A few observations on the day, in bullet point fashion, so as to encourage a modicum (but only a modicum!) of brevity. And a few pictures, too (hundreds more at Flickr, here).
- As with many of our chums with kids in similar age ranges, it was a tough judgement call whether or not to go. Many go to the daylong hoo-ha in Dolores Park that precedes the Dyke March. We may well toggle to that as a quieter alternative (relatively speaking!) to the jumbo, outsized carnival that mobs the city every last Sunday in June. And yet. Nothing like bobbing in a sea of one’s own peeps, old and young, sober and not-so, dressed and not-so, but all, godess love ’em, being out and proud. Or out, at the least.
- As ever, the journey up Market Street is an amazing one. A long buncha blocks, made longer by the weight of a child on one’s shoulders. But what a blessed weight. And what a wait, to get to that weight! (For us, a good seven years of thinking/planning/talking/connecting/attempting/trying again/gestating.) Lining the sides of the street are tons of people who wave back enthusiastically, so long as a sweet kid waves at ’em. For everyone in the under-ten set (and even a bunch of us older folk), that spells parade fun.
- Years past, so many different tenors to that walk. Throughout the first wave of the AIDS epidemic, so much rage and grief, combined. It has definitely, for happy reasons (many gains) and less so (battle fatigue? the inevitable cooptation of the political by the commercial?), morphed into much more of a celebratory parade than a protest march. A friend who was marching with us this year recalled her earliest Pride, and how different this one was from that one. We’ve come a long way, baby.
- The worse part of the “for better and for worse” is certainly that it’s a very humungous spectacle, with a diffuse political message, despite the organizers’ assiduous efforts to thematize each year. Though I suppose that’s (again) part of the better part, too. Insofar as queer community is about as heterogeneous as any ethnic/cultural community. Slice us along our sexual orientation lines, and, broadly speaking, we have something clear in common. But from any other direction, we differ along religious, class, race, occupational, any other lines. Name it.
- And the straight tourists, bless ’em. More and more, over the years, I’ve been amazed to see the degree to which the event is attended by folks outside the community. At least nowadays in San Francisco, they’re there to be entertained and maybe even to show some support. I went to a Pride in Providence, RI, back in the late 1980s and realized what these marches were initially about: visibility and protest, not the astronaut’s ticker-tape homecoming. Folks stood in clumps by the side of the road, basically, and gawked at us. Not fun. By stark contrast, in San Francisco in 2008, I saw hetero families traipsing down the side of the street, bedecked in rainbow-colored swag. Well I’ll be danged, I thought to myself. It was like they were non-Irish folk, come to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and they got them a lil’ Irish to take home with them as their keepsakes. Green tam o’ shanters and whatnot. You know, not actual culture, but caricature, sellable culture. Yet and still, the times, they are a-changin’.
- This morning, as I dropped off my daughter at her preschool, one of the exceedingly warm staff members there asked with a smile whether we went into the city yesterday. I conveyed the highlights, from a lil’ monkey point of view (the sea of baloons; the large green fairy who leaned over and read her “My Other Mama’s a Baba” t-shirt at high volume and close range; the face painting at the family garden). Then I mentioned my amazement at the hetero tourists sporting rainbow swag.
“What a sea change it is.” And then I realized what it was that was happening, at the same time as I was telling her: “It’s like everyone’s been looking at that young woman/old woman drawing all these years. And finally, after all this time, they’re beginning to see what’s been there all along. It’s about love. It’s about love!” To which the exceedingly warm preschool staffer smiled and nodded. “Yep.”
Which is basically the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us goddess.
[Above: Just a few of the hundreds of bikes on which dykes led off the parade, hours earlier. More DOB info for the DOB-curious here.]
[Above: Sign held aloft by kid read, “I was a witness when my grandmas got married.” Yep, he got a lot of applause. As well he should have.]
[Above: These gals wore t-shirts reading “Party A” and “Party B,” the lingo CA marriage licenses now use to identify the applicant couples. Also they handed out Hershey’s kisses wrapped with a tag bearing their marriage date and locale (SF City Hall). Nice touch.]
[Above: Bus shelter signage. In yellow-orange: “MUNI shelters will NOT hold additional weight. Do NOT attempt to sit on top of MUNI shelters” etc. Not like it worked that well to keep the human pigeons off. The image of the two gals, on the white flyers (slipped underneath the plastic encasing the map): adverts for pridemakeup.com, “for gay and lesbian weddings.” Ka-ching!]
[Above: the unholy and yet natural result of over one million (yep: over one million) folks streaming up a single city street for a big ole event. Full beyond capacity garbage cans at every streetcorner. This image was taken when we were leaving the premises, hours after walking up the street. And the parade was still going on.]
[Above: Half a block-long concatenation of sea creatures, made of baloons. Worn on the persons of otherwise modestly-clad go-go boys. Representing what? I didn’t catch. But this was the single most memorable image of the day, for the lil’ monkey. Everywhere we saw any of these balooned folk, later in the day, whether clumped or solo, she’d shout: “Sea anemone!” (Photo courtesy of chum Annz.)]