Ooooohhhh, GURL! If you ever needed a reason to Bend and Snap, this is the time of year to drop what you’re doing and Around the BackSnap!
Rejoice like the clown on the back of a Tilt-A-Whirl cup, this time the tickle lasts all week!
Your hair is a little blonder, the clubs are a little louder, the air is fragrant with Gaultier, the perfect tans are a little airbrushed but flawless — I’m feeling a bit suspicious, this isn’t South Beach!
From the darkest corners of suburbia come the bouncing, grinny fresh faces of tomorrow, no chaperone for miles. The Village smells of fresh paint and all the restaurant bulbs are evenly lit.
The airport agents are begging for vacation time as the burly leather boys gallop off the planes, terrorizing the metal detector nellies with the “I’m not sure, officer, you find the beep” game.
Why is there a dinner lineup at Priape twice as long as the wait for Stepho’s? Must be that time of the year, dear!
Fire up the Harleys, gurlz! Throw on some booty shorts, boiz! Momma has proclaimed this Pride season is ready to pounce, and we are but little balls of squealing yarn for her to bat into the Sunset Bowl, ROWR! Let the faux fur fly, Proud Kittenz!
All right, gear down Idrilla. Yes, I know, not everyone is quite as fired up and powder puff about the whole concept of Pride as I am.
Quite the entity in itself, Pride is, and rightfully so. Few words can spark such drastic differences of opinion, but Pride is certainly up there with the best of them.
And why not? We are, after all, a diverse community full of wildly divergent takes on life.
So here we have, on the one hand, our beautiful Vancouver queer community embracing the concept of Pride in all her glory. The streamers fly, the bright colours come out, and for one week we are a celebratory mass.
Pride is a chance to showcase our finest work and selves, a chance to plant a big wet cap on a year’s worth of hard work, hurdles and community development.
Of course, where would our big celebration be without its haters and jaders?
“Please, honey!” scoff the blasé West End boys, “Pride is so embarrassing, so unnecessary.”
Embarrassing and unnecessary, indeed! Let’s have a look at our Pride parade, shall we?
The granddaddy of all Pride events, this is a chance to close the streets, come together and glitter ourselves blind.
Yes, I know, some people get a tad squeamish about the skin, the drag queens, and those they find less desirable. “I am embarrassed to include my family of friends, even myself sometimes,” one West End guy recently told me. “Ugly bare asses, trannies in Saran Wrap and politicians in drag. None of that has to do with me, or my boyfriend or our lives.”
Davis and his partner Cam, though residents of our fair Village, were simply not feeling the voluptuous nature of Pride on the day we spoke.
“I am all for equal rights and liberations, which I feel in Canada,” Davis continued. “I do not need green thongs on young boys on floats to tell me it’s accepted to be gay in this country. This shows me it is all right to exploit young guys to sell products in a public environment. Not my first choice.”
I can see how go-go gods and glitter and disco may seem frivolous, maybe even offensive. But they do save the get-together from being a political snooze button or a dry demonstration. And we’ve certainly earned the right to be frivolous and colourful, don’t you think?
Personally, I still enjoy the colour and sheer volume of Pride Week. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent my career in the clubs and raves, but I just don’t have the barriers that some people have where nudity and frivolity is involved. Being of the outrageous, outgoing type, it is no skin off my teeth. Crank it up a notch, I say!
Of course, there are those who get turned off by the increasingly corporate nature of Pride.
I’m not disputing that Pride parades have become major corporate entities.
Truth is, they’ve become marching musical billboards that are as much about politics and strategic marketing as they are tributes to all things gay. Even those with no training in brand placement and corporate identity sure figure it out quickly when they are faced with a flatbed truck and a staff!
But is that such a bad thing?
Obviously people think we’re good for their businesses. Undeterred by the skin and sin of a Pride fiesta, corporate giants from Sirius to Motorola and the big banks have replaced the lubes and clubs on our banner mastheads.
These companies aren’t fooling around, either. They throw some serious coin to organizers for exposure in our community, at least during Pride week.
“Gay for the day, and then they’re onto the next field of spectators,” one West End fixture muttered in my ear the other day. “The trusting relationship between GLBT community sponsors and residents seems to have washed away, leaving us with huge obvious sponsors that you can see anywhere. The diversity of our presence is muddied.” Fair enough, but is that a natural outcome of our growth?
Blasé boys, Pride prudes and corporate naysayers aside, I’m not the only one who still loves a good Pride party, am I?
Of course not, Kittenz!
Many of our littermates see Pride as a celebration, a liberation, a freeing experience. No longer bound by the mundane shackles that keep them quiet year round, Pride is a chance to let their hair down!
For those not fortunate enough to live and breathe in gay-central 24/7, Pride is a time of personal growth and expression not to be missed.
“I am an accountant, work for my family in Coquitlam. Throw me a bone once in a while,” begs rosy-cheeked Adam, as he tells me his story on a breezy Yaletown patio.
“I like Pride week, it lets me get away from the normal and enjoy my creativity, forget I crunch numbers for Dad.”
For Adam, Pride isn’t just a party — it’s a chance to truly be himself.
It’s like coming out again for the first time each year! An unforgettable vacation in your own province every summer!
He’s not alone. I recently had the pleasure of meeting some remarkable young guys for whom Pride is about to become the highlight of their lives.
I met Justin and his buddies through a friend in 100 Mile House. At 16, Justin has had the opportunity to connect with other gay youth through the internet. Although they live as much as 100 km apart, these rural BC boys found each other on sites like Nexopia and Facebook.
Despite their distance issues, these young stars connected with each other through technology, paving the way towards mutual support, conversation and friendship. I grew up in a small town myself and let me tell you, Kittenz, I respect the resources these guys have at their fingertips and the courage and brains they showed to use them.
And now Vancouver Pride is getting their tummies in a twist, just giddy with anticipation!
“Dude, I’m stoked to come down to Van this summer. My mom is coming with me, but not to the festival and dance,” Justin laughs from his parents’ house in Cranbrook. “She gets that I deserve to see it in person, and she’s pretty supportive of me.”
Blessed is the tool that allows our young queers to educate each other, and pass that knowledge and confidence on to their parents!
On the flipside, a very mature 15-year-old teen from Nelson has been his own strength for two years, with no support from or communication with his family.
“This small town sucks for me,” Brandon says. “I get picked on and even my dad hates that I’m a sissy and kicked me out for embarrassing the family.
“I don’t think it’s so wrong, and don’t understand sometimes,” he laments.
“People in Van City told me that the parade and youth dance is totally dope,” he continues, looking forward to coming down for our Pride celebrations.
This will be Brandon’s first real contact with our gay community. Here’s hoping our Pride has life-altering effects.
You know, a lot of us really take for granted just how free we are.
As we sit in our West End lofts, chests puffed out about how proud and polished we are, maybe we are the ones with something to learn from these people who truly value Pride.
My conversations with the rural gay youth, as opposed to the jaded West Enders, really got me thinking about where a lot of our priorities lie.
It almost feels as though we have forgotten the tickle and rush that once lunged through our veins at the sight of a cheering mass of gays. As though we have gotten ourselves so tightly wrapped in our political agendas and mandates and daily queer lives that we have forgotten that it is a blast to be this free-spirited.
Maybe this is the year to remember that first summer, that first waltz up Davie St or down the Drive, that first kiss.
What did that first rush of Pride feel like? Was it nerves, what it relief? Was it both?
Until I spoke to our rural counterparts, I almost forgot the excitement our community embodies. This is the backbone of what makes us unique.
I can’t wait for these rural youth to hit the city, to remind us exactly what we are celebrating! Let’s make sure we show them a party and an experience to remember for their whole lives.
Now, this is no time for a formal dinner party, Kittenz. But if you get the chance, do have the gurlz over for a backyard barbecue extravaganza to prep for Pride!
C’mon, Kittenz, show a little proud spirit!
Throw a hog on a log, sit on a hay bale and crank up a mix of Bertossi’s new album.
Serve up a corn on the cob in a buttery condom sleeve. Fill the Mr Turtle pool with a colourful blend of Pilsners, watermelons and inflatable bras; everyone is a winner that way.
If we all make the effort to come out again this summer, and I mean come OUT again this summer, as though it were our first time, we may just have the chance to reclaim our Pride.