The Deaf Queer Men Only (DQMO) conference will be held in Chicago Aug. 1-5, and it will be the largest DQMO event everwith a waiting list of others eager to attend.
"In 2008, the conference was held in San Francisco and 86 attended. In 2010, also in San Francisco, there was a slight increase [in attendance, up to] 106 attending," said Juan Bernal, co-chairperson for the 2012 event. "We won the bid for Chicago to host [the conference] in 2012 and were expected 150 deaf. We had to stop the registration at 230 participants. We are still receiving pleas for deaf wanting to register."
The conference features multiple events around Chicago, including the opening ceremony at Spin Night Club, followed later that might by the Blue Black White Contest. There will be speakers and more and a Navy Pier cruise. There will be DQMO events at the Center on Halsted and such area bars as Charlie's, Atmosphere and Jackhammer.
The dinner and Chicago scenic boat cruise likely will be the most popular events, Bernal said.
About 25 percent of attendees are from Chicago, with others from across the U.S., Canada and many other countries.
"This [event] puts Chicago on the map," to the deaf queer male community, Bernal said. Plus, it "brings in tourism from other countries."
Bernal, who lives in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood with his husband (Tim Mahoney), works at Great Lakes Navy Base.
"My favorite memory from a past conference was two years ago in San Francisco. I met fellow deaf GLBTQ from around the country and have kept in touch," Bernal said. "My favorite memories are attending the workshops. [They are] so much to learn about ourselves."
Bernal said Chicago's deaf queer men community is about 100 or 150.
"The sponsored donations received limited us to a venue," he said. "More sponsors could help us move to a larger venue, thus opening up registration again for more deaf to attend and learn about our specific community.
"The DQMO is a biennial event that is held in different cities, for deaf gay men who love men to gather and share experiences of their lives. We give workshops on various topics and [have] team-building activities in the city. It is our space to be ourselves. The event is mainly for deaf gay men from all walks of life to celebrate our identity, understand each other and support, and our experiences."
About 30 international attendees are expected.
"I have gone [to DQMO] twice and always have [had] a great time with my friends, old and new," Bernal said. "I've always learned new things and explored the city with 106 wonderful guys, and made long lasting friendships."
For more information, visit www.DQMO.org .