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Gays make up a big part of Burning Man festival

(Editor's note: San Diego residents JP Conly, Stephen Daniels and Jeff Olson attended the 2013 Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, and filed this story and photos for San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.)

BLACK ROCK CITY, Nev. -- More than 50,000 people, many of whom were LGBT, gathered once again for the annual Burning Man event here outside of Reno, Nev. the week before Labor Day.

The annual event began in 1986, and people from all over the world make the pilgrimage each year to explore art, themselves and to build a community. Thousands of LGBT people travel to the event, which is gay affirmative and inclusive of all people.

Each year, a large effigy of a man and other pieces of beautiful art are built to a theme. This year’s theme was Cargo Cult, a reference to primitive people worshiping more advanced cultures. In addition to art, elaborate costumes are created to express people's individuality and the year’s theme.

Gay Pride is also celebrated, and this year people weathered the dust storms and gathered in the center of town on bikes and art cars or walked in a parade that traveled through Black Rock City and ended at an encampment called Burner Buddies, where "official gay cards" were issued. In addition, there are LGBT neighborhoods filled with theme camps such as Glam Cocks, Comfort & Joy, Beaverton Camp for Wayward Girls, and The Down Low Club. The Glam Cocks chose a theme of n Australian beach party.

Burning Man is more than celebrating and heavy partying. There are core principles and ethos that support the community, and people are encouraged to bring these back to the "default world." Radical inclusion, decommodification, radical self-reliance, self-expression, gifting, communal effort, leaving no trace, civic responsibility, immediacy and participation are the 10 principles that guide this growing annual event.

To learn more, visit www.burningman.com.

(All parties gave permission for their photos and/or names to be used.)