On the convention premise there were whiteboards where anyone could write down anything to create community at the conference (for example, “Asian lunch!”) On our way out of Starbucks, Adrienne said she had responded to someone who needed a haircut, can anybody help? So off we went to make new friends, even as we bid Sydney good night.
Erin and Meghan greeted us and welcomed us in to their room for this zany haircut session. Being welcomed in to that space, I felt affirmed in my identity, safe, and loved. Yet, knowing this would be my last night here, I couldn’t fully be present in the sweetness of this moment. I didn’t want it to end. The feeling of meeting new friends. This moment of reverie.
In the hotel lobby, Adrienne and I made our final goodbyes. “The clock had struck twelve.” And I didn’t want to go. Because I knew I would miss my friend. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to shoulder the burden again of living in a constant state of ambush. As if one wrong move could betray me to the world before I was ready. The handshake would have to be stronger. My smile wider. Voice deeper, but just enough. Just enough to convince you I’m your everyday cishet man who’s signaling, “Good to meet’cha! I’ll be your friend, but you better not tread on me.”
I called a Lyft and Adrienne saw me off. She grew smaller out the car window as my Lyft vehicle sped away, me prisoner with it. And here, I would face an ambush of another kind. A baptism by fire, as it were. As if the Universe was saying, “Had fun at the little hair cut session with those other girls, did we? But, I’ve got one more souvenir of an experience for you. Before you go.”
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On the first night of the conference the leaders of GCN announced a new name for the organization to better reflect the evolving diversity of the LGBTQ Christian community. Q Christian Fellowship was born with a fresh, new and exciting logo.
If the Reformation Project conference last October felt like a coming home, QCF felt to me like the family had left home and was on a trip somewhere. It’s much more active and dizzying with sensory overload.
So by the end of the second day, I was exhausted and tired. As grateful as I was to have been at the Trans Retreat that day, I was missing my friends. The fact that I wasn’t able to share a meal with them, made me sad. Walking out of the main convention area toward the exit, I sat alone at a bench facing the exit. A wave of sadness overwhelmed me. I knew that my anti-depressant was wearing off. But there, in the dark hours of the night, inside the foyer of the Denver Convention Center, I felt especially alone. After a few minutes of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I… I sent off a message to Adrienne to see if she wanted to have coffee. Maybe I could catch them all at the end of dinner. I could meet them where they were. Continue reading →
Denver would be my third time being about in the world en femme. The process came together easier, if not quicker. It still took me two hours for my unpracticed hands.
I first met up with Marisa by the registration booths at the Denver Convention Center. (I met her at The Reformation Project and had kept in touch over Twitter.) It was a happy reunion. I was so grateful that unlike at TRP, I was not a stranger alone in the world. Ceri Anne was there, too. I was happy to see her. She had led us all strangers at TRP to lunch and dinner for her Pizza Quests, where we got to sample all the great pizza places in Chicago, which is how and where I made friends in the Fall of 2017.
Adrienne and her two girls joined us later due to a flight delay. As the first worship session was closing they found us at our table.
Afterwards we found ourselves at Yardhouse, a restaurant and brewery. A sweet little reunion. I was happy to be there. Happy to be reunited with my friends. The only friends in the world (as of this writing) who know me for who I am.
Adrienne had said that one of her daughters is an expert at painting nails and would be happy to do mine. Goodie! I thought. How fun that would be. Adrienne’s daughter (I won’t name them here, being they’re both minors) had brought with her two color choices. A pastel blue and classic red. Which one would I like? “You choose for me,” I said. She chose red. I smiled. I had never tried on such a bold color. But, I was glad for it. I was proud to be wearing it throughout my time in Denver.
I rode the elevator up to my room, aware of my freshly painted nails.
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The blue Super Shuttle van cruised down the Colorado highway with ease. I was thankful to be the only passenger. I was anxious to get to my hotel as soon as possible. The sooner I can get checked in, the sooner I can explore the City of Denver en femme. The last time I did this was the first time I did this. I was in Chicago for The Reformation Project Conference. You could say, this time, it was the Gay Christian Network Conference that brought me to another metropolis in which I had never been.
In truth, it was not the conference at all, though I was fascinated to see what it would be like to visit a conference whose recorded live stream of Vicky Beeching was my first exposure to a world that I never knew existed.
I wouldn’t have booked my passage to Denver had it not been for my friend’s enthusiastic encouragement to make the trip. Austen Hartke was hosting the first ever Trans Retreat at GCN Conference. Adrienne insisted I should be there for it.
So at 11:55 PM, five minutes before the online ticket sales for the conference were to close, I clicked on Buy Tickets.
This is the first in a series of five about my trip to the Q Christian Fellowship Conference in January 2018