Click the photo for a slideshow of Seattle Pride 2007. Photos by Renee McMahon.
On Saturday, Seattle Metro had assigned one of those long, bendy-straw>"/>
On Saturday, Seattle Metro had assigned one of those long, bendy-straw buses on the #8 route from Queen Anne to Capitol Hill to accommodate extra pride-march revelers, and it was indeed nearly full when it emptied at Broadway just before 11. The outdoor seating at Cafe Septieme, Julia’s, and Broadway Grill was full, though there was plenty of prime spots on the curb in places where spectators in past years had been three or four deep. Straight couples strolled by, holding hands with what seemed to be a faint, self-conscious ostentation. At 11:20, still no sign of the march. Promptly at 20 minutes to noon, the 11 a.m. march launched with the traditional contingent of roaring Dykes on Bikes. It was a day for representing rather than pageantry, organizations and banners rather than flamboyance.
Near the front, Senator Ed Murray and—hey, isn’t that that woman who was on our cover a few weeks ago? Who knew? The red-T-shirted group from Lifelong AIDS Alliance stood and waited patiently while the Seattle Men in Leather gave a spanking demo. Mark “Mom” Finley floated by on a Segway. Staffers from the piano bar Martin’s off Madison came wearing big cardboard pianos—”They look like coffins,” said the guy next to me. There were organizations which were, as far as I could recall, making their march debuts: Femme Visibility, the Northwest Two-Spirit Society. The weather was ideal, just the right temperature whether you were in full regalia or only a Speedo. Yakima Pride wrapped it up; when they passed where I was standing, it was 12:20. Nothing wrong with efficiency.
The hostess for QueerFest at Volunteer Park that afternoon was Aleksa Manila, one of those drag-queen names you keep saying over and over to yourself thinking there must be a pun in there somewhere you’re not catching. She was witty, quick-thinking, and of course looked fab. Fewer booths than past years, a more casual, even bovine vibe, more state fair than party. People plopped down on the lawn, unfolded in the sun, and seemed disinclined to budge. The band Sister Hyde, during their long heavy-metal-ish set, invited people onstage to dance, demonstrating the Burning Man Nudity Paradox: the people most likely to get naked in public are the ones you’re least likely to want to see naked.
Late that afternoon, the Dyke March was preceded by a rally on the SCCC plaza at Broadway and Pine. There were plenty of kids here, goofing around on the brick floor, with one eight- or nine-year-old boy flipping around in impressive capoeira moves. I admired the way the speakers could be righteous and indignant and fire up the crowd without sounding petulant. (Gay male speakers at events like this seem to have more trouble striking that it’s-about-us-not-about-me tone.) There was also an exhibit of the Clothesline Project, in which survivors of same-sex domestic abuse decorate T-shirts for display in ways akin to the personalized panels of the AIDS Quilt. The words stitched or appliqued on were startling: “When I hear her car [arriving home], I feel the acid pour into my stomach.” “I lived in between the lines she drew. it was a very small space.” Acknowledging that same-sex relationships could have a dark side struck me as the most courageous thing I saw all weekend.
The atmosphere was both convivial and serious, festive and businesslike; the event felt very DIY but seemed to be running with crack precision. I thought of a line from an old Kids in the Hall skit: “I wish I were a lesbian. They get so much done in a day.” A bus awaited filling with differently-abled participants. A sort of honor guard of black-clad drummers, beating sonorously on the bottoms of ten-gallon plastic buckets in rainbow colors, stood ready to lead. Almost exactly at the scheduled time, 7 p.m., the marchers began to stroll up Pine, “taking over the streets” with the help of police, whose gleaming motorcycles, at least two dozen, had been lined up at the curb. The last words at the speaker’s mike before they set off: “Happy Pride! And don’t forget to not neglect your nipples!”
After a Saturday of standing and walking, I watched Sunday’s Belltown parade [see our slideshow] though the big picture windows at Spitfire, the spacious Fourth Ave. sports bar, mimosa in hand. They also serve a fine brunch, and it seems to be the spot for Sunday morning soccer fans; each of the big screens showed the U.S./Mexico Gold Cup final. The Dykes on Bikes were back to lead off, doing what they do best—circling and making noise—followed this year by a Vespa group, demurely putt-putting behind. A float rode by with, as their sashes told us, Mr. and Ms. Gothic Seattle (“Why are they smiling?” someone said.) There were more marchers from leather organizations—almost none of them, noticeably, under 40. (“Where is the next generation of leathermen coming from?” a friend asked later. Oooh, cover story!) The horse-drawn old-West coach from Wells Fargo Bank passed: “Where did they find so many gay horses?” Laughter. “Enumclaw.” Bigger laughter. The Pike Place Market’s giant inflated pig was fun, but the float that drew the biggest cheers came from Northwest Bears: a long bathtub sort of thing on a truck bed, filled with big guys and soap suds, under the legend “Bears, Bath and Beyond.” There’s a photo in our slideshow; since you can never have too many bear shots, here’s another:
The Rat City Rollergirls came up with a snappy slogan:
Unfortunately, this pic doesn’t show the poodle’s inflatable penis:
[Photos by Christopher Bragg.]
(Which reminds me, I learned some new slang: A woman who likes to hang out with bears is a Goldilocks. A large woman who deigns to depilate—the female analogue to a bear—is an Ursula. If you’re seeing a guy a lot older than you you’re “carbon-dating.”)
Spitfire grew more crowded, both with soccer fans and people tiring of the parade, and it was still full as the parade wound down and we walked up Fourth to Seattle Center. Fisher Pavilion and the plaza and lawn down to the fountain were packed, though the overcast day, with benign sprinkles now and then, was too cool for much fountain play. Only a few stalwart kids and underwear-clad twinks (“Undereaters Anonymous,” a friend calls them) indulged. Dance music, with or without live vocalists, filled most of the schedule at the large stage set up on the lawn, attracting a young crowd enthusiastically doing all those naughty moves they’re not allowed to do at proms. Booths and the beer garden filled the pavilion (it was nice to have somewhere roofed to take refuge), and more booths and food vendors ringed the space just outside. Best of all was the chance to get out of the ghetto and have a turn taking over a space that hosts the city’s biggest public events. Gone was that sort of circling-the-wagons mentality, the notion that the gay community’s so besieged we need to huddle together on Capitol Hill for protection.