by Mark “Mom” Finley
June 29, 2015

Mom at Pride

Photo by Robert Roth for Jetspace

Hey Kiddlywinks!

Another Pride has come and gone, and it’s got me thinking about the many, many Pride celebrations I’ve had the honor of being a part of over my many, many years. I’m not saying I’m old, but I’ve got girdles older than some of the kids in yesterday’s parade.

I want to share some of favorite Pride memories this week. Here they are, in no particular order:

Mom Pride 1

Hosting Pride Festival at Bobby Morris Playfield – 1993

Twenty years ago the Pride Festival was held the week before the Parade at the old Bobby Morris Playfield – which was called the “Dustbowl” because there was no turf – artificial or otherwise. This was probably my the first time hosting a Pride event in Seattle.

Mom Pride 2

Gay Games IV/Stonewall 25 – 1994

Vesta Buhle and I are pictured here at the very first Dance on the USS Intrepid. I was only in town for 9 nights and made 37 appearances. This picture is actually being taken by the fabulous Sister Roma, whom I’d just met. She insisted calling me Itty Bitty, and still does to this day!

Mom Pride 3

Miss Gay Seattle XXXI: The White Trash Diva – 1995

The Imperial Court was barely surviving during the year I was Miss Gay Seattle. Several of their members had recently passed away, so there was no money for float. Luckily I was also the second Miss Gay Neighbours, so they had a car for me to ride in the parade. Not to be out done, I made my outfit for the day out of the petal paper used to cover floats. It was plastic, and very
,very hot.

Mom Pride 4

Never Let Your Boyfriend Choose Your Pride Ensemble – 1998

While my friends from Vancouver, BC had outfits made especially for the event, I was wearing a neon orange wig and a green sequin dress with purple feathers. When asked what I was supposed to be, the boy I was dating at the time said quite plainly: The Little Mermaid On Acid.

Mom Pride 5

Riding A Cadillac Fin – 1996

I was lucky enough to be part of an amazing film from local playwright and close friend Ted Sod called Crocodile Tears. It was also the film debut of The Stranger’s Dan Savage.

The movie was a Faustian inspired story, with the lead character selling his soul to get rid of his HIV. Unfortunately we debuted at the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, BC which brought protease inhibitors to the world, and immediately became a period piece. But before that we did the Pride Parade in Seattle where I basically humped the fin of a classic Cadillac for the entire parade route!

You may notice I was wearing a Bud Girl dress. I was the first Drag Queen in the US allowed to wear one!

Mom Pride 6

Co-Hosting The Broadway Pride Parade with Michael Brandon – 2000

I was fortunate enough to host one of the later Parades to go down Broadway with my good friend and adult film star Michael Brandon. Our pictures made it around the world that year, and this was prior to smart phones and Facebook!

Mom Pride 7

MC of the First Pride Parade Downtown

They had my mic wired throughout Westlake Park and I had a blast! I didn’t need a line-up of contingents because I had been announcing the Parade up on Capitol Hill for the past decade. It was, and still is, one of my favorite Pride moments EVER!

Mom Pride 8

Color Commentator for UPN 11’s Historical Broadcast of the 3rd Downtown Pride Parade

As they say, some queens are too much for television. Apparently I am one of those queens, because after this year I was never asked back to host the parade. The channel even went out of business, but that probably had nothing to do with me. I don’t remember my co-hosts names. Hell, I barely remembered my own name that morning.

Mom Pride 9

Becoming a Brand for a Cause

As a Capitol Hill resident, I did what I could to help keep Pride festivities up on the Hill and basically became the poster child for the event. Thankfully, these days many Pride events have sprung up on the Hill prior to the big party at Seattle Center.

Unfortunately my favorite Pride memory doesn’t have a photo to go along with it. It was in 1988 when I was part of the Imperial Court of NYC. They were the group who put on the A Night Of 1000 Gowns fundraiser. It was the first year that we had enough money to have a float in the MYC Pride Parade.

The parade route went along 59th Street from Columbus Circle to 5th Avenue, then down 5th Avenue to Christopher Street in the Village. It just so happened to be my turn to perform when we reached St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was a scene that year as Dignity, the Gay Catholic Group, weren’t allowed to stand on the steps as they had for years. My first song was apropos: Say A Little Prayer For You.

My second number had to wait, though. As I turned to look down the canyon of skyscrapers, I could tell the parade must have reached the Stonewall Inn because I could hear The Moment of Silence advancing up 5th Avenue. To have New York City fall silent is a feeling that still gives me chills. As they say, the silence was deafening.

As I was just registering the moment, I heard a cacophony of cheers starting at the Stonewall Inn that became a tsunami of happiness as it continued on past me to the end of the parade route.

After regaining my composure it was time for my live number of the day: Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl. I remember performing it with Saks Fifth Avenue on one side and Rockefeller Center on the other. I have to admit: there hasn’t been a moment that has topped that one!!

Be good. Behave. Treat others better than yourself. Always wear a clean pair of underwear. And remember: you’re not alone – you’ve got me!

M’wah – M.