Tuesday, July 04, 2006

the pursuit of happiness

I was this close to writing a whole big rant about how much I loathe Independence Day, how the blinding hypocritical stupidity of the "celebrations" always make me want to puke, about how I don't salut the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance (maybe I'll write about that later), how I usually spend this day watching the annual Twilight Zone marathon, since that seems to be the most appropriate thing to do.

Then I thought, I've been feeling way too negative lately. I don't need to indulge that. So today I'm going to celebrate something about this country I do feel proud of: San Francisco. Refuge for the nation's freaks, queers, and misfits. I was gonna do a whole photo-essay thing, but blogger is being, well, itself, so that's not gonna happen today. So here are the few photos I can post:


I have tons of video of the Dykes on Bikes, but only one decent photo. If I can ever figure out this contraption, I'm going to make a music video of the footage.

They really do wear flowers in their hair!
I was never a big fan of the Rainbow symbolism before, but the sheer color of the parade won me over. It was so stunning. I'm all about the rainbow now.
Dancing queens!

RC and I met up with her old Santa Cruz friends and we stood on Market St. as the dykes zoomed by, and I found myself actually tearing up. I was expecting to be all excited and thrilled, but not emotionally moved by it. But then I realized: of course. This is my first Pride parade. I've never been to one before. It was so joyful and exuberant. And what struck me the most was how it seemed the whole city was celebrating Pride, not just the Castro and the Mission district. There wasn't any tension between the festival-goers and the larger community, like I felt last year in my hometown. It's just a big party. And I kept marveling at all the different kinds of people involved: the Latinos holding huge flags of all their different countries, followed by Jewish marchers holding a mock wedding under a pride flag, Asians with Chinese dragon dancers, Native Two-Spirits in traditional dress, military vets, the Man-donna Tribute Band, PFLAG, liberal Christians, the Sisters of Pertpetual Indulgence collecting for AIDS research, nudists on bikes, drag queens dancing with gay cowboys, country and western line dancers, The San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Marching Band, queer police officers, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, and more flamboyant costumes than I could have imagined. Some of them on stilts! I was pretty low-key in my black tank with "LESBIAN" on the front.
The Castro was swathed in rainbow flags. I loved it, even if it is male-dominated. I bought Michelle Tea's Valencia and have been trying not to wolf it down in one go. We hung out at Good Vibrations on Valencia St., reading Sextrology, and I bought a bath bomb with my remaining four bucks. I ogled the waitress at Ponzu's, where RC converted me to mojitos as my drink of choice. I fell in love with City Lights Bookstore, which is almost as wonderful as its sister store Shakespeare and Co; I stocked up on zines and got a "HOWL if you love City Lights" bumper sticker. I don't think we had any Western food the whole time; we gorged on the ethnic food we can't get here: bengan bhati and aloo ghobi, dim sum in Chinatown, sushi and donburi and genmai-cha tea in Japantown. We wandered through the Tenderloin (during the day!) We nursed a beer at the dyke bar The Lexington Club, a funky neighborhood dive with a pool table and a jukebox and dyke art stuck to the red walls with electrical tape. We made friends with the bouncer, a midwestern refugee from our state. Later we went to The Cafe, on Market, for the queer hip hop night, danced our butts off and I made out with a tomboy named Natalie, who had a lip ring and was high as a kite. We left just as the EMTs were arriving--someone collapsed on the dancefloor--so it was a hell of a night. I just fell in love with San Francisco. It was everything I hoped for and nothing I expected. It's so laid-back and creative, so different in feel from any other city I've been in. It's relaxed. It's wierd. It's multicolored and totally, utterly unique. It's individualistic and yet has a great sense of community. It's all mixed up and crazy. It's what happens when all the oddballs and dreamers work together. Goddess bless the freaks.

2 Comments:

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous RC said...

Aw, what a perfect encapsulation of our trip. I'm still processing everything and won't be able to write or speak coherently about it for weeks. And yeah, I keep hearing California's siren song, too . . .

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger Winter said...

I got your postcard yesterday. I will definitely put it on my list of places to visit soon.

 

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