by Randy I., presented at the Atons 2023 Officer Brunch on April 16, 2023
Last Sunday, we had our monthly meeting online again. I was out of town and busy. We are just going to leave it at that. Vice President Kevin did an excellent job running the meeting, so thank you, Kevin. There had been a few questions on the agenda regarding this brunch, so in my hotel room later that night I checked the minutes. That’s where I discovered that we wouldn’t have a formal program but that the President would give a speech. This is what happens when you don’t attend a meeting.
I spent a lot of this week thinking about exactly what to say today. As most of you know, the Atons celebrated our 50th-anniversary last year. 50 years! Even I would have been too young to join then. Of course, there is Andrew, who wasn’t much older than I would have been when he joined.
What were those men thinking when they formed this organization? Well, according to our Bylaws:
ARTICLE 1: Purposes
The purposes of this organization are:
- To encourage fraternity and fellowship among the members.
- To promote good public relations between members and nonmembers and encourage general public acceptance of the organization.
- To engage in events promoting the above purposes (such as group excursions to other communities and joint meetings, visits, and excursions with other similar organizations).
That’s it. Throughout the years, we have probably done better at some of these than others. Good public relations can be a tough one, and like all organizations, we have had some rocky moments. Even those rocky moments are good as they prompt us to reexamine our core ideas. The Atons have helped many other organizations get started by sharing our by-laws, serving as fiduciary agents, and other means of support. Many of us attend runs and other events outside of Minneapolis, usually participating in a Parade of Colors and representing the club.
The purpose of the club was never to raise funds, though we have certainly done that. Except for Covid, we have typically done a holiday fundraiser that many of you have contributed to. Last year along with Minnesota Leather Pride, we were able to donate $5000 to the Aliveness Project.
Where do we go from here? Back to our original purposes –
I want to encourage fellowship among the members. Sure, there are some hassles with meeting in person rather than video. But there is something intrinsic about sitting in the same room, and sharing the experience. Like we are gathered here today.
I want to improve our public persona so that people don’t just see us as the old, cis-male club. That’s a tough one I know because we kind of are, but how do we find a way to communicate and participate that can be celebrated with the myriad of clubs in our city and that celebrate our diversity? We are no longer “the club,” but we can certainly be a facet of this diversity.
I want us to become more active in our community and the greater club community. We are starting our Cigar Socials back up next month. We had a great time bowling with Spectrum. How can we find more time to come together? We all need it after Covid and definitely need to find our strengths together during our current political climate.
We all need reasons to celebrate. Thank you for celebrating with us today.