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GD2: Past, Present, and Future

This letter, written by one of our directors, Wilson, was penned to commemorate the New Year’s Eve celebration that took place in 2011.  It details the rich and vibrant history of GD2 and lays out the direction that the organization will be taking in the near future:

Good evening, everyone,

Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I wish I were able to be with you.

GD2 is a very special place to celebrate New Year’s Eve, especially this year, as it marks a big change for GD2: the reins being passed from Carol and Colt, who have held them for nearly 10 years, to Jerith and I. It is an honor to be entrusted with GD2, and one I would like to mark with a few words about the past and the future.

New Year’s Eve is a time for us to look back on the previous year and to look ahead to the year to come. Tonight, I want you to join me in taking a longer look both backward and forward because I believe that by reflecting on the challenges and successes of the past, and pondering the possibilities of the future, we can be inspired to do great things.

I want to start 14 years ago, when the original Galleria Domain opened. The first GD was the result of the vision of a woman by the name of Monica and the hard work and financial support of many, many others–people just like you, and no doubt including some of you. Without the financial commitment, time and resources volunteered by so many people, Galleria Domain never would have existed. The creation of Galleria Domain was a tremendous achievement, an incredible thing, that can teach us much about what is possible when people come together around a common goal and a powerful vision.

But success is fragile, and as with so much in life, the first GD did not last. In a painful example of the ways in which all of us in our communities are intertwined, in 2002 the City of Chicago shut down and heavily fined both GD and the former Leather Rose, which eventually became what is now the LRA. It was a disappointing failure, a reminder of how tenuous the existence of places like GD can be. Thankfully, in the end, it also was an opportunity to rise to another challenge: saving and rebuilding a place that meant so much to so many people.

Carol and Colt took on that challenge and fought what can only be inadequately described as an uphill battle to create the GD2 we know today. They inherited debt and fines in 5 figures and a loss of trust, and starting with less than 35 members, they worked in a climate of pervasive lack of respect and vindictiveness among many people and groups in our communities.

But Carol and Colt persevered. One member at a time, and with the support of people like you, GD2 grew slowly, and it survived.

Some of what Carol and Colt have done for GD2–for us all–is visible to the naked eye, but much of it is not. The visible: the necessary changes in membership rules and not-for-profit status, and even more visibly, but just as easily taken for granted, they literally have been here for all of us. How many times have you been to GD2 and not seen Carol and Colt? They have been here night in and night out–virtually every night the club is open–for more than 9 years. Think about that: for over 9 years, every Friday night, every Saturday night.

Those are tangible and visible examples of the things Carol and Colt have done for GD2. What is not so visible is what it takes to keep this place going: hours upon hours of work, much of it behind the scenes and away from the club, every week of every year. Shopping for and carrying bags of ice and bottles of soda up these stairs every weekend, dealing with the landlord, managing every aspect of the club’s membership, and fulfilling the club’s corporate and regulatory obligations. In short, Carol and Colt have shouldered the responsibility of personally guaranteeing the daily, weekly, and monthly necessities required for GD2 to exist, and that comes with a tremendous personal sacrifice.

Carol and Colt, I am sure, will tell you that it has been a labor of love, and how could it not be? It shows. But let’s not forget, first and foremost, it is labor. And let us also not forget that they have labored, voluntarily and without compensation, to create and maintain something for all of us: this place where each of us stands tonight, shoulder to shoulder, together, with so many others who share in our passion for who we are and what we do.

Carol and Colt, tonight we all honor your commitment to our communities, to GD2, to us. Everyone, please, stand, raise a glass, and join me in thanking Carol and Colt for 9 years of exemplary service and commitment to GD2:

Carol, Colt, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

That brings us to the present day, and now I invite you to imagine our future together. As many of you know, Jerith and I have a vision for GD2, one that involves creating an organization to serve our communities not just for years, but for decades to come.

An organization that is on even firmer legal ground, to avoid ever again being faced with closure and fines for coming together to share who we are and what we do.

An organization that does not just manage to get by, but one that is financially sound and financially strong in the fullest meanings of those words.

An organization that is even more inclusive, one that offers, under one roof, all manner of kinky activities and events for people who identify with kinky communities of all kinds, because we have so much in common and we are stronger together than apart.

Monica created a space for us to come together.

Carol and Colt built on that space and that vision, providing stability and even more opportunities for us.

Let’s honor their vision and sacrifice: first, by having an incredible time together tonight in the place they created, and second, going forward, by committing ourselves, in whatever ways we can, to creating an even greater GD2.

Cheers, everyone, to GD2, and to all of you. I wish you all the best in the New Year.