The Keystone Conference Party Samantha Rogers Adventures

I must be crazy. I'm sure some people have no doubt. LOL
Four times a year I host large TG events here in Detroit and yet I'm crazy enough to travel to other events as well. But why wouldn't I? I mean really.
Years ago, the pioneer trappers out west lived solitary, lonely and dangerous lives, trekking through the wilderness of North America making their way through life in the only way that gave them peace. But once or twice a year these hardy individuals would gather and celebrate having survived another year despite the odds. These gatherings were like family reunions. So it is in so many ways for those of us who are TG.
The transgender community is huge. It is a large somewhat dysfunctional family of girls spread all over the country and the world and now, thankfully, connected through the magic of the internet in ways that would have made life so much better years ago. My friend Cici once referred to the internet as our TG “main-street”, and she is right. It is where we meet and socialize and laugh together and cry together. No one truly understands what we feel and the experience of being who we are as well as does another TG sister. And that one common denominator creates a bond. For all the smiles you see in the endless parade of  pictures, there is really nothing easy about any of this, and although it is tragically and horrifyingly hard for some, and far harder for others, even those who have things the easiest still suffer. The support and friendship and love we all share for one another along this common path is amazing. It gives us hope. It makes us stronger. It makes us family. And the internet is the family kitchen where we trade stories and pictures and successes and failures. It is home in a way the real world often cannot be for us.
But cyber space, as huge a benefit as it is to us all, can never really take the place of real world face to face socializing. A cyber hug is awesome when you need one but it pales in comparison to a real hug. Emoticons are fun but nothing compares to hearing your friends laugh, seeing them smile and seeing the pain crossdressing and love in their eyes. Nothing.
And so, like those crazy mountain men, we gather. We travel. We congregate in places and at events around the country where we may see our friends, hear them laugh, cry with them and relax in the security and love that only comes from transgender family.
Recently, I was at the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Keystone is one of the largest TG conferences in the country, along with First Event in Boston, Southern Comfort in Florida, Diva Las Vegas and Wildside out west and others like them. Each allows girls from various regions of the country the opportunity to see one another and exchange information and just plain catch up. They are such an important part of our community.
This was my second visit to Keystone and I loved it as much as the first time. Several hundred girls gathered in one magnificent hotel for a week. Of course, my liver may never recover from all the revelry, but it is soooo worth it. The chance to see all the girls from the East Coast that we never see here in the Midwest was amazing. I was able to reconnect with old friends and make many new ones. Some girls go for the seminars and classes. Some go for the chance to be cross dressed all week. Some go for the speeches. I don't go for any of those reasons. I go to see my friends and meet new ones... distant members of the family I see rarely or have never seen at all before. I go for the love.
But having said that, the classes and balls and OMG getting to go swimming every morning …. simply amazing. I had the very best time possible and my thanks go out to everyone involved that makes an event like Keystone possible. I know a little about planning events though I can only imagine doing so on such a scale.
We host some modest little events here in Detroit. We call them Detroit Invasions. We hold these four times a year so we will never get to be as large as the annual events, but they are still fun or so I am told by the girls who attend. And they they come from all over. Our little clan gatherings bring in girls from Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Toronto and all over the Midwest and beyond. Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas. And so far, not one has gone home disappointed. In fact, many become regulars, joining us again and again. I'd love to take credit crossdress but really all I do is send out the invitations and post a few announcements. Really, what makes the events successful is the presence of all the various girls who attend. All the different faces and personalities. From the quite ones to the loud and rowdy, from the brave to the shy, the sweet to the sarcastic and all the others in between...they all contribute and we all benefit. We see girls who are veteran 24/7 full timers and we get girls who are totally closeted.  We get girls who would never read to anyone as trans and we get girls who will never pass. We get loud ones, quiet ones, bright ones and silly ones, wise ones and loving ones and all kinds in between.   And at very event we have at least a few girls who are out in public for the very  first time. And they all have a great time.
Invasion is really just a big party. It lasts three nights and two days and there are no classes, no seminars, no speeches and no banquets...but there is a lot of fun and a lot of family love. We gather in some places that are LGBT friendly and we gather in totally mainstream places. We invade Casinos and restaurants and even entire neighborhoods. We travel on crazy wild party limo buses and roll into some unsuspecting nightclub spilling three score somewhat inebriated but extremely happy ladies into their world and making it a little brighter.  There are shopping trips and makeovers and jewelry parties. There are the quiet afterglows at the end of each night when small groups gather in different rooms simply unwilling to let one more precious night together end. We barhop and dine and drink and dance and laugh..... and every so often I stop and look around and see 60 to 130 girls having the time of their lives surrounded by others who accept them and love them and care about them. And it makes me smile....sometimes it makes me cry. It's why I throw these crazy events. It is what makes it all worthwhile.
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We have another one coming in a couple of weeks and its going to be another amazing party. I hope you will join us. A family reunion is best when the whole family is there. Come see us in the D.  
Samantha Rogers


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