I approach every Pride season with more than a little weariness and trepidation. That's not because I have any particular issues with Pride but because as someone who runs a gay publication, Pride really means one thing: work. I'm not whining too much, since the people who put on Capital Pride put in a lot more hours over the course of the weekend than I do. But I'm happy to whine nonetheless!
This year, though, I had even less to whine about because I had the great fortune and honor to be chosen as one of the Capital Pride Heroes. I've been around the D.C. GLBT and HIV/AIDS activist scene for a long time now, and I'm really flattered to be included not only among this year's honorees, but all those who came before. Looking at the list of all the honorees past is humbling for me, and that list doesn't even begin to capture the full range of people who worked in ways large and small to make our lives a little bit better.
But, from the more important navel-gazing perspective, this was also my first year being in the Pride parade. Really, in all my 19 years in D.C. I'd never walked or ridden the parade from start to finish, so getting to ride in a car right at the start of the procession was a pretty cool experience. Frightening, as well. When you're facing that many people crowded together along city streets, you have a sneaky suspicion that they're either going to rip you apart a la 28 Days Later or elect you to public office. Both horrifying prospects.
Also, being a natural introvert makes the whole elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist-wrist waving thing a challenge for me. Things weren't improved by the fact that the ZipCar-provided convertible Mini Coopers the Heroes rode in for the parade weren't actually labeled with anything to let people know why jokers like me were riding at the front of the parade. For example, when you see a bunch of lesbians on loud motorcycles you instantly think, "Dykes on Bikes!" When you see me riding down the street with a sheepish smile and wave, you don't really think "Hero!"
What people thought -- and cheered -- was, "Woooo! Zip Car! We love Zip Car!" It was amusing during the first third of the parade route. It was a little annoying during the middle third. And for the final third, when a drunk guy ran out to my car and gushed about the joys of Zip Car -- "Ohmygod I looooove Zip Car! I drive Zip Car everywhere, even when I'm not drunk!" -- it kind of bordered into the soul crushing. And then Wendy Rieger totally dissed me from the review stand by skipping my bio. Thanks Wendy! I really look forward to picking which picture of you runs when we catch you at the Reel Affirmations reception this fall. I totally promise you won't have your eyes closed or be making an unfortunately funny face!
But it was a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thanks to everyone at Capital Pride for making me a part of it.
As for the rest of Pride, well, even though it's a huge amount of work to get ready for, it's always worth it in the end. It's one of the few times during the year that all of us at the magazine can get out and talk to people, and the number of positive comments we get always make it easier to get back to work on Monday. Well, Tuesday. It's never easy to get work on the Monday after Pride. Thank you to everyone who stopped by. As always, it makes my job worthwhile.