Radical Inclusion: That’s So Gay?

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Of all the Ten Principles, I think the one most of us struggle with at one point or another is Radical Inclusion. Usually, that’s because it is in near-direct opposition to Burning Man’s North Star, the ideal that brought most of our bedraggled, bedazzled butts to the Black Rock in the first place: Radical Self-Expression.

Usually, when I think about Radical Inclusion, I think about the way we judge other Burners for doing it wrong in various ways: Too much oontz oontz or a preponderance of yarn dreads…wearing cargo shorts instead of hot pants…watching the event through the window of an RV…marching around screaming CHIIIRRRRRRRP when other people are trying to sleep. There are a million ways to do Burning Man, and just about any way you choose to do it, somebody’s going to have a problem with it.

But recently, my perception of the Radical Inclusion debate shifted, when I realized that we as a community might have an inclusion problem on a much more basic level.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted in a public forum that she, a gay woman, would like her community to stop using gay slurs like “fag,” particularly from one straight person to another. Straight people calling each other gay as an insult, she said, was indirectly perpetuating homophobia.

Well, she didn’t say it as nicely as that, and the reaction from the straight community was pretty strong. “We can call each other what we want,” the straights responded, almost in one voice. “It’s just a word, and we are just expressing ourselves.”

The resulting debate lasted for weeks, hurt a lot of feelings, and in the end nobody had an answer. Even among a relatively tight-knit group of Burners, it was impossible to agree. Is it acceptable to use gay slurs, or not? Are they even slurs if you don’t mean them that way?

Meanwhile in Sochi, the Olympic Games kicked off amid controversy over Russia’s strict anti-gay laws. There, the culture is very different from inside our Black Rock bubble: you can technically be arrested for talking about gay rights at all. Homophobia and anti-gay violence are common, as is discrimination.

Vladimir Putin insisted that the Games were a safe place for LGBTQ athletes, though he did have one message to the homosexuals: “Just leave kids alone, please.” The fact that homosexuality is still, in many cultures, equated with pedophilia is a pretty good indicator that LGBTQ people are still not fully understood or respected everywhere. Of course, the world responded with messages of tolerance—but the response isn’t what bothers me. It’s the initial intention: Gay people are not accepted in some cultures, full stop.

Here in the States, gay rights are finally improving to the level of near-equality—and for many people, it feels like it’s okay to relax a little. Calling your friend a “fag,” according to millions of straight American males, is practically a term of endearment. It’s a gentle insult, usually used as a joke. It’s far more common outside the Burning Man community than within it, but because our community is based in America, you can’t go too long without hearing it.

“Gay” isn’t the only epithet I hear from my American brethren and sistren. I am personally guilty of calling things “retarded” now and then. And there are plenty more. We use them; we hear them; we laugh. We don’t think too much about what it means here in our community, compared to what it means halfway around the world.

It usually doesn’t mean anything, but it does, but it doesn’t—but it does.

Defaced art at Burning Man 2006. Photo by Lance Robotson (enhanced to make that graffiti 'pop')
Defaced art at Burning Man 2006. Photo by Lance Robotson
(enhanced to make that graffiti ‘pop’)

So here are some questions for you:

Do you use epithets, jokingly or not?

How does that work with your understanding of Radical Inclusion and Radical Self-Expression?

With your knowledge of tolerance issues in the modern world, would you ever consider changing how you use words with loaded meaning?

Are there things you might say in the default world but wouldn’t say at Burning Man, or vice versa?

The Hun has been building and blogging Black Rock City since 2005 as a member of the Department of Public Works. You can find her at jhfearless.com.

Top photo: Big Words by Laura Kimpton, Burning Man 2011. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

About the author: The Hun

The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a ten-year commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.

110 Comments on “Radical Inclusion: That’s So Gay?

  • christine says:

    I can’t believe we still need to have discussions in this day, age, and supposedly enlightened community on whether epithets are acceptable if you are not a member of the oppressed group the slur was intended to disparage.

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  • Dan says:

    “We can call each other what we want,” the straights responded, almost in one voice. “It’s just a word, and we are just expressing ourselves.”

    That’s pretty mind boggling. It’s pretty much the right of any minority group to decide the terms used to identify themselves. Refusal to respect that is the sort of thing that makes me NOT want to be a Burner. (oh and I’m a gay one at that)

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  • Sam says:

    It always seems like “no big deal” to the people who are already in the position of majority power. To those on the other side of the power-equation, it can be a big deal indeed.

    To me, it is just a matter of basic respect. I don’t see minority groups as trying to “censor” me or force me to use language in a certain way – it is just a request, “hey, could you please be respectful of me?”. I’m amazed at how many people think that just respecting someone’s simple request for dignified terminology is some sort of onerous chore. What do you gain by NOT being respectful? How hard is it really?

    I mean, imagine the following conversation:
    “Hi, I’m Dave!”
    “Hmm, I’m going to call you Fuckweasel.”
    “Well, I’d prefer Dave.”
    “Why are you trying to censor me? You can’t control my language!!”
    “Uh, Ok…”

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  • Abby says:

    Hah! I CAN actually imagine that conversation above. “Hi Mark! I’m gonna call you Cooler Puker!” Maybe the guy just puked in my cooler! What?! Don’t tell me how to live!
    But more seriously, I was watching “The Talk” the other day that was discussing, I believe it was, the NFL banning the use of the “N” word. The African American women thought that was going a step too far. They felt that African American players should be able to call each other that, if they wanted to. The white women disagreed and felt that although the banning might be a bit much, the word should not be used.
    My question is: If it’s okay for THIS person to use a word, how can we teach THOSE people not to use it? If kids hear the “N” word on the radio in a song, or hear football players using it, how do they learn not to use it? Wouldn’t it just be easier — and more respectful, in the long run — to teach EVERYONE not to use that word?
    Once upon a time the word “gay” meant “happy, gleeful, joyous.” No longer.
    I’m not personally a big fan of political correctness yet I do my best to moderate my speech when I’m with people who I either don’t know well, who I know are sensitive, who may be offended by my use of a word, etc. I guess it’s a case-by-case basis.
    In other words: There’s no hard and fast answer.

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    • Pedro says:

      Can you please stop using term N-word and just say “banned using word Nigger” so people don’t need to google what the heck you are talking about. Thanks. You are not calling anyone, you are just describing the situation. Using the n word phrase is as stupid as him who cannot be named.

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    • John rogan says:

      Afro-unAmericans?…just saying!

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  • Landry says:

    Sam has it right.
    Its a matter of respecting your fellow human being. Im sure that there are other “terms of endearment” that can be used in place of any that might hold a lot of pain for people who were maybe called “faggot” right before they got their asses beat on the regular.
    This conversation is exhausting. The majority doesnt get to decide when its ok to appropriate hateful words and they dont get to tell the minority that they need to ‘relax’ about it. Have some compassion for the shit other people have had to endure in their lives before we got to this kumbaya moment in gay history where, you know, everyone is tolerant and all gay people have the same rights as everyone else and no one is gay bashed or murdered for being gay…oh wait. Never mind. Carry on calling people “fag” and thinking its NBD.

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  • Cobalt says:

    A couple of points here. First, know you audience. Often how you chose to say something is governed by the situation and the people around you. Second do no harm. There is often a better choice of words than to go with the vernacular that may also carry unintended perjurative meanings.

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  • Yooloo says:

    Burners are the most politically correct group of people I’ve ever met. There is so much you can’t say around them. The irony is that they tout themselves as being so inclusive and tolerant. They are anything but.

    Call the women in your camp, ‘girls’, and they will come down on you like a ton of bricks and they’ll call you a misogynist. Say something is ‘gay’ and they’ll say you’re homophobic. And the list goes on and on.

    In many ways, Burning Man is one giant victimhood olympics.

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  • Charley says:

    At Burning Man last year, someone asked me about what I thought of GoogleGlass. I told him I thought they were gay. Turns out he was bi-sexual and had a rant how I was homophobic and hated gays. It didn’t matter to him that I’ve spent the last 12 years in San Francisco. He said I’m probably a masochist for choosing to live in a city full of the type of people I hate so much.

    I still think only fags wear GoogleGlasses.

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  • Landry says:

    “Burners are the most politically correct group of people I’ve ever met. There is so much you can’t say around them. The irony is that they tout themselves as being so inclusive and tolerant. They are anything but.”

    probably because “inclusive” generally equals” “careful about what you say because it may be assholey to say it and you dont want to alienate people if you are trying to be inclusive”

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  • TinyTim says:

    “probably because “inclusive” generally equals” “careful about what you say because it may be assholey to say it and you dont want to alienate people if you are trying to be inclusive”

    I 100% agree. There is no room for intolerance amongst Burners. Personally, I am Pangender and nothing gets me angrier than some ignorant Cisgender referring to me and a ‘him or ‘her’. It makes me want to rip my eyeballs out and shove them up their ass so they can see I’m actually Pangender. Although I used to be Gender Fluid, but I changed last year. Before that I was Intersex, but that didn’t last very long.

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  • Landry says:

    “Politically correct” is just a term assholes came up with so they can dismiss people who have the nerve to want to be respected. Demanding not to be stereotyped is not political correctness, it’s a human right, and you are not some hero for refusing to respect people’s right to be treated like humans.

    — Dion Beary (via loveyourchaos)

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  • Beatrice says:

    Do you use epithets, jokingly or not?
    -I am too guilty of using the words “retard” “gay” “fag” in my every day discourse. Mostly because I spend wayyyyy too much time on the internet.

    How does that work with your understanding of Radical Inclusion and Radical Self-Expression?
    -Maybe this idea has presented itself and maybe this hasn’t, but when you use the word RADICAL you are pretty much leaving no room for error, as this word generates an all or nothing mentality. It is extreme, it is fundamental. If these words (fag, gay, retard) make other people feel uncomfortable and excluded, than we are not practicing any of these in radical form.

    With your knowledge of tolerance issues in the modern world, would you ever consider changing how you use words with loaded meaning?
    -Yes. I really do try to think before I say things. Sometimes it is difficult because my exposure to them is so high, but in the end I have tried to replace these words. Instead of gay, I use the word lame. Instead of fag, I like to use the word cunt more. (Oh god if anyone has a problem with cunt then you need to get a life)

    Are there things you might say in the default world but wouldn’t say at Burning Man, or vice versa?
    -There are lots of things I find myself saying at BM that I don’t say in the default word, and vice versa. I think this has to do with the group mentality.

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  • Joney says:

    >Demanding not to be stereotyped is not political correctness, it’s a human right

    I don’t think that’s specifically listed in the Constitution as a human right. I suppose you mean, free speech is a human right… In that case, being politically incorrect is also a human right. Unless you subscribe to the new-normal where your rights end where my feelings begin.

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  • The Hun says:

    Thank you Beatrice for your thoughtful answer!!! Much appreciated.

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  • The Hun says:

    All, this is a controversial topic and we all know it; self-examination is a good place to start from.

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  • Rumor says:

    The straights did not respond with 1 voice, I’m also a part of the community where this came up. I am straight, it costs me nothing to stop using a loaded word, so I simply wont use it. And seriously to the other straights out there who are up in arms about this let me put it to you another way. One of your friends asked you to stop using a word because it offends them, it literally costs you nothing to stop using the word. No one will ever punish you for using it. This person had no other avenue but to appeal to your humanity to get you to stop using a word that hurts them. Well your humanity has been tested and found to be wanting. So just fucking use another word. If you must use a word to insult someone, call them an asshole, or a dick, or a shithead. But don’t use a word that dehumanizes an entire group of people to bust your friends’ chops. So straights seriously shut up and pick a different word, expand your fucking vocabulary. I personally have not used the word in question since one of my friends on a much more personal level expressed that it was a hurt word. And I thought hey I dont want to cause my friends pain with something I say. SO. FUCKING. SIMPLE. Why is this even still an issue? Why do you still think it’s ok to hurt people when not hurting them is so easy? And BTW radical self expression means whatever you want to express. So maybe its indicative of a much larger problem when marginalized groups express themselves by pointing out just how marginalized they are. White cis-gendered males are never marginalized, never discriminated against. We have never been victimized by hate speech because there are no hate words for white cisgendered males (cracker, but even writing that word makes me laugh). We have nothing but priveledge and that includes the priveledge to say whatever we want. Half the time the people who are oppressed get more oppression when they point out that they are oppressed. Like for example in the comments above. We as a community are better than this. We owe our friends better than this.

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  • john says:

    real radical inclusion means inclusion of anti-gay people too

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  • Teapot says:

    >White cis-gendered males are never marginalized, never discriminated against.

    Here we have the guilt of the self-loathing white heterosexual male. He has never been marginalized, so he is ready for abuse – in fact, he desires it because he feels he deserves it. He shall make amends for what his ancestors did to the poor, indigenous hard working honest people of… wherever.

    He is responsible for all the wars that ever happened and will ever happen; all the evil in the world. Guilty as charged. Time to accept your punishment, cis-scum.

    Since you cannot be offended – STFU you puke. On you knees!

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  • Rumor says:


    I’m not responsible for all the evil in the world, and I refuse to take responsibility for it implicitly or explicitly. But to act like giving up a little bit of the priveledge that I enjoy (or that another cisgendered male might enjoy) is somehow oppressive is false. And BTW yes I can be offended, with personal attacks, as I still have an ego and it is just as vulnerable to injury as anyone else’s. But I have no cultural frame of reference as to what it feels like to be disparaged based on what I cannot control. I may be offended that someone attacks me personally or insults my ideas, but you simply cannot employ a slur like fag to invoke the kind of emotion that it evokes in LGBTQ folks. And your comment misses the point entirely. I dont think I deserve that. I know that no one deserves that. And further I dont think that giving up the use of one word is akin to self flaggelation. Finally, if you want me to get on my knees and take abuse you need to be an attractive woman and we need to have a discussion about boundaries first.

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  • The Hun says:

    Here is a reminder to keep it civil.

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  • Carousel says:

    @kingkong [citation needed]

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  • yummy girl says:


    Check your privilege.

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  • Tandy says:

    I really think it should just be based on mutual respect. This burner expressed her feelings and the comments in turn was the repercussion of this group. I don’t want to hurt someones feelings if than I can help it. Intentional us of a term or slur when someone doesn’t like it around them is mean. I don’t use the term punk or punked any more because I learned it referred to being ass raped in prison. Don’t want to stir up anything there for someone.

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  • Summer says:

    Tandy: “Punk” was first also a circus term meaning “looks like an animal with two heads but it’s really taxidermy art.” So you’ve got to be careful not to discriminate against fake two-headed dead animals under glass as well. But then again Donny the Punk was one of the first New York punk rockers, and he WAS a bottom in prison sometimes, unfortunately, and much beloved in the scene. So it could be that a whole genre of music is named for solidarity with gay people. Or circus freak displays. CHIIIIRRRRP!!

    I used to be fond of saying “so gay, but not in a sex way.” Always kinda thought “gay” was an expression from the 1910s-20s that used to mean “happy” but GenX sarcastified it to mean this twee, saccharine kind of forced, um, gaiety – and that it’s retained this definition too, even as LGBTQ ppl have adopted it as their signifier of choice. But then use of the word in ANY capacity starts a discussion just like this one, so it actually saves energy to just say “twee” instead.

    Not to be disingenuous because I know how many in the majority use it as a homophobic epithet…that hilarious gay people use on each other, but that still doesn’t mean straights can follow suit. It’s like the N-word or the B-word: don’t call me one if you’re not one yourself. As a sometime B-word, I can confirm this etiquette works best. ;)

    but yall can take the term “punk” from my cold dead punk rock hands!

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  • Tulip says:

    Dear Summer
    >but that still doesn’t mean straights can follow suit. It’s like the N-word or the B-word

    I don’t think it’s fair to the readers to refer to the N-world when all the readers know you’re talking about the term, nigger. It places that word in the minds of the readers, while escaping yourself from the consequence from using the word.

    ‘Straights’ is now a derogatory term, used as badly as ‘the gays’. If you want to foster that animosity, you have the right of free speech to hide behind. Marginalizing “the straights” is as bad as marginalizing “the gays”. You should know this because presumably you graduated from the 4th grade. But please correct me if I’m wrong. There’s nothing wrong with children at Burning Man.

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  • The Hun says:

    Tulip, please stop with the personal attacks on people you don’t know. You are not making your point very effectively, unless your point is to raise random strangers’ blood pressure. Is it?

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  • Summer says:

    …either this is bad satire, or nobody point at Tulip, who may take it to be a “finger-fun” and call the cops.

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  • Susan says:

    @The Hun:

    Attila the Hun and his bloodthirsty barbarians tortured, raped, and murdered all who stood in their way. This is fact! I am incredibly offended by you honoring such a misogynist, evil person in history. I feel scared by such a reference to the Hun in reference to the peaceful humanity of the Burning Man community.

    Apparently, you don’t care at ALL about the women the Hun murdered and raped. Disgusting. I’m writing my congress woman.

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  • Summer says:

    Damn you, auto-correct!

    Finger-GUN. ::ahem::

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  • Susan says:

    Take your misogyny and your hated of LGBTRG community back to where every you came from!

    I thought I was living in the 21st Century. This just makes me sick. Such hated.

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  • Summer says:

    Of course I am morally opposed to finger-fun, since I’m all thumbs.

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  • Oliver Bunny says:


    I think you should calm down. No one has anything against you. My sister is a member of the LGBTRG Community, and she has experienced some of the things you talk about, so I empathize with you. Not all the members of the BMorg are enlightened about such things. It will take time for them to see things the way we see things. Just be patient. The spirit of the playa is with you. We will prevail.

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  • Summer says:

    All opposable parties should settle this Burning Man-style — in THUMBDERDOME.

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  • Oliver Bunny says:


    Do you come from the land of Plenty?

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  • Jazz says:

    @Oliver Bunny

    Is that reference to Men at Work or Leonard Cohen, because Cohen wasn’t a full Jew. Just wondering… Thanks!

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  • Oliver Bunny says:

    Thank you, Jazz, for noticing the subtle difference in the culture. Leonard Cohen wasn’t a full Jew, so we couldn’t write songs about him until we found out he was a gay because we weren’t Jews. Everything went easier after that.

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  • The Hun says:

    That was a finger The Hun. THUMBDERDOME is on.

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  • Tina says:

    Thanks, Oliver Bunny. It means a lot that L Cohen wasn’t a fag, or at least a FULL fag. So I can still listen to his music without barfing.

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  • Cavendish says:

    Ah, ‘THUMBERDOME’ is spelled w/ to H’s I believe.

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  • The Hun says:

    I had actually left out the ‘D’ – don’t worry, fixed it.

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  • GaianNeuron says:

    Are there things you might say in the default world but wouldn’t say at Burning Man, or vice versa?”

    No. Well, except for some friendly trolling on the playa.

    That person I’m trying to be at the burn? That’s who I want to be in the default world as well.

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  • It was on fire when I got here says:

    1. What does this have to do with Burning Man?
    2. Calling someone a fag, or retarded or “that’s so gay”…
    Are we back in high school? Do we really even need to discuss this and to explain why it’s ignorant and immature?

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  • Let’s get straight on gayness! Saying, “It’s so gay!” calling someone a “fag” or anything like that is not ok! Why? Because teasing someone for being gay is like teasing someone for having skin or breathing air. You wouldn’t do it because there’s nothing funny about it. So why is it ok when it comes to sexuality? It really isn’t. You may justify it as harmful teasing. I have straight friends who say, “But I’m not prejudice. You know that.” And others who say they mean know harm. And they think they are very evolved and so it gives them permission to joke around in this way. But you do not have permission. Being gay is no laughing matter. It can make life harder. It can often prevent people who want families from having them. It creates lots of hardships that heterosexuals never face. And it does create prejudice – everywhere. There are even certain countries where it is punishable by death. For what? Being simply as God has created. Plus, coming out is not something that happens once, it is something that has to be repeated over and over and it is a huge pain in the ass (no pun intended). So before you use homosexuality in any kind of joking way, remember how much strength and courage it takes to actually be gay and tell your gay friend how much you understand them and how much you admire them instead. Period!

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  • Radical inclusion does not mean inclusion of anyone who is prejudice. That is a contradiction prejudice people use to justify their prejudices. Radical inclusion means to accept people. If you don’t accept all people as God made them you are not practicing radical inclusion. God does not make prejudice. That is learned.

    That means if you are prejudice, you are not actually practicing radical inclusion.

    That means that those of us who do accept different people have the right to point out that people who do not, are actually not.

    So stop trying to use radical inclusion as a means to justify bad behavior. It is contradictory.

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  • Julie says:

    @Michael Tronn

    You sound really bossy.

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  • guy says:

    this post is so gay

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  • Harinama says:

    I was feeling gay today, but after reading this post, not so much. Hopefully i’ll feel more gay tomorrow.

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  • GraciesDaddy says:

    When something like this comes up, I just revert to my Alabama Redneck roots and simply respond:

    “Ain’t right. It just ain’t right.”


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  • Scott K says:

    We… talk about this stuff all the time. We, members of the LGBTQ++ burners population out there on the playa but get back-burnered and ignored because it seems to some we might be crying about something a lot of other burners take for granted on the playa; safety.

    The blog itself barely touches the surface of the experiences out there of homophobia whether intended or not. It is amazing how many things people take for granted. BUT! The power of some words used are only as great as we are willing to give them.

    Call me a “fag” and I might stare at you waiting for you to make your point. I love the word. I hate when words are used only to hurt someone. Two bro’s on the playa saying this or that is “…so gay” or calling his buddy a ‘fag’ because he did something is just disrespectful.

    Me, personally, not so sensitive to these things. I have seen people behave a lot worse. It’s up to all of us to take responsibility for ourselves, evolve and involve our fellow beings, and sometimes know words can hurt.

    Again, this blog barely touches the surface of what really happens. I hope it made some positive awareness somewhere on someone.

    Scott aka Toaster
    QueerBurners [dot] Com

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  • Sweetlips says:

    Personally, it’s highly offensive and should be avoided when used in a deliberately negative tone. However, there can be exceptions. It’s well meaning “bigotry-lite”.

    If you feel compelled to go there, know that you’re helping make someone sad, hurt, angry, violent, or further depressed in order to make yourself feel a moment of chemical brain joy.

    If you get off making people feel that way, then that’s your right, but you’re a piece of shit to me, and I’d not respect you… unless maybe it was one of those times that it came off as sorta funny.

    Abusing the phrase is *always* offensive. Always. And invokes a reaction when used by “straight” groups, as it should, because it reads as ignorant hate speech from a gay perspective.

    Look straighties, we know you can be creative too. Invent some new, funny things to say in your social circles, when you want to be critical or insulting to others for fun.


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  • I have a clearly defined perspective and it is actually correct. You don’t have to agree, but nonetheless the way Radical Inclusion is defined is the way I have defined it.

    Radical Inclusion does not mean to include people who don’t include others. That is contradictory. Do you get the difference? It’s subtle, but also polar.

    By definition, haters may choose to hate, but then as a result of hating, they are not practicing Radical Inclusion.

    @Julie Says

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  • susan b says:

    My co-Jews call refer to ourselves as such. “You’re such a Jew”, etc.
    We publicly refer to one another as “Yid” and the like…but we never say the word that rhymes with “like”. If a non-Jew makes a reference that sounds slighting or pejorative, my reaction depends on how well I know them.
    Friends may say what they please. I know that they mean no disrespect.
    From acquaintances? I leave the door open to discuss why it is offensive…or let it go. I think some teasing helps loosen the boundaries between us and promote true understanding, but context — and degree of connection — make a difference.

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  • Sleepingbear says:

    Impact trumps intention. Full Stop.
    It doesn’t matter what your intention was/is, if you are hurting someone else than you are doing it wrong.

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  • Thea says:

    I’m a bisexual woman who currently has a monogamous relationship with a man, so I ‘pass’ as straight, and really don’t mind if people assume I am, mainly because I really couldn’t give a flying flip about what people assume about me. I’m also a member of my local BDSM community, which means that I see a lot that the vanilla community doesn’t. The cardinal rule in that community is “don’t scare the straights” in other words, don’t draw attention to yourself in public that makes a vanilla or straight-laced person uncomfortable, hence “the straights” which I’ll confess, is who I thought y’all were talking about when you referred to “the straights”…color me confused!

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  • wawuzisayn says:

    People need to stop taking everything so personnel, unless, of course it is directed at them! Me giving a friend shit in a joking way, should not offend someone I am not talking to. Of course, if I know for a fact that the company around me is gay, black, jewish, polish, or whatever(you get the point), I would tone it down not to offend them. However, if I don’t know you, don’t be offended, I don’t know you! Realize it is in jest and not directed at you! I can’t live my life worrying if something I do or say is offending someone else. Please, get over it!

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  • Rico Suave says:

    When I was in middle school and high school my friends and I used “gay” as a synonym for stupid, dumb or bad. Now that I’m older I don’t use gay as a pejorative and I can’t remember the last time I used the word faggot, it wasn’t funny anymore for me after having seen the discrimination my gay friends were experiencing.

    That’s not to say I don’t use insults and jeers on a regular basis (I do). I call someone a pussy if I think they’re being needlessly cautious. I will call someone retarded if they do something especially stupid (I’m trying to cut back on that one). I don’t like it when other guys use “gay” and “fag” as insults, but even though I think it’s immature I think I would be holding myself to a double standard if I called them out.

    Everyone uses some sort of insult among their friends. At the root we are simply trying to improve them by exposing their faults.

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  • William Morrissey says:

    My belief as a gay man is that it’s much more important that we focus on what we believe in rather than the use of terms. Slang words are offensive to any minority groups and can lead to isolation. But on the same front gays in England have claimed ownership of previously offensive terms. This has empowered the lgbt community and has disempowered the bullies.

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  • zharth says:

    FYI: The principle is radical *inclusion*, not radical politeness. Not saying it’s okay to be a bigot, just that, as far as Webster’s is concerned, inclusion includes bigots…

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  • UVee says:

    One thing that really has my panties in a bunch lately is non-disabled people calling each other “ableists.” If you’re not disabled or a non-compensated primary caregiver to a disabled person, PLEASE FFS KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF. It stinks of privilege.

    I’m crippled. I know it. It sucks sometimes, but fortunately there’s a really, really big law called the Americans with Disabilities Act that does a really, really good job of forcing organizations and corporations to make the little changes that allow gimps like me to participate in society in a mostly ordinary way (now if we can just do something about the 38% unemployment rate of disabled persons actively seeking work, the law that lets an employer pay as little as $0.23 per hour to disabled persons because of accommodations needed, or maybe just increase permanent disability payments to the point where we’re no longer the single largest minority of homeless persons that would be great.)

    And no, Burners and Burning Man are NOT awesome at being radically inclusive to the largest minority group AND the most federally protected class in the USA. Are you one of those dicks that cuts the ADA locks off the accessible portos, when we literally have to get our hands all over everything in there and maybe even crawl on the ground to and climb on the toilet if we’re using a motorized chair and can’t self-transfer sideways? Are you the DPW employee that wouldn’t let me take my wheelchair to the portos at box office because there were no accessible portos along the entry route at gate opening? Are you the ranger who had an empty SUV who told me that his car was “full” (of hot air, I guess) and wouldn’t give me a ride from the art car I was on at CORE burn that didn’t have a wheelchair ramp and got trapped in by other art cars and the portos were too far for me to get to with my walker? Are you a board member that referred to a wheelchair as a “safety hazard” and restricted my access to an event? (yes, I have that in WRITING.) Yes, the majority of my complaints refer to getting to the portos- the ONLY thing that RSR doesn’t require all participants to provide for themselves. You know what I’m NOT bitching about? People using words that I might maybe find degrading. I’m far, far more concerned about getting to the portos.

    So, yeah. Enough with the “ableism” and calling each other “ableists.” Fix yo shit, or STFU.

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  • Wilburner says:

    How do you feel when people near you are speaking a language you don’t understand and then they start laughing? Do you feel they might be laughing about you? Are you paranoid? So, I would like to request only English be spoken at Burning Man. Or, maybe, no laughing unless you are speaking English. Obviously, the answer to all this discussion is between the speaker and the listener. Water tight rules for the whole world have never worked. Both sides need to do a little self reflection. Genuinely explaining to a friend why a word is hurtful may even strengthen your friendship. But, don’t expect even your best friend to change in 5 minutes. Trying the same explanation with a stranger and you become an evangelist. And, between those two extremes, are the choices one makes about who to associate with. Radical inclusion doesn’t mean rounding them up and insisting they be fit four your company. It means including those who want to be included. These are my thoughts. Here are some other thoughts.

    Radical Inclusion
    Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
    (even blasphemers)

    Radical Self-reliance
    Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
    (inner strength?)

    Radical Self-expression
    Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
    (some may see your humor as offensive)

    Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
    (open your heart before you ask someone to change – especially if you know you’re right)

    Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

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  • lurker says:

    Aw geez. This again.

    Teen scoop folks, radical inclsion. Radical. Not standard. That means everyone, The straights. The panoply of recently discovered genders, otherminded, and all the shapes, sizes twists and turns of this and all other quasi-intelligences.

    You don’t show tolerance by accepting things you like. Tolerance is accepting things that you personally don’t like–but some other person does, see?

    When you practice radical inclusion you understand that you’re going to hear, see and maybe experience things outside what you normally find comfortable. And that means stuff like people saying ‘gay’ or ‘retarded’, or ‘cis-‘ or ‘straights’.

    It means you take that extra second to see if personal insult was offered before you get your knickers in a twist.

    I could use the old ‘sticks and stones’ thing here, too. Words don’t really have power unless you give it to them(and, no, I am not referring to prolonged deliberate verbal abuse here).

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  • Charissa says:

    A couple of years ago I found using those terms to be a problem for me as the number of my homosexual friends increased, and I’ve found a way to remove the derogatory words without having to change my reactions or thought trains.
    Some examples:
    Instead of, “that was retarded”, use “that was ridiculous”
    Or when angry, “that’s irritating”, rather than “that’s gay”

    Depending on the situation, you can replace those derogatory terms with words like; eccentric, ridiculous, irritating, flamboyant, unusual, and many others without being insulting or discriminatory.

    It’s made a huge difference in my attitude towards people, maybe others can benefit from this technique as well.

    <3 Love & Light

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  • lucifurious says:

    this whole thread is gay!

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  • mati says:

    Do you use epithets, jokingly or not?

    I do amongst my friends and not in public spaces, somtimes. I have my limits. I trust that my close friends will tell me if they are feeling like my humour does not work for them. I do not trust that people generally will say anything or do i even think it is thier responsibility. I believe that if we are joking about somone else its usually at thier expense. Most of these jokes, humour, etc. is particularly poking at folks that are not inlcuded in the dominant expression of our world.

    How does that work with your understanding of Radical Inclusion and Radical Self-Expression?

    Take responsibility for your words. Know what your saying, why your saying them, understand the complexities of why calling each other a fag might be harmful or exclusive. If we want to invite one another into relationship and expression, take time to consider the impacts of your expression, is radical, thinking about systemic oppression and doing somthign about it is radical……..for example if your running around in moccassins, maybe check in with some indegenious folks and find out how they feel about the fact that thier ancestors got slaughtered for doing that and now this white dude is dancing around in them. Perhaps some folks are cool with it, perhaps some arent, then make a decision perhaps you like moccassins so much your willing to deal with the im pacts of that choice. This is how I roll when I appropriate things into my world…

    With your knowledge of tolerance issues in the modern world, would you ever consider changing how you use words with loaded meaning? I hate the word tolerance, I dont use it. Tolerance implies that i will let you do what you want but i think its wrong. Fuck it lets just accept each other……yes change words, change words particularly tolerance. I Love getting the news that what I just said is harmful then I can really get into the impact of my words, am I willing to keep calling a cop car a paddy wagon knowing that its creating a harmful story about irish folk?

    Are there things you might say in the default world but wouldn’t say at Burning Man, or vice versa?

    Not really.

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  • Martina the Martian says:

    So I remember calling this guy a fag once at burning man… it was the most perfect thing I could have called him. Do I have to tell you my sexual orientation yet?

    We were mobbin our van art car disabled mobility mutant, and we grabbed a fuzzy guyish creature in the night. We said we were kidnapping him. He proceeds to say “you kidnapped the wrong muthafka!” and grabs something out of his pocket, and say “hold out your hands kiddies!!!”

    He puddles everyone in the van (ruggedly, so that there are lakes of flourescent liquid under our black light in everyone’s hands, and then he looks at me “driver?”
    I decline, knowing that our ride was about to melt into the desert and we don’t even know quite where we are or what we want to do.
    He asks if there is anything else I could use, so I say sure, and ask for some sparkle pony smile dust.
    I follow him to his tent, and he looks everywhere, jovially cracking up. He pulled me into his tent wrestling me a bit, and I said “Get off… Fag! Hah ha ha”
    He loved it.
    He seemed assured by it, so much so he lept around telling his 2 silent compatriots, that I just called him a fag. Apparently he was worried about the undercover presence, and if the puddling wasn’t enough, he knew I was good company when I yelled that without worrying whether he was whatever sexual creature he was. We all then mobbed around losing our minds and finding them in long stares into the sky and the dirt and the raging fires and people all around. In hindsight we all collectively realized how dangerous and uncouth much of that night was, maybe all of it… But we all wanted to do it all and loved each other for it. No one got hurt per say. There is a time a place for yadda yadda yadda, and I’m not saying I’m right, but I say fag sometimes, and I hope it doesn’t actually hurt anyone, maybe that’s naive. Maybe I’m not gay enough to say it, maybe no one is… but I’m not gonna judge someone quick and harsh jus because they say the word. Peace to you, jus say the word and I’ll curb my enthusiasm… for you, not them.
    -Martina Nitram

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  • Shu says:

    Ignorant use of words seems to be ever popular these days. I cussed a lot when I was a teenager as a way of rebellion. Then my vocabulary expanded. Did people just become lazy with words? Is evolution just a myth? Is BM just full of privileged sheltered people that can’t relate to others struggles? Whatever the answer, have some compassion for the oppressed.

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  • dirty daddy says:

    years ago i heard a speaker say that she was offended when someone called her a bitch. she wondered why it was so , after giving it a great deal of thought as to why it bothered her it finally came to her that If that same person had called a chair it would not have bothered her because she knew she wasn’t a chair but wasn’t so sure she wasn’t a bitch. this story has served me well (that does not mean don’t get into trouble)

    there are people like Dr Sheldon Cooper (big bang) i know i am one i would never intentionally hunt anyone but i do.

    i have been to BM twice the first year was a pilgrimage to the temple it was very important that i burn a letter. i camped at AV and asked to be placed with other RV’s cause i had a geni it was my intention to run the geni from 3 to 5pm to cool off. having just arrived and exhausted i was asked to shut it down by a tent camper in the middle of the RV’s or she would have to move. it made sense to me the tent campers were on the other side and it was lot easier to move a one person tent. Next thing i know there was group telling i could shut it down or move. i shut i down. it did not want to go thru the process breaking camp they were only asking that i move about 20 feet the other of the fire lane.

    so what does that have to do with radical inclusion ? my first burn stated out bad a few days later i’m eating some mixed nuts. my buddy slim sees that i pick out the brazil nuts (never called them that before) i’m from south texas very few Blacks in Harlingen Tx the same person was about 10 ft away picks up on the word N—er toes. by the way i’m spanish, mexican and jewish . i grew up with discrimination it was not against the blacks they lived in the white neighborhoods now im being censored, hey not talking about people or persons im talking about NUTS does not matter dont use that word . i dont see it. Dr Shelden Cooper couple of days later she asked , how do feel about the jews? i thought she offering juice.

    the sad thing is she never sat down with me. every time she spoke she was 10 or 12 feet away she had no idea what the discussion was about i felt like she was taking shots at me. everyone knew i was there to burn a letter. at one point i was telling someone why i was there she butted in and stated , we know, your here to burn a letter. how rude.

    last year at the temple i met a lady that was grieving, she was writing a letter i asked if i could take her picture . i shared my experience with her. i was hoping to see her this year. i would like to know if she got free, but i am one of the 22k that did not get a ticket

    not all of us are there to party. radical inclusion i hooked up with DIY camp awesome group,i hope to get a ticket thru step.

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  • Tiahaar says:

    meh. People will find words to joke around or insult each other with in whatever language they speak. I’m a male who likes other males like me and was born long after the word ‘gay’ was adopted for same-sex attraction in the English speaking world. I prefer ‘queer’ myself. The national Gay/Lesbian/etc. groups should do a whole positive ‘That’s so Gay!’ campaign highlighting worthy member contributions to society. Nothing like owning a word to give it power for you :-)

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  • Katrina says:

    My alarm goes off in six hours, ahhhhh, the love/hate relationship we have to wake up calls.
    The beauty of this discussion? Education, and for some, a little something they might have not known about themselves.

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  • Nara says:

    This post and the ensuing discussion are interesting. I’m thankful somebody published a post on the this issue in the Burner community. I hope these discussions continue in productive ways. This post was lacking, however, in limiting the discussion to homophobia. It missed the mark by failing to address other issues at Burning Man. Specifically, the racist misappropriation that goes on.

    What I am talking about here is the neo-liberal, micro-agressive racism that abounds at Burning Man. As an example of what I mean, think about the prevalence of Native American head dresses, feathers in headbands, “tribal” wear, etc. Dressing up as other people’s ancestors for fun is not radical self expression. It’s offensive, harmful, and racist. Yes, racist. It perpetuates a centuries long practice of white people taking from indigenous and communities of color without understanding the significance and history of what they take and what they destroy. That’s probably going to push a lot of buttons. But really, think about it.

    I really wish the Burner community could reflect on this and, frankly, knock it off. Burning Man has the potential to be so much of what it claims to be. It is love, and it is revolutionary. But only to the extent that people radically self-reflect, self-educate, and stand in solidarity with others.

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  • Mansyn says:

    I’m someone who’s never been, but thinking about getting involved as I’ve always wanted to. The only thing that stops me is the fear that I don’t belong, or will be made to feel that way because I don’t fit a stereotype. I’m just an average guy who works a job to support his family, I had to take out my piercings and stop dying my hair a long time ago. I want to believe Burning Man would be a fun and accepting place for anyone who goes there to be fun and accepting.

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  • Poppasmurf63 says:

    Welcome to the United States of the Offended, where you too have the right to be offended. The golden rule, so simple and yet sooo very appropriate for so many things on so many levels. Yes society’s need to put everyone into square holes even if you have round edges is very difficult to overcome. I knew at 12 I was gay and hated myself for it. I finally gained the confidence to “come out” at 37 years of age. Am I scarred maladjusted? Not really, I came through it all ok. I was probably lucky. Obviously many others are not so fortunate. Funny story,
    I was on the elevator at work with a coworker one day not long after I came out. We are not besty’s but have always been civil. He jokingly made a comment when he got on the elevator with me, “oh hell you fags are coming out of the wood work”. I wasn’t sure how serious he was but it caught me at a bad time. I looked and him and said, “How would you like to have to get off this elevator and tell people how this Fag kicked your ass”? He got a very concerned look on his face and said, “I was just kidding man.” Turns out he isn’t really a homophobe, just very bad at starting conversations.
    As a teen I would have been devastated to have been called a fag or worse found out to actually be one. Today my skin is much more weathered against verbal slights casually tossed out. Call me a fag, queer, butt pirate yeah, so. You say that like it’s a bad thing? Look me in the eye and call me a Fucking Fag and we it’s time to open that can of WOOP ASS.

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  • *Starrbooty says:

    We are all a little gay, and it feels great.

    Something I’ve been noticing over the years at burning man is that gender identity, such as I am women, I need a man to confirm that, and, I am man, I need a woman to confirm that, generally reflects the default world.

    The reason I bring this up is imagine yourself if your preferred sexual partner is of the same sex and all around your are these people who are looking for partners of the opposite sex and all they are displaying is their pussy prowess, or ability to attract a cock, and maybe just a hint of singles bar desperation, and your in the middle of this trying to participate and embrace the principles of burning man. What if people were just a little less focused on getting some action, and little more focussed on the people around them, imagine how that might create not only more inclusive environment, but relax the whole obsessive drive that comes with pussy penis possession. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fucking, just remember there is more to life than that.

    Just the tip please.

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  • NobodobodoN says:

    KingKong: Your assertion is wrong because your words are wrong.

    An adult male molesting a boy is not a homosexual, he’s a pedophile. An adult male molesting a girl is not a heterosexual, he’s a pedophile.

    The vast majority of pedophiles pretend to be heterosexual, regardless of the gender of their victims.

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  • NobodobodoN says:

    As for the topic at hand, that’s come up a lot in some other groups I’m in, so I’ve given this a bit of thought, and realized that it’s a lot simpler than some people make it.

    If you act like a dick, people will treat you like a dick.

    If your Radical Self-Expression ™ involves insulting my friends, I will express myself about that. If you think I’m not being Radically Inclusive ™ enough of your bullshit, then you can be a little more inclusive of my friends.

    You can’t have it both ways. If your Self-Expression trumps my friends’ Inclusion, than my Self-Expression trumps yours.

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  • The Hun says:

    Thank you thank you to everyone sharing your thoughts!! Just want to let you all know I am reading them…

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  • Dr. Baron von Realz Esq. says:

    I would never use an offensive word or name that is used as a way of abusing or insulting a segment of the population that has unjustly suffered because of who they are. People have been beaten to death because they are gay, to reframe the word gay fag ect.. and give it a negative meaning only serves to further traumatize an already abused segment of the population. I know many say it’s just a word and seem offended that anyone would tell them what they can’t do or say. Maybe they just see it as a challenge “you just try and stop me from using it”. I can’t speak for the gay population (mostly because I am not gay) but take them at their word that reframing a word, that to a degree defines who they are, as being something ugly is traumatic and offensive.

    Dr. Baron von Realz Esq.

    “Confidence is attractive, but courage is beautiful”
    – Dr. Baron von Realz Esq.

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  • handro says:

    This is a ridiculous bordering on LUDICROUS post. Black Rock City is the #1 gayest city on the planet. Just look at the stats. We have the highest % of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and questioning folks compared to any city its size or larger in the world.

    I cannot think of a time that BM has been MORE gay. Its as gay as it can get… Please, find some other cause to rally around.

    And personally, as a gay guy, I really DON”T need some random straight woman sticking up for me. I could care less what words people use. I’m not a delicate wallflower.

    Burner Fag

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  • tom jennings says:

    ‘fag’ is not ‘just some word’. it has a long history as a weapon, often proceeding violence.

    asked to curtail one tiny adjective from your vocabulary and y’all get up in arms — ‘my freedoms! my freedoms!’ sheesh. what a bunch of babies.

    slut? whore? cunt? you really want to re-inject this shit into pop culture? for the nitwits in the crowd — it’s not C U N T the word, but the cultural baggage behind use of that english word, that demeans and hurts. even if ‘you dont think so’.

    is this really cutting edge cultural discussion amongst burners? i’m out of here.

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  • Nap snack says:

    After reading this I feel scared to express myself as everyone’s words seem to get thrown back in their face, but that seems like a bad reason to not speak.
    I have never identified myself by my sexual orientation, but I’m a man who’s recently fallen in love with another man and this has changed the way my friends act towards me. I guess I’m a white bisexual male, rich and no physical or cognitive issues. I use the words faggot, nigger, and cunt defend everyone else’s right to use these words. As my friends found out that I was now dating a man, there were a lot more jokes aimed at me about aids, pedophilia, and a lot more use of the word faggot. I’d never encountered this as a priveledged white male. I know them, I believe Their intentions to be good and playful, but there was a certain point where I felt so othered that I stopped hanging out with my friends. They have the right to say whatever they want, and I can decide whether i want to be there or not. That’s what happens when these words are used. People don’t feel like they belong and don’t want to be there anymore. I know it’s hard to boil yourself down to the lowest common denominator and restrict impulses to use words that you feel ok with, but the playa is our home. For many of us, It’s the only place that feels safe to be ourselves… I’ve rambled, and I’m sure I’ve said something stupid that will get thrown back in my face… But whatever. Everyone else on this thread has been judged and attacked by hatred… Maybe that’s something that we can all rally around together. Much love to everyone willing to express themselves!

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  • Elf says:

    Reading this post has made me ashamed of ever considering myself a burner.

    I understand that there are people who are as ignorant about inclusion/diversity as The Hun is; I am sad for The Hun that they chose to write this post without doing a reasonable amount of researching and thinking beforehand. And I find the decision of BMOrg to first publish and then publicize this article to be incredibly offensive.

    The issue is not just that whether it’s okay to use derogatory slurs shouldn’t be up for debate.

    There are people putting a lot of time and effort into trying to make Burning Man into an environment that feels safe to minority and LGBTQ communities – and instead of approaching those individuals and groups and giving them a forum, BMOrg has chosen to publish this drivel.

    This post is the exact sort of thing that keeps Burning Man white and straight.

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  • The Hun says:

    To those questioning me and the validity of this post: Trust me when I say that I am not “some random straight woman” and that I have personal experience with the issue presented here. I chose to post this because it is an issue that I care deeply about, and I welcome all opinions. I have not presented any personal information about myself. Please take care with the assumptions you make about people with whom you are not familiar.

    The reason I posted this was to incite debate. I found it deeply fascinating that this was an issue that was even up for debate in the first place, but when it first came up, it created very strong reactions. It is doing the same here, once again. My aim was to expose the passionate emotions surrounding this topic, and that is exactly what is happening.

    Please, keep talking. Just don’t shoot the messenger.

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  • Kitty Stryker says:

    Welp, thank you for making it clear that “radical inclusion” is not about making this space safe for marginalized people, but not calling out people who are being bigoted because we should “have a sense of humour”. I won’t be attending again.

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  • Kisses says:

    I think it’s important to respect the opressed and shift our language so that it is non offensive. I also feel that language is more then literal words, and people should take into consideration a persons deneanor, before dropping a discussion and honing in on a politically incorrect use of a word.

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  • Kisses says:

    I would also like to add that I feel people take offense FAR to often in life, instead of trying to understand different perspectives, which I am seeing ALOT in this blog conversation.

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  • jay says:

    radical inclusion? lets start with the ones that don’t costume up and are looked down on. Language, use at your own risk realizing that the life or condition you save may be your own. if people use language among themselves its their conversation. If you are that close to their conversation you sound like an employee of the nsa.

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  • Disco says:

    This post just got published on JRS so I’m late to the party.

    I returned to BRC this past year, after a financially induced 5 year hiatus. And I encountered many instances were a derogatory epithet was used by a, presumably, LGBT person toward another, presumably, LGBT person. (I say presumably because we were all in the, what’s now called, “Gay-tto”, either dancing at GlamCocks, or drinking at Celestial Bodies, or whacking off at Comfort & Joy.) Laughs all around.

    I also heard “that’s so gay” used at the Temple, with finger pointed at someone’s obviously heartfelt tribute to a loved one. I confronted the person, saying they really should show at least a little respect for the dead, and for the person in mourning. They were suitably contrite -ish, “Sorry, dude. Didn’t mean anything. Chill.” And would have left it at that, but had to say, “Never say what you don’t mean, if you truly don’t mean it.” They looked at me as if I’d just landed on the planet from Dagobah, and I started to walk away, but turned around and said, “Also. ‘South Park’ called from 2002. They’d like their joke back.”

    After reading all the comments here, and I did read all of them… THAT was fun. All I can say is “ALOT” is not a word. Not even alittlebit, and never awholelot. It’s two words. Get. It. Right.

    Disco. out.

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  • Issy Ismail says:

    I volunteer for a UK charity called Diversity Role Models that goes into schools to educate against LGBT bullying. Part of the workshop challenges the common use of “that’s so gay” as a negative. When we offer the replacement of that’s so black or so Muslim, pupils agree this is unacceptable, racist and Islamophobic and for the first time they put themselves in someone else’s shoes and do not brush off their comments by saying they don’t really mean it.
    I hate the political correctness gone mad brigade but the charity was set up a couple of years ago after a boy was called gay in school and killed himself by jumping off a car park roof. We either all need to be able to develop rhino tough skins whatever our age or help people to see that sometimes unintentionally comments can hurt to the point of tragedy. Burning Man has been very inclusive, supportive and thoughtful and your debate is welcomed. Issy in London :-)

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  • Hunter says:

    My friends & I had a game where we would yell offensive things at strangers, but inaccurately. To the man roller skating down the beach in pink hot pants, we’d yell ‘go back to Mexico, ya Pollack!” And of course, to one another, in brotherly jest, we’d call each other fags. We were 14 at the time & fancied ourselves as prankster progressives or something.
    I do think that there are words that, in context, have the power to hurt. The N word’s a great example, I think, because even sandwiched in between thoughtfully written disclaimers or subtly defensive preemptive apologies; it carries with it the expectation of an emotional reaction. It was used to subjugate and hate the most famously disenfranchised group of people in American history. It was also used to great satirical effect in Dave Chappelle’s ‘blind black white supremacist’ skit. In a happier future, maybe we can steal a hateful word from hateful people and turn it into something that isn’t so hateful.
    It can be difficult not to fill in the blanks when you hear something that’s usually uttered in ignorami, but rather than assume what’s being said, ask what’s being said. There’s always that chasm between what’s said and what’s heard. I don’t know, I just think that we should be moderating what we say so much as moderating how (and how hastily) we react to what we hear.
    Also, Richard Pryor is the Frederick Douglas of the 20th century in my opinion.

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  • adam says:

    I was severely bullied from grades 5-12 and ‘fag’ was the main slur. Hearing it today is unacceptable. As an adult I’ve been called fag by ignorant adults. It’s not a fun word for some of us to hear and since it makes me uncomfortable, I’d prefer people to use some other word in my presence. I can’t force it, but I’d appreciate the same respect shown to me that I show to others.

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  • Adrian Sebastiani says:

    What I ask is ….would a (non racist) white person use the N word against another person as ‘fun’? No as it may hurt the feelings of another person of colour.. As a gay man if my straight friends call me ‘fag’ that is cool because I now where their politics lie. If is yelled in public between straight men usually as an insult it hurts. SIMPLE.
    Last burning man I ate food off a woman’s breast..(first). Another time I went to a kissing booth-2 girls and 1 guy. I kissed the 2 girls on the mouth and the 3rd guy turned his head away for a kiss on the cheek. THAT wasn’t inclusive. It hurt. REALLY HURT. If he didn’t want the possibility of kissing a man he shouldn’t have manned the booth. it made me wonder if I wanted to return to Burning Man again. (I know, I know one bad apple does not indicate a general consensus but…

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  • Gorilla says:

    This is relatively mature discourse in the video game community where the words “gay” and “retarded” have been bandied about for comedic effect for ages. Debate then rose from the LGBT community and game journos to address the derogatory use of the word, which was then of course met with similar opposition along the lines of “it’s just a joke”.

    No. It’s not just a joke.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaymer and http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/07/do-gamers-use-the-word-gay-too-casually/

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  • Abby Brooke says:

    It’s a matter of respect. You either have it or you dont.

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  • Van says:

    To drag the discussion off in another direction, I think it might be productive to encourage the use of inventive and humorous invective, insults and interjections. (Ok, and alliteration.)

    When confronted with thoughtless behavior, I may wonder “what keeps their ears apart?” And, while I’m one who enjoys quirky costume, I still want to use the line “So, where should we hide you when the fashion police arrive?”

    An alternative to metaphor is to describe what the problem is.

    I think “Radical Self-Expression” is meaningless if used as an excuse for banal rude speech and behavior. I believe the term makes it incumbent on us to be inventive, not lazy.

    And if you do say something that offends someone else, apologize and shut up and try not to do it again. Protesting that you have a right to say what you want is asserting that the offended party’s right to say what they want are less than yours, which makes you both a jerk and a hypocrite.

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  • King Kong says:

    NobodobodoN: what they pretend is worthless because technically, by your assumptions, 100% should pretend they are bisexuals.
    So if the majority of the pedophiles is hetero, a small portion of homosexual pedophiles do all the agressions on boys, which proves again in an other way that homosexuality is related to pedophilia and should we had more homo in society the number of pedo victims would be faraminous

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  • eric says:

    I’m not going to censor my language for your feelings. Ever. In any context. What a stupid thing to have to say in 2014.

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  • Indiana says:

    I think “Christine” said is so well I’ll just say it again: “I can’t believe we still need to have discussions in this day, age, and supposedly enlightened community on whether epithets are acceptable if you are not a member of the oppressed group the slur was intended to disparage.”

    For me, and the other millions of straight American males like me, my whims of “oh I like using XYZ term” do not override the needs and desires of oppressed groups to live in a world that is a little bit less oppressing if I could just be a little more inventive with my language.

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  • bee says:

    King Kong, you have a basic lack of understanding of what it means to be bisexual or homosexual and you are doing bad logic with your homophobia. straight-identified men who are abusive to children are not necessarily attracted to adult men.
    It is because of people like you, who still say things like “should we had more homo in society the number of pedo victims would be faraminous” that slurs predicated on membership of an oppressed group (gay men) are NOT OK.

    BM is a liberated space, many people who are not out in day to day life are able to experiment with coming out/ experimenting are able to do so, but many are discouraged by the amount of low level/ less low level homophobia.

    On a different note, there are issues with people respecting boundaries -emotional, & sexual – at burn events, which make events far less inclusive to people who have experienced trauma, in particular sexual violence. The B E D is great, but the community as a whole could step up more.

    Also the economic exclusion – the expense, the rewards that come to people who invest amounts of money that most people can’t afford in gifting to the community is something that it is important to keep an awareness of.

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  • Robert says:

    I’ve visited the playa for over a decade and find a huge fault in the acceptance of gay people. Gay conformance is celebrated as is being radical under very constrained and confined boundaries. The playa is one if the most homophobic places I’ve ever been. There is such a structural social
    Norm that no one outside of those limits is accepted. Only those gays who know SF culture fit in. Only those people who are familiar with SF gay culture think
    Of themselves reflectively as gay accepting. There is no way in hell I find BM
    accepting or celebrating of these differences. Every single time I go, there is such blatant homophobia that I find it murderously ridiculous for people to
    even think they are inclusive. Radically inclusive!? We fight that front on the east coast when dealing with reality.

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  • ~e says:

    >The majority doesnt get to decide when its ok to appropriate hateful words

    But the minority does?

    How about when we’re all minorities?
    Non-Hispanic White or European American is at 63.7% for the US.

    Can the minority appropriate words that the majority uses to refer to itself?

    I hereby declare that no black people may use the word cracker. That’s only for white folk. Get off my lawn.

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  • King Kong says:

    Whites are 13% of the planet. So, as a member of a minority, I hereby declare that we can use the word nigger to identify the majority.

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  • Mike says:

    I have a better idea; why don’t you people stop looking for things to be offended about and context be damned? Straight is a bad word now? There are hundreds if not thousands of words that have multiple definitions that have nothing to do with each other. Get over yourselves, saying “that’s so gay” has absolutely nothing to do with being homosexual, homophobic or anything related to sexual orientation or sex at all period. You don’t own the word “gay”, no one does and yes, it has many definitions. Just cause you hear the word “gay” does not mean you’re being insulted and if you’re either too lazy or too dumb to understand the context of where and how the word was used and choose to just associate it with sexuality so you can complain, that’s your problem.

    For the record, I rarely ever say the word “gay”, I am just so sick of people twisting stuff around and poking their noses into things looking for things to be offended about or complain about. Learn what F’in context is or shut up already. The word has multiple definitions; get over it.

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  • Private Poop says:

    @friggen a lot of people

    Radical inclusion means trying to see the best in all sentient beings (not trying to be an entityaphobe) and to have a base set of standards by which you treat all beings, be them bugs, lesbians, questionably sentient robots, or yes, even pedophiles. (I’d love to point you to a reddit AMA from a 14 year old prostitute who actually enjoyed the experience. She is now living in America and off to become an architect. Lets please not equate the longing to exchange sexual energies of whatever form with persons below an arbitrary number with the urge to commit acts of rape or violence. 14 year olds want love too.) It also means trusting other people to try and see the best in *you* and not feeling the need to censor or edit yourself.

    So what if fracking really pisses me off and am “offended“ whenever I hear the word “fracking”. Do you really think anything about the underlying activity I don’t like will change one iota if I guilt all my friends into never using the word “fracking” again? Words are all about context, and restricting expression will not solve anyone’s issues. In fact, one of the most powerful things you can do to a word is to recontextualize it. And when hate words are used as mild loving chastisement, it is actually INCLUSIVE. You are INCLUDING your friend in the oppressed minority and expanding it until it becomes THE MAJORITY. This whole argument is incredibly silly. Do you have any idea how many straight people with close gay friends there are who use the word “fag“? Have you ever been on the internet?

    Not a burner.

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    • Pierrot Activatus says:

      Let’s not dehumanize non-burners, but who let the muggle in? Is this some kind of art project?

      Anyway, dear Private Poop, the key to trolling well is to be believable. Once you cross over into the territory when people start thinking ‘wow this guy must be trolling’, you failed as a troll. The alternative, to cross over into online burlesque, you need to put the clown nose on. Your post needs to be hilarious beyond just being plain abhorrent. It needs to be so abhorrent that people will laugh their asses off while feeling ashamed for finding it funny.

      Unfortunately, this post falls short on both ends of the spectrum, it’s just plain bad trolling. I’m sorry. That’s a 2 out of 10.

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  • Derrick says:

    I am gay and I dont care one bit if straight people wanna call each other gay or fag or anything.

    People who care are wimps.

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  • chad says:

    I am interested in the Burning community and ran across this thread of comments. As a gay man, I was curious about the Burning community and how the gay community fits in. When I read the original blog, I thought it was to start a debate and did not take offense to it at all. In fact, I liked and appreciated the “retarded” analogy. I too try to stop myself from using this hurtful and overused (but natural in a sense) word. I guess what really gets me about all of the comments is that it seems there is no Burner community, which is what I thought it was all about. There were guiding principles which I do not see coming through. When I saw the rabbit hole comment by someone that to be inclusive you must include anti-gay people, that said something to me about that person’s views. Is that the same as wanting to include anti-Jewish, anti-Black, anti-whoever people as well — in order to be truly and radically inclusive? Should I research my initial interest in this community? From what I have read, I must go back to the drawing board.

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  • Hi Rich, I think the biblical studies “industry” is somewhat more nuanced than you are proposing here. There is no doubt that many of its practitioners are Christians a perusal of the prefaces or concluding paragraphs in so many of their books — including Crossan’s — enables one to quickly notice their confessional bias. But not all are “supernaturalists”. There are also atheists and agnostics (and probably a Buddhist-leaning person or two) among them. In studies of ancient Israel it is now possible to maintain a respected professional standing while denying the historicity of the Biblical Davidic-Solomonic Kingdom of Israel, the Exodus and the Patriarchs, and even the “Divided Monarchy” scenario as narrated through much of 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles. Maybe this is less “kosher” in some quarters in the United States, but that’s a U.S. thing with its own culture and history.
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  • gogoanime says:

    Thank so much for the enlightmen

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