May 3rd, 2004

A day of ambivalence...

I made it to the 7:00-8:00 breakfast at about 7:45. I managed to pass on the bacon and eggs and had cantaloupe, melon, and pineapple, with orange juice and coffee. Since the opening "main tent" started at 8:00, breakfast was a little rushed.

I had somewhat of a roller coaster day, at times feeling extremely valued by the company, and at times feeling very inadequate and "out of my league" here.

Most of the sessions today were compelling. Physically, each of the three rooms I attended sessions in were freezing. I put the complaint on each of the feedback forms.

I returned Woody's voicemail message about my "Diversity Is Everyone" education module, and tried to reach Allan's secretary about the meeting he wants to have on Wednesday. I had to leave her voicemail telling her I wouldn't be into the office until Thursday, at which time I'd be happy to meet with Allan, and if she'd please confirm a time on Thursday, including letting me know what the subject of the meeting is.

The "GLBT Group" met in the main hotel lobby at 7:15PM, and amazingly, after not much fuss, decided where to eat, and organized rides. We ended up with about 28 people and went to a restaurant called Pebbles. They couldn't seat 28 people together, so we sat at five different tables in the same area. I sat with Bob, and his partner, Pat, Pooter (the platinum blond Sting look-alike), Neil (who turned out to be an executive, which I would never have guessed), and Paul, the social butterfly.

We had a bit of drama about wanting to move tables together, with the hostess assuring Paul that it couldn't be done because it would block the aisles, and Paul being overly insistent. I finally asked him to please leave it alone, that they know we're from IBM, and we don't want to IBM to be remembered for this.

Pooter ordered a "Southern Comfort Manhattan, slightly sweetened, with a twist," which I thought was a little dramatic. Maybe more attention-getting than dramatic, not unlike the hair.

I was quite quiet during dinner, so much so, that after a while Bob asked me if I was okay.

Neil told a story about a recent business trip dinner with a bunch of work colleagues, including his boss, that ended up at a strip bar -- a straight strip bar. After his boss twice tried to get his opinion on the "hot number" offering a lap dance, Neil leaned over and said, "Bill, I'm gay." Bill thought that was hysterical, and said, "No, really, Neil, what do you think." "Bill, I'm gay." Alas the notion that you don't just "come out" once at work and you're done with it. New teams, new situations, and new managers beg the question over and over.

Paul articulated again that he was at the conference as much for being Lebanese as he was for being GLBT, and how he believes that unless you're in a committed relationship, there is no need to be out at work. Personally, I think this is crap, but wasn't in the mood to debate or educate. He went on to use the typical argument that you can keep your private life private, blah blah blah. That whole argument wreaks (sp?) of internalized homophobia to me.

Bob kept pointing out to Pooter that he looked like Sting, and at one point leaned over to him, separated his shirt between two buttons, and asked, "Is there hair in there?" Pooter alluded to hit being shaved. Shortly after that, Pat, Bob's partner, noted that I looked like Simon on American Idol. Since I've never seen Simon, I couldn't comment.

The conversation then turned very technical at the table, and I totally checked out. I was so ready to go at least 30 minutes before we finally got out of there. I enjoyed the ride back with frequent side glances at Justin, who is just a beautiful young boy. Paul kept the conversation going all the way back; again, nothing new.

Back at the hotel, some of the guys mentioned going down to the pool. I waffled about it, but finally ended up going down after changing into my swimsuit up at the room. When I got there, only Justin was there, and I watched him take his shirt off before heading into the pool. Nice.

Shortly after that, Andrew, who I hadn't yet met, arrived. He's from the UK, and it was when I first realized we had international attendees at the conference. He and I talked for about an hour about all kinds of things, from relationships, to travel, to GLBT issues in the workplace. Good conversation.

Back in the room, I mucked around too long trying to check my IBM e-mail, and trying to do it before my laptop would automatically reboot, which is what this virus is doing. And I can't stay booted, and connected to the Internet, long enough to download a fix for it. Very frustrating. I did stay connected long enough to see that there wasn't anything critical to be answered, and to read a quick, goodnight email from Robert. Sweet.