Toronto
2 min

Give & take

One of my favourite sightings from last year’s Pride was of a (presumed) straight man getting a blowjob by his (presumed) girlfriend. It was six on Sunday evening: There he was on the corner of Jarvis and Maitland, legs splayed out in front of him on the grass, leaning up against a planter, a stupid grin on his face; the woman slurping up and down enthusiastically. All out the open; drunk and carefree.

That’s Pride.

Seems like a good thing, this queering of the straights, showing how our struggle for sexual liberation benefits them, too.

Increasingly, fun-loving straight folk recognize that Pride offers a uniquely liberated bacchanal. They are coming downtown in the tens of thousands, now, soaking up the friendly, sexy vibe. The hets aren’t just lining the parade route, however, they are hanging out on the Pride site all weekend.

Therein lies the rub. Increasingly, it feels like we queers are the entertainers at our own party, there for the enjoyment of others, the straights.

We ain’t nobody’s minstrels.

The Pride Parade is one thing. You don’t gyrate atop a float in a bobble thong unless you want to put on a show. But those of us who like to don a silly outfit or wild costume are sitting ducks once the parade is over. Demands for pics from gangs of straight folk are legion, and every girl wants to get in on every shot (Halloween has been like that for years). You can’t move for the paparazzi. “We give and give and give,” scream us dandies, depleted and dismayed.

Activist-minded queers have long warned of the dangers from Pride’s rampant consumerism — they just never warned that we queers were what was to be consumed.

Last year, my gang of costumed friends devised a fun way to turn the tables — one that still spreads the queer love around.

We bartered and we bartered dirty.

Every time people, usually women, asked us to pose with them for a photo, we demanded that the camera-toting boyfriends pose with us first.

“No way, dude!” the terrified males would scream. But their girlfriends, wild-eyed at the prospect, usually succeeded in persuading the reluctant chaps to fall in to our loving arms — and roving hands.

There were the rare holdouts among the boys. Fine. “No pics for you.” Off we went.

But many men were… let’s say, piqued by the attention. Who would’ve thought so many straight semis could park on Church during Pride? Then there were the dears who, later, would seek us out for more “photos.”

Empowering or just plain dirty — whatever you call it, the tactic was a lot of fun. Plus the girls got some weird-ass soft porn and the boys got their horizons widened.

Unfortunately, this plan of attack won’t work for the topless lezzies at the Dyke March. Every year they have to brave a phalanx of creepy guys with cameras. So it’s heartening to see how the community is rising to the challenge (see Getting In On The Action for more). Last year there were dykes taking and posting photos of the ogling men. This year there are teams of gays hitting on them, alongside volunteers focussing on education. I’d like to a make a special shout-out to the members of TNT MEN, Toronto’s gay nudist group, to march in solidarity with the dykes (strategically placed on the sidelines — remember, this a women-only event). Let’s fill the louts’ photos with images of glorious unadulterated gay man flesh. Now that’s an educational slap in the face.

As Pride gets bigger, some of the headaches get larger. But queer ingenuity is boundless, always at the ready to make the party our own. The fun is ours to make and take.