This was the first year in more than a decade where somebody from my family didn’t come visit for Pride. So for a couple weeks leading up to it, I wasn’t sure I was gonna participate. I even considered leaving town. I told myself things like, “Oh, The City just gets so hectic” and, “You’ve done Pride a million times before.” But finally, as the Pride fervor began to be palpable sometime mid last week, I got excited. I mean, it was PRIDE, one of the happiest and most loving times of the year.
On Saturday, I found myself at a rooftop party in the Mission with just enough of a view to see the upper part of Dolores Park. Thousands upon thousands of people covered nearly every inch of it so that instead of green grass, there was a multihued meshwork of bodies enjoying the sun. It was the preparty for the Dyke March, and eventually, we heard the mechanical booms of Dykes on Bikes and watched from above while they lead the procession through the Mission.
The day progressed into night, and we eventually found ourselves singing way too much karaoke while plotting and discussing our plans for the Pride Parade the following day.
None of those plans came to fruition of course; few things ever do when plotted during late-night karaoke. But I woke up and got in touch with Ashkon to see about exploring the Civic Center festivities.
Though Ashkon had lived in the Bay for most of his life, he’d never been to the big Pride celebration in The City, so we walked through Civic Center, admiring all the beaming smiles that arched on peoples’ faces like upside down rainbows. “Happy Pride!” we’d say to anyone we’d make eye contact with, and hugs were given to plenty of strangers.
When you’ve been to Pride a dozen times, and you live in San Francisco, it’s easy to forget how important the celebration is for people who live places where they’re not able to be so openly, boastfully and fabulously themselves. For so many people each year, SF Pride is proof that there is a better future and that they are not alone. This radiated from everyone we saw.
It was impossible though to ignore the incredible amount of very drunk and, most likely, straight teenagers. Wobbling woozily through the crowd, doing drunk teenager things, it made me wonder how many people showed up in support of LGBTQ Pride and how many just came to party with their butt cheeks hanging out.
“What happens at Pride stays at Pride” or something like that.
Ashkon and I parted ways, and I went home for a disco nap, unsure if I would make it back out. But a little while later, Danielle convinced me to meet her and some friends at El Rio.
Hopping out of the cab, the line stretched halfway down the block. Every imaginable variation of queer was there, waiting to get into the party that each knew would be fantastic. And it was better than I could’ve imagined. I hugged and kissed people I’d known for years and sweatily danced with people I’d just met that day. The vibe was ebullient and effervescent. I ran into a woman I’d met on an airplane a decade ago who I see around town now and then. We talked about the strange corporateness and teenage drunkenness that we’d all witnessed downtown, and then she turned, looking into a crowd that was dancing and grinding and celebrating love, and she said, “But this, this feels like home.”
For everybody there that day, it was.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.Broke Ass CityBroke-Ass StuartDyke MarchLGBTPrideSan FranciscoStuart Schuffman