Wednesday, June 14, 2006


That Pride Thang

I've been to a couple of gay pride parades in Toronto many, many years ago. It's probably been about 8 or 9 years since The Squeeze and I fought our way through the traffic, crawled at a snail's pace into the Church & Wellesley area (aka The Hood), and, thanks to the horseshoe which seems to have been stuck in my posterior for a good number of years, eventually managed to find a scarce parking spot. We have wedged ourselves amidst thousands of people and dripped sweat due to the inevitable unforgiving heat and burned our skin thanks to the direct mid-day sun. Thank God for the vendors who sell their $5.00 bottles of water!

When I first went to a pride parade, I was a bit nervous. I wasn't out yet, and I was positive that I would wind up on the 6:00 news or on the front page of the paper for all to see. The odds of that happening are pretty much the same as my chance of winning the lottery. I was amazed to see so many people with whom I shared my secret.

As the years went on, I've become a bit jaded by the pride parades. The last one I attended had a huge impact on me. My favourite part of the parades is seeing the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays) group marching. I would think how wonderful it is that these people are so supportive of their children and friends that they would march in a parade to support them.

Sadly, at my last parade, PFLAG followed directly behind a group of S&M fetishists. There was some leather-clad (barely) guy, strung up in some sort of harness with his ass exposed, and his "master" was smacking his ass with a paddle. When the float passed our vantage point, this guy's ass looked like it was in danger of blistering and bleeding. And right behind it was PFLAG.

Now, I don't ever expect my parents to be marching in a pride parade, but the thought that many of these PFLAG members likely had a hard time of accepting their children's sexuality initially, and then seeing this activity going on in front of them for an entire parade route didn't sit well with me. What lunatic organized the lineup of floats and marchers? If my folks were there and had to follow that, I would have died.

Other factions of gay culture also take part in the parades. Lots of guys barely dressed in leather straps, topless lesbians, questionably legal young men in their tighty whities, some people marching entirely nude, and of course, there are the drag queens...a seemingly endless supply of drag queens. I watched the parade and asked myself, "which group expresses who I am?" I came to the conclusion that none of them did.

I'm not into the leather scene...I don't think I'm into any scene. I'm not especially enthralled of the whole drag queen thing, although a very dear friend of mine does drag. I just don't get it. Maybe it's the fact that the lipsync-ing thing bothers me: Shades of Milli Vanilli and Ashlee Simpson. Fake women pretending to's just so...fake. I have a problem with people posing as someone they aren't. That's why I also can't stand clowns....but I digress.

I am just an average guy. I don't hang out at the gay bars (or any bar for that matter), I don't call my friends "girlfriend", unless I'm joking around, and I don't hang around with gay people to the exclusion of my straight friends. I hang around with my friends, gay, straight, or otherwise, because they are people of substance. I enjoy their company, the conversation, and the laughter. I know other gay people who go out of their way to avoid straight people. How sad.

Wow, I do go on....why this post? Because pride season is upon us again, and because I came across a very well-written post by Hot Toddy. Since I don't know how to link up to his exact post without having people search through his whole blog, I'm doing a cut & paste here. Again, this is not my work, but a post I really admire.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Where's My Parade?

A friend asked me the other day why homosexuals felt the need to have a parade every year. The Gay Pride celebrations happening all over the world this month might suggest to some that we are being a tad bit aggressive. People tend to like their gays and their women passive, after all. I mean, why do we have to flaunt our lifestyle? Shouldn't we "tone it down a bit" and make everyone more comfortable? You know, the way all those straight kids at school made us feel so comfortable all those years?

I've heard it said more than once, "Why do gay people parade their sexuality? Where's my heterosexual parade?" I guess my answer, in a nutshell, would be this: Parades, albeit a bitch to organize, are not exclusively gay. Anyone can have a parade. (Remember to put the horses in the back.) Now, while your straight parade will most likely not have quite as much, um, color, as a gay parade, I'm sure it could be very nice. I imagine it would be like The Superbowl, only mobile. Please feel free to have a parade if you'd like. After all, other than equal rights for homosexuals, it's a free country!

Honestly, I want a parade, because I need one. I need a parade because I hid myself from the world for over twenty years of my life. While other boys my age were "parading" their crushes on Farrah Fawcett and Cindy Crawford, I was sneaking glances at John Schneider's shirtless torso in teen magazines at the grocery store while checking over my shoulder to make sure nobody saw me.

When my friends paraded their boyfriends and girlfriends through the halls in junior high school, I was in the locker room concentrating hard on keeping my eyes straight ahead, making sure not to steal a glance at Jimmy Nixon as he undressed next to me.

While girls in study hall wrote love notes to hunky football players, I wrote my effeminate friend a note saying I didn't want to hang out anymore. Being seen with him might cause people to perceive me as a fag. Not wanting to be guilty by association, I chose to hide the fact that Mark was my friend. Until he no longer was my friend.

When other kids were going to prom and football games and sending valentines to their first loves, I was postponing my first love for later in life, age 29, when I finally felt brave enough to be honest.

I don't just need a parade. I deserve a parade. Every gay person who spent even one day telling lies or pretending to be straight deserves a parade. Anyone who hid in that suffocating closet of self-hatred deserves a parade. See, our parade says, whether you want to watch it or not, we are finished hiding and being ashamed and choking on our own homophobia. We are, after all, learning to accept not only ourselves, but one another. Gay men are learning to accept transsexuals, who, in turn, are learning to accept lesbians. Butch men and women are learning to accept flamboyant twinks. Latino Bears are learning to accept Asian Polyamorous Moms. Drag Queens are - well, they are just busy making fun of everybody. But that's why we love them.

Just like every year, my tears of pride will begin falling the minute the parade begins. They'll start streaming down my cheeks as soon as I hear those Dykes on Bikes rev up their motorcycles, and they won't stop until the very last PFLAG mom who loves her gay son passes by me. And in my heart, I'll say, "There's MY parade."

Both portions of your post were well done - the one written by you and the one not.

When I lived in SF I went to the Folsom Street Fair twice and that was enough. Actually, the first time was enough, but I had to go a second time, for some reason. Why is it the ones who feel the need to go naked or wrapped in plastic wrap or wear buttless chaps aren't the ones anyone really wants to see naked? The second year I went I remember this guy stoned or drunk off his ass in a blue dress (reminded me of Dorothy Gale) sans underwear sprawled out on the curb. All I can say is that he was going to have trouble wearing undies for a few days with that sunburn.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?