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Burning Man 2018 : a different experience

I can be whoever the fuck I want

This Burning Man was absolutely different than the first one, as expected. My camp was quite an amazing match, because I really chose it this time. First, it was in the gaybourhood. The gaybourhood is the gay district in Black Rock City, but also the Sex-Positive district. It is surrounded by so many incredible camps : the tantra camp, BDSM camps, crazy bars... And you meet so many different and great people there : all genders, sexual orientations, body shapes, ages, wearing crazy outfits... And also you find gay men dancing dressed like stars. And I love gay men dancing.

So, I was already quite in heaven. And the experience of my camp was the highlight of it all. It was for all genders except cisgender men (If you don't know what it is, I will explain), a queer and sex positive camp offering workshops and a safe space to cuddle, hang out or have sex in.

Gender's choice : a whole new world of freedom

I was also going to this camp to learn more about gender. I heard about the term “genderfluid” for the first time one and a half year ago. Six months earlier, in Australia, a friend told me she was seeing someone, and used the pronoun « they ». I thought « oh, I didn't understand she was in a trouple ». She was not. I was just learning that in english, the pronouns « they/them » are used for people with a gender different than male or female, so outside the binary of women/men.

In my camp, everyone was specifying or asking which pronouns to use. For those of you not familiar with all of that, let me share what I learned :

Cisgender : when your gender is the same than the sex assigned at birth.

Transgender : when your gender is the opposite of the sex assigned at birth.

Genderfluid : when you feel you can move freely from one gender to an other.

Non binary : when you identify neither male or female.

And they are a lot more genders in the non-binary area.

I'm still learning, so feel free to correct me if I'm not right.

I had very interesting conversations about that, and realized that not identifying yourself as male or female is giving you huge freedom : it is not expected of you that you would behave like a man or a woman. And we have such heavy conditioning about gender that thinking about that, I felt relieved. Because I'm all about inner freedom.

I didn't know at this point I was going to identify myself fully as genderfluid, and to let people know about it. I was thinking about it since I discovered the concept, but one thing was blocking me : how could I identify like that if most of the time I'm still looking like a woman, sometimes a very feminine one?

A friend told me at the burn : « it is not about how you look, not about how other people are seeing you. It is about how you feel inside, and it is your decision ».

Since, so much has changed, but this is for an other article.

Building without cisgender men : relief and empowerment

After few days building the camp, I noticed that I was way more enjoying all this manual work than usual. And I realized that it could be because there were no cisgender men building with us.

To avoid a misunderstanding, it is not that I don't like you guys, or that you are doing something really wrong when you are building with women (some of you do very much, but not my male friends fortunately). It is about our conditioning as women. The unconscious conditioning is : the man will do better this manual thing and he will be stronger. So, two solutions :

1/ Ask to a man to do it, as my mom often does (but in her case, it is not because she is feeling weaker, it is more : « oh, why bother when a guy can do it for you ? »).

2/ Refuse to be this weak woman, and try to compete with guys, to not show that your backpack is killing you and you need a break, or that you have no idea what to do with this fucking hammer.

In my life, I did both. And during this burn, for the first time, I really had a space to experiment what it was to build things with others you are thinking equal in strenght, and more knowledgable only if they have already done the thing before. I felt relieved, and quite empowered, topless with my screwdriver. Yeah, feeling badass just thinking about it.

A very successful sexworker coming out

Last time I went to Burning Man, I was still hidding the truth about my job. I was talking about strip-tease, but not about escorting. And I'm way more an escort than a stripper. Time passed, I became more and more transparent, unwilling to hide who I am. And specially at Burning man, why would I hide anything?

My camp was so sex workers friendly. Almost everybody knows a sexworker in the “defaut” world, or at least was absolutely aware of the difference between sexwork and sextrafficking. One woman already tried.

And I found other sexworkers, thank to an amazing installation. It was “Love letters for sexworkers”. Sexworkers were invited to write on the envelops a positive message about their work, and people supporting sex workers to put letters inside the envelops. I almost cried, it is very beautiful to see that done for a community who is so judged and misunderstood. I met amazing people.

I also went to a workshop about being a slut. What is a slut? According to the facilitator : “someone who has more sex than you do”. We talked about slutshaming, and the possibility to find for yourself the right environnement and the right people to be a slut in peace. And also about all the positive things about having a lot of partners : extend your social network, learn new things, learn about yourself, give pleasure and affection, get to know people on an other level,...

Polyamory is really happening

The freedom of connecting with several people in a healthy way was absolutely present at my camp. I connected in a sexual way with one person, then made out with an other, the first was happy for me. This first person connected with other people, and I connected after with one they were connecting to (using “they” because they were identifying as non binary). Seems like an amazing mess? Absolutely.

I also had a “lovely” (private joke, I'm laughting everytime english speaking people are using “lovely” to describe crazy kinky sex) BDSM experience with a cis guy, and after the burn his girlfriend wrote to me to thank me for the moment I shared with her partner, saying that I was a beautiful goddess. I thanked her for thanking me, answering she was a beautiful goddess too.

Just enjoying my carebear world.

Feeling so free, powerful and sexy

Obviously, there is much more to say about this burn. The memory of me and a friend of my camp, on a couch, watching straight sex and comparing with our sex party without cisgender men. The BDSM experience : me enjoying more dominating, and the sex swing. The female masturbation ceremony. The first time I led a guided meditation. How I talked about my spiritual beliefs in a clumsy way and heard it was victim-shaming. Anyway.

What I want to remember the most about this burn is the feeling of being so free, and powerful, and sexy. Actually, a woman opening a play party in a BDSM camp gave this definition of being sexy : “feeling powerful in your own body”. Feeling sexy is not about wearing the right short skirt with these high heels and the right make-up, it is not about matching to a society ideal of beauty. It is about how you feel inside. How much you are confortable in your body, loving your body, feeling your inner power, and your desire to play with it in a seductive way. I was in this desert, topless, in a BDSM outfit, or in a carebear outfit, feeling wild and free to be whoever the fuck I wanted, and to show it to the world.

Emy Phoenix

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