Friday, April 29, 2011

Lions, Tigers, Bears, Chubs, Chasers...Oh My!

Originally Posted in September, 2007

What transpired this weekend energized my soul. It was an amazing experience.

What happened? To explain, Minneapolis was the annual stop for the Affiliated Big Men’s annual confab, Convergence. This is where gay and bisexual men of large size and the ones of like them get together for a weekend of fun and camaraderie.

Originally, I had planned to sell Autumnbridge Media’s collection of books there. After thinking it over, I backed out. Instead, I thought about doing something in a form of a seminar. That also did not work out for me. A lot of this had to do with the timing of my first class at St. Mary’s (MN) and the request on the syllabus to read some chapters in preparation for Tuesday’s initial class meeting.

Luckily, I was able to accomplish my reading in time to heed the call of a couple of online friends visiting for Convergence.

On a gorgeous Saturday morning, I passed by the Metrodome on the light rail as it was going to be a busy day with the Twins and the Gophers. The Twins was about to start at 11:00AM, so I continued on to Nicollet Mall. Just as soon as I exited the train, I spotted an acquaintance from Madison, Mark. We chatted for a bit, as he warned me that not everyone was up at 10:00AM. No problem, I had a few stops to make.

Around 10:30, I left a message for Dwight and Jay From Lancaster, Pa. to let them know I was downtown and would like to meet lunch. Sure enough, they passed by the Caribou Coffee I was about to do some work at. I jumped out and greeted them. They were joined by Bryan from Fargo and Gary from Los Angeles. It turned out that the five of us had brunch at The Brit, a British Pub just a few blocks from the Hyatt Regency and Convergence.

As soon as we were about to head back, we spotted Carlos from Chicago and Larry from Denver. I have not seen Carlos in a few years and we had some catching up to do. It would be a precursor to what would transpire the rest of the afternoon.

You see, I’ve either met some of these people in person along the way in the past ten or so years, or have seen them online but never met in person. In the case of Dwight and Larry, the latter was in effect. There would be more such instances in the next several hours.

For example, I bumped into John from Brooklyn at the hotel. We have not spoken to each other in ten years! It was as we picked up from there. I bumped into Brandon and his partner, both of Huntsville, Ala., just a block away from the hotel. I’ve chatted with Brandon in the past…but we never met until this day.

The moments go on…and on…and the people rolled up in the tens!

Among the out-of-towners were plenty of local folks. A lot of these guys I rarely see anymore. In the case of a couple of them, I believe it was at Pride when I saw them last. Others I’ve seen in July, and one I saw a few weeks ago. Certainly, I am at fault for not being as social as I’d like, but the beauty of this place is that we created a community for which people remember each other fondly and can always find their way back when the time calls for it.

Somewhere in the middle of this experience, I wound up doing a reading from The Boy From Reseda and After Party. Two people showed up. It was very last minute. No worries.

In all, we came together to celebrate ourselves in the context of our sexuality and body image. We bonded as people of a fractured network reconnected for a glimmering moment. I know the argument from my local friends would be my absence at Bear Bar Night at the Bolt Underground or at the bTalk-sponsored Block Party in St. Paul last month in which we can be the same among ourselves. You guys win…and graduate study is not a valid excuse to evade my own neighbors and brothers-in-arms. Or, is it?

One thing I’ve found that was amazing was no one evaded me in due to my past. I heard a few conversations in which Gen-X Bears was mentioned, mainly in positive terms. To think that I still made an impact on some of these people’s lives from a single act of a movement warmed my heart. For years, I feared negative reprisal and shunning. This did not happen. I was welcomed into this family of men with open arms and fond thoughts.

That is what I will take away from this experience.

1 comment:


    Michael Larson: I’m glad you had a great time and got to see so many whom you had not talked to in quite some time. Always great to reconnect. I’m also so glad you feel such a great sense of community among all these guys. We need more community building nowadays!

    Good job on the reading! I’m glad you did it. I’m sure those who did show up enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Scott and I are in Northfield now. Had an awesome dinner. Did I mention we ate part of a mushroom that’s bigger than your head! And Scott didn’t throw up!