“Why Pink?”

Hug Nation broadcast about “Why Pink?”

And a blog entry about the same thing:

Taken in 2000. Featured in "The People of Burning Man" book http://thepeopleofburningman.com

“Why pink?”

It is the question I get asked most often, after, “What are you doing in the women’s bathroom?”

I first embraced pink as an intentional confrontation of male stereotypes. It was an anti-macho statement to reject defined gender roles. It was an attempt to chip away at the ridiculous notion that you can judge a book by its cover.

It began with pink clothing at Burning Man, but seeped into my default world, and eventually the color of my hair. I’ve been some degree of flamboyantly pink for over 10 years.

Pink at SXSW 1999

Because of the pink, I also get asked alot, “are you gay?”
I have a few ways I like to respond, but none give a straight answer. (pun intended.)

If it is an honest question, I usually say, “I don’t like to box myself into a category of straight or gay or bisexual. I’m just ‘sexy to the core.’ And I’ll sleep with whomever I feel a connection with.”

The reality is that 99% of the time it is women who give my shivers and tickle my insides. But politically, I’m bisexual.

When someone asks in a more attacking way, I say, “I’m very flattered, but I’m not available right now. I’m in a wonderful relationship. And unless we’re potentially going to hook-up, I can’t see how my sexuality is relevant.”

When the attacks are meaner, I have to bit my tongue and not share the sexual escapades that this “faggot” has been privileged enough to experience… in many ways *because* of his comfort with his feminine side. I just practice being defenseless.

Pink has been good to me.

I can still remember the fear I had when I was a kid. The thought of being called “gay” was terrifying. I would have said anything, worn anything, and acted in any way to make certain that my sexuality wasn’t questioned.


It is for this reason that I avoid answering “Are you gay?” with the quick dismissive, “no way!” that I practiced as a child. Nobody should feel like answering an honest question about who they are is a admission of something negative. There should be no “right” answer to that question.

Who could possibly think this stud was gay?

Through the years, pink took on much more meaning for me. Pink has all the love and affection connotations of red, with none of the aggression. This makes it a perfect color to represent hugs, and so it became the theme color of Hug Nation.

During a talk about Pink with my grandpa one day, I also realized another unifying aspect of this color: We are all pink on the inside.

Just this week I learned a NEW reason to love pink. I was shown this cool little video explaining that there is actually no such thing as pink light. It is a combination of a little red and a little blue. The color spectrum ends on one end at infa-red and the other at ultra-violet. The place where pink might go is actually the band between the colors that contain ALL the other waves of the universe: Gamma waves, microwaves, etc.

So all this time pink has also been representative of all things unseeable in the universe. Wow.

Having pink hair had another unplanned effect: It became a moat. Without speaking my appearance would instantly repel or attract people. I wasted no time with people who were close-minded or uninterested in connecting with someone outside-the-box. At the time it drew people in that were bolder or different.

It instantly labeled me as someone without a traditional job or mainstream values. It became a filter – or walking ice breaker.

(You can find Splat! in Walgreens & Walmart)

People sometimes think the pink hair is evidence of my social nature, but often the opposite is true. I use it as a crutch to hide my shyness. It protects me from having to approach people, and shelters me from rejection. By the time you have crossed my pink moat, I usually know that you are outgoing and accepting.

The last 2 years I have shaved my head and gone brown (my natural color) for several months. The experiences have been powerful. The switch has allowed me to step back into using the color as a tool instead of a crutch. A cape instead of a mask.

during a pink-break

And as festival season has now finished, I’m ready to be brunette again.

This time I have a new reason for shedding the moat. I want to connect more. I want to be the change I want to see in the world in a more personal way.
I want to look more people in the eyes more. I want to smile at more strangers. I want to be a stronger force of love in the world in my day to day life and my interactions with fellow human beings.

I set out on this task and realized that I felt a bit confrontational at times. Perhaps having a pink mohawk is not the best uniform for this task. Not everyone wants to make eye contact with someone who has intentionally cultivated an “outsider” appearance.

Perhaps it is time to look more “monk” than “punk.”

taken during a pink break in 2009

I have some fear about loosing my plumage. I like feeling different. I like making a statement before I say a word.

But hopefully I’ll make a statement now with my loving eyes and friendly smile.

I’m sure I’ll be pink again in the future. But occasionally you have to turn off the porch light so that you – and others – can see the stars.

Oct 25, 2011

taken Jan 2010

  1. #1 written by Mary-Anne Crevier October 26th, 2011 at 10:41

    Halcyon. You inspire me. I came across your Youtube vids while researching everything Burning Man this past year. 2011 was my virgin year. Any questions I had, your vids answered and I so much wanted to come and find you on the Playa and say Hello & Thank you! I was with the Apres Ski crowd and several of my campmates know you and have nothing but the most wonderful things to say. Now that BM is over for the season and I’m thinking I may like to try it again, I am checking out more of your blog and vids and must repeat.. You inspire me. Keep being you and doing the things you do. Everyone needs a little and a lotta Hug Nation philosophy in their lives.

    RE Q
  2. #2 written by Tryp October 26th, 2011 at 14:28

    Thank you for your message today, Halcyon. It hit very close to home with me and I have a recent experience I’d like to share with you.

    In preparation for BM this year, I finally did something I always wanted to do: I cut my hair in a (rather long) mohawk and dyed it pinkish-red with the sides black.

    Just prior to doing this and unrelated to my decision, I read a book called Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind. This book discusses recent research into brain structure and chemistry that allows you to identify another human as an “us” or “them”. One of the main points is that this brain circuitry operates mostly outside the rational part of your brain, and it does so by focusing on a very small part of all the available information about the other person. When you observe another person, there is an almost infinite number of things you can identify about them (gender, size, smell, stance, clothes, etc.), but your tribal mind will generally focus on a single thing to make it’s distinction.

    After a few days of wearing my hairstyle in public pre-playa, I started to realize that I was messing with this brain circuit in other people. I’m generally a pretty conventional looking person (no piercings/tattoos, etc) and I was amazed how much this single change in my appearance increased my interactions with strangers, mostly positive, but some negative also. It’s as if having one unconventional aspect gives people permission to express their opinion of it to you.

    Anyway, thanks for your weekly sharing. I really appreciate them. (And thanks for the ice cream!)

    Peace and Love,


    RE Q
  3. #3 written by Karl December 27th, 2011 at 01:46

    AMazing… way to go and show you are not one of the bland sheep, instead of of the “sparkly bits that make the dullness tolerable”!

    And yeah… if that photo is true, Pink HAS been good to you. 😉 Way to go-go-go! 😀

    RE Q