Tuesday, July 2, 2013

After Action Report - Pride 2013

Ok, the annual after action report.

Parked at around 9:30 a.m., having learned my lesson about showing up early if you want a comfortable spot years ago, and moved right along down 4th to Virginia where I ended up sitting in front of the Dahlia Bakery and Lounge. This isn't exactly my first Pride rodeo, so I packed in a comfortable camp chair and after setting up someplace shaded, bagged a snack and some water. Round 1 to the Dahlia bakery.

As always the Dykes on Bikes led off the Pride Parade - both on traditional and purely practical grounds. No matter your view on tradition, having a bunch of overheated dead motorcycles littering your parade route is almost never a good thing - putting motorcycle in front gives you the best odds of keeping them moving (and thus cooling) as they avoid the inevitable "route delays" due to buses crossing the route and other trivia.

To my slight surprise, the Dykes were all be-shirted this year unlike the past when letting it all hang out was the norm - yet, oddly enough, there was quite a bit of both male and female full nudity in other contingents. If this is due to Parade Organizer policy, it seems a bit inconsistent.

In any case the lead bike flew the Pride flag proudly and the rumble of Harleys joined with the scream of crotch rockets as they rolled down the route.

A high point of the Dykes was a young Navy Lieutenant riding in her dress whites, a far cry from the bad old days of 2011 when active duty personnel riding in Pride (in uniform or not) were at risk of court martial and expulsion from the service. Slowly, things get better...and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" went away.

Courtesy of the Seattle Times
After years of legal and societal wrangling, in May of 2013 the Boy Scouts of America announced their decision to allow gay Scouts to retain their membership and to participate in Scouting activities - though continuing a ban on LGBT Scouting leaders.

For a lot of us, whether former Scouts or folks who've known Scouts ejected from the BSA over the years for the crime of being gay, this was a particularly heart-warming moment. I never got beyond the Cub Scout phase of affairs myself, but I've seen more than enough of the hurt and rejection such policies caused.

To see the beginning of the end of that era left me a bit choked up as the Scouts passed - and a bit distracted to be taking pictures. My thanks to the Seattle Times for capturing the moment.

Pride grand marshals Jane Abbot Lighty and her wife,
Pete-e Petersen, were the first same-sex couple
to legally marry in Washington
Before the Scouts marched past, though, we had Jane Lightly and Pete-e Petersen (the first same-sex couple married in Washington State) roll past in Fiat-borne splendor after a 35 year courtship.

These two graceful ladies opened a new chapter in Washington, and now with the recent DOMA decision will enjoy the full range of federal and state benefits and protections to which they are entitled - the precise same set as any other couple.

At about this point, I lose track of the order of the photographs as I'm writing two days later and after resting up.

To put it mildly, there were a whole bunch of different contingents - some very different indeed. The Wells Fargo Bank stagecoach was one of the many (Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, and countless others) businesses and employee groups represented in the event .
Beloved of the LGBT community, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Abbey of St. Joan) were well represented. The Sisters have a long history of good works in the LGBT community but are often misunderstood by folks unfamiliar with them.

They are without doubt fabulous, festive and flamboyant and are magnets for any camera within miles. But to quote from their website "“Why are you mocking nuns?” Well, we ARE nuns, silly! We recognize what “women of the cloth” have done over the centuries. They raise money for the needy, we raise money for the needy. They tend to the sick, we tend to the sick. They build their communities, we build our community. They have taken vows of celibacy, we… we have raised money for the needy. We are nuns for the 21st Century!"

The Sisters have raised thousands of dollars over the years for a wide variety of causes, not least for HIV/AIDS education. The national, and perhaps worldwide, history of the Sisters is covered at the website of their Mother Chapter
Yes, they are pretty.

Yes, they are pretty. Very pretty. You seriously think that a post on Pride by a gay man isn't going to have at least a couple of beefcake shots?

This years Pride Parade in Seattle wasn't quite record-setting in length or number of contingents but the event seems to be working its way back up to peak numbers, at least based on length.

The 11 a.m. kick-off fired up a parade that was still rolling when I figured out that 92F and a lack of food and water was a very bad combination, indeed.
Very Pretty.
I'd cleverly bought sunscreen, but hadn't quite anticipated the length of things - and at 2:30 p.m. folded my chair and adjourned to the Dahlia Lounge where food, water and many-many espresso shots combined to revive me from my torpor - even as I was able to watch the rest of the parade wind down at around 3:30 or so.

The Dahlia Lounge has my enthusiastic recommendation - even with the reduced menu forced on them by the massive event surrounding them, they pulled off an amazing brunch and their home-made sausages were some of the best I've had in quite awhile. I look forward to trying them when they are *not* recovering from being mobbed.

Back to the parade pictures (did I mention the beignets at Dahlia?) the "Legalize Gay Cupcakes" contingent was led by a handsome and particularly flamboyant young man  - the picture truly does not do justice to the festive air he brought to the procession.
As always, the Pride Parade brings out an exceptionally diverse population, and how much diversity any one person can embrace is highly variable. Sometimes one must simply mumble "but I don't *understand*" and let it go.

This was one of those for me. A moment of discombobulation and remembering "they all look to be adults and reasonably happy" I swiftly moved on to "none of my business"....
Seattle Police Department

I like old cars, particularly *authentic* police vehicles of prior eras. The history interests me, so I've been pleased to see these old cruisers in the Parade the last couple of years.

What does an old patrol car have to do with LGBT Pride? I don't know - and don't care. It's just plain neat and my only kvetch is that there weren't as many of them this year.
King County Sheriff's Office
With SPD, the King County Sheriff, and the State Patrol represented the basics were covered - but I would have liked to have seen more than a single representative from each department (surely the various jurisdictions did not spring miraculously into motorized operation one day in 1967) with representative vehicles from more and different eras and a
Washington State Patrol
broader array of jurisdictions.

The Seattle Fire Department was represented, but regrettably only with modern gear. Needless to say I was saddened by the absence of the Seattle Last Resort Fire Department and their amazing array of apparatus ranging from a 1913 Seagrave Ladder Truck across 13 other rigs before they even begin on the list of member-owned former Seattle Fire apparatus and the list of  "other interesting member-owned apparatus."  I first saw them at a Pride Parade back in '95 and always enjoyed seeing them - perhaps, at some level I remain a kid at heart.
Flying Spaghetti Monster & His Noodly Appendages
While many faiths congregations were represented among the Pride Contingents (not least among them "Mormons for Same Sex Marriage," that I found startling, confusing, and pleasing in equal parts - though a friend involved with LDS tells me attitudes are changing within the church regarding the LGBT community), the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster came closest to a full out live and in person manifestation of a deity when this thing appeared on the route.

As I've said elsewhere, I love the Pride Parade for many reasons. Every year it can be a celebration and not an angry protest of injustice is a year to be thankful for. Each year Pride remains Pride and not a re-enactment of the Stonewall Riots - because a reprise of those terrible days is not *necessary* - is another cause for gratitude. That we are able to come together as a community in a spirit of celebration is itself worthy of celebrating. And for the closeted and/or wounded souls who desperately seek some image of the LGBT community that either feels "like them" or "hey, if someone THAT bizarre is ok, I must not be all that bad" Pride is the best chance each year for either need to be met - because if you show up at enough Pride events you'll see most of the available expressions of humanity within a community from the bizarre to the mundane, from the briefcase-carrying suit-wearing square dancers to the group of naked blue people. Some of it will please, some will offend and some will just plain confuse...this is a parade of folks who live life as square pegs in a world of round holes, and learned to do so with pride and dignity.