Seattle Pride 2019

The Parade

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Seattle Pride Parade 2019 Roll Call! This is legit the largest group I have ever watched the parade with -- as expected:

1. Matthew
2. Shobhit
3. Jennifer
4. Matthew [Jennifer's boyfriend]
5. Hope [Jennifer's 16-year-old daughter]
6. Josiah [Hope's best friend]
7. Danielle
8. Morgan [Danielle's 14-year-old daughter]
9. Gabriel
10. Lea [Gabriel's girlfriend]
11. Tess [Gabriel's daughter]

And this was, indeed, my outside, liberal estimate of how large our group would be, and it would even be 13 if you count the friend of Tess's who came with her as well as that kid's mother, but I'm not really counting them as part of "my group," merely because, even though Gabriel did introduce me to them, not only can I not remember either of their names but they never really stayed right by us anyway -- along with Tess, they kind of slightly broke off into their own little separate group.

Also, quick aside: Jennifer, Matthew, Hope, Josiah, Danielle and Morgan -- for every one of them, this was their first Seattle Pride Parade.

We did not get the spot I had been aiming for. I even took a picture of the spot on 4th and Vine that I had secured both the previous years, and foolishly thought I could trust just the time stamp on the first photo from the parade last year: 10:17 am. That must mean I arrived at 10 am and got the spot I wanted, right? Well, the six of us -- Jennifer, Matthew, Hope, Josiah, Shobhit and myself -- actually made it to the bus stop on 15th & John by the intended time of 9:45 am; the #8 was about five minutes late, and it was probably about 10:20 by the time we actually got specifically to 4th and Vine. It's entirely possible that that slight delay was what made all the difference, but the entire block was already full with people along the curb just behind crowd control barriers. It was only one-person deep at that point, but my vision of laying out four blankets to save space for both Danielle and Gabriel was dashed pretty much immediately. There must have been people there waiting at least an hour already by that point; I'm going to have to make a note to myself to get down there by nine a.m. next year. Shobhit almost certainly won't want to come that early, but I will, and he can just come and meet me later. I can bring a book, like I usually do.

Shobhit kind of led us all south on 4th, looking for a lucky opening. I think Jennifer noticed one solitary barrier fence section across the street on the southeast corner of 4th and Wall, one block south of my intended spot, that appeared to be a spot we could use. I knew it would not be ideal, but it was also apparently the best we could find at the moment. It meant inevitable crowding from behind (the reason I love that spot at Vine is the hedges hold other crowding back from behind us), and nowhere near the amount of space (in fact, less than half) I was hoping to claim, but it was what we had to work with.

It would have even been slightly better had the fencing we sat behind been hooked to another section of crowd barrier fencing, but this one was a stand-alone on the corner curb, leaving space on either side for the curb-ramps that open to crosswalks for people crossing the street. Shobhit and I opened our two blanket totes and folded them out lengthwise from the barrier fence, but with parts of the back and side folded in so they didn't stick too far out into foot traffic. The two blankets like that created barely enough space for those first six of us to arrive; I suppose it matters little in the end that there was no space on them for anyone else, since by the time the parade actually came we were pretty much all standing anyway. (This was another necessity we could have avoided had I been able to claim the area by Vine between the curb and the hedges.)

But whatever, we found a spot and it worked out. Shobhit mentioned maybe one or two times too many how pointless it turned out for me to bring a separate tote packed with a third and fourth blanket for sitting on, neither of which did we have any space to use -- so, it was just one more bag we carried around all day. Had we gotten there earlier, I would have been able to use those blankets as planned. But, I miscalculated the best laid plans. Oh well! It's not the end of the world, now is it? Meanwhile, once Gabriel and Lea and Tess made it, Gabriel openly found it to be a well chosen spot. Well, he should have seen how much better the one I wanted was! (I guess at one point he told Lea's friends Joshua and Darren that I was "in the bushes," and they said, "At Volunteer Park?!" -- which gave me a good laugh.)

Danielle and Morgan drove to the Light Rail Station nearest to them in Renton -- that would make it Tukwila Station -- and did park & ride, taking the train up to Westlake Station and then walking the rest of the way to meet up with us. It was about 11:15 by the time they arrived, and they actually had a place to sit briefly because Hope and Josiah went off to get a drink at the coffee shop across the street, or they had gone to walk around a bit, or something.

The parade begins at 11:00, and it usually reaches that area by about 11:30, so the Dykes on Bikes that traditionally start the parade reached us pretty soon after Danielle and Morgan's arrival. And then? Not long at all after that, Gabriel and Lea and Tess also showed up! Let's see, based on time stamps on my photos, the first Dykes on Bikes reached us at 11:27; the first photo I got of Tess (including in the series above, actually; she's got a huge rainbow bow in her hair) was at 11:43.

I just realized based on these photo time stamps I can calculate exactly how long we watched the parade. The very last shot I took of anyone in the parade (of Lamai, in the PCC contingent, which was the last thing we specifically waited for) was taken at 2:28. So really, as expected and basically as usual, we stuck around for a solid three hours of a parade that usually goes on for a minimum of four hours. I'd really like to try sticking around for the last hour next year, though, just as a semi-experiment: are a lot more of the less homogenized and particularly less sanitized contingents in the parade reserved for that last quarter of the parade? I feel like it's very possible. If I sit through that fourth hour with nothing more than just more of the same contingents that serve as nothing more than corporate advertisements, though, then I'll likely officially decided never to sit through the parade in its entirety again.

Because, in terms of the parade on the whole, the response this year was, as it turns out, rather similar to what I wrote last year:

Speaking of which, though, I have to say that the parade feels weirdly, a little . . . less gay. I mean, don't get me wrong: given that feeling, it was still surprisingly easy to get plenty of photos of very gay things -- including a lot of hot guys in varying states of undress. The hot guys were easier to find everywhere but the parade, in places like the Capitol Hill Pride Festival and particularly PrideFest at Seattle Center after the parade. And I've spent plenty of time scoffing at years of complaints people have had about this, the "corporatization" of the Pride Parade -- my response has always been that it's a natural byproduct of the mainstreaming of gay culture. Through most of that, though, I feel like a much higher percentage of the parade still had a noticeable element of celebrating sexual deviance (so to speak) and sexual defiance: we're here, we're queer, we're sex positive. The floats featuring hot gogo boys dancing in their underwear are increasingly a thing of the past. Sure, a few did exist in this year's parade -- but they didn't become all that noticeable until countless contingents had already passed. Among my specific parade photos, the nude cyclists are 92 photos in (that's 70% of the way through); the "pups" contingent -- one of only two or three contingents I noticed with any overtly fetishistic theme, and there used to be countless -- 110 photos in (83% of the way through); and it's 127 photos in (96% through) before the once-standard float with dancing gogo boys is even first seen.

. . . And you know what? I could just about say all these same things about the parade this year. Except, well, let's compare and contrast between this year's parade and last!

"Among my specific parade photos . . ."

Nude cyclists, 2018: 92 photos in (70% of the way through)
Nude cyclists, 2019: 69 photos in (65%)
Pups contingent, 2018: 110 photos in (83% of the way through)
Pups contingent, 2019: didn't see them; either they were not in the parade or they were too far back
Dancing gogo boys, 2018: 127 photos in (96% of the way through)
Dancing gogo boys, 2019: 92 photos in (87% of the way through)

Well, would you look at that! Among those I could measure, contingents I was most interested in actually started earlier this year. Granted, not by a huge amount; in all cases it was still within the final third of what I watched of the parade, and not seeing, say, "pups" at all (not that I am into "pup play" at all, mind you; my only point is about the decreasing inclusivity among the fringes of our community) kind of evens out any of those gains. So the point remains: the Pride Parade itself is so homogenized and sanitized, as Terry said at work yesterday, "It feels like watching any parade. We might as well be watching the Seafair Parade."

Now, thinking more critically about it than just in the context of the parade being so much less sexy (and, importantly, less campy) than it once was, that judgment is really not accurate. The Pride Parade is still very gay -- just not in the defiantly assertive way it used to be. And even a cursory look at my full, 92-shot Pride Parade photo album on Flickr reveals there were still plenty of fun and important things to get pictures of. And strangely enough, although there was a pretty shockingly small number of contingents acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the two I saw that did, were actually corporate contingents! The first was a northwest company, at least: Fred Meyer; the second was Comcast NBCUniversal.

I suppose there is also something to be said for the fact that we've come so far that we can complain about the mainstreaming of Gay Pride, when mainstream acceptance was basically the goal from the beginning. Furthermore, this year was particularly special to me, being able to spend the day not with Shobhit, but with my three oldest/closest friends: my cousin Jennifer; Danielle who I've known since age 11; Gabriel who I've known since age 19. And there was a whole new, generational layer this time: all of these people brought their kids, all of them somewhere on the LGBT spectrum: Hope and her friend Josiah with Jennifer; Morgan with Danielle; Tess with Gabriel. Credit where credit is due, Gabriel has brought Tess to Trans Pride the past five years in a row; and he accompanied me for the Pride Parade itself on Sunday five of the past eight years: 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. He has joined me for far more Pride events over the years than anyone besides Shobhit.

Anyway, back to the kids. Acknowledging that kids are generally just far more sophisticated these days than when I was a teenager, I still think it can't really be overstated the impact and importance coming to Pride for the first time in their lives likely is for them. They're far from old enough to be jaded by years and years of this; I've been going to Pride every year since 1998 (that's 22 years!) and have far more to compare to. To some degree or another, every year is different. For right now, for those kids, this year is all they got. Apparently Hope has been asking Jennifer to take her to Seattle pride for the past couple of years, and Jennifer only had the capability for the first time this year (I would guess due to a mixture of two things: seniority at her job allowing her to request time off on Saturday; and my finally not having a roommate in the guest room, which freed up enough space for us to have four people overnight for the first time). Danielle came to meet me for drinks on Saturday of Pride Weekend in 2015 and joined me for Trans Pride in 2017, but this was also her first Pride Parade, and I think she saw bringing Morgan to it as a bonding opportunity. (Morgan, for her part, was a bit less animated than she might have been otherwise; Danielle told Shobhit and me she was on her period. I laughed and said, "I'm sure she's thrilled you just told us that!" I'm pretty sure she doesn't read this journal, if you're wondering why I then posted about it here. They later had to leave the festival at Seattle Center earlier than originally desired because of Morgan's condition, which really just made me feel bad for her.)

So, I was pretty happy to get a photo of myself with three BFFs, as seen at the top of this post: Jennifer, Gabriel, Danielle. I had Lea take the picture, after it finally occurred to be to have one taken -- an opportunity I almost missed, because Gabriel went off to take Tess's friend to a bathroom; when he returned, Jennifer and Matthew had gone to get coffee and get out of the sun for a few minutes; Danielle was talking about joining in with the UW Medical Center contingent once they reached us, and I was afraid of that happening before all four of us were together again. So, once we were, I had the photo taken. And Jennifer asked that they be redone because she didn't like her face in the first ones. Much like my dad, Jennifer has trouble smiling naturally for photos. Actually none of the shots have all four of us smiling naturally -- in the one at the top of this post, Danielle just looks like she's hollering something; in the first set, one of which I posted to social media, Gabriel was deliberately making faces. God damn it, Gabriel! Anyway, I was glad to get the shot when I did, because Danielle and Morgan did indeed join the UW Medical Center contingent (she works for them at their hospital in Renton; I only put it together on Sunday that it's the same company both Gabriel's mom Janine and Gabriel's ex Kornelija work for, although they both work in the U District) and marched with them all the way up to Seattle Center, not to be seen again that day.

In the second photo at the top of this post, it basically replaces Gabriel with Shobhit -- only because Gabriel couldn’t drink what we were drinking: a pineapple wine Jennifer had brought, and which we poured into a thermos. Gabriel can no longer drink wine, and he can also no longer consume citrus. It sucks to be him. Anyway, Shobhit kept calling it "coffee." With quotes.

I also got a very sweet photo with Danielle and Morgan, as you can see; a truly fantastic shot of Gabriel and Lea together (Janine, Gabriel's mom, even asked me to send it to her on Facebook Messenger yesterday); that lovely shot of Tess with the rainbow bow; and then the one of Hope and Josiah chatting as they stand as parade spectators. You can see one of Hope's many sketch notepads in her skirt pocket -- she is an incredibly talented artist.

I kind of had a fantasy of getting a photo of all ten of the people who joined me for the Pride Parade, but coordinating that just wasn't in the cards. The one person I got the least number of photos of was Jennifer's boyfriend Matthew, although I did get this shot of them walking from the parade to Seattle Center, Shobhit making a long beeline for the International Fountain.

Seattle PrideFest

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I know there were performance stages at Seattle Center's PrideFest as usual, but we never laid eyes on any of them. The crowds at Seattle Center were sardine packed and insane, and this was well before the parade even ended! And Shobhit, for his part, was just obsessed with the International Fountain, knowing he'd be able to cool off in those waters, and also see lots of hot guys there in various states of undress (some of them completely naked, which I warned Jennifer about and she seemed unconcerned with). Shobhit told me multiple times to tell Jennifer she should have the kids bring swimsuits, and they did -- but they never changed into them. Hope and Josiah did go off and walk around Seattle Center on their own for a while, and Jennifer and Matthew just sat amongst the crowd on the side of the concrete bowl that goes down into where the fountain is. Matthew spent a lot of time holding all of our bags because otherwise they would slide right down the hill, which was very nice of him.

Jennifer went with me when I decided to go into Seattle Center's Armory building to use the bathroom; getting there and back took a while, just walking through the crowds. We both actually got in and out of the third floor bathroom surprisingly quickly. Shobhit wore swim briefs under his shorts, and went to frolic in the fountain water two or three times. Even I went down and walked under a bit of spray, even though I was in shorts and a T-shirt (my "I ♥ ME" T-shirt, which Gabriel noticed earlier and said was perfect for me -- he and Lea and Tess stayed behind to see the rest of the parade, by the way; he tends to insist it's only polite and right to see everyone) and not in any swimsuit. I didn't get too wet, though, and it was a nice bit of cooldown on a pretty warm day.

After a while, Shobhit also walked to the Armory to use the bathroom, and that gave us some extra time; Jennifer said she had told the kids they could walk around for another half hour or so anyway. I got a lot of good pictures -- as noted last year, the majority of the many "random hot guys" photos I got were from either Capitol Hill Pride Festival or at the International Fountain, only a few in the Pride Parade itself.

Anyway, soon enough Jennifer and Matthew were ready to head back to the condo; they had to drive all the way back to Shelton, after all. We walked back to catch the #8 bus up to Capitol Hill from the stop at 6th Ave & Denny Way, quite the stroke of luck being a bus that was actually nearly empty! We later caught up with the #8 that must have been very close ahead of it, and that bus was probably packed and running much further behind schedule. I had actually withdrawn $30 to cover the expected total $22.50 in bus fare expenses, only $13.25 did I end up actually having to spend. On the way down there in the morning, I put a $5 in and then the bus driver told me minors were free that day; I tried to figure out what that meant I still needed to put in to cover three other adults, and the driver, understandably wanting to get a move on, just said, "Merry Christmas!" and waved me back. When we caught the bus for our return trip, I put in $8.25 to cover Shobhit, Jennifer and Matthew (I have my work-issued annual pass for myself) and again was told I did not have to pay for the minors.

When we got off the bus, Jennifer wanted to go back to Bakery Nouveau which was right there, which she remembered from her visit when we did the St. Patrick's Day Dash in March -- she and Matthew bought a box of macarons, which they shared with everyone once we walked the few blocks back to our condo. They only had two flavors left at the bakery by that time, orange caramel and vanilla, and both were stunningly delicious.

Jennifer and Matthew started talking about the ferry schedule, as they were going to ferry to Bremerton and drive back down to Shelton from there, and when they mentioned a 5:30 ferry and whether I thought they could make that, I said, "If you leave right this minute." And so they quickly gathered up their things, headed down to their car, and off they went. I thought it might actually be too busy for them to make that ferry, but they did make it. And Shobhit and I walked together to where he had parked his car half a mile away, down on 19th & John, and I rode with him driving back to the condo. We rested a bit and I made us a quick dinner.

"Queer / Pride"


Now. Quick return to when we were still at the Pride Parade: we happened to see Alan, our condo complex building manager, walk by -- he was working security -- and we waved hello. He came up and told us he would later be working security at Queer / Bar's beer garden, at which the cover charge was $30 (!), but to come see him and he would let us in.

Under very few circumstances would I ever consider going to that beer garden -- or any beer garden, although I have wound up going into one or two, definitely cheaper ones with Gabriel in years past -- but this seemed like far too great an opportunity to pass up. After we were done with dinner and Shobhit had had a nap, we talked about going to check it out, and he suggested we leave at 6:45. I worked a bit more on my Pride photos, and then we left, getting down there right around 7:00.

I figured there was plenty chance Alan would not be working the entrance when we arrived, and we agreed we would just go get dessert somewhere if he wasn't. But he was! We bypassed the ticket counter, there was no line at all -- as it was early yet for Pride Sunday's evening entertainments -- and he waved us right in. He told us there would be a headliner performance at 8:30 that was supposed to be really great, and that sounded pretty fun to me.

Queer / Bar had their entire block on 11th Avenue blocked off for their beer garden, with a VIP lounge and several drink booths that took cash only. I saw one $12 cocktail that looked tasty but I had only $16.75 in cash on me. Shobhit suggested we go inside the bar so I could pay for one drink each for us using plastic. He had a martini, which he asked about making a double but opted against because it cost too much. But then he asked about making my margarita a double, and that's what I wound up getting -- which I really should not have. I was more tipsy than I would have liked by the time we left, right before the headliner we were too tired of waiting for to come on, and had I done just a one-shot drink I would have had a much more perfect, lighter buzz at that point.

And guess who else we saw there? Gabriel and Lea! They walked right up to us, quite surprised to see us there -- and the only reason we were was because Alan had waved us in. Shobhit noted we were the only ones there not wearing bracelets, which Shobhit thought could mean they might kick us out at a certain time -- I was sure that wouldn't happen, but was also sure we would not have re-entry rights if we left the venue and tried to get back in, especially without Alan around; we did see him walking around inside the space later, so he was not working the gate the whole time. We got there at just the right time. Anyway, this was the place at which Lea's friends Joshua and Darren had went from Trans Pride on Friday to buy their VIP tickets for, so they spent a little bit of time in the VIP lounge, which frankly I cannot imagine being worth the extra expense.

And they spent a pretty good amount of time with us outside the VIP lounge anyway, so this was when Shobhit finally got to meet them. Shobhit rather liked Darren, I think; Darren's seriously extroverted nature was out in full force. I like him a lot too, as I have already said; same with Joshua, even though now that I've seen him a couple more times since first meeting him at C.C. Attle's two Saturdays ago, when he was a little drunk and therefor much more boisterous, I feel a kind of vibe from him, of a sort of tentativeness, with me. And that's fine too, I totally get it; for all I know he's like that with everyone he doesn't know well. Darren is already giving me hugs every time he sees me, and Joshua is not -- of course, neither am I, as I am quite tentative about hugging as well, unless I know absolutely for certain the person wants it.

Speaking of which, and I will now digress for a moment, they actually had a booth at Trans Pride on Friday where you could "learn how to avoid unwanted hugs." Gabriel tried to rope me into demonstrating with him, and I was like "Nope." I didn't feel like being part of a public display I had no control over. He demonstrated with Tess instead, and you know what? Turns out, I actually learned something useful from that demonstration, although to be honest I can't even remember the last time I got a hug I really didn't want; by and large I'm fine with them. I still like knowing how to avoid them if I want to, though. And it now just occurred to me how ironic that was: there was a moment on Friday where I actively avoided an unwanted demonstration of avoiding unwanted hugs. Anyway! How much of a hugger I am pretty much depends entirely on how much of a hugger the person I'm with is. Jennifer, for instance, is very much like me in this regard, and since neither of us often initiate hugs with anyone at all, we never hug each other. When we said goodbye yesterday afternoon as they all loaded into their car, I think Matthew had a slightly awkward moment when he said "Well okay . . . thanks!" at a moment when plenty of other people in the same scenario would be hugging each other.

When we left Queer / Bar yesterday, Gabriel & crew were off somewhere else, and we never went to find them to say goodbye, not especially for any particular reason, except that Shobhit and I had just gotten into a truly stupid argument, and also I suddenly just felt too drunk and wanted to get home.

I happened to see Terry Miller standing right by us, he being Dad Savage's famously hot husband, wearing an outfit that was probably made by the Mr. Turk brand he's constantly wearing in his Instagram feed. I pointed him out to Shobhit, which Shobhit kind of halfheartedly acknowledged. But, and apparently this was my mistake (why, I would not be able to tell you for as long as I live), I also then brought up Instagram on my phone to show that to Shobhit. And then suddenly Shobhit's bitch switch flipped right over: "You used to hate Dan Savage and I guess now you love him," he said, in an incredibly snotty tone. What?

Of course I immediately wanted to know what the fuck his problem was, and he really did this: he went on about how I should be paying attention to him and not being distracted by other things and people. As if being in this very spot and crowd watching weren't exactly what we were there to fucking do. I pointed out to him that he was literally the only person I was talking to at that moment, none of my other friends were even around us; I was just sharing with him. He tried to characterize it as though showing him the Instagram feed was overkill, and it should have been enough that he just acknowledged it when I pointed Terry out the first time.

This is the kind of wildly childish, beyond exasperating behavior that makes me want to just throw my hands up with him. It's literally irrational insanity, and when you're dealing with a crazy person -- or at least a person who is acting crazy -- there is just no winning. Not ever. So this is a serious question: why fucking bother trying at all? I suppose I could keep trying just to feel good about myself. But I clearly can't ever expect anything I do or say to be good enough for him. It's just a bonus when it happens to work okay. But I'll tell you what, that shit gets old very quickly.

That whole exchange seriously brought the mood down for us, and there just wasn't any joy in being there anymore. This was compounded by how drunk that last cocktail made me. Shobhit said he was ready to go when I was, and I said, "I'm ready to go now, I'm too drunk." I had wanted to wait for the headliner, and I'm pretty sure I heard the person singing when we were no more than a block away after going out the back exit gate that spilled us onto Pine Street. But it was still the right time for us to go home.

Still. And this is important! I have to take responsibility for my part in escalating the hostility in that exchange. Thinking about it now, it was entirely within my power to let that stupid comment go instead of getting angry. I could have just said "Whatever," and started dancing. Spending the next few minutes just stewing over it? That was a choice I made. I can't blame Shobhit for that part of it. I literally went back to add this paragraph because I don't think it's right to characterize Shobhit as the only person who acted like an asshole. He still instigated it for sure, and everything I said about it remains valid. But I still have to take responsibility for my part in where it went from there.

I would say things between us were actually fine again by the time I went to bed -- far too late, at nearly midnight, after uploading all my photos from the day -- but it was still part of a cycle that can sometimes be exhausting. Luckily, I still have something to lift up the spirits of this post before its very end!

Random Hot Guys


These guys pictured above were seen at Queer / Bar's beer garden. The guy on the left is wearing see-through mesh shorts I find insanely hot. Hot, hot hot! It's one of my favorite photos of the many "Random Hot Guys" I have taken at Pride and West Hollywood Halloween events since 2005. Fifteen years! I keep getting older, and those hot guys at Pride keep staying young. Some of the guys I take pictures of are a little older too.

This year's full photo album of Random Hot Guys includes 47 shots -- three shy of last year's record 50. Funny how the years in which I complain the most about Pride getting sanitized, I get the most photos of hot guys showing lots of skin. Among this year's crop of hot-guys photos, 1 is from the Volunteer Park Pride Festival; 8 from the Capitol Hill Pride Festival; 16 from the Pride Parade; 20 from Seattle PrideFest at Seattle Center's International Fountain; and then 2 from the beer garden at Queer / Bar.

So! I think that about covers everything for Seattle Pride this year. I still really haven't had a chance to write captions on any of this year's photos (separated into six photo albums!) but I did find the time last night, after posting about the Capitol Hill Pride Festival on Saturday, to go through and put all the relevant tags on them. We're talking 264 photos in all, 240 of them from this past weekend's three days between Friday and Sunday alone. Browse further if you're so inclined! For me, I'm happy to put my 22nd Pride (and my 20th Seattle Pride) to bed.

[posted 12:42 pm]