Well, I did it! After a year of meticulous and detailed planning with my mentor, traveling companion, and all-around BFF Beverly (of CDH), we drove almost 600 miles to Harrisburg, Pa., and attended the 2022 Keystone Conference! And it was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some!
Imagine spending each day (and night) from Wednesday thru Sunday dressed in full femme, including makeup. We did that. Five full 24-hour days socializing, attending seminars and workshops, luncheons, dinners, in your finest femme attire, not a shred of anything drab, with hundreds of other CDs and trans people.
I can’t believe it’s over. All of it now resides as cherished memories in my mind, and, thankfully, a few photos (in my CDH Private Gallery.) Yes, I was really there! After I got home, I descended into a depressed slump which I can only describe as the “post-Keystone blues”. It just went by too fast. I wanted it to last forever. Given my age and physical condition, this will probably be the last such Conference I’ll ever attend. This one will live on in my memory.
For those who might be unfamiliar with, but have some interest in, the Keystone Conference, here is their website: https://www.keystone-conference.org/
A little highlight of what the conference is like.
There was a CDH pre-Conference meetup already in progress in the Dog and Pony Lounge, but after hauling an untold amount of luggage up to the room, the time it would’ve taken to unpack our makeup, wigs, shoes, etc. and get all doodied up, the meetup would’ve been over.
As we were getting settled into our room, my friend Roberta Broussard (of the Bayou Belles, the CDH Local Chapter we both belong to) paid us a visit in our room. She was elegantly dressed, wearing a dark floral dress and heels, and on her way to the CDH meetup. She let us know we could go in drab. Later, we went to check it out, but from what we saw, no one else was in drab, so we slinked on out of there. That was the last time I was in drab mode until Monday morning, 3/28, when we checked out.
The first official day of the conference!! Up at 6:00 am, shaved, showered, dressed, put on my makeup, slapped on my wig, and headed to the D & P for breakfast. Beverly took the very first picture (in the Keystone grouping in my Private Gallery) as I opened the hotel room door to leave for breakfast.
There is a profound significance for what that photo represents; you should realize that prior to my arrival for the Conference, I had NEVER set foot dressed outside in public… not even out onto my private patio at my apartment at home. And there I was, boldly stepping outside the hotel room into a brave new world of trans-folk and CDs. Well, maybe not so boldly. You cannot imagine the trepidation I felt. In that moment, for a brief instant, the visual image of me curled up in the fetal position in a corner of the hotel room, terrified of going out, flashed before my eyes. After all the planning, after all the travel. But out I went.
Unfortunately, I didn’t join anyone at their table and ate breakfast alone. It was still an amazing first experience. My server, a young feller, didn’t even bat an eye as he fetched my milk and coffee. It could be because there were only CDs dining in there–not a single non-trans individual (except for the wait staff). Could it be we scared them off?
My first seminar that morning was “Hello World! Taking Those First Steps Out”. It was a small group, and one or two of the girls shared their experience of going out in public for the first time.
At noon, I hooked up with Beverly to attend the “Get the T about Keystone–How to Maximize Your Experience at the Conference” talk. The lecturer went around the room and asked each of us our reason for coming to Keystone. I was unprepared for their questions, and blabbed out, “I came to meet and socialize with crossdressers just like myself.” Isn’t that why all of us went?
Then came the second-best part of Wednesday–the “Debutante Day Outing – Nail Salon and/or Shopping.” You could do both if you wanted, but Beverly chose just the shopping excursion and I opted for “nails only”. The bus picked us up outside the Front Lobby and whisked me away to the “Lee Nails Salon,” which wasn’t far from the Sheraton.
This was an amazing experience! I have painted my own nails, but I’m terrible at it. I do what I call a “gob job”. I wanted to have a manicure that would last thru Saturday’s Gala. Well, they did a magnificent job on my nails. Their application was so perfect, that they almost looked fake. They used a base coat, two coats of red polish, and a topcoat.
Most of us in the Salon were CDs and many of the girls got both manicures and pedicures. Not me… this old lady’s toes are not fit to be seen in public! But it was the best $20 I ever spent. I simply could not stop admiring my glistening nails! In fact, for the rest of Keystone, I would catch myself looking at my nails and wishing I could have this done every week!
The bus brought me back to the hotel’s Front Lobby. The Lobby was always filled with crossdressers lounging, talking, and waiting for busses. I don’t know what made me wander into the coffee bar behind the Registration desk to get a hot cup of caffeine, but I’m so glad I did. It’s where the FIRST BEST thing of Wednesday happened, one of my best memories of the entire Keystone Conference! As I was filling my cup (self-serve), who, of all people, should come up beside me to get a coffee? None other than one of my biggest CD idols, an ICON of the crossdressing community (at least, for me): Ana Cristina Garcia!!
Well, I recognized her immediately without even a glance at her name tag. How does courage spring up in such a shy, closeted crossdresser like me? I introduced myself and told her how big a fan I am of her YouTube videos, and suddenly we were talking as if we knew each other for years!! And how bold and forward was I to ask if she would pose with me for a photo? But I did, and I amazed myself. Another CD in the crowd took our pic on Cristy’s phone, and she “airdropped” it to my phone (I never even knew such a thing existed!). You can see that picture in my Private Gallery. I will treasure this picture for the remainder of my crossdressing life!!
I found Beverly back in the room, and we went to the 4:45 pm pre-Kick-off Dinners Meet & Greet. After that, we changed into our dresses for dinner. I wore my 2-inch patent “kitten” heels and was fairly comfortable in them the whole night.
Our first dinner at the Keystone Conference was at the Longhorn Steakhouse. Beverly and I were seated at a long table with several other attendees. Unfortunately, there was no one from CDH at our table, so I didn’t find much to talk about with the other diners. (For the next two nights, there was at least one CDHer dining with us).
After dinner, just before we boarded the busses to go back to the Sheraton, I had yet another first in my crossdressing life. I used the ladies’ room for the FIRST TIME EVER! Beverly thought I was going to use the men’s room. Dressed as I was, I felt that was NOT an option! As I entered the ladies’ room, there was one lady in there, so, completely embarrassed, I went back out and waited until she exited. I can’t even imagine what went through her mind, as I am obviously NOT a woman. I went in while Beverly stood watch outside. One more incident that will live in my memory for years to come.
To be continued…