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Southern Comfort Conference 2000

Southern Comfort Conference logo

Southern Comfort Conference logo

In October of 2000, I attended the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in Atlanta, Georgia.   At the time SCC was one of the nation’s largest anual events for transgender men and women as well as crossdressers.  I was living in Dallas at the time and working for GEICO.  I had been wanting to attend the conference/convention for a few years and finally felt I had the means to do so.  I paid the fee to attend the whole event, reserved myself a room, bought a round trip ticket to Atlanta and then arrange vacation time off from work.

I was so excited as I boarded the bus for Atlanta.  Once I arrived in Atlanta I traveled to the hotel using the city’s light rail system, packing two large suitcase and a garment bag as it was almost a week long event.  Arriving at the check in counter, I let them know that I only had funds for the first two nights of my stay but would pay the balance when on got paid in two days.  I was then informed that I had to pay in full.  I had already accepted the need to be very careful for what I spent to eat for two days as my funds were that low.  Coming up with funds to pay for three more nights was simply not an option.  I had gone to so much trouble to make the trip and it had all been for naught.

As I had a reservation for that night, I paid for one night and then when to my room where I all I could do was cry.  I called Mom and told her of my troubles.   As best as I can recall, she thought I was in Atlanta to attended a business startup convention.  I consider dressing up and going downstairs to the lounge but that seemed rather pointless.  Why bother as I was leaving the next day.  However, after a time, I decided I wanted a drink so I headed downstairs to the lobby lounge.  While the convention was not due to truly begin until the next day, the lounge was full of crossdressers and transgender women.  I envied them.

Where There Is A Will There Is A Way

I sat down at the bar next too a guy who was engaged in an intense conversation with one of the conference organizers.  She was answering his questions about the transgender life and I found myself easedropping on their conversation.  After I had had a few beers, I said ‘What the hell” to myself and asked to speak with her privately.  I told her about my plight.  She excused herself and returned with two other women.  I was sitting with three of the five people on the organizing committee.  She then informed me that she had shared my situation with the other committee members and they had a hotel room they could comp me.  Not only was I going to be staying at the conference.  I would not have to pay for a hotel room which presented me with the opportunity to enjoy a broader range of the conference offerings.

I can recall one afternoon when a group of us were heading to the ballroom for our lunch.  There must have beenb eight or ten of us on the elevator to the hotel’s top floor.  At one point it stopped and the doors opened revealing a family of four.  While it was a crowded elevator it is not unlikely that we could have found room for two more adults and two children.  However, they opted to catch the next one.  After the doors closed and we started ascending again, one of the girls said, “This week we own this hotel.”   I suspect we all knew what she meant.  Individually we all lived in our private worlds, facing oscratism and ridicule whenever we might decided to step out in the public world.  This week in this hotel we were not the outsiders.  We were the norm.

Just Possibly My Favorite Life Moment

Southern Comfort Conference bench

I was sittting on a bench not unlike this one at the Southern Comfort Conference when I had one of my all time favorite life moments.

One night we were scheduled to have an event at one of the local nightspots.  I got dressed for a night out and headed downstairs to the lobby lounge to wait upon the bus that would take us to the club.  The lounge was packed and it was a pleasant evening so I stepped outside and sat down on a beach near the entrance to the hotel.

The bus was not due to arrive for ten minutes so I decided to simply enough the cool breeze blowing and the moment.  As I was sitting there, a couple got out of their car and headed in the direction of the hotel entrance.  As they came within a certain distance of myself and my bench, they each smiled and said a very pleasant hello.  I was equally pleasant in return.

Were you expecting something more?  It might be understandable if you were.  However, at that moment, I felt more accepted than I had ever felt in my entire life.  Not only had the couple been quite friendly.  I was also dressed for an evening out with several women not unlike myself and knew we would all be accepted at our destination.

When I returned to Dallas after the conference, I made a vow to myself that I would attend it every year going forward.  I never did and unfortuately the last SCC was held last year so I will never make it to a second SCC event.  But I will always have the memory of that night, that singuarly special moment.

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