2011 UFO Congress: Who Participates? Part 1: DEMOGRAPHIC

At the very end of the storm-tossed, lightning-pinged, tornado-skirting very long night in the crammed airplane trying to get from Phoenix to Indianapolis and home to Bloomington from the 2011 UFO Congress, I happened to sit next to a young woman in a rental car. Having just been immersed in the community that is steeped in ufology, I decided to see where Michelle’s consciousness was on the subject. So I told her that I was returning home from a UFO conference.

Even after our long sleepless night, Michelle seemed to be a happy-go-lucky person who easily laughs and is fascinated with sports teams. (Her trip to Phoenix had been to watch baseball training tryouts for a weekend. Obviously, we were on very different paths.)

As soon as I said this, the atmosphere in the car froze. She could barely muster up a quiet, strained “Oh?”

I decided to apply what I had learned from my friend Joan Bird to this situation. Simply, speak about this whole interplanetary and intergalactic business in a matter of fact manner, without emotion; as if she had asked what I did for a living, and I was telling her that I was a teacher, or plumber, or whatever.

So I did that. For a few paragraphs. The tension field tightened further. Her fear, her conditioned fear, was palpable.

That she could not open her mind to such possibilities would not have struck me so forcefully, had I not just left the UFO community.

At lunch one day during the Congress while sitting with Joan, a small, frail, old woman approached our table. We welcomed her and invited her to sit down. She thanked us but declined, while saying, in a voice full of feeling, “It’s so wonderful to be with people of my own kind.”

Who is she? Who are we?

We are of so many many different religious and political persuasions and educational levels, and ages and classes and levels of experience . . . To look at us, you’d see a cross-section of America. Weathered rancher faces in levis and boots; old and/or differently abled men and women in wheelchairs alone or pushed by younger relatives; tall, still handsome, dignified men with decided military bearing; young, smart, edgy gothic-looking “kids” (to me anyone under 40 is a kid); middle-age and older women who get their hair done and look like they just stepped out of church, or a lunch date; ’60s grey-hairs still with straggly beards and pony tails or long hair and flowing gowns; hard-core bikers in leather; men in three-piece suits . . .

Some looking lost; others looking found. Some old-timers to such conferences, some new, or relatively new, like me (this was my third year at the congress, though I attended two of the Wyoming conferences in 2000 and 2001).

Donald Ware (see photo) a nuclear engineer who has studied UFOs since 1952, said that at every conference he sees at least one or two people who are actually ETs walking among us. That they look like us, but are not. He said he could feel they were there this time, too, but hadn’t met them yet.

It’s also assumed that a few Men in Black would be there too, though in disguise.

From the very beginning of my interest in ufology, what lured me in was the people. Who were they? Who would shrug off the prevailing culture of ridicule of all things extraterrestrial to spend their time and money to attend a UFO conference?

On the first morning of the conference, before it officially began, I happened to sit down at a table on the patio that held only one other woman. She looked like so many of us there, ordinary, unassuming, middle-aged. I asked her if she was new to the conference. Yes. It was going to be so close to where she lived, she said, that she decided to come. (The conference changed venues this year from Laughlin, NV to Phoenix.) I asked her if she had had any experiences with ETs. Yes. All her life, she said, since she was a child. I asked her if others in her family had also had experiences. Yes. Her mother, her grandmother, her aunt.

I can’t remember the specifics of what she told me about her experiences, except that they always began with a bright light. And that she would experience missing time. Be that as it may. What interests me here is, where else could she have spoken so openly about experiences that were common-place to her but to others, in the so-called “real” world where we have been brainwashed to view reality through the narrowest of peepholes, would be considered crazy?

More to come.

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