Funny the World...


April 29, 2000

I've shaken hands with Tipper Gore. Last night, after meeting a bunch of friends for dinner, I attended the plenary session of the PFLAG national convention, at which Mrs. Gore was the keynote speaker. She was late arriving, but she was gracious and supportive of PFLAG and shook hands with many in the crowd after her talk.

Next was a panel discussion. Seven people, including Jimmy Creech, Congresman Steve Gunderson, FtM transgendered Jamison Green, and others. It was interesting in spots but went on far too long. People were leaving before it was over.

At the conclusion of the panel, PFLAG President Paul Beeman said something was going to happen "While Steve Schalchlin is coming to the piano..." but then he seemed to forget about Steve entirely, asked the panelists to stand at the front of the stage and make themselves available for questions, told people good night, and that he'd see them tomorrow. We all stood there with our mouths hanging open, Steve stood there not quite knowing what to do, and people began to leave to get to those "very fancy desserts." Steve, and the tech director began pushing the piano to the center of the room, I yelled at Paul Beeman, who didn't think he'd done anything wrong, said he didn't know what he could do to get the audience back, and we faced having a concert with just "the faithful." Steve started playing the piano, the tech director got on the mic and announced that the performance was about to start and a few folks checked to see what was going on and sat down. Steve announced a few times that he was going to start in "X minutes."

Eventually he asked if we could close the doors to cut down on the noise of the clinking plates. His years of playing cruise ships and nightclubs were evident as he started the show. I could sense he was putting forth extra effort to entice people. It worked. More people trickled in. Ultimatley there were probably about 100 there, a far cry from the audience he could have had if Beeman had handled it properly. But those who were there were treated to an excellent show.

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Gabi Clayton and Steve

The stories of the PFLAG parents were moving. The two new songs, Gabi's song and William's song had us all in tears. At the end, he told of Jason Hungerford of Youth Guardian Services (YGS), an on-line chat room for gay kids, and plugged the new CD, of which 100% of the profits go to support YGS. Then we all sang "When You Care."

People flocked to Jason and everybody seemed to buy at least one CD, and Steve was autographing them all.. The night could have gone more smoothly, but Steve took the lemons he'd been tossed and made lemonade out of them. Nobody who was there felt cheated...and I know that those who left are going to be hearing about it tomorrow from those who stayed .

I was pleased that a guy from the Sacramento PFLAG chapter who had been lukewarm about going had tears streaming down his face at the end--and he bought a CD.

My ride home was long--it's an hour metro ride (with one train change) and so I didn't get back to Gaithersburg until 1 a.m. and then sat up until nearly 4 uploading photos so people who weren't able to attend the meeting could see them.

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created 4/29/00 by Bev Sykes