Yay! Pride weekend!” the very gay man cheered, shaking a booty barely contained by a neon pink thong from atop park bench.
I ducked out of the way of his matching feather boa as the crowd around us at the corner of Church and Market cheered in obligatory response. Most of the same sex couples raised brown-bagged forties in celebration as an impromptu dance party broke out, fueled by some dogshit terrible techno from a cheap shoulder-mounted boombox. It was the tenth such dance party the Danimator and I have seen while stumbling through the Mission that day.
By a little after midnight, I had my fill. At ground zero for the global Gay Pride weekend, this straight ally was wondering why a celebration for equality and civil liberties looked like Mardi Gras. Less an expression of sexuality and more an exhibition of sex, Pride in San Francisco is not a political statement -- it is pornography.
In its 38th year, there are few Pride weekends in the world comparable to the revelery of San Francisco. Depending on which drunk you ask on which corner, anywhere from a hundred thousand to forty million gay and lesbians flock to the city for the annual Pride festivities. Parking in the city turns into a clusterfuck nightmare and getting a table at a restaurant becomes as likely as a straight man getting laid. But, above all, techno blares at 110 decibels from every third building in town, thus reducing non-participants to near-deaf curmudgeons and making everyone not in the blaze orange fishnet set a pathological square.
Trying to cross Valencia Street during the Dykes on Bikes March is the closest I’ve felt to a ghost. Silently ignored, merrymakers seem to look straight through you like a downtown panhandler soaked in the smell of his own piss. Those you wished weren’t flopped along the march topless while those you wished were stumbled along -- already shitfaced by 6pm -- sending photos from their cell phones to wellwishers back home.
The problem with Pride celebrated this way is that both sides of the greater cultural debate are only reinforced by it. Dudes with wigs and tight underwear don’t challenge or engage, they only affirm or offend. From a personal standpoint, it’s hard to figure out what I’m fighting for. The investment of time and money in the cause for equality for everyone regardless of sexual preference was something I thought was a categorical imperative. To see the principal political event of that effort manifested in obscenity makes it hard to find the return.
I think stereotypes are what got us in this culture war. We’d be well served to avoid them if we are serious about getting out.