Krewe Kuts: Pride Edition
The Gay Place Krewe has the final word on Austin Pride.
By Brandon Watson, Andy Campbell, Tyler Pratt, Julie Gillis, and Liz Williams, 10:25AM, Mon. Oct. 8, 2012
We know we're tardy for the party. Pride has come and gone and Austin's queertizens are chilling to the next episode. But we hope that old adage still rings true. With apologies, here's our better late than never.
PREACHIN' THE WORD! – by TYLER PRATT
Not everyone was in the LGBTQ-loving spirit for Austin Pride. Just outside the festival's front gates, a small group of protesters, armed with homemade signs and a megaphone, sat in the hot sun to deliver dissent.
Curious, I decided to speak with one of the protesters, Phil Nevins. His noisier friend, David Stokes, continued on the megaphone. Surprisingly, Phil was a pleasant guy. Dressed in long sleeves and pants, he sat on a stool with a sign proclaiming Psalms 19:20. TLDR: The wicked are going to hell.
Phil and I talked for a while. I learned he's from Houston and not technologically inclined. He still communicates with the other protesters (or street preachers, as he calls them) by phone. His friends tell him where and where to go and he shows up. This is their last big "preaching"of the year. They already hit up Pride festivals in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston.
Phil was quick to point out that his group is not just against homosexuality. They're for God and against everything else. They're worried about your soul and don't want anyone to go to hell whether homosexual or heterosexual. According to Phil, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, along with all the nations that forget God. That's half of America. It's not the Republicans, the Democrats, the Communists or the Libertarians. This is a spiritual problem."
It's also a fiscal problem. They're concerned with the state of the United States. They're worried about the Federal Reserve and the corporate elite. And that concern motivates them to evangelize. Phil admits they don't ever convert anyone. However, they do "get some good dialogue with the younger people."
I never got a chance to ask if they got any good dialogue that day. Around that time, a dude on a motorcycle rolled up asking if anyone had threatened to kick their ass yet. The police started hassling the guy to move along. The preachers had already informed both the Mayor and the Chief of Police they would be there, so it looked like the law was on their side.
As a homosexual, I know it never feels great to have someone telling you you're going to hell. And I could see our LGBTQ community getting riled up by the preachers. People were flipping the bird, yelling profanities and on some occasions throwing things at them. But at the end of the day, it was four guys, not even from this city, spending that beautiful Saturday yelling at people in the hot sun. All afternoon.
That just sounds awful to me. I think just about everyone else would agree. It was much more fun inside the festivals, wearing a tank top and shorts, hanging in the shade, drinking a cold beer and gobbling down corny dogs.
My friend, Collin (aka DJ CBass) had this to say about it all:
It's important to note these "protesters" stayed on the corner, were not harassing anyone in particular, and were not even being that hateful. In fact, only passers-by were being hostile. I watched several folks start arguments with them, and at least one tried to walk off with and destroy their signs. It was unacceptable, friends. Instead of showing hostility or outright fear of evangelical homophobes, or thinking these child-people somehow cause trouble at community events (they don't), we should welcome them cookies and iced tea and simultaneously ignore and bore them to death.
I totally agree with Collin. I do think we should be more tolerant and kill with kindness when we're faced with ignorance. But I also understand that this issue is a lot more complicated for a lot of people. I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say, but I thought it was important to get the other side of the story. These street preachers are just exercising their right to be themselves too.
Phil did admit that he'd never been inside a Gay Pride Festival before. "I'm a street preacher. I don't want some of the things [the people inside the PRIDE festival] are doing. I don't find that entertaining. I found it entertaining when I was younger. I'll admit that. But not anymore."
Sounds like Phil's got a bit of past. Maybe he was just afraid of running into an ex.
STILL HUNG OVER – by ROB COHEN
This was my second Pride ever and this one certainly tops last year's (2011). It tops it real hard. Real hard. Friday was the perfect amuse-bouche for Pride. Dandy, me, and lovely Liz were all over the place handing out The Agenda. It was a fun tour of the city's LGBT-friendly biznesses. That night was wonderful as well. I'll be modest for once and just say that what occurred the night before was the perfect precursor to Pride day.
Still twitterpated from the night before I got to Pride mid-festival. It was lovely to see everyone and to cruise all the boys. "I'll have one of everything" was the thought running through my mind. I pigged out on a lot of sushi and alcohol in da VIP, then got the balls to start handing out The Agenda. Before I knew it, it was time for Princess Peaches to perform for her kingdom. She was top notch as expected – all energy, fervor, and sweat. A couple whiffs of poppers amidst dirty looks, and I was in heaven. Then it was parade time.
I had never actually been part of the Parade before, and I'll tell ya it sure beats watching it. We had such a big entourage of lovely people. It was a special treat to see Julie's kid having so much fun. He was especially fond of this very drunk Tinky Winky. He got in our truck bed and was very raucous. I'm glad we got rid of him. He had way too much tubby custard if you know what I mean. We ran out of candy and treats so fast we just started giving away everything we had, from extra Pride flags to bottles of water. We rolled into our stop, and I was off to party. Pride this year was awesome!
LIGHT AND BRIGHT – by JULIE GILLIS
My family and I had the privilege of getting to march in the Pride Parade with Kate and her Krewe. While my son and fella threw candy out of the back of the truck, I twirled a giant rainbow and looked at all the beautiful, happy, glorious people watching the processional.
There were so many people crowding the street, that's what struck me. So many people in bright colors, giant smiles on their faces, hootin' and hollerin' in happiness.
I was able to get a few pictures of some of the floats during the set up. One of my favorite images was this grouping of signs: "Jesus Loves U" and "Jesus Makes Good Wine" and I said, "Heck yeah," to that!
Bright, light, beautiful balloons, peacock cars, frills and fripperies, and living butterflies. All the gorgeous letters of the LGBTQ alphabet, allies galore. Thousands of people standing proudly in an authentic expression of themselves. It was a happy bright and light filled riot of love and pride.
MY FIRST TIME – by JORDAN GASS-POORÉ
When I told my mom, boyfriend, and friends I would not only be attending this year's Austin Pride event, but participating, they again questioned my sexuality: Why would someone who identifies as heterosexual want to pose as something they claim they're not? For me, Pride is about acceptance and having pride in oneself, in others, and the community. And that's exactly what I felt walking alongside my friends at The Austin Chronicle and The Agenda.This being my first Pride event, I didn't know what to expect. I have to admit I had a very narrow-minded, stereotypical vision of what the event was going to entail and who was going to be participating/attending. No one at the event, at least not that I could hear, was yelling "We're Here, We're Queer, Get Used To It!" I didn't see people wearing PFLAG paraphernalia, similar to that shown in one of my favorite television series, the U.S. version of "Queer As Folk." Men weren't running around in their underwear and/or wearing leather chaps (which I wouldn't have necessarily minded), nor were there hordes of angry religious protestors. Instead, as I attempted to help decorate "Gay Place"r Brandon's truck, I saw other participants' vehicles decorated with signs, such as "Jesus Makes Good Wine," and "Love Thy Neighbor." Members of various local religious organizations, regardless of their personal sexual orientation, had come out to support their community. As I walked down 4th Street, dressed in a very similar fashion as Ellen DeGeneres (white button-up shirt and khaki pants), I saw families and groups of all shapes and sizes (even a few babies and toddlers), waving rainbow flags in unison and requesting I slap their outstretched hand as I walked by, which proved to be difficult because I was holding a sign and flyers. However, I did manage to hug a unicorn and a Teletubby. My mom may have jokingly feared that all the event attendees thought I was a lesbian and now there would be online photo and video documentation to back up their claims, but I took away much more than that from Pride. I learned my boyfriend would fit in very well with the bears, who continued to build their float right until the parade began; that the marketing of "Legalize Gay" really upsets me- sorry American Apparel and the sorority girl glitterati that very loudly attended the event wearing the latest $20 tank top, but homosexual rights should not be a trend. It's more than just a gay/straight "thing," its unalienable human rights we're talking about here. I believe in freedom, expression and equality, but to perpetuate stereotypes, much like this clothing item, is doing the exact opposite of what I believe the Pride event is about. But I digress.
All in all, it seemed, at least for the few minutes I walked in the parade, that sexual orientation didn't matter. In the words of a true sage, everyone played an important part in the LGBTQIA alphabet soup. I could look like the very fashionable Ellen DeGeneres, the glitterati could look very glittery, the Teletubby could look very alien-like, and that was okay.
6 MINUTES OF PROUD – by ANDY CAMPBELL
Unlike other "Gay Place"rs, I didn't march in this year's Pride parade. I stood with the plebs across from Halcyon on 4th. Sure, I saw the AC convertible and truck, my fellow bloggers outfitted in stylish black, throwing all manner of Moon-pie. I was happy to see them strut their collective unicorny stuff. I just didn't stay too long, and here's six reasons why.
1) I was fucking tired. I had a bang-up week; a good week. I was up and out and working harrrrrrd in the days leading up to Pride on my own stuff (dissertation, exhibition), and that glossed my evening. So, grain of salt and all that jazz
2) I was alone. Parades are always more fun with friends and fuck-buds, n'est pas? Granted, this was a self-imposed exile, and not a sad-sack "there's no one to go with me" moment. I was offered a spot to march with the Austin Chronicle, but chose to sideline it this year.
3) It took forever to park. Although I did get a great parking spot – the envy of other revelers. But the effort and time it took to get that spot put me in that anxious, fraught state of mind.
4) The parade-caller atop Oilcan Harry's commentary was sometimes helpful, sometimes not. But this may just be residual shit from #1-3.
5) I love my gay bretheren and sistern, but I'm not sure I want to clap and cheer for the US Army, or the Austin Police, or Progressive Insurance. I realize that DADT was repealed, and that the APD made an "It Gets Better" video, and that Progressive Insurance hires a lot of LGBTQ folks; but I have bad feelings about the war(s), I'm raw about some of the "crises" in APD as of late, and frankly, I'm not interested in empowering corporations.
6) I was let down by the predictability. Initially those dykes on bikes had me riled up right! Let's get this party started, and suck down some exhaust until we're all high on life! But then the procession became the predictable. Non-profit (whom I was glad to see out and participating!), church, corporation, non-prof, church, corporation, non-prof, church, corporation. Granted, there was the occasional bar or interest group (hey, jugglers!), but these moments were few and far between.
Listen, I'm not just a crabby-mcGoatface, nay-saying this and that, I think a pride parade is just not my version of empowerment. And that's ok! I saw a lot of people feeling good and empowered by the parade – and that is awesome. To see people coming out at night! For all those silly "family-friendly" restrictions be rescinded! People making out like the Mayan apocalypse is imminent! And it is, beeteedubs.
Earlier in the summer I participated in DykeMarch NYC – which is importantly a march and not a parade. One isn't permitted and sanctioned, the other is. Nearly every participant marched, save for a few sweet gay/queer men on the sidelines holding signs of love and support ("We love our lesbian sisters!" Dude, I cried). When I looked back at one point, I saw five or six city blocks of P-O-W-E-R! People feeling good. No organized order. That was a moment of pride I won't forget.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS – by LIZ WILLIAMS
This was my first Pride parade, though I've been out for four years now. I went with little to no expectations, just hoping to have a good time and curious to see how Austin would respond.
Everyone was so happy to see us. We have so many Allies. The Gay Place crew rounded onto 4th street having tried really hard (really hard, I promise Kate) not to get rid of all our candy. But it was already gone. The numbers that turned out for the parade were way beyond anything I'd imagined. Looking around, there seemed to be an equal mix of LGBTQIA-ers as well as straight-supporters. Everywhere we turned there were families.
It didn't really come together for me until the Pride parade how truly community-oriented Austin's LGBTQIA are. I know that most events in Austin have suggested donations instead of cover fees, with the money going to one of the many community organizations. I know that there are a myriad of caring AIDS support organizations. I love that if there's not a group for you it's easy to start one and generate the support you need for it. What I didn't realize is just how strong that community is.
Seeing the mass amount of floats and organizations line up for the parade really hit home. There is a group for every subset of LGBTQIA life and a supportive organization for every problem that may come up. They fill a gap where there is little to no government support. There's no waiting around for help or handouts, I imagine everyone's been through too much to expect or want that. This is a majorly pro-active community with a sense of purpose and urgency. There is soooo much potential.
If over the next few years Pride can help break down these self-imposed queer v. gay, west side v. east side, haves v. have-nots, assimilationists v. preservationists divisions, there's a huge opportunity for collaboration across these organizations and it's bound to happen. Imagine if instead of going to a friend's organization for support, you could go to a central hub (say like the AGLCC) and have help come from several organizations from different spheres of the LGBTQIA world. How much easier would that make it to support each other? How much easier would that make it to stand up for our rights?
The next few years will be interesting. This year's Pride was a great starting point. Yeah, the things that divide us won't go away but maybe they also won't stop us from creating a greater overall infrastructure because when we stand together in numbers like last Saturday night, it's going to be hard to tell us "no."
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE – by BRANDON WATSON
I have an admission to make. Before last Saturday, I had never been to a Pride parade. Sure I would debate in classrooms and comment sections that until no queer was being bashed or bullied or fired, there would be an urgent need. But me? No. I told myself I didn't like the crowds or the spectacle. I wanted something more political, like an ACT UP action or a candlelight vigil. Pride was OK for other folks, I had been out since I was 16, I didn't need affirmation, Pride was really about the bars and I didn't go to the bars and really, who would miss me anyway.
Until the past few years, I really had no idea how much of that internal conversation was tied up with self-loathing. I have been out for two decades, but it had become routine to buttress that freedom with denial. It was important that I didn't trade in stereotype so I curated a personality in response. Diva worship was too gay, although I could make an exception for early Madonna. Glam rock was just right with its gold-dipped macho swagger. Musicals were out, but I could like the transgression of Hedwig. It got to the point where my self conception was little more than an OK Cupid quiz. I was my own desert island disc.
As a community, we spend a lot of time talking about those who hate us, but we largely shy away from discussing how we sometimes hate ourselves. It's embarrassing to talk about because we know that pundits and preachers are wrong about us. So we allow ourselves outrage, but we deny ourselves the time to process. Bludgeon by bludgeon, that propaganda can crush. And in me, that internalized homophobia manifested in constant self-regulation. I wasn't in the closet, but I still kept parts of me folded neatly on the shelf. Maybe I was in the armoire.
But back to the parade while driving my pick-up through the cheering mobs, I realized that I wanted to be outside throwing candy. My earlier arguments about the validity of Pride seemed overly academic. Sure, I wished that more people were marching instead of "people." Sure, I longed for the urgency of activism. But those seemed like mere talking points in a crowd of people celebrating the goodness of who they are. It was pride in the purest sense, a celebration of self. Thousands of selves. And it felt like the final stop on a long journey.