So, it’s been Gay Pride week here in San Francisco all week, which, unless you were in the Castro, where they’ve been having parties and activities all weekend, you wouldn’t really know. (Although I must admit, there were a lot of men on the plane here from Boston who had haircuts you generally only see on progressive middle-aged women with money, but that might be a complete coincidence.) But today was the big Gay Pride Parade.
This was my first Gay Pride parade, but I’ll try to report it as best I can.
At first I was confused, because I looked around and no one was clear, so I didn’t understand what they were chanting about. Then I realized that I hadn’t removed the earplugs that I wear to sleep when I’m on the road, and they, in fact, were not saying “We’re Here, We’re Clear, Get Used To It.” My bad. You know, between signings, I go whole days without speaking to another human being… You can lose your skills. But they were definitely not Clear. That would have been cool though, wouldn’t it? Anyway…
It started out with lots and lots of big Gay Cops. And I don’t mean Big Gay Guys in Cop Outfits, because that would come later in the parade, I’m talking real Big Gay Cops. There are many more Big Gay Cops than I would have thought, which sort of explains why you don’t have the sort of thing going on here that you have in LA with the brutality and all. Here it goes like: “No, cuff him while I do his high-lights!”
So that was followed by about twenty minutes of Gay and Lesbian married couples, many of whom carried signs that said they had been together for twenty-five, or thirty-five, or whatever number of years and now they were married. There were big Xerox signs with their marriage licenses on them, a few giant wedding pictures, and way more men in wedding gowns than you really want to see. I will say this, any girl who is mad because one of her friends made her buy a really ugly bridesmaid dress, will feel a lot better about the whole thing after seeing a couple of hairy guys in wedding gowns. This was a very happy, yet pretty adamant group of folks, and the crowd cheered them.
Then Gavin Newsome, the mayor who made the ordinance for all those people to get married came by, and everyone cheered. Gavin had many cute girls in his car so you would know he wasn’t Gay, he just really believes in Gay rights, which is a good thing in San Francisco.
Then came Gay couples with kids, kids of gay couples, people with signs that they loved their two moms or two dads or whatever, and then about five minutes of PFLAGs, which is parents and friends and family of gays and what you need to know – they weren’t dressed any worse than the gay people. In fact, overall, anyone out of costume, regardless of sexual preference, looked pretty tacky, mostly baseball caps and khaki shorts across the board. I’m just saying, they were much less fabulous than I was led to believe.
Then there were Gay firepersons, Gay bank people, Gay flight attendants (I know, redundant, from here I’ll just say G-) G-Latinos, Latinas, Filipenos, Vietnamese, Japanese War Drummers, Hawaiians, Scotchpersons (all looking vaguely like Catholic school girls in their kilts), Cowboys, Road Construction People, but no! no! Indians. That’s right, we could not make a village because we did not have the Indian to be the Indian Village Person… (And no one was Clear, either – now I had expectations.)
Well that was very disappointing. But then they came through by hobby:
Gay Karate, Gay Judo, Gay Close Order Drill Rifle Team (ROTC they were called – I believe it stands for Rifles Out of The Closet or something), Gay Chorus, Gay Hula Peoples, Gay Marching Band Dressed Like the Guys in Men In Black, Gay People waving Swords Around, Gay Clog Dancers (again, redundant) and of course, giant smiling penises of various races, one presumes Gay, but it was not specified. (Now, that said, Lesbians were very well represented in the parade, with some in most of the groups and dominating others – many sisters of Sappho in marching band—but I did not see a single giant smiling vagina, but then, there were definitely places that they could have been concealed.)
(Debunking Myth number 1: Gay people are not better dancers than everyone else. Unless they’re Black.)
Then the groups who identified by fetish and, well, other stuff came by: It was like an outline. First a big sign with LEATHER on it came by. And I was feeling solidarity, because I was wearing leather sneakers and all, but then subcategory Leather A. came through, lots of large people on Harley Davidsons, most of them female, then guys in harnesses and vests, then the Bears. Bears? (Yeah, I was wondering too. It was a big banner that said “Support Bears” There was a rainbow flag with a big paw print on it.) What I wasn’t expecting was a great-big truck full of great-big hairy guys in leather vests. Evidently Bears. A sub-group of leather-vest wearing Gay Guys.
Then you had some S&M people in cages, a few cracking whips, a float full of male strippers giving away Altoids gum (and I don’t even want to know why that was in the Gay Pride parade, but I’m going to just console myself that Gays and Lesbians enjoy being minty fresh more than the rest of us. Shut up, I don’t want to know. LaLaLaLaLa-I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you. )
(Debunking Myth Number 2: Gay People are not all in shape. Many have never seen the inside of a gym. This is obvious when they are wearing far less costume than their individual Body Mass Index would indicate.)
Then there were transvestites, transgendered – marching by which direction they were transing, and a group with POLYMOURPH or something in big letters, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out from their appearance what they were about and I’d never seen the word before so maybe it has something to do with plastic or frogs. Oh yeah, and one old hooker with a sign saying “Support Sex Workers, Don’t Arrest Me, Ask Me to Blow You” — I am not making that up.
Then things got weird. Meaning the whole outline structure seemed to go to hell in a posing pouch and people were just marching along in their individual weirdness and there was a lot of feathers and mylar and eye-shadow, and I had skipped breakfast so I left to get a burger before the grand marshals, Bruce Villanch and Alan Cumming came by. I did wave to Graham Norton, and he looked right at me, I swear.
So, the Clear people may have showed up while I was eating. Overall, although normally I am not a parade person, I thought it had a better sense of humor than most parades, and I was filled with Gay Pride by all the “Lick Bush in 2004” signs. I would give it an 8 out of 10.
Check out the The Tour Pics page for captions, I can’t make this thing put images in with the text.