This weekend was a busy weekend so I figured I’d write a posting since it’s been a while since I wrote anything here.
On Saturday, I used UBER car service (click link to use my code for a free $20 first ride to try UBER almost anywhere in the world!) to get to the Javits Convention Center where the LGBT GAY EXPO was happening. This is the 22nd year that they have held the GAY EXPO, but in the past year, the company who originated it back in 1993 sold the Expo to a new organizing company, and the new company decided to make a lot of changes which I had some very strong disagreements with, so for the first time in 12 years, I was not involved in promoting an organization at the Expo by working in a booth.
Before co-founding NY Bear Den in 2009, I was involved in promoting the Big Men’s Club of New York and the Girth & Mirth Club, sharing a booth with and helping also promote the Gay Men’s Fun Group, which was about going to Brighton Beach on weekends for fun times at the beach. So I have been involved in the Expo for about half of the time it has been held here. I’ve seen them make changes over the years and try new things to make the event more interesting and successful and many have worked, some better than others. But the changes made by this new company, in my not-so-humble opinion, were disastrous.
They decided to change the name of the event, after 21 VERY successful years from being the “ORIGINAL G.L.B.T. EXPO” (putting the “G” first, because that’s the way it was in the beginning due to the fact that ALL of us are GAY) to the now more politically correct acronym of the L.G.B.T. EXPO, putting the lesbians first. There are many gay men who are resentful of the idea of the lesbians seemingly taking over many aspects of the gay community, usually to the detriment of gay men, and this is just another incursion by them that rubs salt in those wounds. As I stated above, ALL OF US ARE GAY… men and women, but we aren’t all lesbians. If it “doesn’t matter” as they try to say, then why did they insist on making the changes in the first place? Even the promo code which the Expo promoters used to get discounted admission was “GIRLZ”, but we’re not all girlz! Some of us are BOYS!
When I arrived at the Expo, the first thing I noticed was how dull and drab the entire room appeared. The old promoters had bright red carpeting up and down all of the aisles and the booths were sectioned off with brightly colored rainbow draping but this year, there was bare concrete floors and black and grey curtains, which didn’t look very gay or welcoming at all. They had a big area sectioned off near the front where they had scheduled seminar sessions with seating for approximately 200 participants, but the most people I saw sitting in there for the 3 hours I was there was 5 or 6 people.
One of the highlights and most popular features of past Expos has been the free samples that have been given out by various beer companies like Bud Light, liquor companies like Absolut, with the newest varieties of vodkas, liquors, liqueurs, wines, alcoholic jello shots, mixers, etc, but this year there was one company there with a liquor they were promoting and that was all the free beverage samples available. Budweiser would have very hot, sexy muscle studs in hot pants or Speedos dispensing the free samples of Bud Light and they would go through keg after keg of beer throughout the 2 day event. The only place to get anything to drink this year was to pay the exorbitant prices at the food stand operated by the convention center.
They have been giving away free booths to the non-profit organizations and social service providers from the beginning. This year, they decided to put all of the non-profits together in the “Non-Profit Pavilion” instead of mixing them in and interspersing them with the paying commercial booths for maximum traffic exposure. I felt like sticking all of the non-profits together was akin to relegating them to being in the non-profit slums where people could avoid them if they didn’t care about visiting their booths, minimizing their exposure to the attendees. They also began charging the non-profits a $500 discounted booth fee, although when I complained about this, they agreed to give us a free booth due to our long time participation. We declined their offer due to the above listed reasons among others.
After seeing the light attendance on Saturday and the way things were laid out and the non-profit slums being directly in front of the gigantic speakers for the entertainment stage where no one could hear anything anyone was saying, making it impossible to carry on any kind of conversation, I’m glad we did. When the word gets around about there not being any alcohol samples and the other things I’ve noted above, it wouldn’t surprise me if next year’s Expo is much smaller and I feel unless corrections are made, it will, unfortunately and sadly, die after over 2 decades of providing an invaluable service to the gay community of New York City.
Where I usually come home from the Expo with one or two tote bags full of handouts, samples, information, and other stuff, this year I brought home a handful of brochures and some free stuff from Con-Ed power company, and threw most of it away other than a couple of nice things from Con-Ed and the results of my HIV test I had done at the Expo showing that I’m still HIV NEGATIVE! 🙂
After 3 hours at the Expo, I had seen enough, so I came back home to get a Cinnamon Raisin pull-apart coffeecake which I had baked on Friday and then again took UBER to Penn Station where I caught a train to New Jersey for the Jersey Fur Dessert Social at the beautiful home of some friends who I met last Spring. One of the hosts picked me up at the train station and took me to their home where the other BEARS had begun arriving, each one bringing a dessert to share.
Desserts ranged from an orange chiffon dessert to a croissant bread pudding, banana pudding, to vanilla, chocolate, coconut, chocolate cherry cakes and strawberry cheesecake, to coconut macaroon cookies, to my cinnamon raisin pull-apart, to donuts and donut munchkins, to an assortment of gourmet brownie bites, to chocolate chip cookies, and other stuff too numerous to remember! Everyone had been warned to bring their INSULIN if they were diabetic because there was more than enough sugar there to put anyone into a sugar induced coma! There were around 50 Bears and admirers from New York and New Jersey who attended. They had wine, sodas, coffee, and other beverages available to wash down the desserts. There was a hot fire burning in the fireplace and a good time was had by all. It was nice seeing friends, older and newer and was great making some new ones as well. Photos from the event are below. I made my way back home on the 10 pm train, arriving back at my apartment around 11:30. A busy day but a fun one! Comments welcome below!