Exactly one month ago today we were saying goodbye to a host of dear friends at the end of the 2017 Euro Pride Convention in Berlin. I wanted to use my monthly blog post here to reflect on that awesome weekend, so of course I tried to think of a title. The first thing that leapt into my head was the title of Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel better known to many as the inspiration for the movie and stage show Cabaret. It seems somehow appropriate that Isherwood was experiencing the same diversity of people and lifestyles in 1930’s Berlin which, over eighty years later, we came together to celebrate in the same wonderful city.
I think the main difference between his approach and ours can be highlighted in the opening line of his novel, “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking”. For me the great success of the EPC was that it was certainly not a passive experience. Everyone engaged with each other and with the activities. They caught up with old friends and made new ones with ease. For me, the lasting impression was the ‘Happy Con’ and for that reason, one of the best I have ever attended.
Of course this year I had a different point of view since I had been part of the organizing team. Nobody who attends one of these events can possibly know how much work goes into making it happen – nor should they. I was honoured to be a part of the team helping Dani and Marc to make their baby grow and develop over another year. Considering that we all live in different countries it’s quite a feat to pull the whole thing off, but let me tell you that next year’s con is already in an advanced stage of planning. I would like to take a moment here to thank our dear friends on the UK Meet team. Some people seem to think that we run in competition with them but that could not be further from the truth. They are our inspiration and have been generous with their encouragement and support, even if I wish they’d told me sooner what a Panel Beater was!
As for the attendees, my goodness, you guys were truly amazing. It felt as though every person there was engaging in some way with the group. Panelists were outstanding and I think we all laughed with them, learned from them and fell in love with them just a little bit. So much knowledge, skill and experience freely shared with everyone. As one who did a lot of moderating I was mightily impressed with the quality of the questions asked by each audience. I was humbled at the end of the BDSM panel when almost an hour after we finished, some of the audience were still there asking us questions.
I am often asked what is the point of attending conferences or conventions since I have done it all my life. The answer is simple. When you are doing well and being successful, the con needs you. When you are struggling or just starting out, then you need the con. None of us is beyond learning and I for one am glad that we had a group of quite diverse ages, from the youth who can challenge our thinking, to the mature who have wisdom and experience to share. It was a privilege to listen to people like Andrew, Hans and Max or Lori, who will never be mature, but is certainly experienced! Who amongst us will be able to forget Max on the panel where in one moment he had us laughing loudly, but the next minute reaching for the tissues as he described a treasured moment from his past.
It was moments such as these which had social media buzzing for weeks after the event. We all came away with wonderful memories and I’m sure I was not the only one who had to try not to inflict my never ending anecdotes on my stay-at-home husband! Well it’s Hello Amsterdam next year but tickets are already selling fast so if you want to be part of the Happy Con 2018 you’d better get yours quick!