Gay Pride = Gay Fried (Over the Rainbow)
"I am woman, hear me roarYes I'm over the rainbow, but don't get me wrong, being Gay Fried is a good thing. Gay Fried means that the "high holidays" of gaydom have arrived and that one has participated, not necessarily to the full extent of what is available but certainly to the full extent that one can, given any array of factors from emotional stability to pure, physical & mental stamina. Taking pride is hard but good work, manifesting in a process that is both to be indulged and endured, particularly if one lives in what is generally recognized as the Gay capital of the world.
In numbers too big to ignore"
Each year as Pride weekend approaches, my optimism soars to record levels as a month's worth of events and celebrations loosen everyone's reserves and help shake the residue of any leftover winter blahs or spring blases. Then in the last days preceeding the main weekend, my insecurities breakout like a case of severe hives. I get the heebie-jeebies and start testing out all the excuses with which I can come up, in hopes of avoiding the whole thing. I even make half baked plans to avoid it all by gettin' out of town. But the word "avoid" leaves me with an unsettled feeling that impresses upon me the fact that I will stay, I will take pride, and I will enjoy it. And mostly, that is what has happened, four years in a row now.
I still remember my first June in San Francisco. In my mind, I hadn't moved here because I'm gay, though above all else it is one of the reasons I stay. Regardless, at that time I had zero desire to attend the Dyke March, but a friend of mine was one of the key perpetrators of the event, and Six encouraged me, so I went, as with most things, with my expectations set pretty low. Community shummunity. Dykes and women with a "y." What need could I have that? I mean why? Moments after the march kick-off provided by hundreds of dykes on bikes, I knew why. The sound of all those engines turning over, each mounted by females of my persuasion? Oh, my god—I'd just done my first line of crack. Forever since, the Dykes on Bikes have been my touchstone of Gay Pride weekend. I don't care about any of the other organized events; it's the chicks on steel steeds that really turn me on in every way possible.
That 10 to 15 minutes of every kind of woman—femme, butch, androgenous, short, tall, significantly overweight or thin as a rail, every ethnic persuasion, from dyke babies to wizened sages, the helmeted and the helmet-free riding everything from Harleys and Ducatis to home-built machines of every size, shape and color—choppers, crotch rockets, dirt bikes, you name it—not to mention the scooter contingent and the plucky few bicyclists who tack themselves on to the fringe—to see and to hear and to witness women in their full (wo)mannliness—I mean, it's everything I feel about being a gay female played out as a Chinese opera. Simply put, I love it. After that, everything is icing on the cake. Provided that one's expectations of the weekend are within the parameters of what actually transpires. It's the managing of those expectatons that lays at the heart of the taking, the heart of darkness and light, humility, desire, gratitude.
"Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained"
Having had a few tours of duty under my belt, I was well prepared for this go-round. The smartest thing I've learned is to make as few plans as possible with as few people as possible, letting the day(s) and night(s) dictate themselves. It's an abolute curse to make commitments to anybody, including oneself. Going with the flow this year got me on the lead truck, from which the sound system and a bounty of women sprung forth to introduce an endless parade of goddesses. Going with the flow last year led to a tete-a-tete that need not be described in detail other than to say, well look what the cat dragged in ; ) Other years, going with the flow led to feelings being crushed or squashed, for example, kicking it with a lovely Latina lady who, at the end of the night, mentioned her boyfriend; out of 60,000 women, I had to choose the straight one.
Every year is different. Sometimes you're with someone new, sometimes you're alone, sometimes you're with friends. Actually, always you're among friends. It's the one day of the year that lesbians are nice to each other, and the gay guys show their appreciation for us ladies. It's a love fest, a spilling out of pent up sister- and brotherhood.
"I am woman watch me growThis year I had some friends with me. This year I had a rather fine-looking young lass with me, a girl with a spirit that is as far from puny as one can get. I mention it because it was unplanned, and had I planned it, it would never have happened, could never have happened and that's the beauty of Pride weekend. The sunshine decided to stay home, but the faces, the so many faces I've come to know mixed with the tourist faces, the people from Dubuque, Iowa; or the Texas panhandle; or places that require passports and visas and where they never really get to be free to be you and me—they were there. The ex-girlfriends. Always know you'll see the ex-girlfriends, both the ones you like and ones you like to loathe. The neighbors whom you see every day but didn't know were in the club. The smooches, the one-night or one-weekend stands, the new best friends—they're all there. It's not something to be taken lightly, though when it comes off well, you can be left feeling lighter. Myself, I lost about 40 lbs. of baggage this weekend, the equivalent of a travel carry-on. So cheers to all; until Pride 2006, carry on! I'm so Gay Fried that it will take a year to pack another bag. Thankfully, righteously so.
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand"
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman