A Quasi-Journal of Pride Weekend
Not Ready for Pride Time
say I wasn't in the mood would have been an understatement. Since
Pride 2004, which I'm not even sure I went to, I had endured a
stressful job, illness, hospitalization, recuperation and unemployment.
Spring 2005 had me focused on physical recovery, but I was still
suffering the consequences of anxiety and isolation. Stability
of body was an important goal, but my social self had atrophied
even more severely than my muscles had; as a result, making plans
with people, friends old and new, was an often painful struggle.
Pride? What possible visions could have lured me there? Let's enumerate
a few: tanned smiling shirtless people showing off the work they'd
either done or had done since the previous June. Someone handsome
filing past me, my interest in him fading as I notice he's tightly
holding hands with the guy immediately behind him. Enough alcohol
being consumed that I could never be sure any attention I received
was a compliment and not a symptom.
Against such a visual and psychological backdrop, I still tried
to create a social calendar for the last weekend in June. After
all, I knew I didn't want to marinate further in my apartment, and
anything I did do might actually be more fun than staying home.
At worst, I reasoned I'd at least come up with material for this
column. I know in retrospect that assigning myself to have fun sounds
pathetic, but that's how constricted my life had been over the preceding
months. I certainly didn't have grand expectations, but I was hoping
I'd be surprised.
friend had come from New York to see friends and enjoy the weekend.
We were all supposed to meet for dinner at a restaurant in the Mission,
but on the way I ran into friends from the Queer Disability conference
a few years back. They told me that some performers from New Zealand
were doing a sexuality and disability cabaret, and that I should
come with them. I told them I'd try to come by after dinner
Our meal in the Mission was fun, but I still felt disconnected from
people who were planning their weekends. It had been so long since
I'd met anyone new in person (damned Internet!) that I was making
conversation with some and expressing interest in others as shyly
and awkwardly as I had in junior high school. Mortified at how much
ground and confidence I'd lost, I looked at my watch as our group
dispersed. We'd run late, and it was already 10 PM. Some people
ran to catch a movie at Frameline, and I was seconds away from heading
back home, my energy depleted. But then I remembered the cabaret,
and resisted the temptation to call it a night. I had to take risks
if things were going to improve, so I decided to go.
important details come into play here. For one thing, out of fatigue
or absentmindedness, I had crushed part of my seat belt with my
chair several weeks earlier. For another, whether stretched by body
spasticity or regular use, my pants had decided to abdicate their
sartorial role for the evening. As a result, I was zooming along
the sidewalk of an unfamiliar neighborhood, holding myself in the
chair with one hand, and trying to hike up my pants with the other
every few minutes during breaks from driving. (Where's a good mouth-operated
wheelchair joystick when you need one?) The whole time I kept hearing
two voices in my head. One, in the plummy tranny tones of Terence
Stamp in "Priscilla," intoned, "You've got to be fucking joking!"
The other voice, my own, said, Now this definitely goes in
the next column!
Thanks to my wardrobe malfunction, one alas not triggered in any
way by Justin Timberlake, I arrived at the cabaret even later than
I'd expected. The performance was being held at the Center
for Sex and Culture, a sex-positive educational and community
center I'd heard about for years but had never been to. When I arrived,
a band was playing, but it was clear I'd missed the show and all
my QD conference friends. However, I had a more urgent need. I had
to find somewhere to park for a few minutes to fix my pants. I went
into one dark corner and quickly backed out, realizing that two
people were busily transforming sex-positive into sex-imperative.
I did finally find somewhere to stop, relishing the headline-worthy
irony: "Kodmur Goes to Crip-Friendly Sex-Positive SF Hideaway;
Clueless Writer Actually Puts Clothes On!"
With pants now behaving themselves, I was able to meet and chat
with one of the performers from New Zealand, who turned out to be
the very cool Philip Patston,
BENT reader and contributor. Chatting with him at the Center was
an anchor of the familiar amid the strange and intoxicating freedom
which seems to suffuse the place. Of course, it wouldn't really
be SF if I hadn't had major transportation hassles on the way home,
but the royal personages who run the Center graciously helped me
get home safely.
The old Danny might have gone home to the East Bay after dinner,
with his mind still focused on cute intelligent people and his taste
buds still enjoying the delicious vegan desserts. Taking the risk
of trying something new had paid off, despite the difficulties.
You'd think by now I'd realize that getting out into the world is
nearly always worthwhile, but lessons are more easily narrated than
Saturday: Interlude and Rondo
was so energized by my night out amidst the sexual counterculture
that I stayed up very late, and spent much of Saturday sleeping,
though in my waking hours I rehashed every possible argument for
staying home on Sunday: hate crowds, hate being tripped over, hate
being single, hate going by myself, hate long lines for overpriced
food, hate all the commercialism, and so on. I suppose I thought
that having a bad time would only make me feel worse, and that I
could just as easily watch the damn thing on TV, so why go at all?
I couldn't think of a reason. With Frank Sinatra singing "Saturday
night is the loneliest night of the week" in my head, I went to
sleep, fully intending to redeem a wasted day by rising energetically
and optimistically the next morning at nine.
Sunday: Remnants of a Celebration
Hah! I'm up, and my alarm clock reads a little past noon. So much
for rising purposefully to greet the new morning. I procrastinate,
reading the New York Times online, listening to music, leaving
voicemail for friends I'm hoping to see at Pride: "Uh, it's me.
I still haven't left yet. Ya. ya, I know, lame and lazy ... I'll
call with an update in a while."
three or so I finally decide to go. At the very least, I want to
go to the Radical Faerie Village to see my friend from New York.
I envision men with wings, jewelry, skirts, dresses, costumes, all
subverting and living outside traditional societal roles. I like
Faeries. They tend to be thoughtful, attractive, openminded. So
why am I going to their Village dressed like a square in a buttondown
shirt? Because it's comfy and tinted lavender, or because I'm being
consciously perverse? Maybe both.
at Civic Center BART, I find myself driving behind a guy in a chair
with a rainbow bumper sticker. I catch up to him, to tell him I
think it's cool. He says, "I know you! You're Danny Kodmur, aren't
you? You write for BENT. I've read your stuff!" Thanks to him, I
feel better than I have in a while, and I go above ground for what's
left of the Pride Celebration.
The Faerie Village is as I've imagined it, except there was no way
I could have known the afternoon's major attraction would be a large
naked man masturbating for a cheering audience. The guy is even
kind enough to pose with tourists for photos. How will that go over
back home, I wonder?
It turns out I have missed my New York friend, but I do bump into
several other people I know. Two guys even recognize me from chatting
online, a definite sign I need to get out more. The Village crowd
is diverse in age, interest, and body type. I may feel like an oddball
in my job interview shirt, but here, everyone is odd, and it's okay.
As I head back home, I chat with a friend I haven't seen in a while.
We compare Pride Weekends; I want to tell him mine was better than
I thought it would be, but we're both tired, so we chat about other
things. I come home to relax, contemplating my status as hermit
and intermittent social butterfly, and reviewing the last few days.
Was it enough to break my cycle of isolation and self-doubt? I don't
know, but I hope the answer is Yes.
Epilogue: No Big Deal?
I don't know if I was ever young enough or confident enough to really
believe the myth, that Pride Weekend, especially in San francisco,
was a time of magic and possibility, kind of a queer version of
Woodstock every June. Now Pride feels more like Mardi Gras or a
queer Super Bowl. I like watching the Super Bowl, but I know that
peoples' parties are often better than the game. The parties are
great because of the people; if I stay home and try to experience
the Super Bowl by myself, chances are I'd be able to see the game
and the commercials pretty well, but I wouldn't be experiencing
the event, just looking at it.
I want to relate to Pride without either condemning it or making
it carry unreasonably positive expectations. I can't treat it like
a huge angst-ridden social dilemma I wrestle with every June. Avoiding
it won't wreck me, nor will embracing it magically transform me.
It's really just like any other weekend. If I yearn to spend more
time with people because I've been isolating myself, it's a year-round
problem requiring a year-round solution. One weekend can't possibly
compensate, especially one that embodies so much ambivalence for
I do feel myself gradually emerging from the morass of the last
several months. If I can keep that feeling going, and re-connect
with so many of the people who have enriched my life, that will
indeed be something to be proud of.
©2005 Danny Kodmur
Let us know what
you think of this BENT feature.
Kodmur lives, writes, and tries to figure his life out in the
Bay Area. His
work is featured in "Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their
Press), a 2004 Lambda Literary Award winner. Suggestions
for his social calendar can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Danny Kodmur
Soul Clothed in Shining Armor~5/00
Much Does it Matter? Wrestling with the Metaphysics of Disability
On Being (Un)Representative
Testing My Faith in Romance
No Need to Kick My Tires
Balcony Scenes with a
The Music and the Mirror
The Music and the
Under the Spotlight: Disability and Depression ~1/03
On Getting Stuck ~3/03
Of Cities and Closets ~5/03
So How Old Are You, Anyway? ~7/03
Socializing and Sobriety ~9/03
Walking in L.A. ~11/03
Wedding Bell Blues ~3/04
of Solitude ~7/04
Sound Bodies ~9/04
Fat, and Fabulousness ~5/05