As I return to Los Angeles from the Log Cabin “convention,” I hope to do a few posts, singling out the salient features of the confab and their implications for the this fall’s presidential race, the future of the organization itself and the attitudes of gay Republicans in general.
First of all, the hotel we stayed at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center was a most unusual choice. It was far from the center of the city and not within easy walking distance to any interesting locales. Not just that. It seemed that it hadn’t changed since the 1970s, but at least it was well-maintained and had nice landscaping.
I was delighted to learn that most people there were familiar with this blog, with some (including members of Log Cabin’s Board) reading it on a regular basis. Patrick Sammon, Log Cabin’s President, was more visible at this gathering than either of his two previous predecessors as previous meetings. It seemed he wanted to shake hands and chat with all participants.
Until the banquet on Saturday night, the staff did a great job of keeping things moving. At previous conventions, we would sit in sessions or at lunch while the speakers (or Log Cabin staff) blathered on without giving us much time to weigh in with our own thoughts. I was particularly impressed at the lunch on Saturday when they were able to accommodate the Governor without cutting too much into our free time. They made sure the speakers did not go on overlong and allowed for questions afterwards.
The banquet was a different story. You would think that at a “Black Tie Optional” dinner they’d serve hors d’oeuvres. Maybe it was because of the open bar. They wanted to get us a little buzzed so we might bid more readily at the silent auction.
Then, there were presentations before the meal, then presentations afterwards. Not to mention the auction. Like past banquets, this one just seemed it would go on forever. Well, at least, it wasn’t as bad as the one in Dallas in 1998. We were out by about 10 or so.
I was pleased that this “convention” had fewer representatives from national gay-left organizations than past confabs. With John Bolton speaking as well as the Mayor of San Diego, the County’s Republican District Attorney (Bonnie Dumanis) and the Governor of the Golden State, there seemed to be more Republicans here than at past gatherings. And we knew it was a Republican crowd when participants rose to give an extended standing ovation to Eric Alva, an openly gay veteran, the first man wounded in the Iraq war.
While that standing ovation was warranted (as well as the one for Bolton), it did seem those there rose too readily to applaud the speakers. Regular standing ovations compromise the value of such gestures which should be reserved for special situations. At least, we stayed standing for several minutes to show how much we valued Sergeant Alva, a man who truly merits that accolade.
And then there were the seemingly endless awards, with Log Cabin seeming to find it necessary to confer an honor on nearly every speaker who rose to the podium. A limited number of honors makes those received more meaningful.
On the whole a good gathering, a smaller crowd than past such shindigs and without many participants who had been coming regularly over the years (more on that in subsequent posts). But, still I had a good time and met some nice people.
And finally, there was our welcome bag. Normally, at Log Cabin gatherings, it’s just a collection of brochures offering tourist information on the host city and pamphlets from various gay organizations or publications from the Liberty Education Fund. This time, we got a real book, one filled with drawings by one of my favorite cartoonists, Gary Larson’sÂ The PreHistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit. A truly inspired offering. Kudos to whoever chose that book. That choice alone — and its inclusion in our welcome packet — elevates my opinion of Log Cabin.
At least these guys have a sense of humor, quirky though it may be. But a most admirable quirkiness.