Thursday night was the first evening of the “Creating Change” conference at the Ren Cen Marriott.
I was home creating change in my own world by cleaning my pad when I got a call from a guy attending the conference who contacted me via this blog last week. Of course in true small world fashion it turned out he was having an election returns party at home in Manhattan last Tuesday and he mentioned to some people that he contacted this supergay blog guy. One of his friends pipes up “I know Supergay!” I am world-famous, bitches.
So this guy, whom I’ll refer to as Money since he works for a grant-making foundation, calls and says I should come down to the Marriott, we can check out the goings-on at the Plenary Session (look it up) and I can brief him on my suggestions for outside activities in Detroit.
The Marriott was abuzz with activity, you had your G, your L, your B and your T all over a place more accustomed to the delightful patrons of a Kenny Chesney concert. We snuck into the speech by Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP, who said some really incredibly sensible things about the connections of the fight for civil rights by GLBT community to the fight by African-Americans. It was a really, really unusual voice in a town like Detroit where the homophobia of conservative black churches drives the political agenda.
We cut out, slipping through the “No Scent Area” (it’s the No Smoking Area of the 21st century) and grabbed a quick bite at Seldom Blues (that place is just weird). Then walked around to scope things out ending up at … the hotel bar??
Who even know there was a hotel bar called Riverview, or something like that? Not me, that’s for damn sure. It’s everything you’d expect in a Marriott hotel bar. Not horrible, although I did feel that the décor oppressed me as a gay man. But the place was packed, so we hung out.
Since Money gives away, well, money for a living it was a full meet-and-greet for him, and of course everyone is friendly. That is a good person to hang out with in a room full of gay people. I got to chat with a few people, but more importantly listen to a lot of the talk of the movers and shakers in the movement and get their scoop on what’s going on. One big topic of conversation was the exclusion of trans from the recent passage of ENDA. Was it full selling out? Or was it just a progress marker as we continue to push forward?
Gay marriage was a hot topic too, especially in regard to the whole “vs. civil union” argument. And then there was the cute but drunk guy who on his way out slurred, “I don’t know what we need to do, but what we’re doing now isn’t working.” Or something like that, I was on my way to the bar and didn’t quite catch the whole thing.
The best story involves my moment at the bar. It’s was packed, so you know you’re stuck there for a few while you wait for a drink. The guy next to me starts talking about his big weight loss … 60 lbs .. congrats! Then it goes exactly where I was worried it would go …
“I lost a lot of weight recently, look at my stomach.”
“I tell you this because I want to help you reach your goal. I had to lose 60, but you only need to lose 20 … “
Um can I just get a drink? Apparently not.
So I chat with Kirstie Alley's BFF for a bit ("we're friends") waiting to place my drink order. Then name dropping goes to a whole new level.
"What celebrity do you think you look like?"
No idea. But back to you.
“What celebrity do I look like?”
I don’t know …
“My brother is Nick Cage."
That must be very exciting for you, but can I just get a drink?
So I'm stuck at the bar for ten more minutes while Nick Cage’s ex-fat gay brother tells me how great I would look if I lost twenty pounds. Not really my ideal evening, but if that's what it takes to get a vodka tonic at the gay conference ...
More importantly I chatted with people seriously involved with the GLBT movement, including the blogger who outed Larry Craig before he was busted in a men’s room, and one of the leaders of the trans movement. All of them just running around in one room mixing and mingling. It took me back to my Capitol Hill days in DC, in a really great way. You forget how exciting that can be.
The night wrapped up early - these people had work to do the next day, and I guess I did too - but how great to have them all here in Detroit. I hope they loved it, and more importantly I hope they didn't go to the Eagle, the R&R Saloon or the Gold Coast. Those places are an embarrassment.