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Author Topic: Here's a thought to consider  (Read 22355 times)

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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?"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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?

Offline 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
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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 »

 


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