I know, there’s been a long stretch of silence on the blog front. I’m going to jump back in though, and hopefully get into a better schedule of updating not only the blog section, but the rest of the website as well.
I’ve recently returned from the 2016 Keystone Conference in Harrisburg PA. I’ve been to Keystone several years in the past, but had to miss it last year due to scheduling conflicts. I truly missed going last year, much more than I thought I would. For many people, different conferences are almost interchangeable, but for me each has their own unique tone, making them all fun in their own ways. Personally, I love Keystone because I see people I don’t get to see at any other event. Being located in Harrisburg makes it easy for many people to get to, so the geographic diversity represented at Keystone is really fantastic. Although there are many people I know and care for at Keystone, the girls I cherish catching up with are people I’ve known since I first started my involvement in the trans community (almost 10 years ago now…wow!).
The first weekend away I ever attended was an event called Beauty at the Beach held in Rehoboth DE. It was a small event, a group of about 60 people, meeting at a hotel in Rehoboth the first weekend of November. In 2007, my first year attending, BATB had been in Rehoboth for more than 5 years and was the successor of Paradise in the Poconos. Paradise in the Poconos was started in 1983 by JoAnn Roberts as an offshoot of an earlier event. All this is to say many of the BATB attendees had known each other for many years, some even remembering that first year in 1983, giving the event the most informal and family reunion -like feeling. If everyone wasn’t so friendly, I would have been supremely intimidated (I was much more self-conscious then). But the enjoyment was infectious, and anyone that walked into the hotel was immediately embraced with nothing but goodwill and laughter for the weekend. Since I last attended in 2009, the attendance has dropped, but the event survives JoAnn’s passing in 2013 thanks to her spouse’s dedication. More information for anyone interested can find it HERE.
All this is to say that when the Keystone Conference was started, I was overjoyed to reconnect in person with those first friends I had in the TG world after chatting only by email for the previous few years. There’s nothing to compare with getting a hug and sitting down for a nice long chat with someone in person, especially when you only see each other once a year. I missed that aspect most of all when I missed Keystone in 2015, and made sure Keystone 2016 took a higher priority.