Hey, that was fun.
Here’s the thing: I hadn’t been to the Pride parade in six years. I swore off in ’99 because I was disgusted at how commercial and corporatized the whole thing was, with the huge floats for the bars or mainstream sponsors (Air Canada, CIBC, Royal Bank, VanCity… come to think of it, is there a single major bank who’s not hot for gay money these days?), with less and less visibility for community or political organizations. (The worst part for me was seeing parade volunteers with the KFC logo on the backs of their t-shirts.) It was all just a big show, long on glitz and short on substance and meaning, and I simply didn’t see any point in going if I’d just get riled up. So I didn’t, and everybody was happy. Plus, I got to keep sleeping in on Sundays.
So what’s changed? Well, for one thing, I’ve gotten used to getting up on Sunday mornings for volleyball. And there’s the news of same-sex marriage being legal now—which, I know, is not the end-all and be-all of queer politics, but is still a big deal. I’m still as cynical as ever, but not politically active, and I think I’ve gotten a bit more relaxed about some things, ready to take the good with the bad. And there is bad: corporate sponsors are even more visible now, especially at the after-parade festival at Sunset Beach, where booths for actual community groups were even more sparse than six years ago, edged out by the mainstream corporations. Though I have to say, I was grateful to the Fabutan booth for giving out free sunscreen. Sweet Jesus, but yesterday was a scorcher.
But there’s also good, because the parade and the Sunset Beach festival—KFC and Air Canada notwithstanding—are safe spaces where you can be as queerly outrageous as you want. And now that I’m back home in the suburbs, what are the odds I’ll see same-sex PDA’s, or gender-bending freaks, or topless women walking around? If I had a boyfriend, I’d never have the nerve to walk down the street hand in hand with him here. Hell, I’m not even 100% sure I’d necessarily do that in the West End either.
So. This was a good outing after all. I got out of the house, I ogled buff boys in their underwear, snapped some pictures… and I’ve got some food for thought. And you know something else? I think I’ll go back next year.