out if it was my turn. 

But that did not happen. I chose to leave BM because of the choices I made that were wrong for me. To find myself a better place to ponder my future… I left. 

6 months later

I am still alive… not that there is any great mystery to anyone paying any kind of attention. No one reads this blog any more and with the rise of Facebook, no one really goes past it.

  • I am still living in San Francisco and still living with my bf CMonster
  • I hate this living situation and would love it to change soon
  • I still have the job I talked about in my previous post which was about 6 months ago…
  • I am now working on my plans for Burning Man (see www.sunguardians,net)

So there ya go… a big update.

Lot’s going on

Well, I started a new job last week and it was neither as a designer or as a cook; in any way. It’s a job and one that pays better than anything I had over the last three years. So, I move on thinking practically and trying to make something out of my time remaining here in San Francisco.
2014_09_1440x300HanumanI did go and buy some clothes today… of which I was in serious need of. Most of my clothes are so old they are actually falling apart. And I have been wanting to dress like something less than a slob and have found some clothes that are not too expensive.
Still need to get a new place and get settled. I need a home and I need to find a place to live. CMonster and I keep focusing on a place together but I am wondering how reasonable and realistic that is. We have had a lot of stupid small fights lately but it could be that we have been living in a tiny box together for the last six months.
Anyway, I am still working on my burning man stuff. 2015 with my theme camp Sun Guardians is I wrote abut it in my BM Blog here but check out the Sun Guardians web site.

my mind

I don’t talk about certain things very often. Seems when I do it goes against the grain of the flow of the universe. Count this one up as one of my stranger entries.
1001711_217409428414080_1896676735_nEven my witchy friends don’t quite know how to wrap their heads around some if my shit. I swear nature tells me they should be the first ones on board my occasional crazy train but they’re not.
I am being vague on purpose. The purpose was mentioned in the first paragraph.
The world I live in is very different than yours. The solidness of air, the tingle of ambient energy, the radiance of a life force. I see into the souls of those who cannot see themselves.
Keep in mind my thoughts work in metaphors and pictures. I accept the world around me on the same premise.
It frees me to see it differently. I feel intense joy and in the secular world intense anger and resentment. Peace is hardly an option except when far removed from it all.
brainGood examples of this are several; Burning Man, Faery land (Radical Faery not mythical; though given the time of this entry I am sure it needed to be clarified), and just about anytime I can completely escape the digital leash.
There is a powerful vein of metaphysical energy in the world humans do not respect or honor. It can be a magical thing.
A radical faery I know once said that all humans have magic on them. I told him that simply was not true. Can’t say I know that for certain. But what I do know is seriously fucked up.
Now who sounds crazy now; yep, still me. Not sure why I needed to spill this now. Vague vernal vomit.
Wish I could just say it. But… Just flushing it out.

Post Burning Man thoughts

It’s been a week since coming back from Burning Man and the head trip continues. All the baggage I started off with has shifted on meaning.
1011623_10151877957531197_734630056_nI stayed sober, relatively speaking, most of the week. Booze and other things were not a priority. I also went to the burn on a shoestring budget and mostly on the wings of others so that helped. Turned out to be a blessing to be too broke and so busy that my energies were better focused.
Gave me a lot more time to think about priorities and my life scenario. I did a lot of reflection while celebrating a lot of friends I have not seen in a while.
For C Monster and I there is a closeness that came from it. Our relationship feels stronger.
For everything else I heard a message that resonated: “Put out to the universe what you want back.” To me that means I have to find something inside myself that allows me to be more positive.
Although I am a diehard optimist, I can be surprisingly negative and mean. I have been judgy and disgusted by people. Omg people make me angry!
At Burning Man this year I buried all my reactions and did all I could to let stuff flow tight off my back and I seem to have been better for it.
After coming back I started the new job and boy has it been tough. Feels like a younger man’s game.
Time will tell. But if I can be a better me I will embrace that.

Back from Burning Man

I arrived back in San Francisco in the weeeee hours of Tuesday morning (about 3:00 am) and had to be off to work by 6:00 am. The drive home took 2x longer than getting there. And no, not because of Exodus, as an experienced Burner might suggest, because it took less than an hour to leave Burning Man on Monday afternoon.
I had a smashing time with Foxy and Sarah on the way back… my Jewish Jersey Girl and my Essex Brit Girl… I kept hearing the theme from Anywhere is Essex in my head when we were hanging out… but that means nothing really (bad Brit reality show).
I have been exhausted and feeling under the weather all week. But today I feel fairly strong. With the exception of being hit by a bus yesterday… yes for real.
I will talk more about my trip here and on www.QueerBurners.com as the days progress. I have so little time.

Here’s the deal… me going to Burning Man

So, I had pretty much given up the idea of getting to Burning Man this year but Freddy called me and got me all stoked. Why did it take so long?
The problem is that if I go and do it wrong it will be very bad for me financially. That is, I could end losing a job I want and love. I will need to be gone for about a week and a half from a restaurant that is just opening.
How do I do it???


My current budget does not give me much room for making this journey but there are ways to afix that and Freddy has suggested I fly down into Vegas and ride up with him and Mike. That could work nicely. AND, the fact I could lose my job over this is additionally troubling.

My Mom

My mom has threatened to kill me if I go… yes, she has the right to. She brought me into this world she can take me out.

My Art Project

Have to get to the playa somehow and before opening (Saturday at the latest) as I am also trying to get early entry passes. I need to see if there is someway to get the project transported there for me and get help setting it up… if and only if I can get placed in Center Camp. I am not prepared for a playa art project. Alternatively, I will place it at camp with directed lighting… or not at all.


Is there someone or someones out there that might be able to help on any level?

  • transporting the art piece
  • making a donation to help with my transportation …
  • then… will I have to look for a job?