Friday, May 11, 2007

Twittering About Leather Leadership Conference XI

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #312, May 11, 2007)

Leatherfolk tend also to be high-tech folk, so the recent Leather Leadership Conference (LLC) in Minneapolis inspired a number of Internet blog entries. At least one conference attendee was posting micro-blog entries using Twitter, a web-based service that asks users “What are you doing?” and allows them to post short responses of up to 140 characters. These responses are called “tweets.”

If I were technologically sophisticated enough to have been posting tweets during the conference, they would have gone something like this:

4/19 (Thursday), 5:00 PM After almost three years of planning, the conference is finally happening. Registration is open. The adventure begins.

6:58 PM Arrive at Loring Park Pavilion, site of welcome reception for early arrivals. (Over half of registrants are arriving early.)

7:32 PM Desserts (from Wuollet’s) ready to serve, coffee brewing, guests arriving. Beautiful evening weather.

8:17 PM Minneapolis city council member Gary Schiff makes the perfect welcome speech to the crowd.

9:03 PM People are asking us to post the recipe for the punch we’re serving. (Secret ingredient: orange sherbet.)

9:37 PM Back to Hyatt (host hotel). Not many leftover desserts to carry.

4/20 (Friday), 1:30 PM Three extra-length preconference sessions this afternoon. I attend one for titleholders and those aspiring to hold a title.

3:30 PM Chicago Leather Kennel Club, titleholder mentoring organization, stages mock contest as teaching tool. Brilliant!

6:34 PM Crowd starts to gather for opening ceremonies/Cabaret. Appetizer buffet is gorgeous.

7:30 PM I kick off opening ceremonies by introducing Patrick Scully as evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

7:48 PM Patrick is the perfect Cabaret host. He tells entertaining and inspiring stories illuminating the conference theme, “The Art of Sharing Power.”

7:55 PM Robert Dante does a bullwhip number. Mesmerizing. He makes it look so easy.

8:10 PM Several burlesque numbers by Sweet Lilly Bee (goth) and Felix Sweatburger, the battery-operated boy (geek). Hilarious!

8:48 PM Heidi Arneson: “I’m a b-a-a-a-d girl!” A coming-of-age story from New Brighton. Sweet, touching and funny.

9:05 PM Dante and more bullwhips, this time under black light. Hypnotic.

9:10 PM Comedian Matthew Gilman tries out new material for a more sexually sophisticated audience. Goes over well.

9:20 PM Opening keynote with photographer and “reluctant activist” Barbara Nitke. Shows slides of her work. Hits all the right notes. Will make a fabulous podcast.

9:55 PM Nitke: “I hope many of you here tonight will conceive your own projects that will help us to advance equal rights for consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.”

4/21 (Saturday), 8:38 AM Breakfast speaker Laura Antoniou divides leather community into “ho’s, schmoes and pros.” Phrase will echo throughout weekend. Insightful.

8:53 AM Antoniou: “Sooner or later your organization, your group, your dream is gonna need a pro. Get used to it, it’s part of the growing pains. It’s coming.”

9:33 AM Session 1 choices include Working with the Media, When Consent Doesn’t Count, Research on Kinky Sexuality, and Creating Equitable Educational Events.

11:20 AM Working in the art gallery I miss sessions on Leadership vs. Management, Diversity, Leather Youth Leadership and Submissives in Leadership.

12:47 PM Lunch. John Pendal tells our table about the Spanner Trust in the UK. Frightening what government can do to folks it doesn’t agree with.

1:39 PM Everyone crowds into the Art gallery/poster session room. It’s mobbed. That’s a good thing.

2:34 PM Session 3 includes Accessing Our Alt-Sex Past, Gender-Safe Kinky Organizations, and Putting Sex Back Into Leather.

2:36 PM I stay in art gallery and talk with Nagrom Monceaux, artist and leatherman.

4:02 PM Still talking with Monceaux. Video of his “Crack Baby” performance art piece moves me to tears.

4:46 PM I sample sessions on Mentoring, Fundraising, Leather Politics and Leather History. All great quality, all passionately presented.

6:30 PM Happy hour at hotel hosted by National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and Woodhull Freedom Foundation (WFF). Good conversation.

4/22 (Sunday), 7:55 AM Up early to meet with great group of folks from San Francisco, host city for next year’s LLC. Mentoring in action.

9:02 AM Session on podcasts and new media presented by Graydancer and Minx. Minx is posting tweets from LLC. Idea for my LLC column? Yes!

10:15 AM Good session. Hear it at <>. More podcasts of keynotes and sessions to come at <>.

10:20 AM Other sessions this morning: Managing Organizational Growth, Understanding Sexual Freedom, Support Young Adults, and seminar budgeting for leather events.

11:33 AM We’ve had brunch, now time for John Pendal’s closing keynote. Brilliant and funny. Love his sly British humor. Good motivational send-off.

12:18 PM Pendal: “Do you care more about seeing things done your way, or do you care more about the future of the organization?”

12:49 PM Caucus discussions on next actions. I attend roundtable on Decriminalizing BDSM.

1:55 PM Roundtable impressive. Not just talk, either. Action steps compiled, committees formed, responsibilities delegated. You’ll be hearing more about this.

2:10 PM It’s over! To paraphrase Sally Field: “They liked it! They really liked it!”

2:12 PM You’re invited to share the knowledge by reading transcripts at <> and listening to podcasts at <>.

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