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A Place To Be Me...

A Place To Be Me...

It is very often in our culture that we are confronted with different aspects of what other people think about masculinity. This is a problematic dynamic for gay men who bear the brunt of being questioned for their masculinity or are forced to internalize self-sabotaging feelings about male bonding. We constantly feel like we have to be on guard and these conditions are especially traumatizing for those trying to find their niche in spaces governed by prevailing norms and conventions. It creates a feeling that there are little to no spaces where men can freely explore their identities without reproach or questioning.

Here at A Celebration of Friends, we recognize the importance of gay male bonding and embrace the courageous inclination to boast with bubbling pride about it. Our existence is a resistance to some waning, but still stubbornly dominant ways of thinking and by providing a safe, warm space for unfiltered expression of love is extremely valiant.

This is why we look forward to this summer’s vibrant gathering of men July 14th-17th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Orlando by Sea World.

There is nothing more joyous than being able to come together as one, hailing from different cultures, professions, and lifestyles in a space dedicated to a celebration of who we are- unbridled by social convention and restraints. Heed our recruitment call: inquire within and join us this summer!

 


PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS


WHAT IS THE CELEBRATION?

Our yearly conventions are "Celebrations" of the mature gay man. We are a registered 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

ACOF MISSION STATEMENT: To provide warm, comfortable, safe and engaging gatherings recognizing and promoting self-worth, dignity, kindness and friendships within our senior population. To that end, we strive not only to host celebrations of our seniors, but family type reunions of our friends and brothers through supportive connections within our nationwide and international scope.


HOW, WHEN, WHERE?

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld located at 10100 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821, USA. To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration please call +1-407-352-1100 or click here.

Celebration Registration: To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here.

Hotel Rooms: To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration, click here or call +1-407-352-1100.

Registration
2016 A Celebration of Friends

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016. To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here

Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld 10100 International Dr.,
Orlando, FL 32821
Tel: +1-407-352-1100

 

 

 
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Confessions of a Celebration Virgin

Dear friends,

The ACOF Board received this letter a couple of days ago and I thought I’d pass it on as I could say it better...

1 December 2015

Confessions of A Celebration Virgin

My life was changed last year. 

The Orlando 2015 Celebration was my first experience with an all exclusive group of mature gay men.

When I first heard the rumors of the organization called A Celebration of Friends, I was inquisitive. The first post I glimpsed was a picture of a group of men at a convention for “mature men and their admirers”. Their faces beamed with excitement as they immersed themselves in a swimming pool, obviously enjoying themselves. It was unadulterated pleasure for me to realize that these were the type of men I had only dreamed of meeting and wanted to be with. These guys seemed unabashed in the excitement of being with each other. Please understand, I work in a profession for a company which does not approve of equal rights and tries to maintain and encourage its own strict code of conduct and moral standards for each of its employees.

I searched on-line until I found the ACOF website, made a phone call and ended up talking to one of the Board members. He was hospitable and enamoring over the phone and talked to me in a brutally honest fashion which made me blush. His words encouraged me to break out of my shell. As soon as the conversation began, it seemed to be over. Within minutes after hanging up the phone, my credit card was in full use. Flights and Hotel rooms were booked and registration paid for. I was ready, willing and excited to be attending my first all male convention. All I had to do was to survive until July! At 73 years old, I felt it was too late in life for me to change and that for all practical purposes I was wasting my time. My life was over before it really began. But as that ACOF board member told me, “Life is once! There’s a battalion of men who would love to get close to you.” Was he really on the level, or simply lying to to get his hands on this foolish old man’s money?
   

July arrived as it always does, but last year it sure seemed to take an extra long time. To this country boy, the city of Orlando was daunting. This was my first visit to a major metropolis and to Florida. I was overly cautious and eager to begin a new chapter in my life and to experience a part of me I had always denied. Walking off the airplane, I stepped into a weekend of life as I always wanted to live it; completely honest as to who I was and what I wanted. 

It seems the first Celebration experience is different for every person who attends, but all us virgins seemed to share a common thread; we were the preverbal kids in a candy store. Never before was I hit on by so many nice men. It started early, everyone was very friendly at registration and I was sharing a room with a man I'd never met before. Hell, I was sharing an entire hotel with five hundred men I’d never met before, except perchance in my dreams. There were older men like me and some even older than me. There were younger middle aged guys and then some younger young guys present. Some were your typical stereotypes, some hairy, some chubby, others tall and short, but all were wearing the same thing; each had a smile on his face. The Village People had arrived.
 
I really had no expectations. All I’d ever read about gay men was that they were all activists, busy fighting the system for equality in marriage and justice. I found none of that here. All these guys were doing was enjoying each others company. This was the world I was looking for. I never had a gay friend or a partner, this was my whole purpose of attending the Celebration...or so I told myself.

"How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?" I must report, the experience was very positive. I can only call it a great experience as I look back now at my first Celebration, the activities, the chatter and the laughter. Like so many of my new experiences; the first day was spent clumsily getting my sea legs until I began to relax just meeting the guys. This was a new world for me. A nurturing place of new life, the kind of life I always wanted to experience but had somehow forgotten. A place of men enjoying the presence of other men, a cache of gathered treasures and some of them were smiling back at me.
   

Sharing early morning breakfasts with different like minded men is the way angels must start each day in heaven. Some of the best times were the "Happy Hours" and sometimes those 'happy hours lasted twenty-four hours a day. There were seminars on many different important subjects that I was too busy to attend, but I did enjoy the ones I went to. One of the greatest achievements of the weekend was meeting the incomparable Edward Asner and also getting a chance to talk with him. I met many great friends I will keep for life.

The most important experience of the weekend was knocking down the walls I was imprisoned in all my life. Now my world view was different. It was a sacred time, the acceptance of becoming who I always was. The friendships I made were more than special. I was not an island but found unity with men from different parts of the world. I am looking forward to the 2016 Celebration.
 
That weekend last July, was one of the greatest in my life. It required trust on my part and a willingness to be open to new adventures. Luckily for me, this old man got out of his comfort zone and like a young bird took that scary first step out of the nest. While I was not the only virgin there, many non-virgins accepted me and helped me break out of my shell. For me, the 2016 Celebration need not change at all. I trust the ACOF Board to continue doing what they’ve been doing the past 14 years. There will be many new aspects and adventures for all to enjoy. I’ll be back with the renewed energy of a reborn 74 year old man. But here’s a word for those new Celebrations Virgins coming aboard "be prepared to have your life change forever”.

LIFE IS ONCE!!!

-- NO Longer - A Celebration Virgin

(Name withheld upon request.)

So what do you all think? Share your experience on our ONLINE PRIVATE FORUM and let everyone know how much fun you had.

 


PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS


WHAT IS THE CELEBRATION?

Our yearly conventions are "Celebrations" of the mature gay man. We are a registered 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

ACOF MISSION STATEMENT: To provide warm, comfortable, safe and engaging gatherings recognizing and promoting self-worth, dignity, kindness and friendships within our senior population. To that end, we strive not only to host celebrations of our seniors, but family type reunions of our friends and brothers through supportive connections within our nationwide and international scope.


HOW, WHEN, WHERE?

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld located at 10100 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821, USA. To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration please call +1-407-352-1100 or click here.

Celebration Tickets: To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here.

Hotel Rooms: To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration, click here or call +1-407-352-1100.

Tickets
2016 A Celebration of Friends

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016. To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here

Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld 10100 International Dr.,
Orlando, FL 32821
Tel: +1-407-352-1100

 

 

 
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September 2015 Newsletter

Our 2015 Celebration is over and has proven to be the best one yet.

Everyone seemed to enjoy their visit and time with our special guest Ed Asner along with the entertainment provided by The Orlando Gay Men's Chorus, the Madonna impersonator and the group Beatlebeat. 

     

The informative Medicare presentation by Gary Kempler (garykempler@ffig.com) was well received, and he has written a letter for all to read, which can be seen by clicking here

Everyone seemed to enjoy the screenings of Flavio Alves' "Tom in America" (flavioalves.com). 




The documentary of one of our most beloved ACOF founders, Father John J. McNeill's "Taking A Chance on God" (www.johnjmcneill.com) was also well received. Father John and Charlie Chiarelli weren't able to make the Celebration due to illness. However, here's a picture of John and Charlie celebrating the good Father's 90th birthday last week. 

Many attendees left with some great shirts and swim trunks from our vendor, Bearwear (bearwearpalmsprings.com). 



We have also received some great comments on private pool time and visits to the theme parks.

Thank you for attending this year's Celebration and allowing us to share time with you, while creating new memories and experiences.  

Please Note: The Orlando DoubleTree Hotel is under new ownership and currently undergoing renovation. Consequently, at this time we are unsure of the date of the next Celebration. However, we have received many invitations to host the Celebration in several different cities: Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, Palm Springs and San Diego. 

Along with that, we need more input from you:

  • Where would you like for the 2016 Celebration to be held?
  • When would you like the 2016 Celebration to be? 
  • What celebrity guest would you enjoy meeting at the 2016 Celebration?
  • What can we do to make your Celebration better in 2016?

Either send your answers by replying to this email, or by going to the ACOF website and then answering the survey.

The 2015 Celebration gallery is up! Click here to see how much fun we had. 

If you haven't already, please make sure to sign up to receive this free monthly newsletter. You can sign up on the ACOF website

Remember to be kind and love & respect each other. 

Lots & Lots of Love, 

A Celebration of Friends, Inc.
tomcat9722@aol.com

 
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June 2015 Newsletter

What are we going to do Mr. Asner?

Ed Asner
What does a person do when the one person they always dreamed of meeting, agrees to a date?

What do the thousands of people who’ve attended the past thirteen Celebrations do when the one person they voted they most wanted to meet at a Celebration agrees to attend?

Well, take this one off your “bucket list”: Highly Honored and Legendary actor Ed Asner will be our special guest at the 2015 A Celebration of Friends weekend.

Mr. Asner has won more Emmy Awards for performing than any other male actor and in 1996, was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. See, ask and discover from the man himself all about his life and career.


2015 ACOF Weekend
July 16–20 Hotel Information


Host Hotel:
The Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld
10100 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32821

Make your reservations by clicking on the link in the upper right-hand corner on our website: celebrationoffriends.org or by calling 407-352-1100 (make sure you tell them you’re with A Celebration of Friends).

We're taking over the entire east wing of the hotel with our own private pool and business area. Don't wait, make those reservations now – rooms are going quickly!

While staying at the Doubletree Hotel, registered ACOF guests will receive these benefits:

  • High Speed Internet
  • Daily Full American Breakfast Buffet
  • Daily Full Open Bar and Happy Hour
  • Daily Shuttle Service to Disney World, Universal Orlando and Sea World
  • Daily Access to our "Private Movie Screenings", Pool Parties and Entertainment on Hotel grounds.
  • Daily Discounted $5 Self-Parking
  • ...and most importantly, the opportunity to meet, mingle and spend time with mature gay men from around the world.

YOUR INPUT IS DESIRED:

Remember, the A Celebration of Friends weekend is YOUR weekend.

That's why we constantly seek your ideas and input to make each celebration better than the last. It was you who let us know which celebrity guest to get this year, so please take a few seconds and let us know how we're doing.

Complete the survey located on the bottom of The Event page on the website or click here: http://www.celebrationoffriends.org/ahof-survey.

Just sign into your account to complete the survey. Make sure you’re registered first! All information shared is completely confidential.

Remember – we have some outstanding events planned this year:

FRIDAY NIGHT is our Hawaiian Hula Skirt Dancing contest, so start getting your skirts and dance moves ready!


We will also be screening several movies:

THURSDAY NIGHT - We'll be screening the short film “Tom In America” by writer-director Flavio Alves, starring Academy Award nominees Burt Young and Sally Kirkland.

Winner Best LGBT Short Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

Winner Best Short Film at the 30th edition of the Torino Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. (TIA’ first international award.)TIA’ first international award.

Winner Best Short Film at the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

FRIDAY NIGHT - The documentary “Taking a Chance on God” the life and times of Father John McNeill founder of Dignity New York and one of the founding fathers of A Celebration of Friends. Father John and his partner Charles Chiarelli will be present to answer your questions.

FRIDAY NIGHT is also our Hawaiian Hula Skirt Dancing contest, so start getting your skirts and dance moves ready!

FRIDAY NIGHT - Ed Asner look-a-like contest – winner will receive one-on-on time with Ed for photos and conversation

SATURDAY NIGHT - is Ed Asner Night – He will attend a Q&A at 7PM in the Ontario Room. (Special note: Mr. Asner will be around for a couple of days and during most of that time, he’s got his freedom. If you cross paths, please show him all the respect and honor you would normally give an honored guest.)

There will be a private dinner over the weekend with Mr. Asner, our Board, qualified sponsors & vendors, and lucky event winners during the weekend. For information, please contact Tomcat at tomcat9722@aol.com

SUNDAY NIGHT - is our Closing Ceremony where we put the 2015 A Celebration of Friends weekend to bed. So Sunday night will also be the night for our traditional Pajama Party. Make sure you dress appropriately with your teddy bear and PJs. (ACOF Teddybears will be available for purchase during the Celebration.)

Free popcorn will be available at all screenings.

A Couple of Reminders:

  • Book your room SOON, they’re going fast.
  • If you are having any difficulty getting registered or booking your room for this year’s Celebration, send an email to tomcat9722@aol.com. Remember: When you book your room, make sure you say you’re with “A Celebration of Friends” to get the special room rates; Give the hotel all your special requests at this time.
  • Day passes for this year’s Celebration include access to the pool, our movie screenings and nightly entertainment, but does not include the daily breakfast buffet or Happy Hour.
  • If you are considering getting your room through Expedia or any other discount change, BE AWARE: you will not be eligible for the daily buffet breakfast or Happy Hour and will have to pay the regular parking fee, so getting your room through the hotel is the best deal!
  • Lastly – once more, if you see Mr. Asner enjoying the sights or in the pool at the Double Tree, please be respectful and give him his space – remember, he is our guest.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Double Tree on July 16 – 19 for this year’s Celebration!!

 
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