BARING IT ALL
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
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
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.
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.
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...