Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gay Day

I spent the day at the Gay Pride Parade on Market Street and Celebration in Civic Center. As last year, I focused on taking photos, mostly candid people shots, but I spent more time with friends ... bumped into a bunch of people, and spent some time with old and new friends at the Faerie tent. (For those of you who do not know who the Radical Faeries are, google it or wait until I explain some time ... one of the advantages of vowing to post thrice weekly is that I have to keep a bunch of easy topics that I have pre-prepared in my mind at ready hand.)

Gay Day is at bottom a lonely and nostalgic time for me ... I think it's that for a lot of old gay activists, although perhaps I am on the tedious, self-involved end of the maudlin/giddy continuum.

But I don't want this to be about my moping around snapping pix of hot guys and odd beings and the occasional out-there dyke. So ...

It was my impression that this year was bigger and more enthused than last year. It also felt less political. All this is decidedly impressionistic, and the evidence is only my own observations as I wandered up Market Street and then around Civic Center for five hours.

Last year we had a victory that was exhilarating but felt ephemeral. Couples were married on the square, and the celebration seemed to focus on that. We did not yet know that Obama would be President, and we had not yet experienced the crushing defeat in the Prop campaign. But we had also not experienced the palpable juggernaut that the last months have been. The mass acceptance of gay people is moving forward at a staggering rate after four decades of glacially slow increments in polled percentages.

We are at a tipping point, and the celebration reflected that.

I noticed many more young gay men than last year. In fact, Civic Center was crawling with them. It was broiling hot today, and so many were semi clad. I do not know why there were so many more ... perhaps the celebration has become the place to be and be seen. The young dykes were there in force as they were last year. They are tribal and defiant and out there. The young gay guys notice my camera with a little disdain, but the young dykes don't seem to even see me. Maybe some time I will try to discuss the generation gap among gay folks, but I increasingly do not think it is very important. Because young gay people accept their rights as given and undeniable. They did not originate in an era when we were hidden and rightly afraid. I love their native defiance.

But beyond the young gay folks, the most obvious phenomenon is how broadly diverse the audience is. Drag queens, folks in wheelchairs, families of every descriptions, countless young straight folks digging a festival tht is as native to them as it is to us. And there are faeries, leather folks, nude people and lots of folks in nothing but briefs. Diesel dykes by the boatload ... I still get chills hearing the Dykes on Bikes roar up Market Street leading off the parade as they have for many years.

Our movement is at a tipping point. We are on the verge of a cascading set of victories. There are no guarantees, and the condition of our brothers and sisters in other places ... Iran and Iraq and the rest of the muslim world, Russia and Poland, Africa ... is something we cannot forget. But in the rational part of the western world, our humanity is increasingly the property of everyone ... religious bigots and troglodytes excepted.

I did not hear a lot of the speeches today. I do not even know if there were any because the umpteen musical performances scattered at all corners drowned everything out. But, what was lacking today anywhere ... in the parade, the signs, the buttons, the mood ... was acknowledgment that the biggest proximate obstacle we face in these United States in taking advantage of this historical tipping point is Barack Obama. His old-fashioned low-bore anti-gay revanchism provides comfort to our enemies and it impedes the break out. Everybody wants it to be a feel good era, a feel good day. But reality intervenes. DOMA and DADT should be blown up. Post haste. Get it over with. But with the powerful, whenever it is gay people at issue, suddenly everything gets quiet. Gay and quiet never mesh.

So it was a great day, a loud day. But we missed an opportunity. Our great day, no matter how broad and diverse it as become, is a day when we speak to power. We did not do that. So here's my bit

Obama, get in the game!

Gay Rights Now!

Photos by Arod, all taken today. More to come on Flickr, and I will let you know.

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