I like the parade.I like it so much, that one time I attended three in one year. San Francisco and Seattle weren’t on the same weekend that year (they’re usually both on the last Sunday in June), and the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Chorus (of which I was a member) sang a joint concert with the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Chorus for Pride weekend. So Ray (my late husband) and I flew down to San Francisco, went to a lot of pride events, I sang in the concert, and we watched the gigantic parade. Then, back in Seattle, we marched with the chorus in Seattle’s not quite so big parade. Then, about a month later, we spent a long weekend in Vancouver, B.C., where we watched and cheered a much, much smaller (but extremely enthusiastic) Pride Parade. When I started dating Michael (a few years later, after Ray died), he was a bartender at a lesbian bar down in Tacoma. Tacoma didn’t usually have a parade, though they had a pride festival a week or two after Seattle’s. For several years he had had to work on the day of Seattle’s Pride Parade (he said it was always a weird night, because half the usual crowd was up in Seattle at our parade and parties). After he stopped working at the bar in Tacoma (by which point we were living together), he got a job at a non-gay bar in Seattle. Working late Saturday night and having to work again Sunday made attending the parade less than fun for him, though he did let me drag up off to it a couple of times.
Then we hit this long period of either having too many other things going on, or one or the other of us being sick, or just not quite up to getting up and moving in time. So we missed a bunch.Watching most of the parade today (we only watched for three hours… there was still a bunch of parade to go, but we wanted to get to the festival in time to see George Takei on the main stage), the thing that struck me is that the parade has become even more ordinary. I’ve described my first pride parade before, noting that while there were outrageous costumes, more than a few near-naked people (though actually less than most non-gay parades I’ve attended), and so forth, the majority of people marching and riding floats looked pretty ordinary: people or all ages, shapes, and sizes in t-shirts and shorts or jeans. That’s decidedly more true now than it was when we last attended more than eight years ago. I believe that is less about gays assimilating into mundane society (as some have suggested), as it is about corporations assimilating to the idea that inclusivity is good business. The first parade I attended had a few contingents of employees of some of the large employers in the area, but only a few. This year I saw groups of employees from several major banks, mobile phone companies, grocery stores, airlines, cruise lines, wineries, insurance agencies, restaurants, et cetera, et cetera. About half of the contingents, I would say, were groups of employees. And the standard ensemble for those groups is a t-shirt identifying their employer with pants or shorts. There were still plenty of the non-profits and recreational groups, and those were where you most often saw the more outrageous costumes (though the Market Optical float was the one with the most scantily-clad go-go boys). There were scantily-clad people, including a large group of people on bicycles and roller skates wearing nothing but body paint. Most of the naked bikers were painted to look like characters from Star Trek. It didn’t occur to me while we were watching the parade that they had probably decided to do that because George Takei was the grand marshall.
I should mention the unpleasantness. Back when the Parade was on Cap Hill (aka, the Gayborhood) every parade I marched in had some “Repent sinners!” protestors. Except most years it was one grim-faced bearded guy holding up a sign at one corner, saying nothing. A couple times he had a small group, but that was it. Apparently now that we’re in downtown Seattle we now get an entire mini-parade of haters. According to the people standing next to us, last year or the year before there were some very angry confrontations. Now a couple of bicycle cops follow along. The haters walk the route before the parade officially starts. It looked like a lot of them, with a lot of signs and one guy with a bullhorn.I say it looked like, because once I realized who they were, I simply turned my back on them, and refused to look at all. Michael did the same, except he glanced over when a lot of cheering broke out: two womyn ran out into the street and kissed in front of the bullhorn guy. Apparently it happened a lot along the route.
Now I feel a need to digress a moment, here. While I am a fierce advocate of free speech even for people I disagree with, here’s the thing: the Supreme Court has ruled that we have the right to exclude the ex-gay groups and the pedophile groups from marching in our parade, and the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade has the right to exclude gay people from their parade. So, why is it, when the streets have been blocked off because we have a permit for a parade (and we are paying the city for the police to route traffic, and so forth) that we can’t exclude these people from the route that we’ve paid for for the duration? Instead of escorting them so angry faggots won’t attack them, shouldn’t the police arrest them?
I know all the reasons why we shouldn’t push for that: we should show more tolerance than they do, they’ll milk it for fundraising and propaganda purposes how they’re being oppressed, and so on. But you know darn well if we showed up at their church on a Sunday morning and starting reading a “How To Come Out To Your Parents” pamphlet over a bullhorn, they would call the cops.
That’s enough about the bad stuff.There’s so much more I could share. I kept trying to get a non-blurry picture of the guy skating as gay Batman. He was with two others, one was the joker, and the other had some Superman emblems mixed with other things. As far as I can tell the three were just skating up and down the full length of the parade, so they passed us several times. Then Batman crashed into a woman standing next to us. No one was hurt. It got a little funny, because she kept asking him if he was all right, and he said not to worry about him but was she all right? And that went back and forth several times. There was a very shy little kid who wanted candy, but would hide whenever anyone who was passing things out tried to give them to him. There were fun floats. There were several bands and drum and pipe corps, including the Police Department’s drum and pipe corps. There were several groups with pets. Lots of youth groups. Lots of trans* groups. There was a troop of librarians doing synchronized maneuvers with book carts. There were kids, lots of kids. And of course lots and lots of rainbows.
It was a great parade. And I’m so glad that we’re marching through downtown now, and filling the Seattle Center with hundreds of thousands of people, instead of cramming smaller crowds into the gay ghetto. I do want to support the businesses up there that have always been ready to answer the call of all the queer non-profits over the years. And since we have three parades now, we can! I think next year we need to make an effort to attend the Dyke March on Saturday and/or the Trans March on Friday.
Because it’s been a long, long time since I did three parades in a single year…
The second in what may be a long series of me recommending web comics for your perusal.
Since it’s LGBTQ Pride Parade Day here in Seattle (and a lot of other places), I’m going to lead off with a couple of strips with a gay sensibility:
I’ve been following The Young Protectors by Alex Woolfson, Adam DeKraker, and Veronica Gandini since the very beginning. I had been a kickstart funder for Alex Woolfson’s previous project (Artifice) and thus was alerted as he prepared the new project. The Young Protectors is a multi-chapter superheroes comic story. It begins when a young, closeted teen-age superhero who has just snuck into a gay bar for the first time is seen exiting said bar by a not-so-young, very experienced, very powerful, super-villain. Trouble, of course, ensues.
I discovered Vexed Wisecracker by Mike Van Waes a few months back. Classic three-panel format, always worth at least a chuckle.
And if you haven’t already checked out The Less Than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal by E.K. Weaver, you really need to. Besides really liking the story and the art, I love the fact that she has notes on the creation of the story, her art references, and other goodies. And did I mention it’s a really good story, and I think, despite the title, that the adventures in question actually are epic?
I started reading: Adventures in Gay by Josh Lieberman about a year ago. I like the original four-panel gag format a lot. Lately he’s been posting videos more often than strips, but they are still quite amusing.
I first looked at Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too by Maria Burnham and Maggie Siegel-Berele just because I liked the title. I also like that they write short stories that are two to four comic book-style pages long, and that it isn’t a gag strip, but still finds moments of humor.
Then there are my usual recs:
I’ve long been a fan of: Mr. Cow, by Chuck Melville… and not just because the artist is a friend!
I’m also a big fan of Deer Me, by Sheryl Schopfer. This artist is also a friend.
And I love this impish girl thief with a tail and her reluctant undead sorcerer/bodyguard: Unsounded by Ashley Cope.
Several times over that years I have found myself in a conversation with an acquaintance or friend about one of my collections. I collect (or have collected in the past) a lot of things: Read More…
While I longed for that day myself, I wasn’t at all confident it would happen in my lifetime. Now, I’m not so sure… Read More…
I was 25 years old the first time I told another human being that I thought I might be gay. As I mentioned yesterday, I had tried many times to broach the subject with my best friend, but his reaction to the mere mention of the topic of gay or bi people was always so negative, I kept chickening out. And I had begged, pleaded, and sometimes angrily argued with god about it for at least a dozen years. But even when I was praying for god to take those feelings away, I couldn’t say the words out loud. What if someone else heard me?
The person I ended up telling was a new friend I had met when I transferred to a university in Seattle to finish my degree. And because the university was a Free Methodist school, being honest about my sexual orientation could have gotten me kicked out. At that time in my closeted perspective, revealing the truth to just about anyone I knew would lead to devastating consequences, so the university’s policy didn’t seem any worse than what I was already dealing with.
Anyway, eventually a number of mutual friends informed me that people were wondering why I hadn’t asked Julie out on a date… including Julie. And it was clear that some of that wondering was making people speculate about what my reasons could possibly be. Which, from past experience, meant the gay rumors were not going to be far behind. Read More…
I’ve mentioned before a particularly close friend who didn’t take my coming out well. He insisted that it wasn’t because he had a problem with me being gay (even though he also insisted that it was a horribly sinful choice that I should repent of and do everything in my power to change). No, that wasn’t the reason we couldn’t be friends any longer. We couldn’t be friends because I hadn’t told him first. Specifically, his wife knew before he did.
I’ll unpack that parenthetical portion in a minute, but first I want to make it clear that I never told his wife… Read More…
One thing that’s been missing from my Friday Links for some time are links to any of the web comics I follow. Two of the strips I follow more faithfully update on Friday, and now that I’ve setting up the Friday Links post on Thursday evening and scheduling it to publish, I can’t reliably have links to the strips.
I thought instead I would occasionally post recommendations to web comics, and what better way to do it than on a Sunday!
One of my faves is Mr. Cow, by Chuck Melville. Full disclosure: Chuck has been a personal friend for a long time, and I’ve had the privilege of hearing him read his prose fiction (in which he does the most awesome voices) on a regular basis, so I know I’m a little biased. But I love the simple drawing style he uses on this strip, and the classic joke-strip style of the writing. And I just love Mr. Cow.
Another favorite with a personal connection is Deer Me, by Sheryl Schopfer. I’ve known Sheryl for a while too. I’ve loved how this strip has evolved from a three-panel format to the longer, comic page format over time. Not to mention my more than slight obsession with the fictional comic within the comic, Wombat Wonder.
If you want to read a nice, long graphic-novel style story which recently published its conclusion, check-out the not quite accurately named, The Less Than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal by E.K. Weaver. I say inaccurate because I found their story quite epic (not to mention engaging, moving, surprising, fulfilling… I could go on). Some sections of the tale are Not Safe For Work, as they say, though she marks them clearly. The complete graphic novels are available for sale in both ebook and paper versions, by the way.
And for an artist who likes to do some awesome things with the medium (as well as just being a really good fantasy story): Unsounded by Ashley Cope. How can you resist an impish girl thief with a tail and her reluctant undead sorcerer/bodyguard?
The Washington Times (not to be confused with the award-winning, serious newspaper, the Post) is a regular donor to the anti-gay National Organization of Marriage, was the primary sponsor of yesterday’s anti-gay marriage march, and usually finds a way to spin every story about a step forward for gay rights as a victory for their side, concedes:
After rallying the troops for years, and even with one New York politician recruiting people for what he told them was “a free trip to Washington, D.C. to see the monuments” (that’s right, some bus loads of people didn’t even know what they were going to), they were only able to get “hundreds.” So my caption yesterday saying it was “tens” was slightly off.
But wait, there’s more!
The official hierarchy of the Morman Church is also a regular donor to any anti-gay political action committee or group you can name (even if they did try to tone it down and hide their involvement a bit in 2012; something several of us predicted would end once Mitt Romney’s run for the White House ended, and we were right), owns it’s own newspaper, the Deseret News, and it tried to put a slightly less defeatist spin in its headline:
Funny, neither site mentions the leader of a French neo-Nazi (remember, it isn’t hyperbole when they are literally members of a Nazi Party) organization wasn’t just at the event, she was one of the people leading the march!
The Wonkette, one of my favorite sites when I need a laugh, also covered the anti-gay march, but in their own way:
The Wonkette’s piece shows some pictures of some hateful signs. It’s worth noting that the people who organize this thing, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), keeps claiming that they are not anti-gay. They say we’re distorting their message when we call them anti-gay. They insist that they are simply defending traditional marriage, and not attacking anyone. But a quick perusal of the pictures at this article shows they are lying: Photos: Animus at #March4Marriage. You can see some more of the clearly anti-gay signs, read quotes from some of the speeches, and watch video interviews of some of the attendees to demonstrate the hate further: Inside NOM’s Second Failed “March For Marriage”. If you can stomach any more, the Daily Beast talked to a lot more of the attendees: Crucifixes, Gorillas, and Adult Diapers: My March Against Gay Marriage.
Just in case anyone ever tries to tell you that the people who oppose marriage equality aren’t anti-gay (and very ill-informed, too).
Meanwhile, in much more pleasant news: