Capitol Hill Pride Festival 2019

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So now I shall tell you about Saturday!

That was the day of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival -- and also the traditional Saturday evening Dyke March; I'll get to that -- and I actually went there and back twice that day: first with Shobhit and Laney, before Shobhit left for work and then Laney and I spent a few more hours there; then again with Jennifer, Matthew, Hope and Josiah after they all arrived from Shelton.

I'll get into more detail about yesterday in my next post, which will be about Pride Sunday itself, but I do want to share something from an email exchange I just had with Laney -- because even though her planned day with her sister yesterday ultimately fell through, she still opted out of Pride Sunday this year, and we perfectly happy for her Pride experience to be confined to Saturday. She wrote to me in one of her emails today, in part:

I had a really fun time on Saturday. I honestly like that event better than the parade. Good heavens I'm such a fucking Old Fart sometimes ;-)

oh well, I'm an exceedingly happy and contented old fart so that's all that matters.

Indeed! But it does also touch on a new thing I realized today, which was what prompted me to write this back to her:

Funny you should mention that! I was talking with an "elder" lesbian I work with (I suppose she's probably pushing seventy) and we discussed how truly homogenized, and particularly sanitized, the Pride Parade has gotten. I think it will still be a very long time before I can give up on the parade completely, but I did think more than once yesterday about how much less sexy the parade is anymore. It's not just that it's so incredibly corporatized, which doesn't bother me as much so long as it is also interspersed with dancing gogo boys and fetish contingents and the like -- true inclusion of fringe stuff is really going by the wayside. Now, to be fair, it may have included more than we saw, but we moved on to Seattle Center well before the parade was over, I would guess maybe at its 2/3 point; I think we watched for about three hours. There was a lot more skin to be seen at the International Fountain. Anyway, back to your point -- for the first time ever, I think I might actually agree with your observation that Saturday on Broadway is more fun than Sunday, and it's actually for the very points just mentioned: it seems to be much more integrated with the fringe elements that made Pride so great to begin with. When I returned in the evening with Jennifer and her crew, we happened upon a drag show that was uber-campy in a way we almost never see in the parade anymore, very gay and very funny. There actually seems to be a purity of the spirit of pride at least somewhat still lingering at the Capitol Hill Pride Festival that is dissipating much more rapidly from the Sunday parade.

I actually started to wonder this morning: maybe there is a smaller-city Pride that could use crowds more than there is any need in Seattle anymore, in Tacoma or on the Peninsula or somewhere comparable? I kind of like the idea of supporting a community somewhere that has greater need for it. That said, no one else holds their Pride on the same day as Seattle because of course, generally speaking, everyone in the region comes to Seattle. And the crowds this year were truly nuts, I'm not sure they have ever been bigger.

The point here, in the context of this post about Saturday, is this: Saturday actually was the most fun, just generally speaking. It's kind of ironic I should say that now, given my dismissive contempt toward disparate Pride Weekend organizers over the years: when the Pride Parade was moved from Broadway to downtown in 2006, businesses on Capitol Hill were pissed, and by 2009 they started the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, with booths and entertainment along about a half-mile stretch of Broadway closed off. Many Capitol Hill businesses, including pretty much all the major gay nightclubs, have refused to participate in the downtown Pride Parade to this day.

This has been a huge contributor to the sanitization of the parade: with virtually none of the clubs entering contingents, the scantily clad dancing gogo boys declined dramatically. And now, as much as I have scoffed at the decision for years, it has clearly paid off for the Capitol Hill businesses: places like The Cuff, The Wildrose, and in just the past couple of years the new "it place" Queer / Bar, have reserved their entir blocks for beer gardens with their own exhorbitant cover charges and live performances. Apparently someone on Broadway just this past Saturday told Laney that, after all this time, it turns out the Capitol Hill Pride Festival is actually far more lucrative for all the Broadway businesses, which far more easily attract customers during a street festival than during a parade that totally clogs up the entire street with spectators.

Anyway, there are even disparate organizers of Saturday events: Capitol Hill Pride Festival is confined to Broadway; Seattle PrideFest, which is the organizing body for the Sunday parade downtown, reserves Cal Anderson Park for so-called "family friendly" events. Both have their own websites and their own schedule of events for the day; for some reason, other websites list both organizations' information without ever so much as acknowledging how confusing and contradictory it can seem. They even had their own scheduled "doggie drag show" or "doggie costume contest" -- Capitol Hill Pride Festival's at 11 a.m. on Broadway, and Seattle PrideFest's at 3 p.m. at Cal Anderson Park. It was specifically for this reason I suggested to Laney that we meet at Broadway & John at 11 a.m., to watch the apparently 10th annual Doggie Drag Show. But, when we got there, Shobhit and me running about ten minutes late, Laney told us she had gone to where it was supposed to happen and it was running very late and would not be happening any time soon. We wound up walking the Broadway booths instead, and Laney and I saw the 3pm show at Cal Anderson Park.

Shobhit is all about strolling the booths, because he loves grabbing all the free swag, by far the most of which can be found on Saturday at the Capitol Hill Pride Festival. Shobhit and I particularly like to make a beeline for the Broadway Market QFC booth, which always has by far the most loot -- they gave out tote bags for us to put all that crap in, bottled waters, sodas, Blue Diamond Nut Thins, potato chips, and more. They rotate the type of samples they give out through the day, so Shobhit and I went through the line a second time later, and I even went a third time after he left. Miraculously, the line at that booth was never nearly as long as it has been in years past.

On our first stroll to the north end of Broadway and back, it was pretty much too early in the day for the performance stages to be really underway with any shows yet. We stopped at a lot of booths, though, getting loot, getting information, hearing the occasional shpiel for a City Council candidate. We made our way slowly back down to John again, and soon after that Shobhit parted ways with us to get back home and then head on to work.

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At my suggestion, Laney and I both packed lunches, as that way we couldn't have to pay to eat out. I actually made a sandwich, in quite a hurry after Shobhit and I got back from a run to Costco in the morning and that's why we were late meeting Laney (and having a hard time to meet turned out to be moot anyway). Laney just bought a caprese sandwich from the Broadway Starbucks.

Apparently Laney gets a small bonus every quarter so long as sales are up, and so she offered to buy me a cocktail before we went to the park to eat our sandwiches. I was like, all right!

We meandered up Broadway looking for a bar with outdoor seating -- there was a lot of those -- but not too busy. We found a new place neither of us had tried yet called Boca, and their house margarita was made with a jalapeƱo tequila. The waiter assured us it wasn't too spicy, and that it was their best selling item on their entire menu, and so I decided to try it. And so did Laney. And they were delicious! She even sprung for a second round.

We hung out there for some time, just watching the increasingly packed crowds of people passing on the other side of the little border fence our table was set up next to. Then we walked back up to Cal Anderson Park, where we sat to eat our sandwiches and little sample bags of chips. After that, the crowd for the Doggie Costume Contest was way too big in front of the stage for us to be able to see very well at all, so then we went up the little grassy hill rght behind the stage, where we basically got a pretty good backstage view of all the adorably dressed up dogs. I kept 12 photos -- and took many more -- of that show alone.

Soon after that, it was time for me to head back home, as Jennifer had finally messaged me that they were going to catch the 4:15 ferry, which gave me maybe ninety minutes to get several things done. I rode my bike to the bank to withdraw $30 and then down to the Broadway & Pike QFC to get change exact enough to cover everyone's bus fare yesterday; I came back and vacuumed the condo; I put fresh linens on the hide-a-bed. I was too busy with all of this stuff to write anything for this blog about Trans Pride on Friday , which was why I had to wait until this afternoon to do it.

Once they arrived, after taking a wrong turn only a couple blocks away and almost getting lost, I was down on the street on 15th Avenue and let them into our garage so they could park in Shobhit's spot.

It was Jennifer; her new boyfriend Matthew (and this did get confusing; several times she used the name Matthew and I thought she was talking to or about me, and she was actually talking to or about him); her 16-year-old lesbian daughter, Hope; an Hope's gay best friend Josiah. This was the first-ever Seattle Pride for all four of them.

But first, I made us all dinner -- ravioli, with a bunch of sauteed vegetables and veggie sausage and feta cheese added to the bottle of pasta sauce and two more 14oz cans of crushed tomatoes besides; I used up the last three of the four packets of ravioli Shobhit and I had gotten at our previous trip to Costco. They all liked it a lot, and I got repeat compliments from more than one of them. As a matter of fact, both Hope and Josiah were exceedingly polite, which is kind of surprising considering the generally sarcastic way Jennifer has raised her children.

Matthew was the only one who helped himself to seconds, which made me slightly worried about whether enough would still be left for Shobhit -- that worry turned out to be baseless. I did manage to fit the last of it into a large bowl I left in the microwave for him, but piled quite high; Shobhit was actually only able to eat about half of it that night and he ate the rest yesterday.

Anyway, once dinner was done and eaten and I had washed and put away all the dishes, I realized that there was still a couple hours left of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, which officially lasts until 10 p.m., so I asked them if they were interested in going to check it out. They all were, so off we went.

Josiah changed his shirt first. He kept his high-hiked kakhis on, but changed out of his Hawaiian style shirt into . . . a pink polo shirt. Really cutting loose there, kid! It cracked me up. Jennifer said he's just a very "rigid" kid, and he usually has his pants hiked up even higher.

As it happened, the festival was more entertaining at this second time I went over there, even though the crowd had thinned a bit in comparison to the afternoon. One particularly convenient bit of timing: we arrived at Broadway and John right as the traditional Dyke March was starting. At first, I didn't even know what it was; all I saw was several cops on motorcycles in the middle of the street -- between the booths on either side. I was about to say, "What's with all the cops?", and then I saw the small contingent of Dykes on Bikes behind the cops, and then behind them the banner announcing the Dyke March.

Back in the early days, when Saturday was not nearly so much packed with Pride events, the Dyke March was the Saturday event on Pride Weekend, aside from dancing out at the clubs. Broadway was closed down temporarily for that march only, and they walked south along Broadway until they reached the Pike/Pine Corridor. Now, they start it literally smack in the middle of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, and by all appearances, everyone there fully supports it.

To be sure, the Dyke March remains a particularly and pointedly political affair -- arguably the most political thing still happening at Pride, in pretty sharp contrast to the wildly corporate-sponsored Pride Parade. Friday's Trans Pride comes pretty close, and this would make sense -- women and trans people currently have far more to fear than, say, your average gay man, at least here in Seattle. Trans Pride and the Dyke March are really not places for companies and politicians to engage in their typical pandering -- that's what the Pride Parade is reserved for.

It sure gave Jennifer and her crew a pretty good eye full right off the bat. I have no idea how conservative Matthew is, although he seems to take pretty much everything in stride, and although he's only 26 (or he may be 27 by now), I feel like he's kind of got the soul of a much older man. I can easily imagine him leading a solitary life later in life, sitting on a porch and merely gruntin at any of the younger people passing by. (He doesn't grunt now, to clarify. I can just easily imagine it, is all.)

Jennifer was particularly interested in seeing "furries," and there was a lot fewer of them Saturday in the evening than there had been earlier in the afternoon, when there had been a legit pack of them roaming up and down Broadway. I assured her she would see more of them, and she did, though not nearly as many as I thought she would. There was one guy just sitting alone on a bench with a wolf head on when we walked through Cal Anderson Park on our way there.

They didn't stop at very many booths at all, but they still seemed to enjoy strolling up and down Broadway. We did happen upon a pretty fantastic drag performance that was in my opinion the perfect amount of camp and humor, the kind of thing that Pride in general has lacked -- especially at the parade itself -- for many years now. It rather entertained our entire group for several minutes (note the photo at the end of this post).

But then they decided to keep walking, and once we reached the north end of Broadway, that was when they decided to stop at a licorice rope booth, and Matthew bought licorice ropes for everyone -- except for me; I honestly just didn't want any. We then strolled back to the south end of the festival again, then back through the park and back home again.

I took them all up to the seventh floor to see the sunset from our rooftop deck. We were up there for a while, but then it got chilly. Back downstairs in my forth-floor condo, we visited for a bit more. Jennifer actually tried waiting for Shobhit to get home from work, but then she got too tired and just could not stay awake, and so she and Matthew retired to the guest room, and I pulled the hide-a-bed out for Hope and Josiah.

As for Shobhit, I had misrepresented how soon he would get home. First, I thought he got off work at 10:00, and he actually got off at 10:15. And then, with Jennifer's car in our spot in the garage, it took him nearly half an hour to find street parking, this being late Saturday night on Pride Weekend -- probably the busiest night of the year on Capitol Hill. We have a Zone 4 parking permit, but he never found any parking within the Zone 4 borders. He wound up parking on 19th and John -- literally one street outside the Zone 4 and then into a street area with no parking limits, but half an hour walk back home from there. So pretty much everyone but me was asleep when he finally made it home; he didn't bother reheating his ravioli and he ate it sitting on the bed in our bedroom so as not to disturb the kids.

I just realized something. I don't think we have ever had four people stay overnight at once before. We just had a record number of overnight guests. I also just washed three different sets of sheets (washing Shobhit's and mine too, because why not) and now the guest room linens are cleaned fresh for Ivan's visit this coming weekend.

Anyway! That pretty much concludes my report on Saturday. You can view the full, 49-shot photo album on Flickr here. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to read about Sunday.

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[posted 9:12 pm]