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Author Topic: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?  (Read 1664 times)

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Offline phildinftlaudy

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  • Posts: 2,965
  • sweet Ann what you think babe...
Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« on: January 07, 2011, 11:04:40 PM »
Note to Moderators: I hope you will keep this in the Living With HIV section so that new members or other members who may not visit the AM Gatherings topic area can gain some insight as to what AM Gatherings are all about.

After reading a recent post and myself only having been a member of these Forums for about one year officially, I realized that there are many new members (and even, perhaps, some older ones), as well as guests, who do not know what the AM Gathering is.

I am hoping that some of the members who have attended previous gatherings could tell members who have not experienced an AM Gathering what it is (previous gatherings, experiences, thoughts, etc.).

I will share what I know (although, this year's gathering in Seattle will be my first):

An AM Gathering is an "official" real-life get together of members from this forum.  Members come from all over the world to finally meet in person.  For the most part the event is not structured --- other then a "meet and greet" and a memorial service to recognize and celebrate the lives of those from these forums who have been lost to HIV.

The gatherings are typically held once a year.  Previous locations have included Mexico City, Toronto, London, and an "unofficial" gathering in Las Vegas.

The gatherings are completely organized by volunteers from these forums.  Members even set up a committee to help raise funds to help assist many members to attend who otherwise might not be able to (covering expenses such as airfare, hotel, meals). 

The gathering is a place to make new friends and to finally get to meet many of the members that we interact with regularly on the forum.

Experienced AM Gathering attendees, please feel free to share.
Those who have questions about the AM Gathering, please feel free to ask in this thread.
This year's gathering will be held in August in Seattle, Washington (see the AM Gatherings Topic Area for more info).
September 13, 2008 - diagnosed +
Labs:
Date    CD4    %   VL     Date  CD4  %   VL
10/08  636    35  510   9/09 473  38 2900  12/4/09 Atripla
12/09  540    30    60   
12/10  740    41  <48   
8/11    667    36  <20  
03/12  1,041  42  <20
05/12  1,241  47  <20
08/12   780    37  <20
11/12   549    35  <20
02/12  1,102  42  <20
11/12   549    35  <20

Offline aztecan

  • Member
  • Posts: 5,399
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2011, 10:30:38 AM »
I remmber my firs AMG. It was Montreal in 2006.

Since then I have attended AMGs on San Franciso, Mexico City and Boston.

They are wonderful experiences. The feeling of empowerment I felt after my first in Montreal left me "positively" giddy.

I have met some wonderful people, had some incredible experiences and visited places I may never have gone to if not for this.

I heartily recommend it.

HUGS,

Mark

"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline Joe K

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  • Member
  • Posts: 3,795
  • 31 Years Poz
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2011, 07:12:29 AM »
Imagine trying to herd cats and coordinate a week long event that brings pozzies from all over the world to one location.  Add to that amazing people, from all walks of life, who come to together to celebrate that it is OK to be poz.  Provide an environment with a little bit of structure and plenty of free time, so everyone can have a chance to form bonds that will last a lifetime.  Populate this environment with members from this forum, some of whom are provided financial grants, from members donations, so that they may attend.

Then sit back and watch day one of AMG unfold, which always begins with the arrival watch at the designated hotel.  Watch members, some of whom have known each other for years, meet each other for the first time and feel the bond.  Feel the power that surrounds members as they are among their own kind and for many, it is for the first time in their life.  Share in the love that flows as we all greet each other, meet new members and start to form the bonds.

Wrap all of this in the tenderness and understanding that exists in our members and you have the ingredients for a life altering event.  Each AMG selects a site and conducts an AIDs Memorial Ceremony that is tragic and depressing and joyful and energizing.  Each year the ceremony is different, but the result remains the same; mourning and healing for those we have lost to HIV.

The week has scheduled events, which are great, but the best part is when you splinter with a group and get to know some new mates.  You will find incredible people amongst us.  There will be those with incredible courage, unwavering support and the group emits a truly positive energy for the duration of the week.  Friends are found, bonds are formed and for many members, it may be one of the first times, that they feel they are truly among family.

You can read the schedule to see what is planned, but the only reason to come is because you cannot afford not to.  Until you meet some of these folks in the flesh, you will have no idea of the beauty that inhabits these forums.  I have met dozens of remarkable people, who are always ready to accept anyone, who feels the need to belong.  That's really what it is all about, belonging.  For many of us, we are the outcasts of society and it's unfair to live life without never feeling that you really belong somewhere.  So come to an AMG and meet the people, you share these boards with and I guarantee, that no matter what the cost, you will leave AMG with friendships and memories for a lifetime.

Offline RAB

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  • Posts: 1,895
  • Joined March 2003
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2011, 03:51:19 PM »
The first gathering we had was in Toronto.  I had no idea what to expect.  I went thinking to myself if they all turn out to be lunatics, I can just go do my own thing.

Those anxieties disappeared in about 30 seconds.  The members who came were awesome.  We had a fantastic time.  I made friends, which to this day I hold close to my heart.  Let me restate that, I hold them close to my heart each and every day.

The second gathering was in Montreal.  I arrived sensing that nothing could ever be better then Toronto and prepared myself to be somewhat disappointed.

Didn't happen.  Montreal was just as fantastic as the first.

Little did we know when we started these gatherings, they'd still be going.

Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco (the largest gathering in terms of attendees), Mexico City (we climbed a friggin pyramid [except for Cliff who lost his nerve half way up  ::)]), Boston (the scavenger hunt was so much fun [I was on the winning team, but didn't provide much help to be honest]), London which I wasn't able to attend, but did go to the unofficial gathering in Las Vegas.

Seattle will be the 7th gathering.  Each has had it's own personality, but all of them have been wonderful.  I leave feeling renewed, refreshed, and yes loved.

We laugh, we cry.  We eat, we drink.  We talk, we hug.  We bond together in such an unexplainable yet obvious way, that I can't really find the appropriate words to share.

These gatherings are the highlight of my year.  The people, the memories, the locations, have given me so much more than I ever expected. 

Young, old, gay, straight, male, female.  It matters nothing.  We're all gathered together, sharing our common bond, and celebrating our lives, memorializing those we've lost, and . . . . . .living.


I can't wait for Seattle!

I hope many of you consider attending, you most certainly will not regret it.

RAB   ;D

Who wishes he could come up with words to communicate exactly how great AMG is.



Offline WillyWump

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  • Posts: 7,202
  • Fall is in the air!
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 07:49:07 PM »
Joe seems to have captured it all quite nicely!

To echo what RAB stated, there are really no words to explain the event, it is more of an experience.

I was quite terrified my first AMG in Boston, hell I didnt know any of these people from Adam. I too thought "well if things go bad I can always bolt and go on my own". I was nervous as I approached the group standing in front of the Hotel, but even as I approached I heard "that must be Will", and soon I was surrounded by these wonderful smiling faces, lots of hugs, and I think a kiss from RAB :). Literally 30 seconds and I felt as If I was among long lost friends.

The love was amazing, I never felt more accepted in all my life. The weekend was amazing, lots of things to do and someone always saying "Does anyone want to go to ----- with us?", There was ALWAYS something to do.

I dont say this flippantly...It changed my life and in doing so I took away several friends for life.

I'm not much of a cryer, especially a public cryer, but the day I left I cried. There are alot of tears the last day as everyone shoves off and goes back to every corner of the world.

After my first gathering in Boston, I could not wait to see my friends again in Vegas...it is an amazing feeling! Almost as great as the first time around.

I would highly recommend the gathering for anyone, dont worry if your a newbie, I promise you will feel right at home.

-Will
POZ since '08

Last Labs-
6/3/14 CD4- 736, UD 34%
6/25/13 CD4- 1036, UD,
2/4/13, CD4 - 489, UD, 28%

Current Meds: Prezista/Epzicom/ Norvir
.

Offline thunter34

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  • Posts: 7,314
  • His name is Carl.
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2011, 11:57:47 PM »
Young, old, gay, straight, male, female.  It matters nothing.  We're all gathered together, sharing our common bond, and celebrating our lives, memorializing those we've lost, and . . . . . .living.

Indeed.

I was siitting here with a case of the warm fuzzies just reading this thread, and wondering about what to say in this post.  Then I remembered a conversation I had in a hotel room in San Francisco with RAB...and the word "living" came up.  He had asked what I thought so far about my AMG experience, and as I fumbled along trying to summarize it, I  eventually said that if I had to sum it all up in one word that it would be "living".  We shared an excited (and kinda teary) hug as we agreed that, for all its "lack of formal structure" and frills, AMG was actually a rather profound celebration of life.

I know lots of people here on the forums may giggle and think I'm being corny and sappy in the writing of this, but I flat out don't give a damn.  AMG San Francisco 2007 stands as the best trip I have ever taken.  I said then what I say now:  for me, it was like an ecstasy roll without the pill.  I remember looking up at the sky as I climbed up the stairs from the subway.  When I reached the top and looked down to the side walk, my first AMG image was about 15-20 people shouting out with open arms.  Five seconds later, I was at the center of a giant hug circle.  And that vibe just carried on for the next four days. 

As others have said, there really is no substitute for meeting these people face to face.  When I read posts here, I can see the people behind the avatars and hear their voices.  And I saw lots of places and did lots of stuff all over San Francisco, but some of the most significant and memorable parts happened for me in little stolen moments in seemingly uneventful activities...sharing a room and learning all about the SF transit system with Henry, moments pre and post the Memorial with Roger - and a "real quick let's have our moment" moment with JR Gabbard at a diner table.  One of my best "moments" was nothing more than standing still on a side walk in late night conversation.  I returned to the forums recently to learn that Ric Wilke has passed on, but the talk we talked there on the sidewalk I'll have of my own from him for the rest of the days I'm still kicking.

I can't speak for any of the other AMG's, but I guess you can get a pretty clear assessment of my esteem for the event nonetheless.  I cried like a baby when I had to leave, and swore I'd be back in 2008.  But life being what it is, here we are at 2011 already. 

I'm feeling the tug for Seattle. 
AIDS isn't for sissies.

Offline aztecan

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  • Posts: 5,399
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 11:41:28 PM »
Did I really post that first post? EEP!

Spell check should have been my friend.

But, as the others have said, every AMG has its own flavor. I have to agree with Tim, I remember the stolen moments best sometimes.

I remember going shopping in San Francisco with two English women who were buying out the stores. They were also along on an excursion to Lake Mead with Moffie after San Francisco but when some members decided to take in Las Vegas.

I remember Robert in Montreal, or rather, I remember hitting some of the night clubs with him and having a wild yet wonderful time.

I remember touring a museum of fine art in Mexico City with several people, including Jan, and eating at a local cafe with Miss P, and not catching Montezuma's revenge.

In Boston, we saw history come to life, plus a boat trip a few of us took to Provincetown. I also remember our Will sneaking a ciggie and a wonderful excursion by train (don't you love trains) to Salem, of witch trial fame.

I could go on for hours. This was, of course, on top of all the organized things we did, including climbing the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan.

If you were curious, try it. I know you won't be disappointed.

HUGS,

Mark
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 11:48:51 PM by aztecan »
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline thunter34

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,314
  • His name is Carl.
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2011, 09:34:40 PM »
Bumpity bump.
AIDS isn't for sissies.

Offline weasel

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  • Posts: 1,686
Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2011, 12:29:45 PM »


 The Las Vegas  Gathering was my first !

    I had a ball .   A very diverse group of fun loving people .

  It is like WE have known each other for years .

 I have to say the GIRLS  were my favorites  :o


                                                                 Weasel

 P.S.   Everyone should go at least once  :)
   
" Live and let Live "

Offline Buckmark

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Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 02:25:47 PM »
What is like to attend an AMG gathering?  Imagine transforming these forums into a face-to-face, real-life.  I'm quite grateful for having these forums, but there's no substitute for human interaction.  You get to know others more completely.  And once you have met in person, the bonds you make are so much stronger.  I never struggled for finding something to do at AMG, or someone to talk to (quite an experience for an introvert like myself).  The organized events are great, and there are always people who are planning some small activity, whether it be sightseeing or shopping or a meal.  I felt an instant sense of belonging, both because of my previous interactions here, and because of a shared experience with HIV and AIDS.  The people who are going really want to be there, and really want to meet others.  In person, conversations can be longer, friendships can be made stronger.  I went to AMG 2007 in San Francisco, and I was so hoping to go to Las Vegas last year, but my new job and new house threw a wrench into those plans.  I'm excited to and eagerly looking forward to meeting in Seattle in August.  I don't know anyone who attended that hasn't felt like it was a great trip, and a significant experience in their life.

Cheers,

Henry
"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline pozniceguy

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Re: Do You Want to Know? What is an AM Gathering?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2011, 03:36:26 PM »
so much has already been said...but there is one more little  item I would mention....the locals who just show up..always a surprise or two...they know the area and the "places"  to go/see .  every place so far  ( been to San Fran,Boston, Mex city,and Las Vegas)  has had some  "locals'  show up   help with the trans issues, find restaurants, clubs, stores and just add so much local input.... they makes the whole experience just that much better.

of course we all owe a huge debt to Dennis for the effort he puts into getting all the basics  set up... negotiate the Hotels  work out some Dinner(Meet and Greet).  a great experience not to be missed...

Nick
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
Le stelle la notte sono grandie luminose, nel cuore profondo del Texas

 


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