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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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