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Author Topic: Here's a thought to consider  (Read 23315 times)

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Online Andy Velez

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Here's a thought to consider
« on: August 25, 2006, 09:57:56 AM »
Dear All,

Over dinner on Sunday night and then again at breakfast on Monday before I left Montreal, the group got into conversation about "next time."

I offered a suggestion for consideration -- that a gathering be held not necessarily in a city but in a retreat or resort sort of setting. The idea would be to have more time for just hanging out together as a group and in smaller groups, perhaps with some yoga and meditation sessions thrown in along with other activities. A couple of people suggested having more regional meetings with the same kind of setting in mind.

The response seemed very positive to the ideas and several said they would even be ok with it being in the US, and mailing their meds ahead of time or making whatever necessary arrangements would be needed in that instance.

It's great for us to get together. I guess what I am thinking is about addressing some needs and issues that along with being enjoyable and valuable when together, would be things which everyone could take back home with them.

So I am throwing these ideas out for your consideration.

Cheers,
Andy Velez

Offline Dachshund

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 10:13:45 AM »
Great idea Andy...I hear the siren song of the Russian River calling...Guerneville Ca.

Hal

Offline Robert

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 10:44:37 AM »
I'm going to let Zephry chime in when she has a moment.  She took notes on everything we said. But let me just tell you some ideas that we tossed about while sitting in the airport for 2 hours.

We thought how convenient/informative it was for Tim HOrn to be there and report on the International Aids Conference in Toronto.  So we thought it might be a good idea to dovetail our own international AMG gathering into the IAC.  We could have regional meetings (Europe, N.America, Africa, Australia) every year and our own international conference every two years. 

And the topics would be literally taking the forums out of the cyber world and into our own physical realm.  Topics would include, "LIving with HIV",,,"Treatment questions"..."Questions about Side Effects"... 
"Lipodystrophy Questions"..."Nutrition and HIV"...etc.

And at the International AMG conference we could present the various reports from the regional gatherings that took place the previous year.

robert
..........

Offline Razorbill

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 10:48:32 AM »
Excellent idea, Andy.  I'm sure some folks would like to have it out west this time, but there is a yoga retreat in the Berkshires of Massachusetts- Kripalu Yoga Center - mostly veggie food served, lots of physical activities, health spa, whirlpool and sauna, and of course alternate type stuff - yoga, meditation etc...  Absolutely gorgeous area too.   I was at the place twice earlier this year.  A thought for sometime in the future.

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 11:15:46 AM »
I feel like I went to a gathering and a conference this year. The conference was everything I expected, and more. The gathering was not so much, with some remarkable exceptions.

Like Tim (Moffie) says, I sort of had to stop myself in the middle and ask why my expectations were not falling in line with my experiences. And to that end, I managed to swing things around. Breakfast with everyone on Monday, and the conversations I managed to have during my time, really made a difference.

The wealth of experience and strength and knowledge in those rooms was sadly underutilized, I know. I honestly learned more in the brief conversations I had with Any and the two Tims and Zephyr than I learn in any given year on the forums.

There were people at the gathering in dire straits, from a medical and social support perspective. And they were THISCLOSE to the source for a real and workable solution to their difficulties. If anyone comes back to their lives without the knowledge and strength to make real and definitive change, they do so by their own volition.

But the presentation by Tim Horn was amazing, and the resulting discussion was beyond anything I normally experience. And the opportunity to snag a conversation with Andy and Tim and Moffie was gold. It was Bill Gates trapped in an elevator with you gold. It was top of the mountain Dali Lama gold.

And I wanted more. A lot more. And I realized why I had not been having that terrific a time. It was because I had gone to a gathering, but I really wanted a conference.

I'm not always that outgoing with people, and as a result, I really do better in smaller groups, with some commonality beyond, well, beer. A discussion group? A topic-driven meeting? I'm all about it, and more than happy to throw my conversational hat into the ring.

We all struggle with issues as important as living with HIV, making positive change in the world around us, dealing with governmental and scientific and medical entities. And I realized, sitting there in that conference room, that I was surorunded by people who KNEW how to maneuver all these things. I was lucky beyond the telling of it to have gone, to have taken what meager advantage I did. And frankly, I am not sure how much more I could have put into my brain. God/dess knows my heart was about to explode finally being among people who "got" me.... and seemed okay with that.

I really like the idea that Robert mentioned, breaking topics roughly up into forum headings. I would have been thrilled to see one or two structured events like the presentation every day. Not mandatory, just offered.

How about this? We have a gathering once a year, and a conference once a year. The gathering emphasizes on social stuff, with only a token HIV specific/educational presence. Have these in party cities, and cut loose - at the expense of the folks who choose to afford it.

The conference meets at a retreat somewhere, with, I dunno, horses and nature and stuff. Nothing prudish, just not so much neon, not so much booze and boinking. Yooga classes, meditation, stuff we can take home. Maybe a wine tasting or a martini social thing, without taking it into the dark side of COPS at Mardis Gras.  Most importantly,  the opportunity for people to get the skills they need to go home and change the world, and change ourselves along the way, with newfound contacts and friendships forged not through just exchanging fluids, but by exchanging ideas.

Maybe the conference should be the trip that gets the grants, so that aidsmeds is making an investment in people's experience. An investment that gets repaid in policy change and activism, in advocacy and the ability to take the information home and use it. Money way well spent, if you ask me.

I saw some really incredible people having a really incredible time in Montreal. I also saw some really desperate, self-destructive behaviour that, if these meetings contine to grow in scope and attendance, will present a real danger to aidsmeds. Some of the stuff I saw was heartbreaking, and some of the stuff I saw was spiritually transcendant.

I had two distinct experiences at Montreal. One was beyond my ability to articulate right now, because it lifted me to dizzying personal and professional heights. One was not something I'd choose to re-imagine.

If I can have any voice in shaping the future of these things, I would really like to. The potential is amazing, and the people I saw were repositories of information above beyond the scope of this forum.

As you guys can tell, my thoughts are still pretty scattered. Working on that.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 11:25:53 AM by jkinatl2 »
"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 11:34:25 AM »
I think the idea of smaller regional meetings/ gatherings yearly and bigger 'international' gatherings every two years might work well.  That would allow people more time to save for the big gatherings while still attending something more local at the same time.  It would give more time for donations to build up and reach more folks.  Also, the amount of time and energy spent planning these things (thanks Rocky, Jan, Alan, Claude, and everybody else who did anything for AMG '06) is tremendous.  Having them every two years might prevent burn-out by the organizers.  That's not to say I don't want to attend often; we both had a really wonderful time.

I just noticed that Jonathan posted his thoughts prior to my posting this.  I think the idea of several presentations, maybe one or two daily on different topics would work.  It would give the opportunity to work in smaller groups, if that helps some members and be more targeted in the focus.  The only problem with doing this that I see is organization.  Doing something like this would take a LOT more planning. 

I personally do better in casual, informal groups.  Sitting around on the roof deck of the Bourbon with Robert, Rocky, Ernie, and David (and a couple others) was a very informative experience for me.  Most of the discussion was over beer, for sure, but it involved starting meds, side effects, resistance, etc.  This is something that I'll be facing soon enough and something I need to talk about. 

I guess I feel that a lot of these types of gatherings require input and involvement from the attendees.  I think that's good.  Too many people need to discuss issues and don't have an opportunity to do so face-to-face locally.  I can see that if somebody is not very outgoing, they would miss out on a lot.  It's one of those times where one has to put into the group to get much out of it.

As to my expectations... I didn't really have any, other than meeting some decent, cool people, having fun, and seeing a lovely city or two.  My expectations were certainly exceded.  Being new to HIV, it was important for me to see 'normal' people dealing with their health and going about their lives.  Talking face-to-face about issues was a major calming factor for me in a lot of ways.  Next time, I'm sure my expectations will be different. 

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2006, 12:43:34 PM »
Quote

I personally do better in casual, informal groups.  Sitting around on the roof deck of the Bourbon with Robert, Rocky, Ernie, and David (and a couple others) was a very informative experience for me.  Most of the discussion was over beer, for sure, but it involved starting meds, side effects, resistance, etc.  This is something that I'll be facing soon enough and something I need to talk about. 

I totally agree. I had the absolute best time that evening, at my table, with my beer and the people I managed to find. That really was a highlight of my trip.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Jody

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 05:33:06 PM »
Having experienced a few AMG's now I think it is an excellent idea as presented by Andy to meet in more of a retreat type setting then a big old get together that revolves around party-time...I think for many folks the get togethers give them a chance to cut loose and forget about HIV for a few days...But for many of us the chance to bond with others who are positive and discuss our reasons for getting together are very important as well...Even at a retreat we can still have a nice dinner and a few drinks but our meeting will be for more constructive purposes.

Smaller, regional meetings may seem cliquish to some but they can prove meaningful to those attending and in addition a larger get-together is also a possibility as well.

My feelings about AMG '06 was that as much fun as it was, and the workshop by Tim Horn was outstanding and informative and gave us purpose, the marriage ceremony was wonderful and the church gathering was very spiritual that perhaps the structure needs to be tweaked to keep us better focused on the prize...Improved health and well being, a cure, better meds at a cheaper price, advocacy and so on...But all and all I think our get togethers are a great thing for the well being of the vast majority of those who attend each time and that is why folks return and new ones join.

Jody   
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".
 "Try to discover that you are the song that the morning brings."

Grateful Dead

Offline Dennis

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2006, 06:00:58 PM »
Although I haven't been able to attend one of the gatherings, I always thought a cruise would be an ideal setting for one of these get togethors.  A nice seven day cruise (or even 3-5 days) could be had for about $100 a day, includes all meals and accomodations, and several countries to get a taste of.  Just about something for everybody on a cruise. 

Offline Ric Wilke

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  • I joined AIDSmed.com 10/2002.
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 07:36:20 PM »
This thread is sure to be the cause of some debate.  We would like to share our take on what we feel AMG is all about.

Back in spring of 2005 when AMG was first proposed the structure of the event was much discussed.  There were some members who wanted a very structured event while others were looking for a more casual and social atmosphere.  As the planning of AMG 2005 progressed, the event took on a totally social flavor.  This structure carried over into AMG 2006 with one wonderful element added with the Seminar presented by Tim Horn on Saturday morning.  The inclusion of this seminar was a true highlight for those of us who were able to attend.

Now, it has been suggested that the next Gathering take on a more formal structure.  Well, we attend AMG (AIDSmeds Gathering) for itís social atmosphere.  If we wanted to attend AMC (AIDSmeds Conference) we could attend the next International AIDS Conference.  There is a place for both in our world and we do not see the necessity to duplicate the efforts or the expense.

We hope that you are lucky enough to able to attend both events.  We will continue to attend AMG and if need be we will organize an event that is just like the ones held in Montreal and Toronto.

Thanks for respecting our viewpoint.  With warmest regards, Ric and Thom

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2006, 09:39:48 AM »
I think Andy's suggestion of additional social activities is great.  This could help to enhance the social functions/purpose, I believe these gatherings serve.  Also having it at a retreat would be beneficial as well, as it would probably limit the distractions that a large city provides, (assuming the group wants to limit those distractions).  There are loads of beautiful places in the US that can be very expiring, fun and relaxing (and then some).

At the moment, I'm not sure how I feel about additional HIV presentations and workshops.  I'd have to give that suggestion some additional thought.  I can see Ric and Thom's perspective in that 1) a conference would probably overlap with the numerous other HIV conferences held throughout the year.  And not just the large international conference, but also the national conferences, as well as local (city) conferences, workshops and luncheons put on by various organizations/governmental authorities; and 2) I found that gathering had as much HIV discussions as I wanted it to.  Primarily because I made the effort to have those discussions with individuals (or not have them).  While there were times I was curious about how HIV impacted someone else, that wasn't very often.  I was more interested in getting to know everyone as a person and HIV is only a part of who we are.  There is a balancing act here and I'm certain we can find it.

At the start of the trip, I realized that this event would not fulfill my desires if I didn't put forth an effort to make it so AND if I didn't let go of all my preconceived notions about people based on my experiences in the forums.  And I'm glad I did.

In any event, this is a great discussion.  Everything should be on the table, so that next year we can build upon the successes of this year and the previous one.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 09:54:02 AM by Cliff »

Offline Razorbill

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2006, 10:58:44 AM »
There is a surfeit of information on HIV/AIDS coming at us from all directions.  Knowledge is power, but power is an illusion.  The real power lies within, the inner frontier, the unexplored parts of our being.  I sensed a reaching out for love and companionship and support at the gathering.  A place like Kripalu Yoga center, or anything like it anywhere we wish to meet, is the type of quiet, sheltered space for folks to meet their inner selves, and each other, without distractions.  Some of us are in in a strong, confident place - others are hurting and need support and healing (we all need some support and healing).  I vote for a space that fosters that with peace, programs, exercise and energy.

for those interested in seeing:http://www.kripalu.org/

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2006, 12:02:34 PM »
To me, the Gathering was a reflection of the forums here.  A lot of what we seek from the forums is information.  For some of us, it's all we seek.  For others, it's a form of social interaction.  The Gathering was just that.  Any needs I had for friendship, information, just feeling like a normal person, whatever... were met.  All that was required was for me to ask, just like here on the forums.  If I didn't feel comfortable asking, I could participate in a conversation between others, just like here on the forums. 

I think that most of us got what we wanted or needed from AMG '06.  If we didn't, I don't see it as a failure in the planning or organization of the Gathering.  I saw the Gathering as a big buffet... all you can eat, of course.  If one passes through the line and puts very little on one's plate, one will still be hungry.  There was a wealth of information, experiences, kindness, and compassion all for the taking.  I guess what would make the next AMG an even bigger success would be for folks to think about what they need to get from it.  If these suggestions are collected by one of the organizers, perhaps topics of discussion, etc could be arranged.  I doubt there were many, if any, topics that couldn't be handled by several of the attendees at the AMG. 

Perhaps, we should all write down our expectations and what we need from the AMG's.  This will make it easier for each of us to make it happen for each of us.  Regardless, for me, just seeing how caring, compassionate, funny, and friendly all the attendees are was what I needed.  We just need to take a little of that home and try to apply it to our daily lives.  Bitterness, bitchiness, and general negativity weren't much of a part of AMG '06; let's keep all that out of our lives 'til the next AMG (and beyond).

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline Moffie65

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2006, 01:12:25 PM »
Ok, I have really thought alot about this now for a whole year.

I don't particularly enjoy being the beneficiary of those very generous folks that have seen fit to sponsor my attendance at these very interesting and inspiring gatherings.  It ain't easy living on disability, and being able to pay your own way.  On the other hand, I also understand that the generousity that these people have shown to me and others, is something that I nor anyone else should steal away from them.  I was one of those people that used to donate to help others acheive their dreams, I could do it, enjoyed it, and in the end I got more from the giving than they got from the accmplishments they were aspiring to.

Be that as it may, I am still very much concerned that we need to pursue some outside source of funding for these events, as it is very obvious that they are going to grow and become far more than any of us might have dreamed before Toronto.  (AMG '05)  I think we now have the "connections" to make a real and balanced approach to a funding source, and to that end, we need to approach that as a distinct possibility in the very near future.  The absolute cost of these events, is astounding, when you add all the expenses that were paid for by each one of the individuals attending.  To help make these events more accessible to the very many on these fora, it might just help to find a source very soon, which will further the discussions, and keep us more open to possibilities that we could not otherwise dream of.

I know that there are many small privately owned resorts/ranches here in the southwest, and many of them are Gay owned.  With that in mind, we might be able to really get some interesting quotes for their facilities, and start out with some specific advantages concerning our "Living with HIV".  Arizona and New Mexico have many such places, and the sensitivity and knowledge of these types of private locations would also help to keep a large group in a supportive and comfortable environment.  Also, there are ASO's that are able to step in and source any medical and pharmaceutical needs that might arise, which we all witnessed this time with kcmetroman/John's unfortunate accidental injury of his foot.

I firmly stand behind any effort to create regional gatherings around the globe, but to then make an effort to meet every two years, also dovetailing the IAC.  This would keep things real, and at the same time, give us every opportunity to get together on an irregular schedule to gain some of that healing energy which we all need, and which is so very prevalent when we gather.

I want also  at this time, to volunteer my efforts to make such an event happen, and with the assistance of Aztecan/Mark, and my friend from Phoenix, Jefferyj/Jeff; I think we can pull off something that might really surpirse you all.  After all, who doesn't want to see Santa Fe, or Sedona at least once in their lives.  Also, many need to see the "Big Ditch" (Grand Canyon) that runs through the northern end of Arizona, and why not now?  It can be accessed by a really fun train trip from near Flagstaff, which would be a wonderful way for this group to travel.  We might even be able to reserve our own train carriage.

OK, now that I have thrown it out there, let's see what kind of stuff lands.

In Love, and Committment.
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne

Offline zephyr

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2006, 02:07:32 PM »
Hi Andy,

As our Robert has mentioned, he and I put our time to good use while we waited to depart Montreal. I was thrilled at what transpired between us in that short amount of time, and hope that I can aptly translate what we discussed. We named our chart "ROBERT'S PLAN":

A year passes so quickly, and we felt that holding a AMG each two years provided people with more time to save money with which to go. Aligning that event to coincide with the IAC could repeat the sterling opportunity like the one we shared with Tim Horn, to present pertinent information to the group fresh from the Conference.

In between, a "Regional Meet" could occur, placing the venue in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, NZ, etc, as Robert mentioned, above. Perhaps this event could be the more 'social' one, for participants to get there ya-ya's out, so to speak.

Or vice a versa.

We also composed a draft list of items that advocated a 'Conference Center' of sorts (resort, etc.), which I will type directly from our notes:

1. Convenience (services consolidated more closely together, food, sleeping quarters...some of our members at Montreal suffered sore feet and
                        legs, for example, walking the distances to restaurants, bars, etc.)

2. Time savings.

3. A more 'professional' venue (for lack of a better word, no offense to anything or anyone intended)

4. More conducive to extemporaneous exchanges of thought and dialogue (Socratic)

5. Strike a balance between recreational & constructive activities

6. Schedule event for a maximum of 4 days or so.

Structure of Event

1. Replicate our "Forums" topics (Living With, Nutrition, Meds, etc) for educative sessions and exchanges, AidsMeds LIVE, if you will.

2. Offer sessions for 'Regional' reports, IAC reports, and reports from International Vaccine Conferences, for example.


I recognize that our group is very diverse, and very intelligent! Robert and I believe that all of us can bring something to this discussion, and have the power amongst us to continue to create a fulfilling meet/gathering in the future.

Thanks for your patience with me while I continue to process two very impactful events combined with hours of travel and one tired mind/body.

Love to you all,

Zephyr :-*



"It is character that communicates most eloquently."

Offline terpie82

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2006, 01:27:40 AM »
It's just a thought but we cannot make EVERYONE happy ALL the time. I for one would like a little more of a conference like setting, but I still want the casual and intimate feeling so I think a balance or compromise would have to be in place. As for alternating annual regional with worldwide meetings, if that's the case, it's at the risk of sacrificing getting together with members of other countries for another year. If that is to be, it has to be but I may be sad (e.g. I couldn't see an AMG '07 without Cliff or potentially new members living in other countries).

If we do offer some more structure, I propose that we make it clear to everyone that it's not mandatory to participate so that some people who see this as a vacation can do as they please such as sight-seeing, shopping, etc. And if we offer some "mini"-conferences, I think we should limit our presenters to those going to the gathering and not have scientists or physicians give the presentations. And each session can be half an hour or an hour. I for one would like to attend a workshop given by Moffie on writing grants, one given by Zephyr on the current research on Elite Controllers, one given by Lisa on pets and people living with HIV, one given by Cliff on how to dress, and I wouldn't mind talking about some science and would love to have a friendly discussion with everyone involved...OK, so maybe some of those ideas may be out there, but the whole idea is we can offer a conference without a conference feeling within a casual gathering. Someone mentioned yoga, and perhaps a sports activity (basketball anyone? yeah I may be short, but I know how to deal with balls ;-D), the trip to a museum, etc. can all be part of our itinerary while allowing a large chunk of time so people can do as they please without feeling guilty if they don't join in on the group activity. As long as we make it clear to everyone that attendance is NOT required, that we don't guilt those who don't attend, and we get at least 6 (just an arbitrary #) people to sign up for each session, I think we can make this fly next year.

We have to understand that people will come here with different backgrounds, lifestyles and expectations. Someone working 12 hour shifts 6 days a week will probably see the gathering as a mini-vacation. Someone who's mind is like a sponge will constantly seek out information and someone who doesn't have much interaction with other poz folks may see this as an opportunity to bond with his/her fellow blood relatives. I'm sure we can come up with a way to make EVERYONE or close to everyone happy on our next gathering as I hope that the # of participants will increase dramatically with each progressive year.
Diagnosed in 2003
UD since 2004 and >35% (with one blip)

Offline IzPoz

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2006, 10:09:13 AM »
I have to agree with Tim, in that some sort of funding, or arrangements could be made to give participants discounts.

Being new to the forums, I have not been to any of the AMG's, but I do have an interest in the possibility.  Though, while I'm not on disability, I do only have one income plus the subsidation I receive for my daughter, and I literally live paycheck to paycheck.  Being able to afford a gathering for me, is a foreign thought, one that I don't believe would be possible for me.

I can only comment on the financial aspect of these gatherings/conferences, and will leave the debate of the structure to others who have experienced this great opportunity.

And thank you all for making this opportunity a reality for others who want to reach out!
The reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly. ~ Chesterton G. K.

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2006, 10:15:18 AM »
It's just a thought but we cannot make EVERYONE happy ALL the time. I for one would like a little more of a conference like setting, but I still want the casual and intimate feeling so I think a balance or compromise would have to be in place. As for alternating annual regional with worldwide meetings, if that's the case, it's at the risk of sacrificing getting together with members of other countries for another year. If that is to be, it has to be but I may be sad (e.g. I couldn't see an AMG '07 without Cliff or potentially new members living in other countries).

If we do offer some more structure, I propose that we make it clear to everyone that it's not mandatory to participate so that some people who see this as a vacation can do as they please such as sight-seeing, shopping, etc. And if we offer some "mini"-conferences, I think we should limit our presenters to those going to the gathering and not have scientists or physicians give the presentations. And each session can be half an hour or an hour. I for one would like to attend a workshop given by Moffie on writing grants, one given by Zephyr on the current research on Elite Controllers, one given by Lisa on pets and people living with HIV, one given by Cliff on how to dress, and I wouldn't mind talking about some science and would love to have a friendly discussion with everyone involved...OK, so maybe some of those ideas may be out there, but the whole idea is we can offer a conference without a conference feeling within a casual gathering. Someone mentioned yoga, and perhaps a sports activity (basketball anyone? yeah I may be short, but I know how to deal with balls ;-D), the trip to a museum, etc. can all be part of our itinerary while allowing a large chunk of time so people can do as they please without feeling guilty if they don't join in on the group activity. As long as we make it clear to everyone that attendance is NOT required, that we don't guilt those who don't attend, and we get at least 6 (just an arbitrary #) people to sign up for each session, I think we can make this fly next year.

We have to understand that people will come here with different backgrounds, lifestyles and expectations. Someone working 12 hour shifts 6 days a week will probably see the gathering as a mini-vacation. Someone who's mind is like a sponge will constantly seek out information and someone who doesn't have much interaction with other poz folks may see this as an opportunity to bond with his/her fellow blood relatives. I'm sure we can come up with a way to make EVERYONE or close to everyone happy on our next gathering as I hope that the # of participants will increase dramatically with each progressive year.

Minh:

I think you're observations and suggestions are perfect. 

The balance between conference and gathering can/should be where we focus our attention for next year, as opposed to splitting the two.  That's what I would like to see happen anyway.

RAB

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2006, 12:41:43 PM »
I'm going to give this topic more thought...

But for now I wanted to say that as well as the main AMGs each year, I think the 'mini gatherings' are important too. They give people the chance to meet others from here in their country/area or in areas they can afford to get to more easily. I realise such gatherings wont have such structured organisation including conferences etc like the main AMGs but I think they are equally as important for the mental/emotional development of people here wanting/needing to meet others who simply 'get them'. Plus such gatherings offer up a myriad of experiences that can also be shared on here.

Me and Ann had a miniscule gathering of 2 last December in Liverpool, which we didnt mention on the forums (mainly cos I wasn't ready to be so 'out there' I think). I have also been following the thread about the Amsterdam gathering, which I think is great - the only reason I'm not going to that is its my birthday that weekend and I like to be home on my birthday! Oh plus now I'll still be working! Now I'm planning a trip to Oz in November (EEK!) and talks are in the pipelines for me to meet up with Matty and some others in Sydney which I'm very excited about!

I think the more 'mini gatherings' that occur through here, the better! It offers up opportunities for people to reach out and really connect with others living with hiv. I think thats what a lot of us want/need, at least from time to time.

Meanwhile, I'm going to print off this thread and have a good think about what I think re the main AMGs.

Melia :)



 
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Offline AlanBama

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2006, 01:02:21 PM »
I think Minh is exactly right.

And Iz, let me say something to you:  at one time I said that I could not possibly imagine myself going to something like this.   I was wrong for saying that, and wrong for thinking it.   If you open up your heart and mind to the possibilites of the Universe, who knows what might happen?  I went this year, and for the most part, I paid my own way.   You never know what might happen, but it definitely WON'T happen if you don't think it can.  I am living proof of this.

I just want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all those who put in hours of work in planning and preparing for AMG 06.  I won't name names, you know who you are.   You are loved, and appreciated.

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline LatinAlexander

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2006, 07:27:47 PM »
Well, you al lknow I am new here, but I was definitely looking forward to meet some people. In some particular situations, there are not so many ASO in certain parts of the world, so a chance to get information, and chill out with other people like me is pretty valuable.

Alex
Poz since Jul 19 2006
Initial numbers : CD4-250 VL 3500
First labs after HAART (Dec 04-2006) : CD4-432 VL-<40 (Undetectable)  cd4%=25.11%
Started HAART: Combivir+Efavirenz Aug 26 7:38 pm
Feb 08 2007 - Gradually stopping HAART cause of Myalgia. Protecting Efavirenz. Stopped Efavirenz, ahead with Combivir....
February 17 Combivir stopped.
April 3 -07 : Started ddi+3tc+efavirenz...
Gay and positive (What a lack of Identity...:) )
Looking for my Ben....

Offline wellington

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2006, 11:56:16 AM »
I would have loved to join in the fun in Montreal but it seemed the gathering snuck up on me. I don't generally read this part of the boards, mainly because of time constraints, but I will try to make more a point of it in future.

Montreal would have been perfect for me for, as a Canadian, it means I don't have to cross any international borders. Having been diagnosed only earlier this year, I'm still somewhat anxious about visiting the US again given the current draconian policies regarding HIV positive folks. Why would I want to spend a wad of cash to travel only to be turned back at the border? Sending my meds ahead in the mail is also concerning. Aside from these bugaboos, I used to love visiting the US and have many friends there still.

Of course, with the prospect of so many more people coming to future events the idea of a discount or group rate is appealing. This does open up another can of worms though that we have to identify ourselves to some degree to get the discount. While I don't have any specific concerns about it for myself, some may not find this too likeable.

And, though I don't want to end on a sour note, since I think gathering is a great opportunity, what about the eventuality that an increased presence of HIV positive people will upset people in the region in which we gather? These forums are, after all, public to a large extent and this world seems bent, lately, on terrorism and persecution. I'd like to believe that we all have the right of assembly, but it only takes one bad apple to sour the cider.

Those are my immediate thoughts. I hope I can attend the next gathering. It sure sounded like Montreal was a life altering experience for many who attended and those kinds of milestones are few and far between!

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2006, 10:52:22 PM »
Hello Everyone:   ;D

To those members who believe we should split the gathering into two separate events, gathering vs conference:

To those members who did not got to Montreal, but who may be influenced by the suggestions of others:

I would ask only one thing.

Please, click on this link, http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=3272.0.

Look at the photos.

Look at the faces.

Look at the undeniable joy and laughter.

Look at the unquestionable living  we experienced.

Look at the spectrum of members: male & female, young & old, imagine the long term survivors & newly diagnosed, imagine the hetero & gay.

All I ask is that you look.

All I ask is that you imagine.

All I ask is that you remember "pictures speak louder than words".

I believe in these gatherings because of what you all can see in these photos.

I believe the gatherings are headed in the "right" direction.  I support fully the addition of more educational/conference based events on the agenda if there is support from the attendees.  I think that is just one component of how these gatherings will continue to grow and allow so many more to experience what can happen.

I am adamantly opposed to splitting this gathering into what some have defined as more "professional" vs the social nature they have possessed over the last two years.

Again, I ask you, look at the photos, if you support splitting the gatherings into something else, please reconsider your position.

RAB

Offline The Canuck

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2006, 11:18:55 PM »
Hello Everyone !

I thought about this within the last few days and took into consideration the attendees we had in Montreal. It doesn't reflect in any ways what I think but moreover an observation from the situation.

My gut feeling says that if this is being splitted, the conference gathering won't attract too much people and the social gathering so-to-speak will attract more attendees. Actually if such would be happening ( splitting these ) I don't think one would harm the other though. Why ? Well, the ones who prefers to have a conference environment would attend this one and the persons who are more oriented on the '' social aspect '' of the gathering would go for this.

Given the above, it would become a problem for those who are interested with both but couldn't afford to attend both event, and definitely a problem for the Grants Committee. Therefore the best option appears to be the combination of both and mean something for everybody.

Regards,

The Canuck....former Ambassador

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2006, 11:30:20 PM »
Well said Rocky and Claude.  I think I may have mentioned it in an earlier post, but I think the Gathering (not conference) went very well.  If there are topics that members think that the attendees would be interested in, a general discussion here or a poll would work to ascertain interest.  Informal discussions are what I had in mind.  Something like what he had on the Bourbon roof deck or a breakfast or lunch 'meeting' might work.  Again, this needs to be driven by the interest of the group.  We certainly shouldn't expect the organizers to take care of everything, although they certainly seemed to try to!   ;)  Basically, if I want to see something specific take place at a Gathering, I should be willing to put forth some of the effort.  The Chapel of Hope is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.


David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline The Canuck

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2006, 11:49:14 PM »
Hi y'all again !

I'd like to add something in regards with the conference(s) in a situation where we would have both, and this is my personal view about it.

I'd be interested by a conference on '' new meds '' by example but not at all on the '' old ones ''. I mean, do I really want to hear to talk about Sustiva when all the information about this can be found on that site? Not really !Therefore it also means the choices of discussion ( conference or whatever you want to call them ) must bring something new ( or innovative ) if possible, and not stuff we already know and discussed to death here on these forums. It would mean also all potential attendees will have to speak up and say what they want. This is nice to have some persons taking care of it all , but in such case all the ones who wants to attend must be pro-active on the subject, and not blame the messenger afterwards.

However what I stated above can be true for me and my reality, but totally different for another person. Again, it would give me the choice to attend or not such conferences depending of their natures.

The following will need to be determine :

#1 Potential attendees will have to decide what type of gathering they want.

#2 If conferences are being held...what would interest them ?

From there it'll be easier for the organizers to work with the information brought to them.

Regards,

The Canuck

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2006, 12:08:53 AM »
hehehe

we've got Claude saying y'all now   ;D
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2006, 12:15:52 AM »
I vote to keep it very simple.  Keep the event to four days and maybe our AM moderators would be willing to sponsor a workshop or two on say three of those four days.  Social events would be planned, but limited to a max of two per day.  You can fit a lot in and divide the work based on each of our interests.

The frustration in Montreal was there was way too much to do from Thursday afternoon to noon on Saturday.

Break it up and opposite schedule things where possible, so if someone wants to do a workshop and social event, they don't always have to choose one or the other.

Simple is best, because as many of us have experienced, complicated is really hard work.  If we start talking now, we could decide on the framework for next year and start laying groundwork until we choose a city.  We can certainly do both and now all we need is someone to start the ball rolling.

Offline Robert

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2006, 12:54:34 AM »
Oh definatley we should NOT split up the Gathering.

I totally agree with David's idea.  Just like Alan and Jan took on the responsibility of the church gathering, someone else is more than welcome to work on a specific event if they have one in mind.  Like Ric and Thom.  They managed to bring their wedding into the GAthering and it worked out beautifully.  Do we have any takers for another wedding next year?  Well, probably not but that's not the point.  The point is if anyone has any inkling of an idea of an event or a  celebrattion, they  are more than welcome to make it part of the overall Gathering. 
..........

Offline zephyr

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2006, 02:01:44 AM »
Splitting?

Robert and I in no way suggested anything of the kind. In fact, we were actually ADDING something to the mix.

I agree with Joe, keep it simple.

Just my two cents.

Zephie
"It is character that communicates most eloquently."

Offline david25luvit

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2006, 08:19:32 AM »
I didn't hear anything about this at the gathering in Montreal...but I think its a great idea.  I would welcome more
events centered around the group as a whole.  It might have added more to my experience had I been able to mingle more with the group as a whole and not just the ones who showed up for dinner and drinks.  Planning events would make it a little more organized....  In my opinion in Montreal...we were all a bit scattered and some of us were not privy to certain get togethers.   Like for example Sunday night in Jan's room.  I didn't go to Quebec City...for several reasons and I suppose I was unaware of this particular get together.  In the future...to make everyone feel like they are apart of the group...my suggestion would be to include everyone in every event.  But that's my two cents worth..........
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Offline The Canuck

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2006, 10:19:50 AM »
David,

The side-trip to Quebec City has been planned months in advance and actually posted several times concerning this trip. There are two threads related to it here and it was also mention in the thread giving details about all the possible activities.

The trip was cancelled the night before since we were expecting heavy rain in Quebec City, but some ( most ) decided to go anyway so we did it.

Regards,

Claude

Offline david25luvit

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2006, 10:30:47 AM »
Claude...

                 I wasn't referring to the trip to Quebec...I knew about it months in advance.  I was referring to holding
our gatherings in a retreat or whatever.  Apparently this was discussed in Montreal by a few.  I was agreeing with the suggestion that we meet somewhere that would allow more contact and events for the group as a whole.  I wasn't complaining about anything......Sorry if you misunderstood my drug induced rantings.  English is suppose to be my first language but I fear I'm still a student in the use of the written word. ::)

                  Incidentally...I really enjoyed meeting you in Montreal.  I thought you were an excellent HOST! :P
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Online Andy Velez

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2006, 02:18:02 PM »
Just a ps here after the many comments....

As Rocky has said, "just look at the pictures."

I'm not sure exactly where the idea of "splitting" the gatherings into two different kinds of meetings got started and I'm lazy enough at this moment to not retrace the entries to find out.

I don't see any reason why any gathering, however frequent and whether regional or larger, can't include both some information/discussion sessions AND a lot of  hanging out and people enjoying themselves. If most feel they want to do it in another city setting, ok. Someone has already PM'd me with a suggestion about a place where he used to work in Colorado that sounds like it might be a great place to combine both aspects comfortably.

One of the things that struck me forcibly during the Montreal trip is how much it meant for everyone to be with others who are HIV+ and to not have to worry about many issues related to one's status. Some people are fortunate enough to have found substantial support in their home communities. but very sadly many have not had that experience.

The nourishment spiritually and emotionally that comes out of being with one's sisters and brothers is a huge thing. I'm for whatever works to have everyone going back to their lives elsewhere feeling  strengthened by the experience together.

 
Andy Velez

Dan J.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #34 on: August 29, 2006, 04:04:17 PM »
I would definantly like to see a more balanced itenerary of conferences and social activities.  At the same time we should consider reaching out to children/ young adults living with HIV. I have found several camps in the United States and one in Canada. All of these camps operate with the assistance of volunteers.   One camp (Camp Heartland) even offers lodging for groups such as ours.  Something to consider.

Here are the links:

http://www.campoasis.com Camp Oasis Canada

http://www.campheartland.org Camp Heartland (This camp offers facilities for Adults)

http://www.camppacificheartland.org Hollywood Heart

http://sunburstprojects.org Sunburst projects

Dan J.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 04:21:33 PM by Dan J. »

Offline wellington

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #35 on: August 29, 2006, 04:23:36 PM »
As I mentioned previously, I didn't seize the opportunity to attend, so all I could do was to read the postings of those who attended and view the pictures. having done so, my vicarious experience tells me I should attend a gathering in the near future. The pictures spoke volumes of the experiences of the attendees!

If I wasn't about to start school again in a week, I'd be hot to book a trip to Amsterdam (love that place!) for the end of September. Any chance we might take over a Caribbean island? 8)

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #36 on: August 29, 2006, 06:54:16 PM »
I am trying to put together a survey for those who went to Montreal (initially) and then for the general forum members.  Several members are reviewing the questionnaire.  I also need to find an online website that I can use, for free, to administer the survey.  I'll keep everyone posted on this proceeds.  But some of the questions will address the topics discussed here.

The survey isn't meant to replace the important discussion occurring in the forums.  But hopefully it will help augment these discussions by quantifying member input (at least as it stands right now).

Offline DingoBoi

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #37 on: August 29, 2006, 08:29:05 PM »
yay cliffy.

I know for myself I am opposed to any split of the groups in a fun group and a conference group.

I do not mind adding programs or seminars to the main event, but I do look upon this as a vacation and treat it as such. 

If I really want to learn about hiv, that's what this site and poz.com is for for the latest in treatment news.  The seminar, while interesting, isn't my cup of tea at all and not what I look for from this event.

I would strongly suggest that those interested in more seminar events step up and create them.  If you offer, some people will come.  There is often free time in the morning for these type of event that won't impact on the overall social function. 

If I see the social part being widdled away, I'll be strongly opposed. 

To me, this event is about getting together with other hiv positive people who 'get it' and understand, but shouldn't necessarily be about talking about hiv 24/7 like a conference. 

Add seminars to the main event, but don't try to change the main event, which to me, is and should be social in nature.  I won't attend most of the seminars (hell, I was over an hour late for tim's... whoops :P )

I only get and can afford one vacation a year and that's a bit strapping.   I choose to spend it at the amg and i love the times i've had in toronto and montreal.   If the event goes much more seminarish and less social, I likely wouldn't attend as that is not what I want out of this event.

For those who want a truly conference type approach, there are many of them existing already, we don't need to duplicate them (but again, I'm not opposed at all to more seminars like tim's next year for those who do want them.  I just don't think the gathering should be a conference type event.

there is room for more seminar type programs during the SOCIAL amg, but it is, and i think should be primarily social in nature.   That's my perspective on the matter.



Offline J.R.E.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #38 on: August 29, 2006, 09:11:21 PM »

I have to agree with Bailey, and some of the other comments made. While I have not attended the AMG's, I would look at this to be an opportunity to meet people, and socialize, and have fun. While the seminars can give great information, that information can also be read right here in the forums. There may be some people on the forums, who will undoubetly feel  "leftout" if information was provided on the seminars, and not brought here to the forums. Not everyone is going to make the AMG's. Timing is crucial for many of us. Any info made available at the seminars needs to be made public, here on the forums...

Many of us have partners and we both continue to work full time. My vacations are a big time of the year for me.(us) I don't want to be couped up. I would rather be outside enjoying the city, the restaurants. heck, It would be cool to rent bikes, and go for bike rides if trails are available, for those interested. I enjoy swimming also !! Much of us spend too much time indoors anyway, due to work or possibly health reasons. it's time to get out and enjoy. Keep it simple and have fun, with those special moments scheduled.



Just my thoughts------Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 8/25/14,  t-cells are at 402, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 11%

  
 62 years young.

Offline cmhjeff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2006, 04:42:41 PM »
I know that there are many small privately owned resorts/ranches here in the southwest, and many of them are Gay owned.  With that in mind, we might be able to really get some interesting quotes for their facilities, and start out with some specific advantages concerning our "Living with HIV".  Arizona and New Mexico have many such places, and the sensitivity and knowledge of these types of private locations would also help to keep a large group in a supportive and comfortable environment.

I want also  at this time, to volunteer my efforts to make such an event happen, and with the assistance of Aztecan/Mark, and my friend from Phoenix, Jefferyj/Jeff; I think we can pull off something that might really surpirse you all.  After all, who doesn't want to see Santa Fe, or Sedona at least once in their lives.  Also, many need to see the "Big Ditch" (Grand Canyon) that runs through the northern end of Arizona, and why not now?  It can be accessed by a really fun train trip from near Flagstaff, which would be a wonderful way for this group to travel.  We might even be able to reserve our own train carriage.

OK, now that I have thrown it out there, let's see what kind of stuff lands.

In Love, and Committment.
This sounds wonderful! I've heard only wonderful things about Sedona and the train sounds like a great way to see  the Grand Canyon. For years my sister has anted us to visit her in Bernallilo and this would be an ideal reason to make the trip.

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2006, 04:59:03 PM »
I honestly don't see why we can't have stuff available for people who want seminars (which would of COURSE be available to the forums... we're not talking about hoarding information, only having a real-life roundtable discussion). How would that cut into the social stuff for those who want a purely social experience? I might be irretrievably stupid here, but I don't see an either-or situation. I had the most fantastic discussion with Moffie and Andy, and I had the best time at the wedding reception. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the presentation by Tim, and I had an ethereal and profound experience in the Old City. Those are both important to me. I would not want to forfeit one of those experiences for the other. And both of those experiences are unique to the people I was with, people infected and affected with HIV. I can have a strictly social time with any group of people, more or less. When I am here on this forum, or at a gathering, I want that unique experience. I want to learn stuff, to hear the stories, to be inspired, to carry that newfound hope and connection with me when I return home.

And while I absolutely want to have a great time, I also want to come away from the experience enriched. That certainly happened in Montreal. I didn't go pub crawling, does that mean I didn't have a good time? Some people didn't make the presentation by Tim. Does that make their experience incomplete?

I'd rather see more structured stuff, like the wedding and reception, like the presentation. One was social, the other was educational, but both were structured. And they both made it much easier for those of us who aren't exactly social butterflies to mingle and connect.

People have mentioned that there are tons of HIV/AIDS conferences, and they don't want this to become one. I think there is room for both, here. Certianly we are placed in the midst of the power-hitters in the HIV/AIDS medical/journalism/activist movement. To not take full advantage of that amazing opportunity is simply criminal.

Which does not mean that, for those who have zero interest in pursuing the educational aspects, a good time can't be had. I for one would just like to see more opportunities, not less. And more positive stuff, pun intended.

I honestly don't even understand why there is acrimony at all here. Why not let people compose their own music here, and invite those who want to dance to do so.  I would not be inclined to go to a gathering with zero structure except for pub crawling. And I imagine people would not like to go to a gathering with structured events at the expense of free social time and opportunity. And there is absolutely no reason why either of these draconian measures need be implemented.

Proof positive, Montreal. We had both structured and non structured events. No attendance was taken, and no one felt obligated to go to everything. All I am hoping is that we expand the opportunities next year, not limit them.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2006, 08:05:36 PM »
Jonathan,

I agree that we should have some of both.  Socials, pub crawls and the like, are easy to arrange.  Some of the more 'structured' events will definitely take a lot more planning.  That's not to say that they can't be planned.  Maybe those who have specific interests in a topic can organize that particular event.  I'm sure Ric and Thom organized most of the wedding, as it was certainly their event.  If there's a topic YOU think would be of interest, maybe it's something that you can arrange.  Maybe you can be the speaker for that particular seminar; you certainly have a lot of knowledge of HIV and AIDS! 

Actually, I think the word 'seminar' is too structured.  Maybe 'discussions' or 'topics of the day' would be better descriptions.  Personally, I think this Gathering was wonderful.  I'd hate to see it change too much in nature.  Subtle improvements here and there would always be good, though. 

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline J.R.E.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2006, 08:48:44 PM »
I honestly don't see why we can't have stuff available for people who want seminars (which would of COURSE be available to the forums... we're not talking about hoarding information, only having a real-life roundtable discussion).



Hello Jonathan,

Maybe you had misunderstood me. I didn't  mean to make it sound as though these seminars would " Hoard" information. But even you said in another thread, you enjoyed Tim Horns presentation, Which i have read nothing about yet !I am not even sure of the content. Nobody mentioned anything about it. All I am saying is that if seminars are held, someone is going to have to take the time to bring that information here to the forum, for the rest of us.



The Best------Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 8/25/14,  t-cells are at 402, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 11%

  
 62 years young.

Offline Jody

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2006, 09:07:32 PM »
Hi Ray...Tim Horn's presentation in Montreal regarding the conference in Toronto that Any Velez also participated in consited in part of a discussion of new drugs coming down thje pipeline, advocacy regarding making them more available and affordable, HIV testing for all without stigma and the ever growing advocacy coming from women regarding their own health issues as affected by HIV, particularly in Africa...It was a good, educational break from our good time had by all in the city north of the border and gave us some purpose toward our ultimate goal of better treatments for all and hopefully a cure.

Jody
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".
 "Try to discover that you are the song that the morning brings."

Grateful Dead

Offline J.R.E.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2006, 08:19:36 AM »
Hello Jody,

 Thanks for that. I was just surprised that a thread had not been started regarding Tim Horns presentation,or Andy Velez presentation I did not see much mentioned, except for equipment failure..., unless of course I missed something.

My partner gives about 8, two hour seminars a year, (in his field of expertise) and he loves to hear the verbal feedback, after these seminars. a survey is also given out to all participants attending, so that that he can see what people want to hear and perhaps, what they don't want to hear, the next time around. He enjoys reading the surveys, and appreciates the feedback.


Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 8/25/14,  t-cells are at 402, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 11%

  
 62 years young.

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #45 on: August 31, 2006, 09:42:52 AM »
I feel that both a social gathering & an informational type thing are fine.  Too much seminar-like theme though and I feel we lose the essence of people getting together to just hangout, get to know one another and have some fun.  Seminars are fine, but I don't think we should go overboard.  Just sayin'.

Structured events are fine too, but again, let's not go overboard on this too.  Perhaps some flexibility would suffice.  For example, one, or two at the most, structured events per day for those who are interested, with a seminar, or whatever we call it, thrown in somewhere along the way.  This way some free time can be had for those who want to venture out alone or in a group to sightsee or whatever and not feel obligated to attend such events...  Again, just sayin'.

And, at the risk of getting bashed for my next comments, I'd like for all of you to please keep an open mind as I make a recommendation.  As for the venue of the next gathering, I'd like to suggest that we not stay in a "mostly" gay orientated town.  I'm not being phobic here or anything of the like, which I'm sure some of you may get that impression.  I'm very open minded and quite flexible.  My concern is that it may keep some of us who are living with HIV from "not" attending and miss out on the experience of being with other pos people, and there are many people who are quite isolated in their own hometowns.  Also, I know it wasn't easy for John as a hetero man (who is very open-minded) to be in such an arena -- he was out of his element, so to speak.  Both Toronto & Montreal were held in predominantly gay villages of which I attended both, and watching the goings-on makes some of us a bit uneasy.  We really don't need to see it all.  I feel that we could make some adjustments and please the majority.  Please keep in mind that the face of HIV/AIDS has changed -- we see it here on the forums firsthand.  Just my thoughts.

I like the idea of a resort type venue and such.  Dan J came up with some good stuff (thanks Dan) and I'll be researching this in the next week and make my proposal to that effect.
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline Robert

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2006, 10:16:45 AM »
Trish is spot on with her comments, especally the last one.  Remember, these gatherings are for People Living with HIV/AIDS.  Gay and straight.  Although most of us are gay, that doesn't mean it should center around a gay venue.  I certainly wouldn't want to go to Hooters every night.

robert
..........

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2006, 10:59:19 AM »
I agree with Trish 100%

I had a great time, and have no regrets......but I see that some were perhaps "uncomfortable" with the area we were in and the "scenery" they were subjected to. 

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2006, 12:30:18 PM »
Hi Trish

I don't think either you or John have a prejudiced bone in your body.  "just saying"

When you first brought this up to me in Montreal, I thought "yeah, I can see how that's an important point".  Shouldn't be too hard to address and find a more "neutral" venue.

THEN I got home and started looking at some of the photos.  Particularly recalling the scenes outside the hotel, when we were gathered as a large group, either waiting for the next arrival or waiting to go somewhere. 

I recalled some of the embraces, kisses, attire, that attendees experienced/wore.

They were free to express themselves openly and honestly.  Either on that street, in the hotel, or in restaurants.

I don't think any of that could have occured had we not stayed in a "gay friendly" environment.


It just seems it's easier for you and John to express your affections for one another in a gay friendly environment, then it will ever be for gay men to do so in a non gay friendly environment.

I wish it wasn't that way.

I haven't got a clue as to how we find more balance on this one.  But I think it's good we're discussing it.  Thanks for having the courage to bring it up. 

(Homophobic?  not a chance!)

RAB



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Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2006, 01:11:02 PM »
Rocky, you bring up a good point.  One thing that D and I enjoyed so much was being able to hold hands occasionally as we walked down the street.  The only other place we get to do this is in our house or at the gay campground (where we're headed shortly). 

Trish, I'm sorry John felt uncomfortable, and I don't want to sound like I'm discounting your and Johns opinions and feelings.  I saw lots of what appeared to be straight couples walking the streets.  Many large metropolitan areas are much more liberal towards things like this.  I'm not going to be like a lot of gay guys and say "now he knows what we feel like every day", 'cause wronging one person doesn't make it any more ok to wrong another.  I would say that we (D & I) feel comfortable every where we go; we just don't get to act like we're a couple.  That includes walking down the street in our home town or almost any other place in the US.  I'll also add that being in an environment where we (gay men) feel comfortable is more likely to cause more gay men to attend in the future.  I know it's hard to balance gay vs straight comfort, etc.  Out of the approximately 40 attendees, the vast majority were gay.  Having said that, perhaps a less gay section of a gay friendly town would work, too.  We did have a blast and loved Montreal.

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #50 on: August 31, 2006, 02:19:35 PM »
Rocky & David,

I do understand your plight, just as you do ours.  I'm under the belief that we need to find a balance and I hope that we can accomplish that.  I just don't think that we need to STAY in the heart of a gay village.  Can we not find somewhere on the outskirts of it?  Within walking distance?  Or, as David suggested "a gay friendly town?"  This way, you guys can walk through the streets comfortably and heteros can do the same?  I know it won't be any easy task or a place to find, but I'm working on it.  I want everyone to feel comfortable and belong.  This is all I am suggesting.

And I do respect your wishes 100%.

Love,

Trish
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 02:22:08 PM by Trish »
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline DingoBoi

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #51 on: August 31, 2006, 03:17:06 PM »
I find this thread disturbing.

Offline kcmetroman

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #52 on: August 31, 2006, 03:18:54 PM »
Hey guys,

I don't want to be misunderstood here.  I am never uncomfortable with love and affection.  Gay, straight or what have you.  I have always been open to the concept of love in all aspects, and it never would bother me to see two men in love showing affection.  The thing I was uncomfortable with was when people degraded themselves in an effort to score.  My feelings are that we represented AIDSMEDS as a group.  As a group, we hold our heads high and walk hand in hand in fellowship. The honor of one person should be shared by the honor of all.  The disrespect one has for their own character, unfortunately can work proportionately.

David and David, your relationship inspires me.  That is what it is all about.  I am truly in awe of the love you share and I feel the very same way towards Trish.

I love you guys

Offline DingoBoi

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #53 on: August 31, 2006, 03:36:34 PM »
Quote
The thing I was uncomfortable with was when people degraded themselves in an effort to score. 

Let's not talk in code.  If there is to be any discussion, lets specifically state the issue.  

The impression I'm getting is that the venue isn't the issue.  Both hotels were on the fringe of the gay district.   Take a left and you are in the village... nobody says you have to go left.   Go right and there's the rest of the city.

So is it the venue or the fact that gay people might want to go to gay clubs/bars?  Or is it the behavior that some found 'degrading' in an effort to get laid.

And what exactly do you think would change by a change of venue?

Bailey (who quite frankly is puzzled in the extreme)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 03:44:14 PM by DingoBoi »

Offline Lis

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #54 on: August 31, 2006, 06:42:36 PM »
i didn't go with all of you, but i gotta say, i WISH that while we were in Nashville that my friends could have been in a place where they could have just been themselves... Brian's house was a god send, (as was Brian) and i would have loved for the whole weekend to be so free and loving... 

lisbeth
poz 1986....

Dan J.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #55 on: August 31, 2006, 08:27:52 PM »
It doesn't matter to me if the gathering is in a "gay hot spot" or a straight one.  All I want to do is spend time with my AM Family, wherever that may be.

Thank You for giving me an experience I will never forget.

Love,

Dan J.

Offline DingoBoi

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #56 on: August 31, 2006, 09:30:12 PM »
well, that's part of the point though for me dan.

I do want easy access to a gay 'hot spot' to go out and do my own thing at night.   It certainly doesn't mean that everything has to be in the gay village and nobody has to go there, but facts are that most are gay and it makes sense to be convenient to the gay spots. 

I really fail to see the issue of continuing a venue convenient for this.

I fail to see the issue some have with the event being located in a gay friendly area.   Explain more to me citing specific examples. 

I fail to see the problem of going out for night events in separate groups... gays can go do there thing in the village... straights who do not feel comfortable have the rest of the entire city to explore.

Moving it a few miles away to the 'other side of the city' will just frustrate many of the participants.   I'm just not seeing any benefit.  Moving the event to a city that doesn't have 'gay venues' of choice will frustrate many of the people.  Moving it to a retreat/ranch type setting and you can bet your ass I won't bother attending. 

For the self-identified straight people attending, I would seriously like to hear more from you on your impressions and yes, name names if you are going to bring up something.   I am open to discussion, but this just seems a pure attempt at de-gaying the amg.

Need I remind anyone that the only 'bad' bar we went to was the sports bar next to the greyhound station?  Service sucked there and we were treated pretty shittiily.

and i do take umbrage at the comment "The thing I was uncomfortable with was when people degraded themselves in an effort to score." because I can only presume it was directed at me with my attire, leash and boa.

I don't consider that degrading in the least.   I consider it a part of who I am and what I enjoy, like others there who displayed an affinity for leather, notablly 2 members in kilts.

I will not make any apologies for my behavior there as I have absolutely nothing to apologize for.   I had fun and I had fun with the person I was with and it wasn't about scoring.    And although it none of anyones business, I am having a visitor tomorrow because of what happened at the AMG.

I can only take this personally as I see it as a bit of a personal attack.


edited to add after jonathan's comment below:  I am not oppossed to a cruise.... I think that would be an efficient and productive event for possibly the next amg.

it may have the effect that trish is suggesting but you can bet your bottom dollar i will be bringing my leash wherever.









« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 09:57:23 PM by DingoBoi »

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #57 on: August 31, 2006, 09:46:24 PM »
So this begs the question raised at the beginning of the thread.

What is AMG about?

How has this changed with the doubled attendance, and the possibility of a tripled attendance for the next gathering?

Who is invited and encouraged to go, and why?

What are the expectations for next year, and how can they be met?

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #58 on: August 31, 2006, 10:49:26 PM »
Good question Jonathan... What is AMG all about?  I guess we all have our own views on that.

Is it about people who are living with HIV/AIDS getting to know one another, relating, sharing our stories, learning a few things about this freaking virus and yes, having some fun too?  Or is it just about getting LAID and nothing more? 

Yes Bailey, we could have turned left and went the other way from the hotel, but why should we?  If that's the case, perhaps we should consider having separate gatherings? One for straights and one for gays.  But what would be the purpose of that?  Only to separate ourselves again... putting us worlds apart.  Heaven knows we're already set apart from the rest of the world having HIV in the first place.  Perhaps I'm not getting the full scope of what AMG is all about.
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #59 on: August 31, 2006, 11:01:43 PM »
Some interesting points have presented themselves but do not forget that you can over analyze something to death.  So just a few short thoughts.

Surely nobody can be offended by either men or women cruising one another, if you don't like the atmosphere then find another venue.  I can't tell you how many straight bars I've been in and I don't like them one bit.  I don't believe it is too much to ask the straight participants to locate near gay venues, because they get the other 99% of the globe.  If I sound bitter, I am, because I get enough intolerance around home and why would I go thousands of miles to just endure the same?

There is a reason that we chose gay areas because that is where the foundations of all that we have in regards to HIV was birthed and it is the only true place where most positive people can feel comfortable.  The Gay Village in Montreal is a gay area, not a campground.  With the exception of the bars, almost everything else was mixed and that is why we love that city so much.  NOBODY cares if you are gay, straight, Poz or striped.  You respect their rights and they respect yours.  I can guarantee I would not enjoy these events half as much if they were held as either a separate retreat or far away from gay venues.

I also caution the forum about making this event just too structured by trying to be everything to everybody.  I remember the words of Rocky in Toronto that we are all poz, we understand and it is OK.  Isn't that what our gatherings should be?  A few workshops sure, but social is what most of us really crave, so why fix something that is not broken?  Just say-in'

Offline kcmetroman

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #60 on: August 31, 2006, 11:07:12 PM »
Hmm, Baily, I have read through all 59 posts here.  I failed to see where I mentioned you specifically.

I just threw the shoe out there.  You put it on.

Offline Jody

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #61 on: August 31, 2006, 11:10:11 PM »
"So this begs the question raised at the beginning of the thread.

What is AMG about?

How has this changed with the doubled attendance, and the possibility of a tripled attendance for the next gathering?

Who is invited and encouraged to go, and why?

What are the expectations for next year, and how can they be met?"
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These are all good questions presented by a very bright young man in Jonathan who took time to go to his first AMG this year and has so much to offer in response to Andy's original question.

As I see it, AMG is a get-together of folks, straight and gay, HIV+ and our supporters and loved ones to meet in person adding to our already knowing each other online.

It probably has changed with increased attendance as a wider variety of people will be attending and wanting the venues to be conducive to all people, while impossible perhaps to achieve, is honorable and perhaps we must be flexible to the needs of a wider variety of participants.  I had no objection at all Bailey to your wonderful, fun-loving spirit and AMG gives us a chance to cut loose a little bit and have some fun...As you stated you don't get many vacations and you are not into a 3-day conference in a room somewhere.

Jonathan- Everyone is invited and encouraged to go if they can be helped by the therapeutic affects of a get together with other people living with the same condition.  Therefore for some it may be that educating themselves further on HIV/AIDS is a key reason for attending...Spending at least SOME time dedicated to learning and growing, such as hearing about Tim and Andy's participation in the Toronto conference is very important to most of us and we would be foolish not to take advantage of a great learning experience and to ask questions.

Lastly what are the expectations for next year and how can they be met?
Well cutting loose and having a ball is at the center of our experience, why shouldn't we have fun on vacation and maybe even have some time to forget about living with HIV with our friends who also live with it daily...But dedicating a little time here and there- certainly not mandatory- to growing as people with AIDS - working on plans for advocacy- letter writing, protesting, discussions in person to help educate us on what we NEED TO KNOW to live longer and fuller lives- That would and should be at least a part of the WHY we go and meet hundreds, if not thousands of miles from our homes.  

The question of venue is going to be crucial, not all will be satisied no matter where we meet. I would like to be flexible, a retreat can be fun and Moffie's idea of Arizona and the Grand Canyon for me would be magnificent, it would be something different than city bars and clubs and a great, fun experience.  Fragmenting the gathering to meet in various places may be a good idea, smaller groups may be more manageable and an occasional big bang with a huge group is fine as well.

Jody  

"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".
 "Try to discover that you are the song that the morning brings."

Grateful Dead

Offline DingoBoi

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #62 on: September 01, 2006, 04:22:01 AM »
Quote
Yes Bailey, we could have turned left and went the other way from the hotel, but why should we?  If that's the case, perhaps we should consider having separate gatherings? One for straights and one for gays.  But what would be the purpose of that?  Only to separate ourselves again... putting us worlds apart. 

why should you?  um... because you want to.  fact is that over 90% of the attendees are gay.  I completely fail to see how it impacts straights being close to the 'village'.   If you use your discretiionary evening time to do whatever, fine, most of us (read: gays) want to do gay clubby things). 

the gay world is rather accepting of just about anyone... I can't say the same for the straight world.

If you choose and want to do something during the evening, it is completely your choice.   I don't recollect any events barring the pub crawl (yah, can ya have a pub crawl in straight bars?) and the meet&greet being in the village and the meet&greet was pretty private and our own venue even though it was indeed really in the heart of the gay district. 

The city is huge and I'm sure there is alot to do that is 'straight'.   I'm sure you must understand that and that outside of structured events, many participants who are gay will want to go to gay venues.  Should you want to go to straight venues, I fail to see what is stopping you.  You seem to want to force an issue of making the 'gay' participants go to straight venues.   And, as we saw, that kinda sucked royally.

It's discretionary time.  I continue to fail to see the issue you are bringing up that it is a problem being close to the 'gay district'.


Quote
Hmm, Baily, I have read through all 59 posts here.  I failed to see where I mentioned you specifically.

I just threw the shoe out there.  You put it on.

If you have an issue with my attire or behavior say it.   I indeed was flamboyant there but it was my vacation and I will act as I choose wearing what I want and doing what I want.   How did I impact you?   I seriously doubt I had any impact on you at all.   You certainly aren't afraid of a boa.

I don't recollect interacting with either of you much up there and that's no biggie, we all have our individual tastes and preferences and culture.  We did have a nice lunch.   In a group of 40+, it's easy to find people you connect with and do things with them that you enjoy outside of the structured events.

So if you have sometihing to say john, say it.   I'm a big boy.   But if you really think I degraded myself, you are seriously delusional.  I had fun.   Why couldn't you?




« Last Edit: September 01, 2006, 04:45:43 AM by DingoBoi »

Offline carousel

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #63 on: September 01, 2006, 05:51:02 AM »
.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2007, 11:07:53 AM by carousel »

Offline kcmetroman

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #64 on: September 01, 2006, 08:06:15 AM »
Bailey,

Now you are being paranoid.  I really could give a shit about how you dress or act
« Last Edit: September 01, 2006, 08:07:46 AM by kcmetroman »

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #65 on: September 01, 2006, 08:30:29 AM »
Nevermind, forget it...

 :-\ ???
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline kcmetroman

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #66 on: September 01, 2006, 09:32:54 AM »
Quote
There is a reason that we chose gay areas because that is where the foundations of all that we have in regards to HIV was birthed and it is the only true place where most positive people can feel comfortable

And precisely why the disease is and will always be stigmatized.  Ownership of this disease should not be a matter of convenience.

It is not so much that the event in Montreal was centered around a gay village.  Many people there acted in a dignified manner.  The question was asked about where to hold the next meeting, and people offered their opinions.  Like them or not. 

There are many communities where gays and heteros interact quite smoothly.  A gay bar can operate next to a hetero one.  It happens all the time.

No one would expect a gay person to vote for the gathering to be held in a hetero community, nor should they expect that a straight person would vote for a gay community.  Period.  That is what started this whole debate.

My take is that AMG was lauded as being a life changing experience.  For me, it wasn't.  I can see that kind of activity here in Kansas City.

 My expectations were off base, for sure.

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #67 on: September 01, 2006, 11:05:54 AM »
I suppose I was being selfish with my suggestion.  Please feel free to hold the gathering wherever you want & forget that I even mentioned it or even dared to have a thought about holding this in another venue.  It just doesn't seem to matter much anymore.

Wishing you all well.  Take care.

Trish
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #68 on: September 01, 2006, 12:01:19 PM »
I think these things will sort themselves out.  As long as everything is on the table, I'm certain the planners will appropriately consider the needs and desires of the group. 

I generally don't hang out in gay venues (at home), so I'm comfortable anywhere.  Would Will and I hold hands walking down the street outside of the gay area?  Probably not, though that largely depends on the city.  I'm not too fussed about this issue.  I'm game for hanging out in straightville a few nights of the week and hanging out in gayland another few nights of the week.  I know the planners will strike the right balance here.  I believe the city selected is probably more important than the location of hotel/venues.

I had a fantastic time in Montreal, unbelievable time actually, and nothing in thread has changed that.  I see plenty of folks interjecting their comments only in the effort of making AMG 07 a huge success.  I think for that reason alone, it is important that people continue to speak up about their desires.

At some point planning will need to begin and I hope everyone is just as engaged once that time comes!

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #69 on: September 01, 2006, 12:36:32 PM »
Hey John,

I just have to ask what you mean about some people acting in a dignified manner, because I do not understand why or how that matters.  As others have said, the gay community is pretty tolerant and the fact that some of us are colorful is something to be celebrated.  If people were degrading themselves, well that happens everywhere, so again I am confused.

I also don't see where anyone has nixed any specific ideas, because I thought we were still in the after glow of Montreal and I'm sad to read that the AMG 06 was not a life changing event for you and I would like to understand why you feel that.  I could conclude by reading some of your remarks that it was the conduct of some of our members, or the fact that we were smack dab in the middle of fairy land?

Online Andy Velez

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #70 on: September 01, 2006, 12:51:59 PM »
Dear All,

This is a good conversation to be having even as it brings a certain edginess into the exchanges. We should be able to tolerate that without getting into a fracas.

The truth is there are real differences amongst the members of AMG. And it is challenging to find ways to accomodate to that reality and still function together overall in a basically amicable way. Yes, there are somethings we have in common, but the differences are very real as well and ought to be respected.

I agree with Cliff. I think this is good discussion and even a necessary one to have. As enjoyable as most people seem to have found the AMG experiences, nothing ever stays the same. So it's a matter of building on what has happened and making the next gathering even more responsive to the variety of interests, pleasures and needs.

Hopefully that can be accomplished and the meetings will always be as inclusive as possible.

My suggestion is for each person to focus as specifically as possible on what they'd like to have at these meetings rather than on personalities or gay or straight. Make your voice heard and then the gathering(s) can really reflect the wishes and interests of the people who are attending them.

« Last Edit: September 01, 2006, 01:22:23 PM by Andy Velez »
Andy Velez

Offline ademas

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #71 on: September 01, 2006, 01:12:49 PM »
I don't think I'd ever travel to a place for any type of gathering where Cliff and Will would feel uncomfortable holding hands (even if it doesn't bother them), or where killfoile and his partner wouldn't wear their leather kilts, or where Dingoboi would be less likely to wear his boa and flashy belt, or where I might feel uncomfortable just hugging or showing affection to a friend of whichever gender.

For many of us, there's a stigma we've been living with in our communities far longer than the stigma of HIV.

I hope to attend in '07.

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #72 on: September 02, 2006, 11:17:34 AM »
Good Morning Everyone:   ;D

When Andy elected to start this thread I hadn't even been off the plane from Montreal for 12 hours.  I was feeling pretty high and excited about all the wonderful things I experienced in Montreal, but didn't have much chance to enjoy the after glow (kinda like the sex I didn't have  ;)), before the discussion about next year was begun.

Coming out of Toronto, the one comment we heard the most was that attendees wanted less structure and more free time.  Now, coming out of Montreal it appears there's a lot of interest in bringing a little more--especially in terms of education/conference kind of events.

I think that's exciting, because whatever Montreal was or was not for the various attendees, there's one thing I think is obvious, everyone must have gotten something out of it or else there wouldn't be so much interest in the next one.

There have been a broad range of suggestions made in this thread.  Ultimately, AMG 07, the where, when, and what will be a product of the members who plan on attending.  They will make those decisions, reach consensus, pick the new city and next years date.  That's the way the first two worked and I feel strongly it's the way AMG 07 should work.

Keeping these gatherings as something we the members create is one of the reasons they will continue to grow and succeed. 

As Joe mentioned, we probably can't wait too long to get the ball rolling. 

Someone will need to begin to guide the discussion, organize the various suggestions, work with all of us to keep things moving forward.  That's pretty much what the new AMG Coordinator (s) could help us with

As I told several of you in Montreal, I think these gatherings would benefit greatly from new energy and new ideas.  We appear to be getting just that with the comments and suggestions made here.

So having said all that, there are two people I think would be a huge help to us.

If they'd be willing, I think Ric Wilke and Anne (Emeraldize) would be great AMG Co-Coordinators.

They both are organized, they both have experience in planning events in their previous jobs, they both have the temperament necessary to navigate through what might sometimes be rough waters (trust me the Coordinator invests a great deal of time, energy, and personal money--something I don't think most people have recognized--and yes sometimes gets beat up.)

So at the risk of being presumptuous, and I'm not really sure what the protocol for this is, I'm wondering how everyone feels about the suggestion I just made.  Especially Anne and Ric. 

RAB

Offline kcmetroman

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #73 on: September 02, 2006, 12:08:33 PM »
Joe,

My statement was referring to the fact that we were not there representing a specific sexuality or preference, we were there representing people with HIV.  I think that people making sex the mission of the trip was well, a bit hypocritical.  Last I looked, HIV is a sexually transmitted disease.

Just stated my thoughts.  No more, no less.

Offline gerry

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #74 on: September 02, 2006, 01:22:08 PM »
Why do you have to go to the gathering feeling like you are "representing" whatever?  Can't you just go there and feel free to be yourself?  If someone wants to get laid in the process, that's their business and no one else's.  The assumption is that people who choose to do so are being responsible and using safer sex practices.  And if that's the case (i.e., being responsible sexually), then I would call that a success in itself.

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #75 on: September 02, 2006, 01:24:15 PM »
Please bear with me as I try to explain what I feel and see from where I sitÖ

I am fully aware that HIV was ďbirthedĒ in the gay community, but correct me if Iím wrong Ė when I look in the mirror I see tits and a vagina with an hour-glass figure.  Iím a woman, not a gay manÖ so how on earth did I contract HIV some 20 years ago?  Iíll tell you how, through heterosexual sex.  While AIDS has been considered a gay manís disease for far too many years, isnít it time that we, as HIV-positive individuals, break from that thinking?  What I am trying to say is that if we continue to hide ourselves within a gay community as HIV-positive people, arenít we adding to the stigma?  Iím well aware that many of you are gay men on these forums and would like to be in familiar surroundings and just be yourself.  Thereís absolutely nothing wrong with thatÖ and believe me, I would like for you to be comfortable no matter where you go.  What I donít understand is why it is important as HIV-positives to be just in a gay venue for our gatherings.  As I walked down the streets of Montreal, mostly in the gay village, I saw a lot of stuff Iíd rather not have witnessed.  Yes, I have seen degrading behavior before in the hetero world, much of it I was a part of and I donít go to such places these days.  I do not need to be reminded of my past.  So having said that, why is it so important to focus on being in a gay venue for our gatherings?  I thought our issue is not being gay or heterosexual Ė WE ARE PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS Ė We are people of all ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations.  It just doesnít seem right that we should be right smack dab in the middle of a gay village just because thatís were it all began.  Weíre well aware of that factÖ why do we have to go back to that time?

Also, many people who attended have stated that they didnít even think about being positive while in MontrealÖ I have to admit that I didnít feel that way.  While walking around near the hotel and on St. Catherine St., I couldnít help but think how many of these people are HIV-positive.  I saw many people on the streets we walked down with wasting issues and it troubled me.  I just donít see how being in a gay village is going to take my mind off of HIV in the least.  Iíve been stigmatized for far too long and the fact that we hold these gatherings in a mostly gay town, is only adding to my stigma.  If we want to break away from the old adage that HIV is a ďgay disease,Ē why the hell on earth are we adding to that?  Perhaps Iím being to analytical, but this is just the way I feel and see things. 

My idea is that we take ourselves out of the HIV arena completely, and put ourselves right smack dab in the midst of the world -- A world where everyone is affected by HIV, and not just one classified group.  It is my understanding that we want to educate the world to the fact that ďHIV is not a gay disease.Ē  If it were such, I shouldnít have it then, nor should any other person who is not gay.  So for anyone to suggest that we only hold these gatherings in a gay town to appease gay men because they are the ones most affected by HIV and it is where HIV was "birthed" -- I call BULLSHIT!!!  Letís look at the broader picture hereÖ not only gay men are infected or affected by this fucking virus and everyone here knows this to be true.  Iíd like to think that the majority of us would like to be able to walk down any street with our heads held high, with respect and dignity even in the face of being HIV-positive.  Iím not about going to places that bring me back to a time I wish I never even experienced.  Iím not in the habit of whoring myself around these days, as I did in the past.  Iíve gained much respect for myself over the years, and adding HIV into the mix, does make it a chore to just be myself.  I want to break out of it, and I donít need to be in the heart of a world where HIV originated to remind of the fact that I have this fucking virus -- one that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Are we not representing the ďwholeĒ HIV community and AIDSmeds?  Is it really that difficult and out of the question to go somewhere that is not a temptation for some people to do things they may regret in the end?  And that is exactly what happened in Montreal.  Is it really necessary to dangle temptation and destructive behavior in the face of those who are simply not strong enough to resist their urges?  Urges that brought us into this wacky world of HIV?  I just donít see the advantage of being in a setting that tempts some of us or reminds us of how we came to be HIV-positives in the first place.  I donít understand.

All I ask, is that as we go along representing AIDSmeds and the ďentireĒ HIV community that we do so with respect and dignity.  Iím sure there are many places that are gay & hetero friendly at the same time, but without all the glitter and tempestuous nature.  And I'm willing to bet that we can have good freaking time if we allow ourselves a chance.  Iím sure that we can find a resort of some kind, somewhere that will cater to all our needs, but I really donít think we should, nor do we need to be putting people right smack dab in the middle of a location that reminds us of the very behaviors that got us to an HIV-positive status in the first place.  Does that make any sense?

My thoughts are all scattered and Iím trying my best to explain what I saw, how I felt and what I believe is the right thing to do for all.  Iíve got too many thoughts all at once and not enough words to get it all out.  My brain is full and my heart is heavy.  I just canít seem to make sense of it all.  And I guess Iím feeling that I just donít belong anywhere in the world of HIV at this moment in my life, nor do I belong in the world of non-HIV too.

I just donít know anymore, and itís too much to bear or take in at this time.
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #76 on: September 02, 2006, 03:21:03 PM »
The assumption is that people who choose to do so are being responsible and using safer sex practices. 

Gerry, I hope you were being ironic.

I honestly feel like I am in a bind. I would like to address what I witnessed, what I would cheerfully take a melon-baller to my brain and physically remove. But by doing so, I would make real enemies and further isolate myself from the group. So while I am trying to be optimistic about the future of the gatherings, it remains to be seen whether i would personally attend another one.

Regardless, I DO see this is an opportunity for us to act as ambassadors. We wore that shirt out of solidarity. We attended a beautiful wedding out of solidarity.

I did not come to the gathering to "forget" about HIV any more than I come to these forums to do so. And truthfully, had I known that to be a primary purpose, it would never have occured to me to go. And had I known what sort of sad self destructive stuff I'd be in the middle of, I would have made an even greater effort to distance myself. Which is sad, because one of the purposes of the gathering, as I understood it, was to remove distance. And as much as I value the connections between some of th emembers, strengthened by meeting and socializing in person, I was struck at the great divisions, too.

I can't say more. My hands are tied. I owe at least that much to the group.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #77 on: September 02, 2006, 05:09:32 PM »
I remain very confused and so for now I think I will just avoid these discussions.  My understanding of the gatherings was they are a social event with a somewhat loose structure.  Now it appears that it is being co-opted into a conference/gathering and I just don't like the tone at all.

John/Trish, I'm lost.  I can't understand how you were the only two straight people who seemed to have such an issue with the hotel location.  The metro was there which could whisk you anywhere you wanted to go.  It's not an issue of holding the gathering in a gay mecca, it's the idea of holding the event where hopefully everyone will feel comfortable.  For those of us who are gay, we would not have been accepted into many of the straight bars, surely you can't see either Bailey or us in a Hooter's???

But it still undermines the whole issue of what these gatherings are going to be.  I don't want to go to a gathering to be an AIDS Ambassador, I do that already.  I want to go and connect with old friends and make new ones.  I want social stuff like pub crawls, a memorial and other exciting things like the wedding.  I don't want to do interviews or attend seminars.  So for my own piece of mind, I'll just sit back and see what develops.  I'll wait until more specifics of the next gathering are decided and then we will decide on what we want to do.

I have a very sick feeling about this whole thing.  Something is very wrong.  I just haven't figured out what bothers me more.

Offline zephyr

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #78 on: September 02, 2006, 07:05:44 PM »


Sigh.

Zephyr
(who has Petula Clark's song, "What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love", playing over and over in her mind.)
"It is character that communicates most eloquently."

Offline anniebc

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #79 on: September 02, 2006, 08:11:14 PM »
Joe had this to say:

  "I don't want to go to a gathering to be an AIDS Ambassador, I do that already.  I want to go and connect with old friends and make new ones.  I want social stuff like pub crawls, a memorial and other exciting things like the wedding.  I don't want to do interviews or attend seminars.  So for my own piece of mind, I'll just sit back and see what develops.  I'll wait until more specifics of the next gathering are decided and then we will decide on what we want to do.

I have a very sick feeling about this whole thing.  Something is very wrong.  I just haven't figured out what bothers me more"... end of quote.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I agree with Joe, and like Joe I will sit back and see what becomes of all this, but before I do here is a quick re-cap and something to think about.

Our first AMG..Toronto

A social gathering that brought everyone together for the first time..no-one knew where this would lead, we were all strangers who wanted more, and that's exactly what we got, we bonded, we had fun, made lifelong friends and just enjoyed being with each other..and when we returned home there was not one negative post, everyone spoke from the heart about their wonderful experience and couldn't wait to do it again...nobody wanted to change anything, the only thing they wanted to change was to have it in a different City.

So I ask all of those who read about our Toronto trip and came to Montreal on the strength of it and who are now saying it didn't live up to your expectation...What the hell didn't you understand about it.

Hugs
Jan
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Never knock on deaths door..ring the bell and run..he really hates that.

Offline zephyr

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #80 on: September 02, 2006, 08:36:24 PM »
To the Forums:

Where the heck did we get lost? When did the agenda change from HIV/AIDS to one about life-styles? And why does one life-style attain majority rule when the gathering venue selection occurs?

Robert and I were thinking lofty thoughts for the potential of AMG when he and I submitted our ideas. We were merely attempting to offer suggestions to hold the Ďformalí AMG every two years instead of each year, as we felt people could use more time to save $ for the trip. The addition of a ĎRegional Meetí in-between was just an idea, and in no way a suggestion to Ďsplití the Gathering at all.

Whoever started that line of thinking apparently wanted to start a problem, and we let them. Not very constructive energy, if you ask me.

Now, after a few days of taking care of business, I read a thread gone over the cliff, much to my chagrin.

Reading it yanked me back 10 years ago, when, much to my disappointment and shock, I was asked to leave the only support group in my town for HIV+ people.
The only source of comfort I had found in 4 years, and became an active member of.

Then, after one year, here comes some new blood from the Bay Area. Before I knew it, they had fragmented our small Ďfamilyí, and did so by asking me to leave.

Why? You say? Iíll tell you why. Because I was the only woman in a gay menís group. Thatís right. Reverse discrimination, at its worst. The general opinion became that I could not Ďrelateí to any of their issues because I wasnít gay and a man. Geez.

What does this have to do with AMG? Why canít we just be PEOPLE? Why is it so damned important to define ourselves and others by their gender or their sexual preferences? I was under the impression that AMG was all about HIV/AIDS, that damned virus that threw us all together in the first place.

Disillusioned? You bet. I was so hoping for more than this.

So typical of whatís going on in our world these days, toxic, negative, destructive.
Canít we do better? God I hope so.

Zeph












"It is character that communicates most eloquently."

Offline Nadine

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #81 on: September 02, 2006, 08:41:36 PM »
three little words...

Well said Zephie!

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #82 on: September 02, 2006, 08:47:27 PM »
Quote

So I ask all of those who read about our Toronto trip and came to Montreal on the strength of it and who are now saying it didn't live up to your expectation...What the hell didn't you understand about it.


Nobody told me I would be watching people try to kill themselves with booze, have unprotected sex in my bedroom while I am trying to sleep. I didn't read about that from the Toronto gathering, Jan.

With the lack of stuff to do, my options were to tag along to the pub crawls, which is really not my scene at all, or find alternative plans. I was fortunate to find alternative plans. I was lucky to have stumbled upon the people and situations I did. And I am grateful for that.

It truly breaks my heart to see people in such agony that only reckless sex and alcohol abuse offers solace. And you know something? I was there myself. But it's not a place I feel safe, nor a place I choose to revisit.

My expectations were adults gathering together in solidarity for a common purpose. To celebrate life and to glean from one another's wealth of experience, strength and hope. And to a degree that I encountered that in Montreal, I am humbled by the experience.

Why is it so awful to suggest that things got out of hand? Why is it so unthinkable to suggest that what worked well for a gathering of twenty people did not work so effortlessly for a group of forty? And what happens when it is eighty? I could never think to imagine the work that people like Rab and Claude (and the others) put into the planning and execution of the gathering.

If the only reason we have the gatherings is to go bar-hopping with our forum friends, I would be disinclined to continue to participate. That's just not a scene I am comfortable with. And given the stuff I saw, I think I have passably valid reasons for my concern.

Obviously, this experience was a mixed one. And rather than blame those of us who had the courage to speak out (and it takes courage to buck the crowd, believe me) it might, as Andy suggested, be a platform for real and honest discussion for change.

Because like it or not, Montreal was NOT Toronto. The numbers alone dictated a sharp change in dynamic. And the dramatics, which I tried like holy hell to duck beneath, made me question my committment to the forums.

This thread has made me really sad. And I feel like I am being turned upon because I dared not have an uniquivocally good time. That does not speak particularly well of the notion of a family.

One thing I did come back from Montreal with, however, was the notion of pursuing my happiness. The notion that it's really up to me to be the change I expect to see in others, and that my participation in even the most comfortable and familiar things, if they have ceased to bring me joy, must end.

What the hell didn't I understand, Jan? Please tell me where I failed the group and the trip. Please tell me why my experiences were invalid and my concerns unjustified. Please tell me why I have no right to make suggestions for a better opportunity, simply because I missed the first gathering.

I met some amazing people, and had several epiphanal moments. Those things will always be etched in my memory, long after the unpleasant things have faded to simply amusing anecdotes.

I am sorry I have failed to communicate that.



"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #83 on: September 02, 2006, 08:53:07 PM »
Originally posted by Jonathan

Quote
How about this? We have a gathering once a year, and a conference once a year.

Zephyr

You yourself suggested something along the same lines, or at least that was the perception you gave to me when you mentioned almost the same idea.

So before you start suggesting that someone

Quote
apparently wanted to start a problem, and we let them. Not very constructive energy, if you ask me.

Perhaps you need to go back and reread what you posted previously.

Now, here we are.  Barely two weeks after the Montreal gathering, instead of focusing on what it was, there are some who seem determined to focus on what it wasn't. 

I don't think that's "constructive" either.

What I do think is important is what Annie mentioned, what Joe mentioned, what anyone who wants to take the time to review the pictures can see for themselves.

I don't know what some people thought Montreal was going to be, but whatever their expectations were, it doesn't detract from the positive wonderful time I had.

I love these gatherings.  I believe in them completely.

I think the power in them lies not in some predetermined agenda, but just in the fellowship we all experience.  It doesn't matter if someone is gay or straight (an issue raised not by anyone gay I might add), it doesn't matter if someone is young or old, newly diagnosed or a long term survivor.

What matters is that in the context of what is/should be primarily a social setting, there is a secondary thing that goes on.  A sense of reassurance, a sense of commonality, a sense that no matter who, what, or where, we are all HIV+.

I don't have a problem with members bringing new elements to next years gatherings.  I wish them luck in capturing members attention and commitment.  For me, I will focus on what works for me.  I'll attend Tim's lecture, I'll laugh with my fellow attendees, I'll feel power in the embrace of a hug.  If some want to create something beyond that, they have the ability to do so.  No one is stopping them.  Just as I have the right to make the next gathering what I want it to be.

RAB

Edit to add this quote from Zephyr (to emphasize the point I previously tried to make)

Quote
In between, a "Regional Meet" could occur, placing the venue in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, NZ, etc, as Robert mentioned, above. Perhaps this event could be the more 'social' one, for participants to get there ya-ya's out, so to speak.

(underline added to provide emphasis)
« Last Edit: September 02, 2006, 09:26:38 PM by RAB »

Offline Ric Wilke

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #84 on: September 02, 2006, 09:46:32 PM »
Dearest Friends,

This thread is a troubling mix of sanity and insanity.  Like others, I am totally confussed.  Many of us get but one vacation per year.  It seems that AMG is the venue of choice for many of us.  If you can't let your hair down while on vacation, why the hell spend the money and energy to go on vacation in the first place?  Some people need to have rooms by themselves, others are fine with sharing with a friend or two.  Shared space is exactly that, shared space.  Shit happens!  The expectations of AMG 06 were certainly different for each of us and this fact has become very obvious to the most casual observer.  It pains me greatly that less than two short weeks since the conclusion of AMG 06 the event is being trashed by some who, while attending, put on all the faces of having a grand time.  If you were not comfortable with the Gathering, please enjoy your next vacation apart from this very loving group of HIV/AIDS sensitive people in the future.

With deepest respect and love, Ric
« Last Edit: September 02, 2006, 09:52:05 PM by Ric Wilke »

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #85 on: September 02, 2006, 10:08:39 PM »
Dearest Friends,

A very good choice of words, because that is what you all represent to me.  The gathering isn't really about anything other than our coming together to celebrate all that we have created here.  As I reread the thread I am left with a sadness because so many had unmet expectations for Montreal and I guess I just don't understand what most people thought this would be.

Jonathan makes very valid points about some of the conduct and to be honest, I don't know what to do, because it didn't happen in Toronto.  Then again, who are any of us to dictate to others how they should act?  I'm not excusing anything, merely offering an alternative explanation.  For many of the members who attended this was one of the first times when they were in the "majority" no matter how many of us present.

I met some amazing people and I had no problem connecting with people, because I sought out those who I wanted to see again and to meet for the first time.  There was not enough time for all of us to connect, so we may want to structure more events for just socializing and not in bars.

What strikes me most about this thread is you all care more than you will admit.  We are emotionally invested in these gatherings otherwise these threads would not become so heated.  I believe we are all moving in a positive direction and the more we discuss this, without any acrimony, the more beneficial these gatherings can become.

The whole thing is actually funny when you consider that so many of us have cheated death and have challenging lives and here we are complaining of what we didn't get in Montreal, instead of what we did.  I have no regrets and I'd go again in a heartbeat.  Too many of you mean too much to me and I won't be missing any opportunities to get together with you again.

I did not attend for the event.  I went for the people.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2006, 10:10:55 PM by killfoile »

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #86 on: September 02, 2006, 10:31:41 PM »
I reject:

1.  The notion that people were killing themselves with drinking in Montreal.  

Why?  Because it is inappropriate, (and not very helpful to those who do have a drinking problem), to brand the consumption of alcohol during a night out of eating and socializing with people as pathological.  Binge drinking is much more serious than folks going out and having a good time.

2.  This notion that everyone in Montreal must take responsibility for the actions of 1 or 2 people.

Why?  Because it is unfair for the vast majority of us (35-40) folks to take on the sins of a couple of individuals.  Yeah, it kinda sucks that Jonathan had to sleep through his roommate having sex.  But well, I am not my brother's keeper.  How could anyone (outside of the folks involved in that situation) forsee, much less prevent, that from happening?  How can you expect for anyone to guarantee that something like that is an impossibility?

And it's also not fair to everyone who attended AMG for folks to speak in vague terms about claims of inappropriate conduct.  What conduct was inappropriate?  State it clearly so that everyone will know what you are talking about.  Joe/Jonathan, I have absolutely no clue, (outside of the sex act in Jonathan's room), what you guys considered inappropriate, sucidial and self-destructive behaviour.  Nor how pervasive it was....the term "people" is quite generic.  It can mean 2 people or it could mean 20 or even 40 folks.  What numbers are we talking about here?  I'm having a hard time understanding the point of bringing up these discussions if no one is allowed to even understand what the issue is.  It doesn't seem very productive to me.

In two or three threads now, we've had to read about how self-destructive folks were in Montreal.  I'm getting tired of hearng about it and not being afforded the respect of knowing exactly what was so inappropriate and self-destructive (suicidal even).  Those are some very strong terms and you can't just throw them out there then run away, only to wonder why you've managed to piss off everyone.

3.  This notion that just because you disagree with someones perception of Montreal, that you are turning on them.  It's a discussion forum, disagreements are common (necessary even).  

4.  That there was nothing to do but hang out in bars and get drunk.  Actually there was plenty to do.  Most of us some how stumbled onto to the following:

- Road trip to Quebec City
- Visit to the Biodome/ecosystem/Olympic stadium
- Tours of the old city
- The AMG memorial ceremony
- Walks throughout the area (I personally went on 4 with different groups of people)
- Small luncheons and dinners
- Shopping and visits to local malls/stores
- Trip to the Casino DE Montreal
- Trip to the Botantical gardens
- Swimming
- Interview with the local media
- Visit to the Notre-Dame
- Nightly dinners at various restaurants
- Rides in the Metro (to certain destinations)
- Breakfast at local restaurants

It takes initiative, but not very much.  For those events that were not pre-planned, all I had to do was ask...."so what are you guys getting into?"  That was it.  Nothing more was needed and I had my choices of things to do.  If you sit in your hotel room all day, of course you will miss out on opportunities to do things.  And that's fine if that's what you want to do, but it's not fair for everyone else to then take the blame for you missing out on activities or feeling as though you had nothing to do in Montreal.  

Finally, Will had a great time in Montreal.  He still talks about it.  He had nothing bad to say about the trip.  Despite the fact that Will is not a member of the forums and actually has never visited Aidsmeds.com, he still managed to have a fantastic time.  Also, Will does NOT drink, so no one can claim that he was able to binge drink his way into satisfaction.

AMG was not some drunken, suicidal, bareback-orgy, crack-pipe smoking music fest.  It was a gathering.  

Cliff
« Last Edit: September 02, 2006, 10:34:23 PM by Cliff »

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #87 on: September 02, 2006, 10:39:57 PM »
Hey Cliff,

Yes it was a gathering and I had a great time.  If you reread all of my posts in this thread you will find that I only reference some of the excessive drinking and other than that I wasn't aware of some of the other negative aspects, hence I did not comment on them.  I was simply sharing my experience and excessive drinking had a direct impact on my experience, so I referenced it.  I also repeat I was not judging anyone.

And so here we are again, debating what went wrong, rather than concentrating on what went so right.

Offline david25luvit

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #88 on: September 02, 2006, 10:43:23 PM »
I had a great time.........My only expectation was that I would be able to embrace my forum family
in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere of fun and frivolity...  A Wedding.  A Trip to The Chapel
and lots of joyful gatherings where we all got to know each other better.  I fully expected a few
of our group to get tanked...to get laid maybe but mostly I was hoping we could all just get along
and have a good time together

In my opinion...if anybody went to Montreal and didn't have a great time.  I guess perhaps they didn't
want to........
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Offline Robert

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #89 on: September 02, 2006, 11:42:40 PM »
I agree with David completely.  I went to Montreal to have a good time and I did.  Binge drinking?  I didn't see any. Oh I saw some people higher than a kite, that's for sure but so what?  I didn't go there to judge people and I don't expect people to judge me.    I don't drink much.  But I knew I was going to drink in Montreal, a lot if necessary,  and have a good time with a bunch of other people who wanted to have a good time.  If they drank or not, fine.  Didn't bother me.  I was still having a good time.

And, like Cliff, I managed to keep busy.  Meals with different people, walks in the Old Town, weddings, memorials, Quebec City and the Plains of Arabrham, seminar with Tim and even meeting some Montrealians.  I even let this one kid talk on and on about Jesus.   Why?  Because he was cute.  Is that frivilous and shallow?  I don't think so.  I was on vacation where, as far as I'm concerned, anything goes!

And rocky is right.  Take a look at those pictures.  It looks like a lot of people having a good time to me.


I know I'm going back next year and the year after that.   

robert



..........

Offline gerry

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #90 on: September 03, 2006, 12:20:21 AM »
Jonathan,

I don't think anyone here is downplaying or dismissing your unfortunate experience courtesy of your roommate's indiscretion, as well as the other negative things you've experienced.  Certainly, it would have infuriated me if I were in your shoes.  And I also realize that if you had the choice, you would have done something about it.  But like Cliff, I'd like to know what the collective experience was.  And I have a vested interest in knowing this even though I wasn't there.  That's because if the collective experience was overwhelmingly negative, then I would not continue to support this event in the future.

Gerry

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #91 on: September 03, 2006, 12:54:11 AM »
I do not personally consider the event to be a negative one. I make it a serious point in all my posts to mention the great and poignant moments I experienced there, and will never apologize for them.

As far as calling people out, I can't. I won't demean myself like that. Some folks really broke my heart, and that's that. If I did not care about them, it would not matter what they did. But I do care, and it did matter. And maybe I was indeed a total ass for not saying something at the time. But what do you say to an adult who is making an adult choice? In my case, I simply distanced myself as best I could from the situations that made me uncomfortable, to the best of my ability to do so.

I think that the event was an astonishing success. I also think it has grown big enough so that what worked for twenty folks might not have been as seamless for forty. And next year, eighty will put even greater strain. We are hardly, obviously, a homogenous bunch. Some of us are indeed party animals, and I have no problem with that. Some are history buff, science nerds, activists, naturalists, et al. I would no sooner force someone to come to a round table discussion regarding HIV activism than I would let someone force me to go to a dance club. And there is no reason why all the needs cannot be met.

It's simply going to take structure commiserate with the attendance, that's all. And that's not a bad thing. Unless the gatherings are to be strictly limited insofar as attendance is concerned, they will necessarily grow. And from what I saw in Montreal, we have reached critical mass.

An informal, unstructured group simply can't sustain a hundred people. It could not comfortable sustain forty... and that was WITH a tremendous amount of structure and activity. I simply vote for more options, not fewer. And more accountability, not less.

I just wanna sit at the grownups table.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline kcmetroman

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #92 on: September 03, 2006, 01:26:34 AM »
I don't consider AMG to be a negative experience.  Not at all.  Never said that.

The site location for next year will be determined, as will those attending.  Let's just drop it there and go stir up drama elsewhere.

One question though.....
What if someone under 18 wants to attend next year?  Where will they "hang?"

Anne and Rick get my vote.

nuff said

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #93 on: September 03, 2006, 02:04:35 AM »
This thread has gotten a little disturbing.   Like Joe and Jan, I thought I would just 'sit on the sidelines' and see what was going down before I made any comments.   However, I will say this:

I had a fantastic time.  The only negative things I personally experienced were due to my own stupidity/carelessness (such as not eating properly, staying on my feet too much, etc).  Meanwhile, some people that I love and care about very much did have some negative experiences.  I think it's important for us to hear them out on this.  I was fortunate enough to stay in a 'drama free' room; some were not so fortunate.  Nothing in the Gay village really 'bothered' me, but I can see how some things may have bothered some others.

A solution to it all?  I'm not that smart, remember I'm the one with the heart, not the brains.....I do know that I believe in this forum, I believe in the people here, and I trust the ability of us all to work together to form some compromises that can make a change "for Good", as the song says.  I really do believe people come into our lives for a reason.   We may not always understand that reason, but I know it exists.   Let's just remember that we are all friends, and we love each other, so let's respect everyone's point of view and keep this discussion "on the high road".

With love and respect for EVERYBODY,
Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline Dennis

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #94 on: September 03, 2006, 02:40:08 AM »
An informal, unstructured group simply can't sustain a hundred people. It could not comfortable sustain forty... and that was WITH a tremendous amount of structure and activity. I simply vote for more options, not fewer. And more accountability, not less.

This makes absolutely no sense.  I've put groups togethor for hundreds of people and have attended conventions myself with thousands of people.  Special interest groups like AMG happen everyday of the year somewhere.  From what I saw in the planning of AMG06, this gathering was no different than any other group that I've personally put togethor or convention I've attended (although on a much smaller scale).  There was the typical meet n greet on the first day and few planned events. 

There are always going to be personalities that clash (just like here in the forums).  Wasn't everyone free to do what they wanted, when they wanted, and with whom they wanted?  Was anyone forced to go to the gay village, or to a gay or straight disco, or even the pre-planned events?  If the gay village was too much for you, then couldn't you find others in the group with similar interests and go elsewhere?  Or if drinking isn't your thing, then again, find others with like interests and plan your free time with them? 

Did everyone feel obligated to do everything as a group?  If this was the case, than that will definitely be a problem as the event grows.  Not everyone has the same interests and personalities and lifestyles clash.  This is one of the best reasons to hold a meet n greet. 

From my experience in planning groups and from what I saw of the pre-planned events mentioned here in the forums, there appeared to be something for just about everyone. The only problem I see (and its not really a problem) is that everyone went with different expectations (eg vacation, AIDS Ambassadors, education).  And that's great.  A trip, regardless of the reason, should always be about what you want it to be.  The key is to find others in the group that share your mindset and interests. 

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #95 on: September 03, 2006, 06:24:39 AM »
I still don't see how adding more structure would have prevented what went on in Jonathan's hotel room, unless by structure you mean hiring an AMG security detail, (with tight-fitting uniforms please), for each of our hotel rooms.  And inform the security detail to taser participants who make bad choices.  Someone who has a drinking problem will probably find a way to drink, even if every moment of the day was booked with structured events.  And someone who wants to have sex in their hotel room, will probably find a way, even if every moment of the day was booked.  Possible solutions to these problems entail:

1.  Choose your hotel roommate(s) wisely or don't have one.
2.  Avoid purchasing alcohol for your room, particularly if you believe your roommate may have a drinking problem.
3.  If you do purchase alcohol for your room, or your roommate has, and you subsequently discover that they may have a drinking problem, dump all the alcohol down the bathroom sink (or give it away).
4.  If your roommate is about to have sex in your room, kick him and his sexual partner out of the room or call hotel security, (that tends to be a good mood killer).
5.  If you can't or won't kick their asses out, find someone else at AMG who will allow you to bunk with them for the night or even for the rest of the gathering.
6.  Avoid being roommates with someone who has a huge crush on you.  It's bound to result in a broken heart.

I understand Jonathan that you don't want to name names.  But no one is really asking you to name names.  What I asked is that if you throw-out an accusation that you provide enough detail so that the casual reader can make an informed decision as to what exactly the problem is and how pervasive is it.  Just saying "people did this and people did that" doesn't cut it, because that only leads to the entire group getting tainted by your claims.  And it also prevents people from disputing your claims effectively if they disagree with them. 

This is why people are upset Jonathan.  That and the fact that you keep using highly inflammable and dramatic words (suicidal, binge drink, self-destructive, etc.) to make others, (well the group really), look pathological.  If all your issues stem from your interactions with your roomate, (the one claim you seem to have no problem with disclosing plenty of detail about publicly, including the bareback bit), then perhaps this is something you should take up with that person directly.  And if you missed out on all the other activities, (that didn't involve a club/bar), that everyone else seems to have found, then you should also consider how much of that, if not all of it, was attributed to your own actions (or lack thereof).  You have already stated that you aren't good in groups and have a phobia with being in public.  Is that why you missed out on these activities, as opposed to the way AMG was organized?

Cliff
« Last Edit: September 03, 2006, 06:54:09 AM by Cliff »

Offline Moffie65

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #96 on: September 03, 2006, 10:33:09 AM »
Well, it is 4;28am on Sunday,and what a read!

So now it is 6am, and finished breakfast, and had a long conversation with my sweetie about this thread/event, and some things came to mind and to light, that I would love to share here.  I will not go to anyone's particular post or quotation, but deal with things in a more nonspecific way.

Did I enjoy Montreal?  Yes.  Did I go there with any expectations at all.  Yes, I expected to find a cab at the airport that would transport me to a hotel where I would find all the AMG folks.  This happened.  Did I have any other expectations?  No.

There are some points which I want to deal with, due to my feeling of inclusion, and at the same time, exclusion.  Confused yet?

Fact.....  If we meet in a city of any size, there will be a Gay Ghetto there, and it will be a place where people who are living with HIV should be able to feel comfort.  Why?  Because if not for the gay community, HIV would still be in the dark ages.  If a straight person/people cannot find comfort in a gay ghetto, they are obviously bringing pre-existing attitudes or conceptual opinions to the table from the start.  Should gay people, of which this board is predominantly populated, give up who they are to promote the comfort of the whole?  I don't know the answer to that one, however, I hide my identity so regularly on a daily basis, there would be little reason for me to do it on a gathering trip, unless of course there were other things that I could gain from a gathering than merely a social week with friends. 

I have gone to HIV conferences, stayed in hotels that cost the better part of $200 a night, eaten in rooms of 500, sat through "sessions" that I thought were going to be what the publicity blurb said they were going to be, only to find out I should have been in another one down the hall, that more pointedly were addressing things I needed more to learn about.  I love HIV Conferences, however, I am not a wealthy man, I don't have the ability to spark the interest of the National Minority AIDS Council to pay for my attendence through a scholarship.  They will not ever choose me, due to my lack of knowledge of "key" terms that will get their attention in my application.  Oh well....... 

So, there is the AMG gathering.  It is open to all with HIV. 

Fact.....  Some of us here have demons and issues that are part and parcel of who we are.  We have views of others here, and our views are our own.  When we gather together, much of what we bring to the gathering will become very much a part of our experience.  Some have issues with Alcohol, others have issues with Drug Use, and yet others have issues with sexual overindulgence and finally under age attendees.  These are the things that have been brought up here, and I think we need to come to some understanding of where we can impact these things, and where we cannot.  If the drinking habits of some of the attendees become so overwhelming, then it should be the responsibility of the gathering committees to take these folks aside and let them know that their drinking is not promoting good will, and invite them to control themselves, or please exit, and go home.  This isn't mean, nor is it offensive.  When the well being of the whole is being threatened by the very few, or one, then we need to have the maturity, and the ability to take a proactive approach and let these people know that they are not welcome with their particular vices, and if they cannot curb themselves, please feel free to leave.  This holds true for anyone else that is disturbing the group in any other way also.  I know I might have disturbed many in the group with my penchant for "smoking" just about anywhere and any time I felt the need.  However, for them to actually place me in a place of discomfort, due to my indulgence, well, I just cannot answer that one.  I do apologise if anyone was made to feel discomfort, but I KNEW that in Montreal, pot is not a problem, and in the neighborhood we were in, it was even less so.  Thankfully, I also had my scooter so that if anyone was uncomfortable, I could have abstained in public and kept my smoking on the sly.  I just don't choose to go back to 1969 and hide anything I don't particularly see anything wrong with.  I hide in my home town, so that should be enough for this twisted society.

I guess I missed out on some of the details that happened in Montreal, and Jonathan and Trish, you obviously had an experience that made both of you feel very uncomfortable.  I don't know what happened and I don't think I really want to.  I apologise for any indescresions that happened and I trust that one sour event will not cloud your attendance in any future gatherings.  Stuff happens, and when we let negatives overpower the positive, we naturally turn it all into a negative.  That is just the way we humans are.

As for the discomfort that Jonathan from Atlanta had, well, there is just no excuse for "impropper toilet training".  He should not have had to choose between sleep and a private orgy.  He should not have been subjected to anything like this, but hey, we now know that some things need to be dealt with ahead of time, and basic ground rules MUST be compiled and stated, and any infraction of those rules will be grounds for dismissal from the group dynamic.  These of course cannot be too detailed, and they cannot be too restrictive, however, common decency and respect should be tantamount to the comfort of the whole.

John brought up a simple question about attendees under the age of 18.  This one is simple, and I would ask all of us to think about creating an atmosphere that would be of comfort to that age group.  First off, if a parent felt comfortable enough to let their underage child attend one of these events, I cannot believe that they would do so without going along.  If they did, I would question them and their parenting skills.  If they felt comfort in letting the child attend, they would more than likely have established their presence here and we would already know them and the child.  On the other hand, there might easily be underage attendees who are not tied to a family unit emotionally; then we who are more mature members of the group could easily step up to the plate to make sure they were comfortable, and taken care of so as not to expose them to things that they might not be ready for.  This would be the case whether in a gay environment or not.

For those of you who feel uncomfortable in with the Gay tone of these gatherings; I have a few challenges for you.  Please find another environment where we can all gather in a hotel that is not going to gouge the hell out of us.  Please find a neighborhood where disclosure or just an idea of who the group is; will not be met with confrontation.  (I did not feel comfortable at all in the sports bar, not because it wasn't gay, but because the owners and staff were dickheads, and didn't know the first thing about business.  Also because if that place had been full, I would not have gone in as I hate the very concept of a "Sports Bar".   Just my thing, not yours)  I challenge anyone to find a location/s where we can come together as a group and not have any "built in" prejudices from the "location" and not have it in a Gay Neighborhood.

On to structure.

I see no problem with having two lines of our gatherings.  One social, and one more learning oriented.  This way, those like Jonathan  and myself who are more keenly interested in learning all that is new and exciting, will have the ability to mix the learning with the social and the bonding that is so very important to this group.  This is not rocket science, and we must start now to seek out help from the drug companies, or other entities that have the resources and the interest in the investment, to come to our aid and help us attract speakers and presenters that will spark enough interest to be sponsored.  These people don't work for free, and they will not travel for free, this is just something we must address.  Where is the money going to come from to achieve the goals which we are discussing here?  Like I said above, this isn't rocket science, and we have enough members here with the talents and skills to present this quandry to the right people, all we need is consensus.  Just remember, Ryan White's mom, charges a minimum of $1000. per speaking opportunity, and travel to and from on top of that!!

I have let myself go here, and I want you all to think about the things I have presented.  We cannot, and will never be, all things to all people, but the power and the energy, and the total force of what we have started is very special, and very unusual in this modern world.  We can take this thing where ever we want it to go, and we can build this group into a world wide force to be dealt with.  All we have to do is define where we want to go with it and where we don't want to go with it.  I vote for unity and consensus.  Otherwise, we waste our own time and none of us have any time to waste.  I see where some have chosen to make this event their own vacation and for many of us, there just isn't enough money in the family budget to attend one of these and still have money left over for a vacation.  That is a very valid issue and must be part of this discussion.  The financial drain on most of us is verging on being total anhialation of our assets these days.  We must be prudent and must be inclusive.  I think threads like this do just that. 

I also realize that what ever is decided out of this discussion is going to inevitably cause some of you to never return to the AMG.  I find that sad, and I wish if there were anything I could do in life, it would be to not let this happen.  We must be able to have a gathering that will be a place where the "majority" of the attendees will be comfortable, and be happy they went.  I think we can do that. 

Please check all your expectations about what you are going to take home from a gathering, at the airport when you exit the plane on arrival at the future location of AMG07.  Otherwise, I will guarantee disappointment!

Thanks for reading.

In Love and Anticipation.
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #97 on: September 03, 2006, 10:59:04 AM »


THEN I got home and started looking at some of the photos.  Particularly recalling the scenes outside the hotel, when we were gathered as a large group, either waiting for the next arrival or waiting to go somewhere. 

I recalled some of the embraces, kisses, attire, that attendees experienced/wore.

They were free to express themselves openly and honestly.  Either on that street, in the hotel, or in restaurants.

I don't think any of that could have occurred had we not stayed in a "gay friendly" environment.


It just seems it's easier for you and John to express your affections for one another in a gay friendly environment, then it will ever be for gay men to do so in a non gay friendly environment.

I wish it wasn't that way.

I haven't got a clue as to how we find more balance on this one. 

RAB




Tim

I think you made the same observation I was trying to make.

I don't know where we are going to end up next year, we've heard many suggestions, but when it comes time to vote, I will probably decide based on where I feel we can all be comfortable (or at least as close to that goal as possible).

I hate this divide, I wish it weren't the case, but to some extent society has forced it upon me with their intolerance. 

Thanks buddy

RAB


Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #98 on: September 03, 2006, 11:08:28 AM »
Re: Someone under 18 attending AMG

Inviting a minor to an event such as this would probably create some serious legal responsbilities (liabilities) for the group (and possibly the planners).  Technically a minor can't even participate in the forums, (read smart + strong's terms of services), because of the special risk associated with minors.  

Most places/retreats that have minors participating in activies along side adults, usally require that an adult, (typically the parent), serves as a chaperone.  That chaperone is completely responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for the child.  

There are retreats for kids who are HIV positive.  They specialize in providing a safe and sterile environment for children.

Offline ademas

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #99 on: September 03, 2006, 11:16:23 AM »
As an outsider looking in...

Maybe it's time that the organization of the event had a little more structure, like a small AMG Planning Committee, with a Chair, a Co-Chair, and people responsible for various aspects of the gathering itself (workshops/seminars; hospitality [hotel, welcome event, social activities]; cultural [field trips/sightseeing];  treasurer; etc.)

It might seem premature for the event (as it was only 40 people), but if it's something people care about, and you anticipate growth, and you want more people involved, it's going to be necessary, and in the not-too-distant future. 

A modest registration fee might be in order, as well, as the event grows in size.

A business meeting could be held on the last day of AMG '07, and new Planning Committee members put in place for the following year, perhaps with the Chair position going to someone (preferably) with experience on the AMG board from the prior year to promote continuity (and to not entirely lose the wisdom of lessons learned.)  The city for the next AMG could also be selected at this time, or at least narrowed down to a list of two or three.

I could go into more detail, because I love organizing sh*t, and I've served on these types of committees before (no, I'm not volunteering...HA!)...but I really don't want to overstep, as I've not attended an AMG event before.

Just thinking out loud...

xox
« Last Edit: September 03, 2006, 11:18:30 AM by ademas »

Offline joemutt

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #100 on: September 03, 2006, 11:22:19 AM »
As another outsider it's a little hard to follow, but I can surely understand that everyone should be entitled to feel at ease at AMG
and that if there's some behaviour or activities that lead to discomfort (but again hard to get a picture of what was the case) than that certainly would need to be addressed. But maybe it should have been addressed then and there while the AMG was going on. But ok, it certainly has been addressed early enough for AMG 07 :-\
Just a very small 0.02 $.

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #101 on: September 03, 2006, 02:56:09 PM »
Hi Tim,

I have read your post and you have made some good points, ones which I will hold onto and try my best to understand. 

I guess I fall in the category of the minority here.  And that's okay.  I suppose if the majority can be accommodated, than that is the way it should be.  I have no problem with that.

I probably should have started a new thread (I don't want to hijack,) but I guess posting it here is really the best place to put it.

Bailey said I could have walked in the other direction of the village and saw the rest of what Montreal had to offer and he is 100% correct.  But I didn't want to.  I wanted to be able to hang out with all of you, but I couldn't bring myself to.  Why?  Because I felt uncomfortable in the village.  I did enjoy myself at the Meet & Greet, the Wedding, at lunch & dinners and Quebec City.  I loved seeing those who I met in Toronto again and feeling the love from each of you and giving it back.  I loved hugging all of you and just being around you and I didn't want it to end.  I loved meeting new people and hugging them too, and although I didn't get the chance to speak to more of you in depth, I still care and love you just the same as anyone else.  But, I saw things (and not with any of the members here really -- and I certainly don't care what attire anyone is wearing -- in fact I love that you guys are free to do just that, but unfortunately you only feel comfortable in the right setting to do so -- this part I hate), things in the village that I really would rather not have seen.  I can walk down the streets and bar hop in Kansas City, or even in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, and see all the stuff I simply cannot deal with anymore these days.  I suppose I've grown-up in the past few years and I found myself drinking alot more than I cared to while in Montreal.  My problem, no one else's.  Yes, I do have a problem with drinking (don't know when to stop once I've started) & I don't go to bars for this simple reason.  I just felt uncomfortable which made me want to drink more.  I was able to curb it to a degree, but still the urges surfaced and it didn't feel right for me.  And so I guess the best thing for me to do is to stay away from places that bring on these feelings of wanting to drink myself into oblivion.  That's all I can do for myself, and I shouldn't try to place the blame on anyone here.  I certainly didn't mean to and I meant no harm.  I should have articulated this more clearly. 

Also, having grown up in a place where prejudice runs rampant I suppose some of that upbringing is still present within me.  Although I have done my utmost to work through this area of my life throughout my entire life, some of it still lingers.  I love each and everyone of you and care about you more than you will ever know, but I'm still working on overcoming this flaw of mine completely.  And my speaking out loud here on the forums is, for now, the best way I know how to do that.  And it is something that I will work on in therapy too.  Talking about it does help and talking to all of you is certainly the icing on the cake.  I learn more and more from each of you everyday and I do not take it with a grain of salt.  I listen to each of you carefully, I weigh what you have to say and I try to find a balance and understand.  I believe I'm doing a pretty good job of it.  I don't like feeling uncomfortable in any situation, just like you guys don't, and it breaks my heart that you all have had to endure years of discrimination and hatred.  I wish I could change the world's thinking, but I can't.  I can change my own thinking though.  I'm bending myself to accept all things, and working through all of the uncomfortability in my life and surroundings.  It's the only way to get to the end means.  The problem I have is within myself and I am working to change that.  I've been doing it my whole life and it seems to be a never ending task.  But it is one I am sure I can come to a close -- one that will allow me to be who I truly am -- a woman whose heart is big and cares for everyone including herself.

I am fully aware of the fact that you guys need to be in a familiar place when it comes to AMG.  I realize that society as a whole makes you uncomfortable and that makes me sad.  I wish I could change it.  I also wish that we as HIV-positive people could go anywhere and not be afraid of disclosure.  This I hate the most -- probably because the stigma of HIV is the major thing that makes me uncomfortable.  And yes, you are all right -- the only place we can truly not fear being HIV-positive is within the gay community.  This much I know for a fact.  I just don't want to have to hide anywhere anymore.  And I suppose many of you feel that too.  But I don't know how to change that either.  What I do know though, is that everytime I do disclose to whomever or wherever, I feel liberated and it gets easier to do everyday.  Having worked through that uncomfortable feeling of disclosing my status brings me closer to being free.  What bothered me most was feeling like I have to hide and I just don't think hiding myself within the gay community is doing me justice.  I don't like it one bit.  But that's just my take and another story for another time.

My thoughts are still all over the place... I'm doing my best to understand it all and get all the demons out.

As far as next years AMG -- I was only thinking that we could go somewhere with an ocean view or lake view, perhaps some sandy beaches with lots to do, like fishing, snorkeling or scuba diving (not that I do that), some horseback riding, antiquing, nice quiet dinners and the like.  I just don't want to be in a city scene and walk the streets, hopping from bar to bar, which I know I wasn't forced to do -- I could have done something else.  I can do the bar thing at home and walk the streets, and I don't even go there because I know what it will bring me -- alcohol and behavior I don't care to go near.  I try not to tempt myself, so I don't go to such places.  I would just like us to be able to go somewhere pretty, and ALL OF US be together and not have to divide ourselves at any given moment.  Probably impossible to do.  I guess that's not going to happen.  I was feeling that I might not attend next year, but I will wait and see what the consensus is on where AMG will be.  Until then, I will be working on my flaws and teaching myself to be comfortable no matter where I go or who I am with, and learn to be more accepting of my surroundings and people.  It's all I can do at this time -- for myself and nobody else.  I will wait and see what happens.

I'm sorry if I have caused any drama or unsettling feelings.  It was not my intention.  I was just putting my honest thoughts out there from my heart.  And however mixed up my feelings may be, they are my feelings -- they are not wrong or right -- they simply exist.  I'm not perfect for sure.  We're all human -- we all have feelings, and I was just expressing mine with people I care about and love more than you can know.

Also, sorry for the long-winded post.  It's in my nature to ramble on & on.  I'll stop now.

In peace & love,

Trish
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #102 on: September 03, 2006, 04:49:55 PM »
For Trish, (a minor hijack I promise)

It takes a big person to admit their foibles and I thank you for sharing some of yours, because now your concerns about Montreal are much clearer.  We all share the frustration with how parts of the world work and all you can ever really do is be responsible for yourself.  I commend you on taking constructive action to address some of your issues.  They aren't flaws, as that indicates a weakness of character.  No, they are learned behaviors and fortunately many can be unlearned.

I know you will be at AMG next year, because all of this will sort itself out... it always does.

Offline Trish

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #103 on: September 03, 2006, 05:40:44 PM »
Thanks Joe... it really means alot.

I guess in the grand scheme of it all, Montreal gave me one expectation that I never even imagined could be.  Which is: I learned a very valuable lesson about myself and my "learned behaviors."  Sure, its been there all along, but Montreal brought it into full view and it's a lesson that I fully welcome because now I will be able to work it out for sure.  I suppose it's a blessing in disguise. 

And you're right Joe, I will be at the next AMG.  How the hell can I stay away from all of you?  It's impossible.  I care about you all and love you all so much so that I just have to be there.  Again, thanks.

Love,

Trish :-*
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Online Andy Velez

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #104 on: September 03, 2006, 06:14:25 PM »
Dear All,

This has turned into a very long thread. It's also veered off a few times into some back and forth stuff that personally I don't think is useful to post-mortem.

I suggest rather that the focus be turned now on to discussing matters such as when and where members would like the next meeting to be. And what if anything they would like to have included in the way of some semi-formal session(s) regarding issues of interest. Everyone would be welcome to suggest what they might like to hear discussed or presentations about and/or perhaps activities such as yoga/meditation, etc.

It's your gathering so develop into what you want to have it be.

Please don't spend time and energy in complaining about what you didn't like. Overall my sense is that people who went to Montreal are glad they did so. Some seem to have had a better time than others. That is always going to happen. The shared experience of HIV doesn't change the reality that you're all invidividuals with different histories, backgrounds, tastes, etc.

The miracle is that given those differences there has been as much happy comraderie.

So I am going to lock this thread and open a new one. People will still be able to reference this one for ideas if need be, but when it gets past 100 entries it's really tiresome to have scroll through the whole epic.

 
Andy Velez

Offline allopathicholistic

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #105 on: September 25, 2006, 07:22:05 PM »
The conference meets at a retreat somewhere, with, I dunno, horses and nature and stuff. Nothing prudish, just not so much neon, not so much booze and boinking. Yooga classes, meditation,

oh bless you for this idea!!!!! that's truly music to my ears!!!! "i'm so there"   :D  :D

 


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