I attended my first pride in 2007, in San Francisco, naturally. My ‘Gay Day’ began with the Dyke rally in Dolores Park and then moved out onto the streets for the annual Dyke march. I was happy to be there. I had just come out a year before, finally! But aside from the excitement, the real meaning of that first Pride hadn’t really ‘hit’ me until I came across this woman of color -- a Latina, wearing a traditional ‘male’ mariachi outfit and holding a sign that read “Orgullo” (Pride). Then I felt it. It shot right through me -- it was electric. I understood who I was: a woman, a single mother, chicana, Mexican…
In society I am considered a minority, but in that moment I was part of something bigger than me. I was part of a community-- a community that celebrates individuality, diversity, tolerance, and love.
This year my children experienced their first pride festival in Long Beach. I wanted them to feel what I had felt a couple of years prior. “Mom, this is so much fun! I’m proud you’re gay.” I cried when my son uttered those words to me. My daughter was so moved that for West Hollywood’s pride festival she designed a few signs of her own. They held their rainbow flags high and waved their signs proudly, signs with the word ‘PRIDE’ drawn and colored in the traditional rainbow flare.
Fast forward to this weekend, June 27/28, 2009: San Francisco’s Gay Pride Weekend sizzled. I should know -- I have the sunburn to prove it.
This was the last leg of my mini 2009 pride tour (Long Beach Pride in May, West Hollywood Pride in June). I hadn’t planned on attending this year’s pride celebration in San Francisco, but when I was presented with the opportunity to do so, I took it.
Why? Two reasons: I wanted to continue a tradition that started back in 2007, and I had the chance to work at the Amoeba San Francisco store for a couple of days.
I received such a warm welcome from my extended family at the San Francisco store. There was never of shortage of friendly smiles and enthusiastic hugs -- that’s the Amoeba way!
Sunday began with the 39th annual San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade. Participants rode their motorcycles and bikes down the street; many wore outrageous gowns or skimpy underwear, or nothing at all. Men in feathers walked on stilts, a Big Ole’ Gay Ho Down float rode down the parade route while little Tykes on Bikes steered their way past cheering crowds.
This year’s theme could be best summed up in two words -- “Moving Forward.” It was a difficult year. With the passage of Prop 8, the LGBT community is determined now more than ever to fight for our civil rights and to legalize gay marriage.
… hay que celebrar (time to celebrate)! Amoeba was ready to take part in Pride with our own booth!
Naomi Salazar was in charge of our booth, recruiting and scheduling volunteers, budgeting and getting water/snacks for her hungry staff, arranging setup and tear-down, transport of materials, and supervising. This was a significant amount of work, but with dedication and a lot of laughter she pulled it off...
The Amoeba Booth was bumpin’ and rockin’! We were located right near both the Main Stage and the Latin Stage, giving us ample views of all the action.
Adorned in their Sunday Pride finest, Audra the dominatrix, Sailor Bill, leather daddy with his pink boa (Rick I’m talking about you), John, Emily, and other fellow Amoebites worked the crowds -- handing out Amoeba fans, coupons, and gathering signatures. Once participants signed up for our e-newsletter, they were given a raffle ticket and directed to our booth for their chance to spin the wheel and win fun prizes!
Tarin just handed this lucky winner an Amoeba Gift Certificate!
The vibe at our booth was indeed festive and, dare I say, ‘sexy’? Hey Naomi, is that a ‘tiara’ you’re wearing?
I will admit it; I am not a big proponent of associating sex with homosexuality. I was afraid that our message of ‘Peace Through Music’ would get lost. I was wrong; it wasn’t, and, in fact, people were ecstatic to see Amoeba at the festival.
The booth continued to draw a large crowd. The lure of free prizes, ‘Music is Sexy’ condoms and the newest Lady Gaga titles kept them coming in.
My favorite story of the day has to be about this woman...I will call her “Jill.” Jill was relieved to see Amoeba still going strong. She mentioned that Amoeba was the only place that she was able to find the DVD Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. She had been searching for it when Tower was still around. Look, here she is! I asked her if she would sell me her hat, and she smiled and gave me a hug -- I still wanted the hat.
The staff, exhausted, thirsty, and sunburned, never seemed to run out of energy…they were in the mood for a party.
Leather Daddy Rick and Sailor Bill (Chris) were favorites among the male participants at the festival. The three of us began handing out Amoeba fans. We became very creative. At one point, the fans became paddles for Sailor Bill and a marriage proposal for me, along with a few hugs and kisses. We handed out EVERY fan! That’s right, we worked it!
As I mentioned, our booth was situated near the Latin Stage. We salsa’d, we merengue’d, we cumbia’d our way into the evening and were determined to keep the celebration going.
Later on that night I had learned that arson investigators were called to Twin Peaks. The Pink Triangle up there (pink triangles were once used in concentration camps to identify gay men), a monument to gay Holocaust victims, had been set on fire. It is a solemn reminder that there is still so much we need to do. Hatred and ignorance will continue if we become complacent. It is up to us to continue teaching our children the value of human life and that we each carry a moral code, that of respect and tolerance.
I am not a writer. Writing this blog has been a challenging undertaking, but one that I was proud to take on. I wanted to capture the excitement I felt at this year’s pride celebration. Kaitlin captured that moment in photos. She took all of these amazing pictures. Skimming through the images I began reminiscing about the day’s highlights:
Audra’s crop, meow and ouch!...
John’s brilliant smile as he watched party-goers excited to spin the wheel...
Naomi’s infectious laughter resonating through the tent and the sound of her whistle blowing as another person won a prize...
The hilarity of Tarin’s purple wig…
…and the naked man strolling by casually as if there wasn’t a care in the world -- really, he was wearing pretty much nothing... well, except his shoes.
The PINK boa -- Rick, you wore it well...
Sailor Bill’s balloon -- that was naughty...
And the legions of many -- a community with abundant optimism gathering at the Civic Center.
We had a lot of fun!
I was truly honored to have worked alongside all of you, Amoeba’s finest.
“The mestizo and the queer exist at this time and point on the evolutionary continuum for a purpose. We are a blending that proves that all blood is intricately woven together, and that we are spawned out of similar souls.” - Gloria Anzaldúa from her book Borderlands/La Frontera
“Hay tantísimas fronteras que dividen a la gente, pero por cada frontera existe tambiėn un Puente.” - Gina Valdės