In the meantime, behind the cut you'll find the letter I put in the Coronation program book:
Esteemed Friends and Guests:
Thank you so much for joining us to celebrate the work of the 34th Reign. Some of you have likely never been to a Coronation, or perhaps even to any Imperial Court event before; I hope you've taken the time to meet some of the diverse people from many places that make the Imperial Court system such a unique and fabulous organization. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to further its work here in San Jose.
It has been quite a year! I thought I knew what I was getting into when I decided to apply for candidacy a year and a half ago. The reality of serving as Emperor 34 has proved both more arduous and more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I had hoped to open our doors and increase the IRLM's visibility to the community at large this year, while having fun trying some new things; many wonderful people supported that vision and helped make it a reality during the last twelve months.
One unexpected experience that helped gel that vision was meeting cartoonist Joe Phillips last Easter at Gaylaxicon, the national GLBTF Science Fiction Convention. Joe did this portrait of me in my jungleboy costume, in his signature "JoeBoy" style: he draws life-loving, positive attitude queer men that take joy from their friends and the world around them. As the drawing took shape on the page before me, I found myself doing a little happy dance inside. I've tried to live up to his portrait and keep that happy dance going inside during the Reign, and vain as it may sound, a look at Joe's drawing still can cheer me up.
I can't possibly thank everyone by name who helped make this year special, partly because (I freely admit it) I'm sometimes far too ditzy a blond to remember all the names in every town, but mostly because I'm only allowed two pages for this epic piece of literature. Be sure to look through the photo collages in this program; you'll see many of the places and people that were part of the 34th Reign.
That said, here are a few special thanks (remember the ditz component and please don't take offense if you don't find your name!):
To Rachael-Janelle: the Three Ring Rainbow Court and Cirque de San Jose themes came from our chats during campaign. I think they were a wonderful idea, and the court has worked hard to keep that vision alive. I'm sure wherever you choose to lend your considerable talents and energy, the community will be well-served.
To the Three Ring Rainbow Court of Love Lust and Laughter: you've made me so very proud! You worked your butts off this year, and we had a hell of a lot of fun along the way. Thanks to ICPs Allen and Ava, CPs Siobhan and Marko, Viscountess Wander, and Grand Duchess Madame Steele and Grand Duke-S Bearina for helping me keep my act together, for listening when I needed to talk, and for giving me a swift kick in the heinie when one was needed. To Marquessa Jo-An and my Rainbow Crown Countesses - you shined all year - it was so much fun watching you put on those shows!
To the girls at Carla's and the I-Love-It girls: thanks for coming out to play! You always made us so feel welcome, and it was great to see you come out and join us at so many of our events.
Modesto: Joyce, you always brighten my day. Art - it's great to see you continuing the good work. Debbie - who'd have thought we'd see you doing glamour and gowns? And you look great doing it!
Alameda Imperial: Deneka, you and your court helped us get off to a great start! Thank you ever so much for that. Niyah and Ellis - it's always a pleasure.
Alameda Ducal: Frank and Angelique, thank you for everything. To all of you who came down to so many events, it was always such a treat to see you here.
Denver: Kiki and Paul, I hope you like what you find when you open those packages last night. I'll be there with bells on for your stepdown!
Vancouver BC: Jules, I'm there with you tonight in spirit, as I know you are here with me. I look forward to terrorizing many more bartenders with you in our search for the perfect Vesper.
Chicago: It was such a privilege to be there for your first Coronation. Rachael and Earl, thanks for joining in with such gusto!
San Francisco: China and Fernando, we had a lot of fun this year; China I'll always be ready to escort you if you need it. Rick - I'll sit in your lap any day. Tiger Lily - we got to reign together for 3 weeks! I'm SO happy for you, girl. You and John-Richard will go far this year, I'm sure.
Reno: I always have a blast in your town, there are way too many of you to thank by name. Except -- Woody, it was always a pleasure to see you on the circuit. I'm still sorry I had to miss your ball!
United Courts of Texas: While I didn't get to visit you at home this year, y'all made me feel at home in so many other towns! Expect Andy and me to come visiting!
Seattle and Portland: Scotty and Martin, you helped me connect with so many people as I got out on the circuit! Thank you so much! Barry and Timm - what a thrill to reconnect with you two this year; Andy and I definitely want to come up for a visit.
Chico: I never thought I'd have that much fun in Chico! Debbie, I'm so glad you and Angie were able to join us this weekend.
Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center: I'm so glad we could help this year. Patrick: Thanks for helping bail out my E&E Ball! And thank you for having faith in us to try doing events including serving alcohol. I hope you found it a successful experiment!
Vin Santo Restaurant, King of Clubs, Dar's Hideaway, Club Savoy, San Jose Oddfellows and Carla's Salon: we couldn't have done it without the cooperation of venues. Thank you for your continued support of the IRLM. Greg and Susan - expect more wine and cheese events on the calendar!
Ms Jean and Lucy Manhattan: Thank you for the buckets of good advice. I may not have always taken it, but I *always* listened. I'm looking forward to being able to see your shows again!
To the board of directors of the IRLM: Thank you for letting me run with it this year. It was a pleasure to find that the necessary tension between monarch and board did not have to become an adversarial relationship.
To the love of my life: Andy, thank you for supporting me all through this year of insanity. I could never have done it without you by my side. Now we can take my kilts out of storage, get married on the beach and head off to Glasgow and other exotic locales!
The Sapphire and Steel Leather Emperor
Emperor 34 of all Santa Clara County