I’ll hand it to Bill Whatcott.
His ruse to sneak into the Vancouver Pride parade to hand out anti-gay leaflets disguised as condoms was a well-executed con. Partially.
Understandably fed up with the less than warm (and often wet) reception he receives when he walks in other Pride parades to spread his version of The Truth, Whatcott took a page from history and pulled a Trojan horse.
He dressed up as a caricature of us, complete with pink hair, pom-pom shorts, gay-friendly T and a propensity for gregariousness and instant affection. Leveraging the name recognition of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (whose fictitious Calgary branch he invented), he and four disciples sashayed into the parade unchallenged. Except, unlike the victorious Greeks, Whatcott’s attempt to pull off this subterfuge was clever only in its deployment, not so much its desired outcome.
Sure, he deceived us and participated as a seemingly disarming gay man. But did he really expect his antiquated weapons — his message of grievous sin, diseased sexuality and a narrow-minded God — to win or even score points in a battle that has been all but put to pasture?
As gay MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert points out, the avid anti-gay crusader had to shimmy his way into the parade as a “big, happy, bouncing gay man who was positively brimming over with excitement about celebrating Pride” to try to get his well-worn point across.
Will Whatcott’s rhetoric cause a significant decrease in gay support among the multitudes who lined the West End’s streets and enthusiastically waved rainbow flags Aug 3? Probably not. In fact, what spectators saw as they clapped, cheered — maybe even hugged — the Flying Spaghetti Monster was a man proudly projecting his gay abandon. That’s the lasting visual.
Perhaps the one true statement Whatcott trumpets as he basks in the afterglow of his Pride exploits is that he made the parade “way more diverse.” He certainly did. Notwithstanding his old-hat dogma, he decided to be not a drag, but a queen.
Whatcott and his ilk can laugh all they want about the one they put over on the gays, but our community now has a documented record of the day he decided to sissy his walk. (Hey RuPaul, I’ve got a new Drag Race title for you: “Releasing the right’s inner Shante.” Call me.)
I think the Vancouver Pride Society should invite him officially next year, with the proviso that he try to dupe us again, but as part of a live pay-to-play game called Where’s Whatcott? Proceeds to one of our community charities or non-profit organizations. The spinoff possibilities are endless.
So, to those who are pulling out their own pink hair or getting their short-shorts in a knot over this ultimately futile ploy, please don’t sweat it. Two can play at Bill’s game. We’ve been known to be very accomplished at playing dress-up, too.
Hey, Bill. Those pious-looking folks occupying the middle pews of your favourite religious haunt? Are you sure they share your evangelical fervour? Or maybe they’re getting ready to break out into their own version of “Like a Prayer.”