Pridefest NYC: Fabulous in every sense of the word
My boyfriend went up to visit family in Boston for the weekend, so we didn’t get to see each other. At least not until Sunday, when he got up at 8 a.m. – after a party the night before – and drove almost four hours down to Fishkill, hopped on the train, and met me in New York City.
Why all the traveling? Well, besides the obvious (I’m just that awesome), because it was Pridefest!
Now I myself have been to a number of pride events, most of them in Philadelphia. In fact, I even went with my school’s GSA (and some teachers) my senior year of high school. They’re fun, as long as you can look past the protesters and don’t take anything too seriously. (And let’s not forget having to ignore how so many gay adults are stuck in adolescence. Let’s hear it for coming out young!) But since my guy works weekends, we hadn’t made it to any of these events together before, and he had never been to one by himself. It was only a lucky coincidence that he was taking this weekend off, but we’d be damned if we were going to miss it again!
Among our more amusing experiences were the sudden, frighteningly close thunderstorms, which caused us to rush inside anywhere nearby, only to find that our order of two mixed drinks cost us a whopping $25(!). Why so much? Well, to us it was just a place to escape the rain and lightning , but to most it’s the snazzy Hudson Bar and Books. (His friend’s brother and brother’s girlfriend were recently struck by lightning, so we were understandably paranoid.)
We also had a number of people appreciate of our physical affection, which consisted mostly of us just walking arm-in-arm. He said it felt like everyone he looked at was staring at us, but either I’m so used to it by now I don’t even notice, or everyone was checking him out and not me. (Both are entirely possible, I must admit. He’s a handsome devil.) A quick kiss was encouraged by a nearby shout of “more tongue!” And people were also amused by his t-shirt:
We ran into two or three other people who had the same shirt, but it was surprisingly rare for something sold at a major clothing chain. One group of guys laughed when they saw it and asked him if he got a toaster oven. I had to explain the “Ellen” reference to him.
For those who haven’t seen the episode where Ellen comes out (the only one I’ve ever seen), early on Ellen gets very defensive when an out lesbian thinks she’s gay. When she accuses the woman of trying to recruit her, the woman sarcastically says “one more and I would’ve gotten that toaster oven.” Then, after the end credits, the woman gets one. It’s probably funnier when you see it.
Aside from seeing gay people all over the city, that was pretty much the end of my gay adventures. But not his! After we went our separate ways – Grand Central for him, Penn Station for me – he stopped at Tequilaville just across the way. The bartender there, a man named Bijan, struck up a conversation with my guy after he surprised him by pronouncing his name correctly.
After asking him what his t-shirt meant, Bijan got a bit awkard, as if he didn’t quite how what to do next. He asked, completely seriously, “Why are you choosing to be gay?” and my boyfriend had to explain that it wasn’t a choice. As he put it so eloquently: “”It’s completely natural to me. I’m just being who I am.”
He actually said a lot more than that, or so he tells me, but Bijan ended up seeming to understand things better, and sincerely thanked him for explaining things to him. He also commented, “You don’t look gay! You look too manly!” which is funny because it’s true. I never would have hit on my boyfriend in a million years without knowing he was gay. We met online, I must admit, so thankfully this wasn’t an issue. But even then I was surprised by how deep his voice was and how he looked and acted, and I myself have been accused to being “straight-acting.” Amusingly enough, Bijan’s boss turned out to be a rather masculine gay guy himself.
On the train back, my guy overheard a group of teenage lesbians badmouthing gay men for being stereotypical and sleazy. They even, he said, went so far as to say we’re responsible for the spread of AIDS, which isn’t exactly fair. He was really frustrated to hear people from the same family, as it were, badmouthing their own team! He didn’t say anything to them, instead writing them off (probably rightly) as young and foolish.
(The poor boy – on the train down he was delayed half an hour because the woman two seats in front of him gave birth! He said she screamed bloody murder, and I found it appropriately timed to reinforce his homosexuality.)
As a counselor at French camp for two years, I frequently found myself in the position of telling kids that it’s not okay to say “that’s so gay” when you don’t like something. When one of my older kids said that, I did some quick math with him to figure out how many gay people are on the planet, using the oft-cited (and probably wrong) 10 percent. Okay, 10 percent of six billion? Six hundred million. That’s how many people you just insulted. He apologized.
If it were me next to those girls on the train, I definitely would have said something. And then blogged about it.
Kind of like I’m doing now.