Pride goeth before...
So, in honor of the day, here's a brief restrospective of the last 20 years of elswhere Booland's Pride Weekends:
1987--I was 21 and just barely out and thrilled to be in London, where it was called "Gay Freedom Day." Marching in the Dyke March on Saturday in the pouring rain, with a bunch of lesbians singing "She'll be coming with a woman when she comes (yee-hah!)". When the S/M and anti-S/M folks started yelling at each other, I took the Tube home to wring out my clothes. The next day was sunny and bright and I marched with the Waltham Forest Lesbians (I still have my "Out in the Forest" button), sat with the joyous thousands at the rally in the park and heard some pop star sing "Glad to be Gay."
1988--Post-college doldrums interrupted by my first New York City Pride. What I remember most clearly: the gathering crowds of queers on the subway, stop by stop heading downtown from 110th Street where I got on. Including two extremely ordinary suburban-looking mom types, wearing matching T-shirts that pictured two Statues of Liberty holding hands. It was my first intimation that lesbians could be as boring and momly as anyone else. Prophetic, as it turns out.
1989--Second NYC Pride, with my friends. Throngs and throngs of people marching from Central Park to the oversaturated tiny streets of Greenwich Village. It was a kind of farewell/birthday party: Nora and I were about to leave for Alaska, and I was about to turn 23. I saw Sarah Schulman and waved to her shyly.
1990--Just moved to Seattle, I took the train down to San Francisco to spend Pride with Rosie Bonner. We went to get her hair cut, and her straight haircutter said she'd be seeing her at Pride. Wow! It was something straight people went to too! Everybody celebrated! The SF community was just starting to pull itself together after the hard hit of AIDS, and there was a kind of tentative joy in the air. Rosie and I did our bit by lustily singing from our own personal collection of "Reclaimption songs," pop songs that can be interpreted as queer anthems: "Wouldn't It be Nice," "Ticket to Ride," and my favorite, a Billy Joel number that starts "Come out Virginia, don't make me wait..." When we got to the chorus of that one and bellowed "Only the good die young!" a bunch of guys started glaring at us. Oops. Sorry, guys. If it helps any, I still cringe at the memory.
1991-2005: The Seattle Years. Seattle Pride is sweet and homegrown, but in truth it's not the most dynamic of celebrations, and it's hard to remember something specific from each year. I marched with the bookstore collective for a few years in the '90's (Our chant-- "Left! Left! Left, Left, Left!"--was witty but tiring, as it required a hop every five or six steps).
In 1992 or 1993, my best friend and I put together a contingent of "Dykes Who Like Show Tunes" ("Why Should Gay Men Have All the Fun?") and sang "I Feel Pretty" all the way up Broadway to the laughter and cheers of the crowds.
In 2000, RW rode on the back of a friend's motorcycle in Dykes on Bikes, her 8 months' pregnant belly bared and painted in a rainbow swirl.
Starting in 2002, we've dragged MG over to the clogged Capitol Hill streets every year to march with the queer parents. The first year, she showed her world-eary sophistication by falling asleep in her stroller on the parade route. Ever since, the "Rainbow Parade" has been a much-anticipated highlight of summer, mainly because of the prospect of swag and CANDY thrown from the floats.
A couple years ago we went to Pride Shabbat at the reform synagogue, and MG learned Israeli folk dances!
So, it's been fun. It's been real. It's been twenty years.
UPDATE: I'm home now, and so are The Family. RW reports lots of corporateness and and crabbiness and sweatiness. MG reports lots of CANDY. And balloons. And I don't feel as bad about missing it as I did earlier. Maybe Pride has jumped the shark?