Let’s recap our Pride week, shall we?
Sunday, winning 2nd place in our beach volleyball league! It was a tough fight all summer, but Resting Beach Face triumphed! Or, y’know, was Miss Congeniality or whatever. Either way, it was great fun.
Monday, Paris is Burning. I’d only ever heard of it from RuPaul’s Drag Race, with the “reading is fundamental” bits and so on. Hey, you gotta start somewhere! I loved the movie: it was deeply moving, and excellent education, laying out the terms and concepts very clearly like any good documentary should, while also letting the people involved have their voice.
Kind of makes you think about Drag Race, too: how it cleans up an edgy and underground scene for the consumption of Middle America, making it safe and memeful… but also letting drag queens become celebrities in their own right, and making drag safer and more accessible. Besides, it’s not like they didn’t have their own nostalgia filter in the 80’s, and if RuPaul sold out, well, any single one of the queens we saw would have bitten off their right arm for the money and fame she achieved, so here we are.
Tuesday, not pictured: LOLGBTQ, a fundraiser for Out in Schools featuring a bevy of LGBTQ+ comics. Now in its 3rd iteration, it’s right in my hood and not to be missed!
Wednesday: the same grass volleyball I play every week in the summer. It is gay volleyball though, so I guess it counts!
Thursday, the Big Gay Sing! No, I didn’t learn to sing any better since last year. Let’s leave it at that!
Friday, more gay grass volleyball. Wasn’t looking for anything more, since I was physically tired (more on that below) and I’m rarely up for big dances and things at the best of times.
Saturday, the Dyke March! Same as last year, I didn’t participate, but same as last year it was loud and proud and wonderfully political. And same as last year they had things to say about TERFs. Lots of things. But, there was something new on The Drive: a plaque celebrating the neighbourhood’s queer heritage, which it seems was brand spanking new. I’m not sure exactly who’s responsible for these plaques (I saw another one later that day at Little Sister’s), but kudos to them.
Saturday night, the last day of the fireworks. I missed the previous two (yes, even Team Canada on Wednesday—tired after volleyball, I just wanted to go home and avoid the crowds). Good times! Again, I was right close to the English Bay water, allowing me to take some lovely shots. And some lovely meta-shots. But urgh, the crowds. And the fencing. I get why they have to have those fenced aisles so emergency services can get through, but I don’t know about the fencing. And you better hope you don’t need to go to the loo, otherwise you’ll be walking on other people’s blankets, and feeling kind of bad but fuck it, I’m not here to navigate a maze.
Sunday, the Parade. I mean, this was the third parade I’d been in or watched in the last week, but this is the main one. Or the biggest one. Certainly the only one with Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh. And the only one with masses of commercially-produced rainbow flags and whatnot, but behold: a handmade sign! And here’s another one! Thanks Aja.
Sign of the times, maybe? With the Pride Society flexing its power to hold some groups accountable (disinviting the VPD last fall, and VPL and UBC in the last few weeks), are we edging into a Pride that’s more mindful of disadvantaged groups within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and not just, like, Scotiabank and selfies with politicians? Either way, I approve of the trend.
And then after late lunch with some of the VGVA crew, I deliberately did not follow them to Numbers. It was good to be invited, but… nah, really not up to it. Didn’t even go to the festival, though I kind of wanted to. But it was hot, and I was tired.
I usually spend Pride Monday vegging, but not this year! Because this year, I went on the Really Gay History Tour, learning all about Gone-to-the-spirits, an early 19th century transgender prophet; prosecutions for “buggery” and “gross indecency”; Vancouver’s sex-segregated beer parlours, sites of early gay cruising; the love letters of Constance Grey Swartz, a rare glimpse of historic bi visibility; the Castle Hotel where Winners is now, site of Vancouver’s first kiss-in; ted northe ( he spelled his names in all lower case), drag queen and activist, who spearheaded the campaign that led to the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1969; how Mike Harcourt proclaimed Gay Unity Week in 1981 and made Pride parades official… and just a few years later, lobbied by middle-class gays who wanted to clean up their neighbourhood, the same Mike Harcourt drove sex workers out of the West End. The lesson here is: even the politicians we may think of as heroes turn out to be a very mixed bag, and though gay unity is a nice idea, some members of the community will sell others down the river for more respectability and political access, and property values.
Some of these stories I already knew, but it was good to have it all tied together. The tapestry is still very incomplete, and probably always will be.
As I previously mentioned I’ve been walking to work. The long way, along the Seawall. And taking lots of lovely photos: David Lam Park, False Creek, the Yaletown skyline, public art, ponds and duckies. I’m used to a lot of walking, but this is still a lot, and it really creeps up on you at the end of the week! And… I’ll be honest, it’s not happening quite like I dreamed. I pictured relaxing strolls home, taking in the sights, but that hasn’t happened yet, what with volleyball and all the other Pride week stuff I need to do. I still feel… constrained, y’know? By routine. By work pressures.
And that’s normal. That’s okay. I’m going through a change on many levels, and I will adapt. One step at a time.