There's so much to say, I just want to make sure I find the right way to say it.
Before I get into my personal reasons for why I haven't been to conventions and what I would like to see to help me go to another, I want to really acknowledge everyone who has spent hours of their personal time, personal funds, and really put their heart and soul into making the conventions fun and entertaining. The Admins and Mod's who think all year about what the convention will be and actually make it happen - you GALS are absolutely without question... AMAZING. You have bent over backwards to make it a really personal experience for every fan who attends and have really taken things to a new level with all of the charity work you have done and the money you have helped the entire organization raise. You have many, many things to be proud of with all you have accomplished, and what you have allowed us as fans to be a part of. I hope that you know, beyond our admiration and support of Gerry, the con is not simply about him, and is really about FANmily.
All of that being said...
There are really two reasons I have not been a part of the con since 2008. 1.) Money and 2.) Gerry.
Let me explain before anyone who says "It's not about Gerry" gets their Scottish knickers in a twist.
When I say one of those reasons is Gerry, it's not because he doesn't come and I don't get to meet him. Honestly, I never want to meet the dude. I would rather he stay up on my gorgeous Terry Sheridan pedestal than have me meet him in person. It's just not my thing. What I mean is...the con in the beginning was about Gerry. Supporting his work, meeting people who appreciated and were fans of his movies and pretty much anything else he did. Somewhere along the way, GALS realized the power they had, and decided to put that power to use doing lots of things for charity. That's not a bad thing at all - so many lives have been touched by what GALS has done. Many of us have donated when we have been able to, whether at the con on items that have been purchased or donated for the various raffles or simply following the lead and finding our own charities in our own communities to support. Many of us have followed the Charity thread and donated to different organizations in the name of Gerry. I can appreciate and respect this. However, the reason the con was so enticing to me in 2007 when I had just 'found' Gerry was that...GALS got it. They got ME. I had never felt this way about ANY actor or celebrity. All my friends thought I was nuts. My family rolled their eyes. But my GALS, they understood. I came to the con and met so many like-minded yet individual people that I felt like I had been beamed aboard the mothership.
There have been rumblings for quite some time that while we all still admire and respect Gerry, thus the reason for the site, GALS was going to start stearing away from Gerry Addicted Lust Syndrome and morph into something more respectable. I don't get that, and I don't know why the name has to change when I think we've all carried ourselves pretty well so far and are already really respectable. GALS was the reason I joined and it was the place where I met many people I still care about and keep in touch with. It may just be a touch of 'my cheese got moved' but I don't like the idea of shedding our original and very loved name and history in the name of appearances. I will ALWAYS be suffering from GALS and I don't care who sees the name and doesn't like it. If they don't like it, let's hope the door doesn't hit them on the way out.
In addition to the change towards a name other than GALS, there seems to be a feeling that if a con attendee doesn't participate in the charitable trip, then there's something wrong with them. Either they aren't good people or they're rude or they're at the con for the wrong reason. I don't think that's fair and I dislike the fact that this is the attitude of some of the fans at the con. Just because someone doesn't go physically to The Shade Tree and donate their time or have a personal experience with them doesn't make them a bad person or less of a fan or less a part of the group. When I mention this bit, it's not because it's just a feeling, it's because things have actually been said to me, in person and through email such as "I can't believe that only x amount of people went with us to the shelter. That's crap." That makes no sense to me. Some people may feel very uncomfortable in situations like those. Maybe it's too emotional, too sad, too close to home. Until we are in their shoes, we don't know and we should not judge. I believe in charity. I will contribute money when I have it. I will do what I can to raise funds. I will send supplies by mail. I simply don't like to donate my time at an actual shelter for personal reasons. Does that make me less of a fan than you, less of a good person than you? No.
Lastly, in regards to money: I don't know about anyone else, but this is my feeling. It's too expensive to get to a con. I tried really hard to go this year. Total price when I worked it all out was over $900. I'm a college student working full time who can barely make ends meet, and I don't even have a family to take care of. I can't justify $900 for what would end up for me a two day trip because that's all the time I could afford to take off of work.
I know that many of you have donated your time and money and talent to putting together decorations and programs and entertainment and menus and everything else. It's all beautiful and has a wow factor to it, and really kicks it all off right. But what if we did something simpler and instead of spending money on getting celebrity guests or huge props or goodie bags or whatever expense for all the extras is - take that money and donate it instead? I have no idea how much of all that stuff trickles down into the price of the con for those who pay to attend, but man if the price could be lowered, that would be a huge motivator. We already have to pay for hotel and travel, plus all our meals and rental cars and spending money, and we want to donate as part of the charity too. Some of us just can't even bid on the items because we don't have the money to. There have been plenty of things I would have bid on, but why bid $20 when 18 other people have thousands of dollars they bid on the items and outbid us anyway? I would rather just flat donate that bid on something because it's never gonna be me that wins, and really, I don't need more stuff.
Anyhow, that's my two cents and I'm now off of my soapbox. Thanks for listening.