GayRomLit 2014, or LOVEfest 2014 Part One of Two

IMG_20141021_152212Three years, three GRLs, and God only knows how many hugs later, and here I am. As I type this, I am wearing my Willoughby Spit t-shirt that Devon Rhodes and I stole from Katey Hawthorne (She was gracious enough to let us have them when she caught our hands in the cookie jar). I’m listening to the vibrations of my cell phone as facebook notifications roll in by the dozen and I’m thinking about all the love that those vibrations represent, some of it new and a lot of it old. There are no words to that could be put together to accurately describe the feeling of being surrounded by people that love you without conditions and genuinely enjoy you. None to capture it for me, anyway, but I can tell you some stories from my time in the Windy City and maybe, just maybe, you can feel a fraction of what I felt.

I need to begin by saying that this year would not have been at all possible without the love and support or Devon Rhodes, Lori Blantin and J.P. Barnaby. These are three of the most caring and wonderful women that I have ever had the distinct pleasure of calling my friends.

WEDNESDAY, the Calm Before the Storm

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Trish wanted to tease the others. She got the first hug of 2014!

This year (and here’s a pro-tip for any GRL virgins out there) I decided to fly in a day early to spend time with the people that I care about before the convention demanded their time. I was whisked away from the dread O’Hare airport terminal by one J.P. Barnaby whom I pulled to myself immediately. That first hug between two people that have not seen each other for an extended period of time is magical and i used each one that week to reaffirm that these people are indeed real and not something I cooked up in my dreams. She had Michael Kudo in tow and he graciously offered to carry one of my bags. He’s a doll, even if he never quite stops moving completely. Once we had Shae Connor, she of the Hug Me pins, we were on our way. A car ride with these three individuals is exactly what you think it would be. I won’t go into details but I may have overshared a thing or two.

The first person I saw when I walked into the hotel was Amy DiMartino. Anyone that knows me knows her and knows that she is my sister from another mister. That’s when the tears started, but I am manly and cried on the inside…..mostly. I could write an entire post about this women and how she let a little gay boy that didn’t know anybody glom onto her my first year until I knew absolutely everyone, but there’s no need. I love her.

I spotted a shock of ginger hair as I blinked back the tears from seeing Amy again and proceeded to leap over a side table and grab Joyfully Jay from behind. We met in ABQ, but it wasn’t until Atlanta that we spent a good deal of time together. She is one of the funniest, sweetest and smartest women that you’ll meet.

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Lori, Travis and I

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Brandon, Amy, Daniel and I. We kept showing each other the cards we just drew that would have been perfect for the previous question.

What? It was a good game. Very good.

What? It was a good game. Very good.

So many more people followed into the lobby after that and I made sure I said hello to all of them. People from years past and people that I’d only known online. To tell you the truth, that first day is so much of a blur of elation that I don’t remember much. I remember hugging Lori like there was no tomorrow, having drinks with her and Travis Istre, who I’m happy to call my friend, and playing Cards .Against Humanity in the speakeasy after having a round of Blow Jobs with Devon, J.P., Michael, ZAM and T.A. I’d never played that game before, but had heard is spoken of in whispers. If there ever was a game tailor made for GRL attendees, this is it! Also, I may or may not have accosted one Brandon Witt, whom I didn’t know before that day but who I quickly grew to care for as evidenced by the picture below.

I have to take some time to discuss the gloriousness and the majesty of Devon

Devo and Jared reunited!!!

Devo and Jared reunited!!!

Rhodes. Without her, GRL 2014 would not ave been possible for me. I remember meeting her in ABQ at my first GRL. We connected right away and from that moment we were friends. She and I never talk on the phone, because we spend hours talking while doing other things. I’ve heard her drop the kids off and pick the kids up. I love this woman more than can ever be describe. XOXO, No Bottoms.

THURSDAY, So It Begins

Thursday was the first official day of the conference. I was actually awake, dressed and downstairs before 9AM. A first for me! Official Day One started with helping Devon set up her swag in the swag room and by help I mean that I went from table to table and ate the candies offered. Le Franks, in particular, kept me supplied with my weight in fortune cookies. My love for them is very deep and very real just like my love for her. They even had little quotes from her work inside. She’s a clever, clever girl. Jay and I sat and gossiped. I mean we conversed about politics the way adults do. I’m glad I got in there early. All of the swag was picked clean before the end of the day!

Next came the supporting authors book signing which I can only describe as wonderful. So many of the people came to

J.P., Steve, Christy and I

J.P., Steve, Christy and I

support these guys and gals, many of whom I count among my friends. I even got to stroke Z Allora’s cock for luck! I chatted everyone up and made sure I got the hugs in that day that I didn’t get the day before. I heard Mary Calmes, Poppy Dennison and Lynn Lorenz talk paranormal romance. I listened to Lex Chase, Jacob Flores- who is known as Jared’s twin which is an honor for him, I’m sure- and Clare London read their work. Jacob’s reading was very distracting. Jay knows why… And then I listened to Ally Blue, Daniel Kaine and Jaime Samms take questions from their readers. I was strongly recommended Slasherazzi by several people.

Then came the opening reception where we all found out the awesome news that GRL 2015 will be held in SAN DIEGO! A week of fun in the Sun. No dreary Illinois skies for this gay next year.

Me and the boys. I asked for both and I may have grabbed one of their butts later that night...

Me and the boys. I asked for both and I may have grabbed one of their butts later that night…

After that announcement we were all more than ready to shake and

Amy, me and my crop top!

Amy, me and my crop top!

shimmy to the thumpa thumpa of the Juke Joint. We all came arrayed in our best club clothes. I had to scurry to Jay’s room beforehand to make sure that I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself in that crop top and to borrow some eye shadow. Dance anthems played all night long while three very cute gogo boys entertained the tippers.

The PostMidnight Crew, as I'm calling us. Stephen, Devon and myself. These two have all of the good vibes you could ever ask for.

The PostMidnight Crew, as I’m calling us. Stephen, Devon and myself. These two have all of the good vibes you could ever ask for.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I have a strict all or nothing policy when it comes to a dance floor. I broke it down, built it back up and dropped it like it was hot surrounded by some of the best dance partners around. Stephen (RJ’s Hubby), Devon and I even had our traditional late night chat. Last year, it was Devon that we focused our healing energy on and this year it was me. Even though I do feel foolish for having a mini-meltdown. I think the traveling and the alcohol conspired against me to make me a wee bit self-pitying. Still, I can’t thank these two enough for reminding me that I am loved just as I am. Get ready, Stephen! It’s your turn next year!

After the beat played out, we all adjourned to the Fireplace Lounge to relax and warm ourselves up. For the first time anywhere, a selfie was caught on both sides of the action! I had no idea that when I took this picture to illustrate how the world does spin onward even when you have srtopped, that nearby a stalker was snapping a photo of me snapping a photo of myself . Hoisted by my own selfabsobtion!

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1488211_783791748325761_99705092121341738_nAnd that was the beginning of GayRomLit 2015 for me. I just knew that this GRL was going to be radically different from the past two, special in its own unique way.

Stay tuned for days Three and Four coming soon!

Until next time, I am as always,

Your Artist/

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7 thoughts on “GayRomLit 2014, or LOVEfest 2014 Part One of Two

  1. Great recap. It was fun seeing you again. I might have a Willoughby Spit shirt myself. You should get Katey to white trash it for you like she did mine.

  2. Great recap! And of course so wonderful spending time with you. You know I love and adore you beyond reason. Miss you already!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences of the first couple days of GRL. They were indeed busy and I’m glad you were surrounded by people who truly care for you, that’s the best feeling in the world. You, sweet Jared, are loved. Just as you are. It was great getting to meet you and I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on days three and four.

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