Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Went To A Gay Pride Parade, And All I Got Was This Fabulous Rainbow Flag

As some of you may remember, Chuck bought me tickets for the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert at Duke University on Sept. 25.

I finagled my work schedule so that I could have both Saturday and Sunday off, so we could spend some time hanging out in Durham and Chapel Hill.

Saturday morning, we left quite early. We couldn't check into our hotel room till about 3pm, and we were wondering what the hell we were going to do for like 5 hours.

We pulled into Durham, and Chuck asked which freeway exit we should get off of (I'm always the navigator, 'cause I'm damn good at it). I said I didn't know, because I wasn't sure what we were going to do. We wanted to go looking at an old cemetery in the area, but we also wanted to get something to eat. Couldn't decide what the priority was.

So I picked an exit in the general Duke area, and we tooled on down the street. The traffic was heavy, and Chuck was getting agitated (he is the Road Rage King). We couldn't figure out what it was all about.

We were cruising slowly down the street behind a line of vehicles, and saw that there was some commotion going on up on the right. I could see a whole bunch of coloured flags flapping in the air.

'What the hell's going on over there?' asked Chuck.

My eyes lit up.

'Chuck! I bet there's a Gay Pride parade going on today!' I gleefully shouted.

Sure enough, we drove past people getting their floats ready for the parade. There were an assload of tents set up. Drag queens were tottering down the sidewalk in heels. Dogs were festooned with rainbow bandanas. Children were excitedly waving miniature flags.

I frantically started begging Chuck to park and let me watch the parade. I had always wanted to go to Gay Pride. Not only do I wholeheartedly support gay rights, but the parades always looked so fun when I've seen them on the news. A plus!

All the parades I've ever been to were boring (except the one St Paddy's Day parade I was actually participating in with my Gaelic Football team). Chuck saw the look on my face, and he was awesome enough to park the car and watch the parade with me.

The parade route was set up on a main street along Duke's East Campus. A long, low stone wall (hmm, on words not intended) skirted the avenue where people were already perched and waiting to watch the parade.

It wasn't going to start for awhile, so we walked up into the area with the tents set up, to look around.

"You know how you always say 'I feel like I'm in a movie'?" asked Chuck.

"Yes," I replied.

Chuck looked at me with wide eyes. "Well, I feel like I'm in a movie," he said.

Chuck was pretty hungry, so I bought him a couple of hot dogs from 'The Weenie Women' tent. Hilarious name, and we were supporting a fundraiser. How could I not buy from them?

Now that Chuck was full, I led him around so I could check out the tents. I bought myself a flag to wave during the parade.

We sat down under some shady oaks to escape the scorching sun, and to people watch for a little while:

"What if we end up on the news? What am I going to tell my friends?" asked Chuck.

"We're not going to end up on the news. There's thousands of people here, " I answered.

The wall was rapidly being occupied by the crowd, so I thought I'd better go claim my parade-watching spot. I sat with my feet dangling, laid my flag out over my legs and Chuck stood behind me just in case he had to move underneath the shade again.

I'm sure that Chuck's fantasized about being sandwiched between 20 hot lesbians, but I don't think it turned out quite how he imagined it.

They were was 98 degrees outside! (that's 37C to the rest of the world). But most of them looked as though they could crush his balls *cough*, I mean head in the crooks of their elbows if he tried to get fresh.

It was People Watching Paradise. At one point a car drove past, and a cheerful (and I believe, intoxicated) man leaned out the passenger window and yelled to a pet walker, 'I love your gay dog!'

The parade was about to commence. The Durham police were present to signal the start of the parade, they led the way with sirens blipping.

Notice? A cameraman from News Channel 14 set up right in front of us on the sidewalk. We had picked a great spot.

I love this chick's sign about the 'Gay Agenda'

It was about this time that the news cameraman turned his camera towards the parade watchers.

Get a load of this photo that I took. Look who's face is reflected in the camera lens.

In case you're going 'Who's face?', that's me. I had to lift my camera up above the heads of the people in front of me to snap decent pictures, and I could only vaguely see what I was aiming at on the screen in the back of my camera with my arm up in the air. So it's a crazy that I got that shot of my reflection in the camera. No doctoring, I promise I'm too stupid about computers to do that.

The cameraman turned back around to shoot the parade participants.

"Chuck! That dude was filming us!" I squealed.

"Oh man, we're gonna end up on the news, like I said," Chuck lamented.

"Nah! They just film all sorts of stuff to make sure they have enough footage for the story. We're not gonna be on the news," I reassured him.

Why would we end up on the news when there were more interesting things to film? Like these people.

After the parade went by, we crossed the street to walk down to where our car was parked. By the time we got to the other end, the parade was coming back. So we watched it twice, really. And a good thing too, because I got pics of stuff I missed the first time.

Like these chicks with their boobs out. A boob is not a naked boob if your nipples are covered with strips of red tape. Everyone knows that.

And these guys in cow-print hotpants. I'm almost afraid to check out what is! But strangely compelled...

This older guy really struck me. I saw him walking through the crowd earlier when we milling about. With all the strutting drag queens and lesbians roaring by on bikes...why would this one man catch my attention?

Well...this is what I said to Chuck when I'd seen him earlier.

"There is no way in a million years I will ever be confident enough about who I am, as that guy is about himself.'

I bet that he's been through a lot in his lifetime. A lot can change in 30 or 40 years. He may have been afraid for his life a few times back in the day, maybe even hiding who he was. Now he's marching down the street in a pink paper hat, proudly waving his flag.

Protestors did show up, by the way. I didn't get any pictures of them. Wouldn't waste my memory card space. And there were so few of them that I laughed at how silly and out of place they looked standing on their little streetcorner, not even in parade range. Score one for humanity.

Here are some of the final pictures I took.

These ladies were smart and wore flats. There were a lot of limping drag queens by the end of the parade...

This is one of the last shots I took, and one of my favourites. Chuck thought the girl wearing the 'Peace, Love and Crabs' t-shirt was hot.

I just think it's a great pic, with a great message. The message on the sign, I mean, not the thing about the crabs.

I'm so glad that chance brought me to this event. I'm so glad Chuck was comfortable enough with his sexuality that he agreed to stop and let me participate. It was one of the coolest experiences that I've ever had. Even if Chuck did stick to me like white on rice...or a straight guy in a crowd of gay guys. ;)

There was so much energy in the crowd. So much joy. It was a true celebration.

It made my heart happy.

After the parade was over, Chuck and I went back to our hotel to take a shower and change into our concert-going attire. Chuck turned it to News Channel 14 to see if the Gay Pride coverage was airing yet.

The story came on...and Chuck and I were in the second shot!!

I jumped around the hotel room screaming 'I'm on the news! I'm on the news!' The cameraman had even filmed my feet against the rainbow flag I had across my lap...I was happy that I had worn my blingy pink sequined flip-flops and that my toenails were painted. I didn't even care about how chunky I look on tv.

I can't embed the news video, but here's the link.

My feet are in the shot 0:08 seconds in. All of me is in the shot at 0:26 seconds in. Chuck's standing behind me with the Kinston Indians t-shirt on.

What a crazy, AWESOME day.

How was the concert you ask?

In a word, fantastic. But I think a full review will have to wait till the next post...


Phillip said...

Looks like fun, I've never been to one! Chuck is hilarious (and very cool I might add). I know he probably wasn't too pleased to be on the news. :)

Liz said...

Hey Kyna,

Excellent, I've never been to a gay parade either; but I have been to my fair share of gay nightclubs and even dragged my boyfriend along. I'm sure he was just as pleased as chuck hee hee, thankfully we never ended up on the news - at least not that I know of...

Bub said...

Haaa ha ha - the photo of Chuck had me in stitches! That's a real 'wtf??' face.

All your photos are great, and well done for getting on tv. What's Chuck going to tell his friends?

What a fantastic semi-unplanned day you had, can't wait to read about the concert.

P.S. Apologies to Chuck for laughing at him ;D

Kyna said...

Phillip: You should go! Oh, it was so fun. The happy energy was infectious. Being there makes you just feel 'good'. Chuck was more 'ok' with being there, than you would think he was. Maybe 20 years ago he would have been super-uncomfortable, but he's gotten to the age where he doesn't give a shit about anything anyone thinks. That's part of the reason why I love him. He was just hamming it up for the camera ;)

Liz: Been to gay clubs. LOVE. The parade was a bit different experience. Really family friendly. Like, I said to Phillip, I strongly suggest it as an experience everyone should have :D

Bub: He can pull some GREAT faces :D Chuck really was okat being on the news. He told his drywalling co-workers about it, and they were laughing at what fate brought him lol. It was all good. His friends laughed, and I'm sure they'll watch the link I posted on Facebook ;)

He'll laugh about you laughing at him, I promise :D He's a great sport.

Marguerite said...

What a fantastic day you had, sounds like one for the record books. How often can someone say they stumbled upon a parade, saw a concert and got on the news in the same day!

Jim Groble said...

So you have 14 minutes and 34 seconds of fame still. Very cool pics and post. jim

Al said...

Looks like a great day (or should that be gay day?).
Fortunately there is far more recognition these days that people are just people, be they straight, gay or indifferent.

biobabbler said...

aw. That last poster brought tears to my eyes. That's so great you went and shared it with us, and SO funny you were SO on TV! =) Very glad your honey is a good sport. Nice work!!

Kyna said...

Marguerite: I know! It was so crazy. Just meant to be a great day, I guess. Chuck and I stumble upon a lot of cool things...

Jim: Haha! Good way to put it. Thank goodness...I'm not ready to give up being famous yet. I still have time!

Al: Haha! People are people. Amen to that.

BioB: And I'm glad you decided to read it :D

Kris said...

Oh I'm sooo glad you got to go to the parade! You posted so many pics and such great commentary I could practically hear the crowd. I mean, it was like in a movie... ! You got a good man in Chuck to put up with you. ;-D And look at you guys all over the news. Good thing neither of you had called in sick......

One said...

Hi Kyna, This sort of parade would never happen here so it is great that you shared. It must have been fun. What a great spot you chose to show off your painted toe nails!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Kyna, I was in the UK at the time of the Gay Pride Festival in Brighton. As Brighton is recognised as one of the most liberal cities in England for its tolerance of all people, its Gay Pride event is enormous and attracts many thousands of people across England. It is a weekend of fun and celebration of human rights equalities which is, for me, so very important.

How different the picture is in Budapest where the Gay Pride march amounts to a very small number of extremely brave individuals who carry rainbow flags but are 'advised' that they must not dress provocatively. Hungary is, sadly, extremely homophobic and large numbers of police are employed to 'guard' the Gay Pride participants from the abuse and throwing of tomatoes etc. which has happened in some years.

We must not forget that Human Rights issues abound the world over. And, it is good to do our best to support those who are trying to change this sad state of affairs!

Kyna said...

Kris: Haha! Yeah, I'm glad I got out of work legitmately lol. Glad I make everyone feel like they're in a movie. Just call me Spielberg!

Nah. Dont.

One: Nice to meet you! :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Actually, that sort of parade would never happen in the place I live in either lol. That parade was in a rich, university town about 2 and a half hours away. The place where I live is all conservative military people. You would have the 'freedom' to have a gay parade, but you'd probably risk getting beat up by a bunch of Marines.

Edith: You and I may not always see eye to eye, but in this I am in complete agreement.

In this parade, the police were participants. And not just the fake cop in the hotpants dancing in the bed of that truck lol. Even the mayor was there, with rainbow streamers around his neck lol.

Kimberly said...

Glad you had such a great day! Those poor queens must have horribly sore and swolen feet!

Grower Jim said...

Sounds like it was a real hoot... as all gay pride parades are! Thanks for sharing!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Glad you managed to get the weekend off for the concert...and the impromptu visit to the parade. Got caught up right in the middle of the Gay Pride parade in San Francisco a few years ago. I was there for a conference, and the conference ended, right as the parade started. Took me hours to get home! Congrats on making the news :P

Melissa said...

What a fantastic day! You really can't plan days like that!

Søren said...

Thank you. Not just for supporting gay men and women in general, but also because by doing so you support this:

(I would be the shorter one doing the pin-up kick-back. The other one would be my husband. A word of warning, though: It's lethally difficult to do a pin-up kick-back when standing on the arm-rest of a chair so you won't seem TOO much shorter than your husband...)