During sex last night I was thinking (it was good sex, that's why I had time to think, contemplate) about previous Gay Pride celebrations, and I remembered one from the early 80's. The boyfriend at the time had absolutely no interest in going to the Parade/March, even commenting "what would I do if my Mother saw me on the front page of the Daily News?" - so we argued a bit, and I went out on my own that Saturday night, drinking plenty and enjoying the good pre-parade vibe. I got picked up. It was a typical last-call, the guy who merely was nice enough to ask scenario, and we took a cab uptown to his place. The sex wasn't good, the kind of "let's get this over with so I can sleep" type. We slept late, and when we got up in his newly renovated Hell's Kitchen apartment, we discussed the parade, and he wanted to go together. Awake, more sober, but hungover, I really couldn't think, but told him I had to get home (Brooklyn back then) and change. We agreed to meet at a designted corner (at 2pm, I think), and I hopped on the subway home.
This is where I must apologize. I blew him off. I didn't show up; I don't remember if he gave me a phone number or not, but quite honestly I was pretty sure before I left his apartment that I wouldn't be meeting up with him. When I got home, there were messages from the boyfriend, wanting to know where I planned to watch the parade from, and I called him back, and we met up and watched. I cynically figured that the guy, if he had really believed me, might just write it off as the crowd's too big, we just missed each other. But to this day I feel awful. Why hadn't I just been honest? "Ya know, this might sound bad, but I have a boyfriend, we had a fight, I went out, and you were kind enough to take an interest, make me feel desirable, and lift my spirits. But I can't meet up with you later; I don't really know what I'll be doing, but I just need to get home and take it from there. Thank you for being so sweet, and warm and affectionate."
The odds of him seeing this? Well, maybe that's not the point, but I really am sorry. Of course, it's neither the first nor the last time I treated someone poorly - stood up, not called, not been honest enough about not having an interest (there are ways of saying these things "honestly" yet kindly) - but I guess I take this day seriously, and it's quite likely that he may have too - the idea of having a mate to share the day with, walk hand in hand, smile, laugh at the silly floats, cheer the hard-working groups, all that. Today I will miss the Parade entirely, but last night, after the sex (it was good, and coveniently located in the West Village) I rode over to Christopher St, and over to the Hudson River. Gosh, fairly quiet, but such a variety of people! Lots of teens - couples and groups, mostly Black and Hispanic (gosh, when I look at them and see how far we've come - nothing like that when I was a teenager - a group of gay friends, a place for gay teens to go and hang); a few Genre-magazine looking whiteboy couples holding hands, str8 folks with kids, st8 couples (funny enough, most of them were holding hands; guess being around gay folks makes these guys more affectionate!).
I guess my favorite part was later, further down the promenade, less people, and I see two black women, maybe my age, maybe a bit older. They were sitting on a bench, talking quietly, and one woman had her arm on the back of the bench, her hand gently stroking the back of her friend. I smiled, as I often do when I see two people showing affection in public. But then I paussed, and realized, ya know, maybe they're not lesbians, maybe they're "just friends". Or maybe they're lesbians who are "just friends"; or maybe...... maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe what matters is that two people are enjoying each other's company, showing affection, enjoying the sound of the river splashing against the shore, returning the smile of the bearded man walking past with his bike.