Monday, June 25, 2012

The Pride Cycle

Pride Cycle

Try as I might each year, Gay Pride events leave me feeling somewhat empty. There are flashes of inspiration, a few "hey!" moments, but rarely if ever a WOW or even a YES! What began as a liberation march for freedom & equality has devolved into a corporate spectacle featuring floats like Safeway Pride, Google!, Stoli Vodka Pride, and all of underwritten by Wells Fargo. Longtime local activist, Tommy Avicolli Mecca recently wrote a solid piece on the problem with today's "Pride" corporate takeover that is worth reading. The irony of that in this particular political and economic climate -- Crisis, really -- is too rich for comment. If anyone can sit 'proudly' on a float that exists solely to give a shout out to a major bank, well, I'd look as bored and alienated as this woman too.
b of a pride
My strategy is to lay a bit low in the run up, attending a few things like the wonderful week-long underground avant-garde space, Faetopia, that successfully took over the old Tower Records store on Market Street for liberationist cabaret, art, and 'community' with cuddles and workshops. That was the real spirit of Gay Life during Wartime. Pink Saturday was heavily confined, policed in a sense, but desperate in another as so many tried to break the street liquor ban. I did a "fruit loop" earlier in the day, walking from the 24th Street BART Station, lunched at the delightfully ordinary Valencia Pasta & Pizza, through Dolores Park pre-Dyke March around 2pm. The Dyke March is an authentic wild time, but I leave that one to the ladies. Then on to The Castro to touch the four corners, 'stations of the cross,' at 18th & Castro. I was in bed early & up at the crack of dawn even though the Afterglow Party beckoned an all-night queer bender, I let my body talk. It said, sleep now.
I spotted a woman i know belly dancing with her troupe at Justin Herman Plaza as the day was getting started. They were beautiful.
belly dancing
On Sunday, Parade Day, I like to get down to the foot of Market Street early to hang out with paraders as they get set to go, before they're spent, as they're getting dressed up, made up, toked up, and silly.
Ladies get ready...
Ladies Get Ready
Freaky original costumes win the day.
Throwing Shapes

I love this shot of the guys from in the staging area in front of a Jewish organization's float. I call it "The Ass of David."
The Ass of David

Then I make my way down the parade route along Market Street as steadily as possible, stopping only once in a while. My goal is Civic Center before the masses descend on it. I spend a bit of time at Fairy Camp, walk around and then I'm usually off to other parts of town to actually have a good time without the forced frivolity. This year, Fairy Camp was an unnerving mix of a few old friends, a couple of horny toads, and toddlers, teenage girls encamped in the Play Space, people who seemed to be with their families, and tourists with cameras. I found myself irritated, which is in no one's favor, so I bolted for SoMa.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying the leather & bear bars South of Market -- The Lone Star Saloon, Hole-in-the-Wall, Kok Bar, and Powerhouse.
inside the Lone Star Saloon
Where the boys, bears, and men in leather are....
Then I headed home to rest a bit before going to a evening provocative performance at The Nob Hill Theatre by Adam Killian. I'll leave the details of this adult show to your imagination, but suffice to say it was well received by an appreciative audience.
It was an appropriate outsider's coda to a weekend that is, in my opinion, far too overly programmed by corporate masters and a great way to get off the Pride Cycle with its rainbow gear and dreams of a white picket fence with friendly neighbors who approve and back to the root of occasion: celebrating sexuality whether the neighbors like it or not.

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