Friday, July 12, 2002

HOTstud4U: Hey man, what's up?
BJland: not much, goofing around
HOTstud4U: bi, 36, Xvgl, work-out, hairy chest, hung, looking for head. discreet.
BJland: sorry, not discreet

ugh .......... When I get to your apartment building, and the doorman asks who am I seeing, and I pull out a yellow sticky, barely able to read my own writing and give just a first name and apartment number, hmmm. And if you are 1/2 as Xtra Very Good Looking as you say, when I leave with my sly grin, walking past your neighbors with a bit of a bounce in my step, an hour later, or early the next morning, is that discreet?

OK, so I know it's a codeword for something, right? Closeted, married, bisexual, no committment, "I don't kiss", "no strings" UB2, blah blah blah. Another in my long long list of internet hook-up turn-offs. The irritations of the AOL sexhookup world. Which brings me to the Gay Pride Parade. A few weeks back, I decided I would once again venture out on my own to the Parade. Not-so-secretly wishing to, you know, meet someone, and all that. But, more pragmatically, I can be grumpy, particulary in crowds, on hot days, without food or adequate water. And I wanted to have a good time, and sometimes that's difficult for me when I'm with friends, and want to "get along" and often enough, especially at events like the Parade, talk gets cynical and too "over it all" for my tastes. I admit that I see the Parade like I do Christmas - full of emotion, and hope, and lots of memories. Not all "good" memories, in the sense of happy and care-free and pleasant, but my memories, nearly 20 years in this city. I've participated in the Parade officially (and we argued over March vs. Parade) with ACT UP, with my grad school; I've marched down 5th avenue unofficially (which is one of the many reasons I love it, so disorganized, and inclusive; plus that time on my bicycle, riding down with Dykes on Bikes!). And more often I've watched it from the sidelines; cheering this group, waiting patiently for that group to pass, laughing at the solitary Gays For Patsy Cline; tearful and pensive at the Moment of Silence......

So this year, I got a late start, rode my bike to 5th Avenue, and the first "float" I saw was 3 shirtless muscle boys on a car, dancing to loud music, with a sorta-pitiful hand-written sign: GAY ARABS. I smiled, I took a picture, and it reminded me once again why I love this day. Maybe for some of us its easy to be "out" 24/7, but for many it's not. And we've all heard how important the parade can be for those folks, who are struggling, or need that bit of confidence from just being in a "safe" environment. But I fear that many of us are getting way too impatient, we don't seem to realize that it's going to be this way for a long, long time. We're unlike practically every other minority - we don't even know we are a part of this group until sometime later in life, our teens, our 20's, and yes, still, many folks, even later.

blah blah blah, right? So anyway, I find a spot amongst "my people" and immediately I think "ugh, look at that couple, muscled up, identical to each other, grins from some sort of drug, ugh!" And I catch myself, and laugh. Yup, I've been stoned at the Parade. And I've been with boyfriends who people always said we looked like brothers. And I've walked down 5th Avenue in just my underwear (really really tacky); and.... well, no, I've never been muscled up. And so I made myself laugh, and remember, once again, what its really all about. Cliche as it is, its "Celebrating Our Diversity" - One year I'm Marching and shouting, one year I'm holding hands and cuddling, one year I watch alone, sad about getting dumped earlier in the day; but its my own choice, I live my life the way I see fit, and that's what I want for everyone - they don't need, and shouldn't have to get, my approval. I think that's the sort of freedom that we're looking for.

All the tacky clothing, and bad dancing, and ugly drag queens, made me wonder where all those sterotypes come from! But so fuckin' what! I don't want to like your clothes, or your dancing, or anything about you - i want YOU to like yourseslf, and be free and comfortable in expressing that. And when you do that, sometimes it's infectous, and gives me the confidence to do the same. I watched so many people acting silly, and looking foolish, and i found myself soooo envious! And to enjoy myself, and being there, I focused on the stuff that lifts me up (Center Kids were sooooooooo adorable!); I ogled the cuties, and cheered the goofier floats; and I practiced "tolerance" and respect for people different than me - pretty much what I think the parade is all about, getting to the point where everyone does that. And while I may never get up the nerve to dance atop a tacky float on Fifth Avenue with I Will Survive blasting from the speakers, I love knowing that if I wanted to, I could. (And by the way, if anyone knows the cute fuzzy man dancing on the God's Love We Deliver float - tell him he made my day!)