Hopefully I’ll be able to collect my thoughts, and detail my entire weekend here. For now, I give you the post I sent to the River City Gems group on Yahoo! about an hour ago:
“(Be warned – this is a long post. I like to write, as most of you will find out. ^_^; )
I wanted to start off, by expressing my thanks to the staff of the Red Lion Hotel, and, of course, the staff and officers of the River City Gems for making my first time out (At a Gems event, or in public, for that matter), something very special to me, something that I will remember every day for the rest of my life.
Yes, I’m the (somewhat shy) new girl who showed up in the little black dress, the long black gloves, managing not to fall while teetering and getting around in 3.5” heels, the one who stood up when they asked any of the girls if it was their first time out, and their first Gems event. Thank you for welcoming and accepting me, for putting on a wonderful night of socializing, entertainment, and fun, and for making me feel welcome.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Jenny at the front desk of the hotel for being courteous, professional, and efficient, especially when I took a big risk and challenge to myself — driving up to Sacramento en femme, and checking in dressed up. (Why, yes, I told her I was there to attend Sparkle! ^_^; ) I did find it funny that she gave me two breakfast vouchers, and asked me if there was anyone else staying in the room, and treating me just like anyone else, save for still having a boy-mode driver license, and signing my receipts with my boy-mode name. ^_^; Just making it in through the front doors, and making it back out to my car to drive around to my room was a major victory for me. (In fact, I distinctly recall two things I did as I walked back out into the rather warm Sacramento afternoon – Breathing a sigh of relief, and also pumping my fist in a “Yes!!” gesture, all the while mesmerized at the belief that the woman who was click-clacking out the door in 2″ Mary Jane heels was me.) – I also have to thank her for offering me a room in the 100s, just down the way from the changing rooms and the Martinique Ballroom entrance.
There are so many people I met up with, so many faces I have yet to place with names, but hopefully, if I make it back for future events, I’ll get better, and more familiar with people. In no particular order, even if I didn’t spend too much time with all of you, I remember a few names (and some faces) – primarily Kathy Randall, Tilda, Marla for the advice here on the boards (And for sporting a lovely outfit), Leann for welcoming me, as well as encouraging me to get out on the dance floor when the music started up later in the evening, RoXy (one of a few cisgendered girls who talked to me), Maria (for initially saying hello to me, and for the first photos. – I know I’ve appeared in a few fronm others as well, I’ll ask for permission to include them on my Flickr site, since I had enough stuff in my purse, that I only relied on my new cell phone for my main camera.) – Thanks also goes out to the team with Photography by Kel for a memorable photo session. (I can’t wait for the photos!)
If I left anyone else out, or didn’t remember anyone, I apologize – I was still rather overwhelmed. I’m regarding this kind of like a costume event, and a second adolescence for myself.
Thanks also goes out to Saxman for the music for the evening, Dan Chan the Magic Man (and Kat the Acrobat) for a fun show (I’m still a bit bugged out by the “head growing” trick, though I know somewhat how it works.), and of course, for Sylvia Gurrero’s keynote address. I too, am glad that she took time out from the time of the year she normally goes on hiatus, to come up and speak with us. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand how she’s been able to deal with such as loss as she’s experienced, but I am glad she hasn’t given up, and is still striving to make positive change and make a difference for trans people like us. (I also thanked her as she was leaving for the night. I remember her giving me a kiss on the cheek. I can only pray that if something happened to me, my mother would be just as dedicated to making my life mean something to others. For now, I’ll just be happy if when the day comes that I come out to my mother, she is as loving and accepting as Sylvia eventually was with her daughter.)
I consider myself fortunate to have attended, to feel rather comfortable, not as scared, and for feeling the best I’ve ever felt in a very long time. I kept telling myself, “I can do this”, and I surprised myself with following through, as well as showing up dressed up for breakfast on Sunday morning. I enjoyed being part of the breakfast conversation, and if I didn’t have to get cleaned up and checked out around noon, I would have stayed a bit longer than 11:20 yesterday morning at the restaurant.
Hopefully, I’ll make it out to upcoming evenings. (I’m also gracious for others who told me about upcoming events, such as the Halloween party at Carla’s, though I’m most likely booked for another event that weekend, I appreciate the thought all the same.) I’m still light years away from being fully out in public, at least outside of safe and non-judgmental venues like the Gems events, but this weekend was a very good one, filled with a lot of memorable successes for myself. I’m sure I’ll get more comfortable over time.
Before I forget, thanks goes out to Juli, one of my contacts on PINKEssence, for encouraging me to come up for Sparkle this year. I don’t know what my life or work schedule, or even my “out” status with family and more friends will be like a year from now, but I will strive to return for next year, or even some of the monthly events, whether or not I’m fully dressed up, or in boy-mode.
I am looking forward to next year, and once again, thanks to everyone I met, and everyone involved with the Gems, for putting on a wonderful event, for creating a welcoming environment, and giving me treasured memories I will always remember. (Plus, winning a $25 gift card from The Cheesecake Factory was a nice treat, if you’ll pardon the pun. I’ll let my family and friends wonder where I got that from. ^_^; )<
Thanks again, see some of you soon, and as always…
Hugs and kisses,
— Julie Anne ^_^”
Coming up: Check-in, getting dolled up, and heading out to the ballroom for the evening…