What's In a Name?
Why are we called Comfort & Joy
Queer people live in a society where heteronormativity is dominant most of the time. At Burning Man we have the opportunity to imagine possible utopias & experiment in taking strides toward these ideals in ways we can’t do in other places. Within our space at the burn we are able to create a TAZ space, a Temporary Autonomous Zone where the rules & norms of the dominant society do not apply, and we are able to create our own norms. Queer people are often told to butch it up, tone it down, put it away, and otherwise suppress our true natures in the outside world. In most contexts queer people have to be somewhat on guard & conform to straight people’s ideas about gender roles & romantic protocols, in ways that can be stressful and uncomfortable. It is hard to authentically experience joy and fulfillment when one is conforming to cultural expectations that don’t fit who you are on a core level. Indeed, for many of us it’s exactly when we let our guard down & let a mannerism slip that haters react by fag bashing us.
But within our TAZ we create together we can create our own ways of relating to each other. In fact Harry Hay, founder of the radical faeries, said that queer people cannot understand ourselves until we leave heterodominant societies to go into natural spaces with other queer people to learn from each other what it means to be queer by participating in all forms of independent queer cultural expression without compromise.
Comfort & Joy evolved from a thought experiment asking the question, what if we had a space where no one would get in trouble for what they were wearing (or not wearing), being too flamboyant, or for touching another person affectionately, in all the diverse ways healthy & healing queer love manifests? What if we didn’t have to compromise with straight people & be ourselves, and could really let our hair down in all sorts of free genderfucking queerly transgressive creative human expression any way we please? Where we could experience healthy queer joy comfortably, explore the many unique gifts that comes with being queer, and grow into the big bold beautiful fully expressed people we deserve to be in a safe, loving, supportive community.
Harry Hay went on to say that while it is vital for us queers to support each other’s personal growth & development in the queer arts in safe spaces like these, that is just the beginning. There is more. In fact, we have a duty, a responsibility, as we cultivate the personal gifts & talents that come with being queer, that when we return to mainstream society, we use our unique queer abilities to do all the things that society needs that straight people can’t do because they’re too busy raising children. For instance, we can become subject matter experts in various helpful fields that can do a lot of good in the world. But we can only be at our best & most fulfilled as humans & make the biggest impact if we understand ourselves as queers. Straight people like most of our parents etc are not going to be able to help us understand our queer nature. We need a queer TAZ that is a comfortable oasis where we can safely experience the joy of being who we & do all the things we can’t easily do in the default world, to grow into our full selves. Then we can go back out into the world & spread all kinds of positive ripple effects with our queer talents.
In this way Comfort & Joy is supposed to be queer culture evolution machine. The name is despite the Christian association, not because of it.
- Kitten (founder of Comfort & Joy)