Conference Guest Comments and Reviews
Words From Our Members and Friends
Click on a name to jump to their comments:
Ricky Hans Gilbert
Angelika Irene Bertrand
Hi, all. It was a wonderful family reunion. I guess for me that is the main point of going to conference. It was so breath-taking to turn down the highway and see the lake in the distance. It reminded me of my summers in Jacksonhole.
The fun began with so many arriving Thursday instead of Friday. The hotel staff was so friendly, I got to know the manager of the concierge and one of her assistants, a (gasp) Mormon too.
Friday's leadership meeting was a challenge as Mike Miner wanted to know the names of everyone there. Side note: What a joy to meet James Kent's mom. She is one amazing person. Friday night ended with a major "drag explosion" in our room. With James, James Morris, Aron Arnell, Charlton, Duane and I digging through our supplies to get the drag workshop and Imelda and Ivette ready for Saturday. Once you get the mascarra in your veins there is no getting it out.
Most of Saturday was re-uniting with old friends and meeting new ones. But sometime was needed to rewrite and rehearse the gimmick for the Mortensen award presentation. Comments: Honey Ward's speech was a surprise. I, like several others, expected a major salespitch for the Experience. Hers was an inspiring talk. Although I enjoyed Grethe Cammemyre's speech, it lacked something. I'm still trying to figure out what it was that was missing. I would have liked to hear more from the woman from SLC. Her dinner speech was exciting and refreshing. Henry, you deserve the Mortensen award. Thank you for you time and effort. There was only one thing missing in the list that David presented, your online awards for the website.
The display of the quilt was one of the best and most effective use of the Lobby space.
It's too bad more could not make Sunday for the boat ride. It would have been better if it had been just us. Notwithstanding the bigoted comment, YEAH Stella, you go.
For those who don't know, there was a wedding party on another deck. One woman of that group saw an Affirmite with a Queer Mormon t-shirt. She was overheard to say: "They should die of AIDS." Stella confronted her without causing a scene, but forcing the bigot to back down.
Although the "devotional" was not Mormon, churchie, it was beautiful just the same. Maybe it's because I reading a lot about different spiritual cultures and their legends.
The march by candlelight was a fitting end to the event.
This has gone long enough. Thank you all, my old friends for your love and friendship. To the new people that I've meet, I hope to get to know you better. It is a great joy to know all of you. Looking forward to seeing you all in DC in 2000.
Ricky Hans Gilbert AKA EdithHead and Hansal
Hi! I am Angelika Irene Bertrand and a member of the Affirmation chapter in Utah. About a year ago, my friend (Kim Saunders) took me to an affirmation meeting in Utah. And ever since that time, I been around this group and pretty much involved.
I found a home with Affirmation that does not discriminate against those that are not from the LDS faith. Being born and raised in Germany, I consider myself to be a very intellectual, open-minded, liberal person. My belief is that Jesus loves us every body unconditionally. And that Jesus Gospel was about Love, Acceptance and Understanding. It is for these various principles that Affirmation stands out of the crowd. Being around my Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual and Transgendered Friends, gave me a sense of belonging.
Participating in this year's Lake Tahoe Conference was a dream come true. Many of my friends were there too and I also made new friends. I belief in Love, Understanding, Acceptance Theory and for that I think that I am a unique individual. Because it is my LDS friends who teach me a lot about their heritage, culture and their faith.
I think we are often underestimated in society. I think we, the GLBT community and those who coming from different beliefs, need to teach other to accept, to understand and to love. I think I owe my friends in Affirmation a Deep "Thank You" for your Kindness, For your Openness, For your Friendship but most of all for a sense of belonging.
This is my story. I am a Lesbian and Coming out of the Closet about four years ago. Coming out Day, I consider myself privileged to a new life. A life that enables me to live in Harmony with my body, with my soul, with my heart with my universe. Living in open harmony with the universe and accepting yourself, who you are, makes me a powerful human being. I consider myself blessed with the ability to learn and accept others who are different. I am Different because I am a Lesbian. I think I have talents that I want to share in Affirmation and with my friends.
My story is that that I accept myself for who I am. That I love and give love to others. That I understand myself, my values and where I am coming from. And that I do the same for my Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, transgendered brothers and sisters.
Going to this year's Lake Tahoe Conference has brought me closer
to my Lesbianism. Has brought me closer to who I am. I am openly Gay, and out at my University setting. I do not feel threatened in any circumstances. But what I want to point out is that it is all up to the individual how to conduct ourselves in public settings. I can make a difference as a Lesbian in a mainly Straight world. I know we all have the power of doing just that. I think God gave me a gift and that gift is being a Lesbian. I think that I am here on earth not only to learn but also to be an example to others.
We all can learn from each other. I would like to say a thank you to Affirmation for making me feel a part of you. I will do as President John F. Kennedy once used to say:"Don't ask what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country." As such it's my obligation to give back to you my friends, my families and to my new country.
God bless every one. Thanks for a wonderful weekend in Lake Tahoe.
Angelika Irene Bertrand, future Social Worker
By James Kent
High On the mountain top
A banner is unfurled.
Ye nations, now look up;
It waves to all the world.
In Deseret's sweet, peaceful land
On Zion's mount behold it stand!
For God remembers still
His promise made of old
That he on Zions hill
Truth's standard would unfold!
Her light should there
Attract the gaze
Of all the world in latter days.
Here at this mountain lake,
Our gay flag is unfurled.
We're proud of who we are
It's our message to the world.
We are modern pioneers,
We won't retreat
But celebrate our pride
And God is on our side.
Joel H. Johnson
Garth Gordon Hokanson (Great grand nephew to Joel H. Johnson)
My mission, either directly or by proxy, was to lei everyone at the
Conference. Only two refused to be leied, because they found the leis to be
too floral... (From the desk of John Minagro (CA): Who are these
Affirmation Gay & Lesbian Mormons
21st Annual International Conference
South Lake Tahoe, CA
October 8-10, 1999
About 160 Conference Attendees gathered from....AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, HI, MI, NM, NY, NV, OR, TX, UT, VA, WA, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.
Fri., Oct 8
Thank you for the time out, Tia.
There was a leadership luncheon meeting from noon to four p.m., with
representatives from all of the Chapters except Phoenix (Bleu arrived late), and area contacts from Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Colorado, Connecticut, and representation from AFFINITY, AFFIRMATION.ORG, Public Relations, Interfaith, Youth Services, Gamofites, and The Endowment Fund.
Mike Miner and I gave candidacy speeches for next year's Affirmation
Mother, Mary and Shirley helped with this evening's Polynesian entertainment. Mom helped us with a Conga Line Mixer, and a couple of Maori dances, although she was a bit confused by our gender orientations.
Thank you Don for your exhibition dances (contemporary and kuhiko - ancient). Thank you Keith Campbell for providing the background information regarding both hulas.
Ricky, Sascha, Charlton and I shared room 728 - which was turned into drag central station to get ready for tomorrow's Drag Workshop, and for Imelda and Ivette's appearance for the Saturday evening banquet.
Sat., Oct 9
Saturday morning's devotional was by Lynn.
Honey Ward, lead facilitator for The Experience, did an excellent
presentation to encourage us to take more responsibility for our lives, to come out, and just be yourself.
Artistry In Makeup: Hosted by Aaron Arnell and James Morris. Travis was our guest subject for makeup and two different career outfits.
Family Fellowship:PFLAG: Hosted by Kay and Ted Packard; Millie and Gary Watts shared research on Gay Studies & Parenting Issues.
Honey Ward facilitated a Coming Out workshop.
Duane Jennings facilitated: Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones: Inclusion of GLBTQ Children of God into the LDS Plan of Salvation & exaltation.
Dr. Nancy Lee facilitated: Embracing Your Spiritual and Sexual Selves.
Dr. Ed Lynn facilitated: Stump the Shrink or questions you always wanted to ask your psychiatrist but were afraid to.
Jason Firth hosted: Legal issues in gay relationships.
Allison Bingham facilitated Youth Issues.
CathyLee Crandall facilitated a session on Womyn's Issues.
Rod Kempton facilitated a session on Couples and other interests to the group.
Keith Campbell facilitated: Living Single: A Different Look At Intimate
Cami Courtright facilitated: Gay Community as Spiritual Gatekeepers.
I joined the Gamofites for their 3rd Annual Luncheon. My dear friend Alan Blodgett was this year's recipient of the Michael Farr Award for outstanding leadership and service to Gamofites.
Mike Miner and I had an informal afternoon meeting with Affirmation members regarding next year's Affirmation Executive Director.
Imelda was a nervous wreck. Aaron's make up kit was locked up by the hotel, making Imelda and Ivette (Duane Jennings) late to the evening banquet.
From the desk of Charlton Vaughan (CA):
Two Drag Queens exploded in the living room that was our hotel suite. I
can't explain it. They just did. A fashion designer, two drag queens, a
fashion designer under construction, a make-up artist all in one room. The end result was two fabulous women (well, almost, minus a few adjustments and some hormone injections...well, okay, and an act of God) regaled in sequined plumage.
The natural appearances of their atomic pink bouffants were a dead give away that they could have only been twins. Their beauty was attested by the present state of the room that they left behind in room #728. Stray sequins on the carpet left behind by frenzied gloved fingers attempting to close zippers. Beige and crimson powder on the table dropped from the brush.
Neglected nylons draped over chairs and strewn across the floor. Make-up
trays and mascara bottles lying on counters. I won't even mention the pink hairs floating on the current from the air conditioner. I guess it's true what they say about beauty taking effort. This just wasn't a make over, it was a construction zone!
Allow me to give a bit of advice to those not familiar with drag
etiquette...never, and I do mean...Never! Get in the way of a drag queen
while getting herself together. You'll find yourself suddenly and
unexplainably on the floor with spike holes in your back as she tries to get to the mirror. A certain someone, who shall remain nameless, found that out the hard way but hopefully is now recovering with the possibility of full rehabilitation. I just hope the maid has taken a sip from mama's little secret before attempting to clean up.
Never the less, all their efforts were rewarded by the appreciation they
received from their devoted fans. Their performance was fantastic as the
Siamese twins of the Broadway musical, "Sideshow". The audience loved them.
Thank you James Kent and Duane Jennings. From a devoted fan.
From the desk of Mark King (CA):
According to the 1999 365-Day Gay & Lesbian Calendar Tuesday, September 14,
The word "drag" is thought to have originated during the Restoration period
when men, playing women's roles in theatrical productions, would often dress
as royal figures. This included wearing royal dresses bedecked with full
trains that would drag along the floor as the men walked across the stage.
A special thanks to Garth Gordon Hokanson for providing table settings and floral arrangements for this evening.
Imelda and Ivette performed a couple of numbers as Siamese twins from the
musical "Side Show" which is based on the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton who were conjoined at the hip.
The lyrics rang true to both my dear friend Duane and to Affirmation:
I will never leave you,
I will never go away,
We were meant to be together,
Beside you will I always stay,
Always and forever,
I will be with you,
For I will never leave you.
Henry Miller was at a loss for words as he was well deserving of this year's Paul Mortensen Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service. Henry has done an outstanding job as Affirmation's Website Administrator for several years, in addition to all his "behind the scenes" service he has given in past conferences and in the local Affirmation chapters he has regularly attended.
Past recipients of the Paul Mortensen Award are: David Johnson (1998), Ricky Gilbert (1997), Duane Jennings (1996), James Kent (1995), Tere LaGiusa and Jacki Reideman (1994), Rick Fernandez (1993), Larry Gates (1992), Ron Kershaw (1991), Irwin Phelps (1990), Ina Mae Murri (1989), Clifford Barnes (1988) and Paul Mortensen (1987).
Greta Camermeyer did an excellent presentation sharing her personal life,
career, and family and the coming out process.
Thank you, Margine Wixom, for dedicating your two musical numbers to me, on of which was one of my favorites, On Eagles Wings. Several Gamofites met Margine, through knowing her late husband Chuck Copeland, who died of AIDS related complications in 1995.
A large number of us crossed into Nevada to go to a gay bar called faces.
All I can say through secondary sources is that the bartender kept his word.
Oct. 10 - It took two busloads to get us to the Tahoe Queen Hornblower paddle ship. (Thanks for the time out Jay and Ryan.)
Lake Tahoe's crystal clear water is about 39 degrees F. We had the lower deck for our luncheon area, the middle deck was for a wedding party (the bride was very full figured), and the open upper deck provided both sun and a cool breeze as we traveled to and from Emerald Bay. The sun sparkled and danced like rhinestones over the lake. The lunch choices were: cheese burger, veggie croissant, or bbq grilled chicken burger.
The Seattle Chapter hosted this year's devotional, using the symbol of a
living tree and sharing different religious cultures on the Tree of Life. I haven't heard Shel Silverstein's, The Giving Tree in over 20 years (Thanks for the reading, Allison).
We were given shame cards to tear up and bury with the tree, and each of us added a unique piece of fabric to the tree as a reminder that we are all part of the same family of man.
Thank you Alan for the time out over dinner at Harrah's.
The evening sky is so full of stars at this 8,000 foot elevation. The Milky Way made its way across the night sky. Affirmation hosted a Candlelight vigil to remember the murder of Matthew Shepard one year ago. We walked four long blocks to the shore of Lake Tahoe.
Thank you for the time out, Hugo.
I have a testimony that Ryan Nay was feeling no pain on the walk to and from the Tahoe lake shore.
From the desk of Ryan Nay (UT): That's quite a testimony...I am impressed by your faith, [James], and how much you have grown since Vegas.
It was here that we closed our Conference with Jeff Denison singing all 7
verses to, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," and all of us singing, "God be with you till we meet again."
From the desk of Allan Blodgett (OR):
When I checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel for the Tahoe Conference I was told by a pleasant young man at the desk "We guarantee 100% satisfaction. If there is anything that isn't right, please call us." I never needed to make a call. I was indeed 100% satisfied, not only with the hotel, but the entire weekend. What a grand conference. Mingling with my Affirmation family is a highlight of every year. It meant more to me this year than every before.
The conference program never sagged, I enjoyed every session and activity
that I attended. The hotel was first class, and the Tahoe environs were
spectacular. On top of it all, the conference came out in the black, pretty important to a money man. As recently as two weeks ago, I thought that would be impossible! I was absolutely thrilled by the efforts and personal sacrifices of so many that went into this most successful Affirmation event.
From the desk of Rod Kempton (CA)
I always enjoy the reconnecting with friends at the conference. I find the speakers supportive and workshops helpful. And the most exciting part for me is the joy of spending time with folks who speak this same strange language that I do - Gay Mormonese.
Gretha Cammermeyer carried a spirit of sincerity in her address that engulfed my heart. Her information was not new, but her heart came through very clearly.
It is always such a delight to hug and kiss lovely people of all genders when we gather. Each time I was offered a hand to shake, I said, "No, this is what I want. . ." as I wrapped my arms around them.
For someone who used to dance all the time, it was apparent that I am showing my age. I was invited to be sure and keep my day job after I tried the dance demonstration Friday night...
From the desk of David Johnson (WA):
I've been to many conferences over the years, but the feel and experience of this conference for me was something special. It was one of the best Friday night "mixer" activities in a long time--thanks for sharing all the great Pacifica culture with us! From the workshops to the hot tub to the great breakfasts to the plush rooms to the candlelight vigil...everything was top notch with a relaxed feel! Thanks everyone who made the weekend a success!
From the desk of Mike Miner (CA):
I really enjoyed the conference this year. I thought it was well planned and executed so well it almost seemed seamless. I enjoyed the old friends and the new and felt it was one of the best we've ever had.