As an artist I can always tell whether I’m attending a queer festival or a mainstream we-don’t-care-who-you-fuck festival by the items I receive in my hospitality bag. At writers festivals I quite often receive chocolates and gift cards to coffee shops started in Seattle, but at queer festivals I get booze tickets and passion fruit flavoured lube.
Obviously, the queers know who’s buttering their buns.
I can remember a time when it would have been progressive for a company to hand out gum samples at a queer festival. I can remember a time when I would have gone out and purchased products from that gum’s company for supporting our cause. That this time has long since passed and I now revel in the fact that our festivals don’t hand out coupons for free frozen pizzas or candy or new improved gay gum. Apart from the looks of disdain from all the anti-establishment queers when a major tooth-whitening product sponsored the local queer film festival a couple of years ago, I’m happy most of our product sponsorships feel appropriate — if a little bit slippery.
Most of the time, I end up giving away or recycling many of the product samples and freebies. But this year when faced with the two bottles lube, I didn’t really know what to do. For one thing, I haven’t been in a relationship that would need two bottles of lube. And even if I did, I doubt I’d want us smelling like passion fruit. Mango maybe, but passion fruit no. Another thing is that years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to become one of those people who can’t masturbate to the point of climax without the help from a bedside bottle.
There’s nothing as sad as a horny man pumping away at an empty jumbo-sized bottle of lube. For those who’ve never witnessed such a disaster, it’s akin to watching someone in a cafeteria pumping away at the bulk ketchup dispenser to no avail.
Also, had it not been for the friend who has very sensitive skin that breaks out in unfortunate areas should his lube contain certain ingredients, I would have re-gifted those bottles in a heartbeat. While the majority of folks can live without fear from their lube, I could not live with even an infinitesimal chance of giving away a product that could cause anyone to break out in genital rash.
Long story short, I ended up using some of the lube. It added a new dimension to my late night do-I-read-another-book-or-just-go-to-bed? conundrum. What surprised me most was how it immediately reminded me of picture day in grade three when my entire class showed up to school well bathed and smelling like green apple shampoo. Only this time I realized that I’d been smelling passion fruit over and over again in my community. In fact, I’d speculate that for a few months passion fruit became the unofficial scent of my artistic circles.
Though I never want my lube to remind me of elementary school again, I can say that, unlike a few sticks of gay gum, this particular sponsorship has served my community quite well.