Happy Pride, Bitches.
Every year, I host a small pre-Pride get together at my house, which overlooks the shores of Lake Ontario in Scarborough. Lots of food. Sometimes instruments. An open fire if the cops don’t kill our vibe. Every year my guests say the same thing: “This is the Pride I always wanted.” Small. Intimate. And when you look around, these are people you are proud to march with, to fuck with, to eat with, to laugh with, to find seniors housing with when the time comes.
When traipsing around Pride-Proper, surrounded by the noise and the crowds, the thought of sharing space with some of these folks makes me feel…well…a bit scared to be honest. While I am a notorious crybaby during the Trans and Dyke marches (because we march for what fucking matters and is important), I’m more of an Anyone-Else-Wanna-Come-With-Me-To-A-Nearby-Park-For-Some-Quiet kinda gal. I think it’s the combination of the sex-hungry and the attention-starved that has me running. You must understand that most years, I am knee deep in gig after gig of Pride month celebrations. This year, though, thanks to being chronically ill, I am having a lot of time to move slowly and with perspective. It also gives me enough time to pen this ever-important list of how to not be an asshole at this year’s Pride. Perhaps you can print it up. Perhaps you can… how do the kids do these things nowadays? Share it. Bookmark it. Show it to your pals while at the bathhouse and nod in agreement before strapping on. I dunno. Just don’t be an asshole.
TAKE A BREATH AND THINK TO YOURSELF “IS HERE AND NOW A GOOD PLACE TO HAVE A FIGHT? OR MAYBE TOMORROW WHEN WE ARE CALM AND NOT SURROUNDED BY A MILLION PEOPLE?”
I remember being booked for a reading. It was outside on the final afternoon of Pride. Alongside the wonderful Damien Atkins, we struggled through our readings of our work while a couple wrestled on the grass screaming at each other. “Shut the fuck up! I fucking hate you!” they said over and over again while cycling through a combination of hitting each other then making out. I get it. Our community is full of volatile emotions. Let’s, as a community, come up with action plans with our friends, lovers, and chosen family around disagreements. Do we need space? Do we need to take a breath? Those crowds aren’t for everyone. Be honest with each other about what you need and do it.
BE AWARE AND HONEST OF YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION.
If you’re hard-up on money be honest with the people hosting you, the people you are going out with to share a meal at a restaurant, the people going out with you to events. If you are in a situation where you are in need of help to buy cover charges or food, then be up front. Otherwise it’s stealing if your word is not bond. I can’t tell you how many times, as a single mother and brown woman, I have been expected to flip the bill or I have paid for tickets to events in advance and people suddenly have no cash to give back. Look at your wallet and keep track of how much you’re spending so that you’re not taking advantage of people’s kindness. Don’t be that person who tells their host “I will totally pay you back for those Cherry Bomb tickets!” only to spend all your cash on those “Got Girl?” tee-shirts and drinks at the drag show. That’s straight-up bullshit. And when your friend says “loves, I seriously can’t go to that event. I don’t have the money” be a pal and consider things that don’t require money.
TAKE IT EASY. IT’S PRIDE, NOT THE AMAZING RACE.
I have hosted out of town folk who, upon dropping off their bags at my house said, “Okay. Where is the action? Let’s go.” There was not a moment where we could relax and eat. These people were on a mission. What mission? I haven’t a clue. Chill the fuck out, is all I have to say. Sure you may have a long list of events you want to hit but it’s best to just focus on a select few, be present, and enjoy yourself. At the end of Pride Sunday, there will be no khaki-wearing white man standing in the middle of a helicopter pad saying “You did it, Homo. You successfully got laid, found the love of your life, and increased your Facebook friend list by 500 people who will buy your zine.” So just relax. Don’t make me get the poison darts out and aim for your neck.
If your friend tells you they are sober – heck if they just say “I don’t want to drink/toke/snort, but thanks” then respect their decision. Ask if they are okay with you doing what you want to do or if they would rather you do it elsewhere.
RESPECT YOUR HOST.
If you are staying with someone, ask what you can do in exchange for a place to stay. This does not need to be monetary. Do they need you to help with their kids so that they can rest after last night’s sex party? Do they like pizza in bed after a day of marching? Do they just want you to leave the room as clean as it was when you arrived? Figure it out and do it. Also: communicate needs around getting lucky, if it can happen there, if not can you have a key to let yourself in after getting laid?
Ha. You thought you were exempt from this discussion. Here is a shortlist:
- Ask before taking a picture and please do not ever say “Show me your tits!”
- This is not a spectacle for you. This is a celebration of us. Don’t act like we are circus acts.
- Bring your children and teach them early that we are brave and loveable.
- Buy tickets to our events. They are amazing and you may learn a thing or two.
- Use the right pronouns for people. Look it up.
- Don’t touch us without consent.
- Please don’t ask us to give you the gay experience. Our bodies are not tourist spots.
Okay. Now go have fun.