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30 June 2002

This is the first of two reports on my weekend at the San Francisco Gay Pride festival. I have seen more bare breasts this weekend than I have in 8 months working in a gynecologist's office.

km-shirt.JPG (41306 bytes) Saturday started with my friend Kathleen (the president of PFLAG in Sacramento) picking me up around 11 a.m., we stopped by Ellen & Shelly's to get Ellen. She was coming to the festivities on Saturday and would be joined on Sunday by Shelly (the two of them were to ride on a float in the parade). Kathleen was wearing this marvelous shirt she'd made for herself, which says "My son came out of the closet and I got this FABULOUS shirt!" decorated with sparkly "jewels."

We got to our hotel (The Galleria Park) around 1 or 1:30, checked into the room and then Ellen and I left Kathleen there, waiting for her daughter, son-in-law and grandson to arrive. Ellen and I set off for the Gay Pride festival by City Hall.

Mapquest tells me it's 1.4 miles from the hotel to the civic center, a route which is up slight hills and down slight hills and we covered the distance at a brisk clip. At one point I thought how there was no way I could have done that last year. I wasn't even breathing hard by the time we got to the festival.

We were there to check out the booths and look at all the "tacky rainbow crap." Since Big Business has discovered Gay Pride, most of the booths were owned by large corporations or companies that had little connection with the gay community per se (one booth was just a local dentist! Other than the fact that gay people need to have their teeth cleaned just like everyone else, there was little to connect a dentist to Gay Pride!)

dmarch-crowd.JPG (71685 bytes) After we'd seen it all, we hopped a bus to ride up to Dolores St., then walked the half mile from Market St. to Dolores park, where we joined thousands (literally) of other women at the festivities prior to the 10th annual Dyke March, a march of lesbians which takes place the night before the organized Pride Parade on Sunday (the Dyke March prides itself as being not organized, to such an extent that the parade route is kept secret so they don't have to get an official permit).

This is the most diverse group of women you'll ever hope to see. Young, old, thin, fat, hairy, bald, costumed and not, dressed and undressed. All were there to celebrate being women, being lesbians. There were political speeches (which I couldn't understand from where I was sitting), and musical entertainment. There was dancing, poetry reading (quite erotic), wheelchairs, sign language interpreters, friends meeting old friends (Ellen met some friends of hers from Australia there). There were dogs and stuffed animals and ice cream vendors.  It was just really a joyous afternoon.

The most impressive sight of the day, however (except for the woman who stripped to the waist and made her breasts twirl), was the line for the port-o-potties.

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After a couple of hours of entertainment, it was time for the parade and thousands of women massed in the street. Ellen and I waited till near the end of the crowd, because we were watching the sight of all these women packed together, filling Dolores St., and spilling over onto 18th St, the start of the parade route.

As we marched along, people were hanging out of windows and standing on balconies cheering for us. The gay men had signs that they loved their lesbian sisters, a lot of the women on the balconies were nude or topless. But I particularly liked the "gay babies" in one window.

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The parade route went down two blocks and turned east onto Valencia St., down to 16th St., at which point it turned back up toward Castro St., where it would end in a gigantic street party.  But I knew that I was 1 block away from a BART (metro) station and I just didn't think I could walk any more. I had been on my feet since 1 p.m. and it was now 8:30. I also hadn't had anything to eat since the Luna Bar at 11, so I gave Ellen a big hug and left the parade, staggered to the nearest taqueria, collapsed at a table, and had a burrito and a huge glass of ice water. Then I forced myself onto my feet again, walked to BART, took BART down to Montgomery Street, walked to the hotel, and collapsed.

It was such a full day and merely the opening act for the biggie to come on Sunday...


Quote of the Day

The strength of the wolf is in the pack. The strength of the pack is in the wolf.

-Rudyard Kipling

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