seattle pride parade 2005

2005 Seattle Pride Parade. Photo via Michael Hanscom/Flickr

Wait…. what?

Oh, yeah! Pride! It’s totally happening, you guys. Can you feel it? (I hear it begins as a tingle in the kooch…)

Doesn’t it seem like we had one of these, like, just last year? (I still have the damn sunburn. Ginger, you know.)

Now, please understand: I do love me some Pride! Yes ma’am! I love the crowds of beautiful people and the dancings and the boozings and all of the special events — so many special events! I love the drag queens (mostly) and the brunches and the roving hordes of homos in tank-tops and flip-flops and especially all of that “community coming together” stuff, figuratively and literally, hardee har har. But!

I have terrible a confession to make…

I’m not a fan of the parade. Nor the after rally at the Seattle Center. Not a bit. In fact, “loathe” might not be too vigorous a word. It’s all really quite tragic. But it wasn’t always this way!

There was an age when I’d sooner eat a bucketful of kitty litter and fingernail clippings than miss a Pride parade. Of course, that was when I lived at the end of Broadway and the damn thing came to ME… right to my front door. It was too perfect: I could stay in bed late nursing my hangover until I heard the whoops and roar of Dykes on Bikes in front of my place, then just crawl out onto my front lawn with a nice cup of (Irish) coffee and let the magic (or lack thereof) unfold. At the end? I’d just toddle the two blocks up to Volunteer Park were the rally was held, and voila! PRIIIIDE!

Well, those days are long gone.

In the horrible now times we are all forced to get up at dawn’s rosy asscrack after a full week (or more) of rather hardcore partying and very late nights to drag our throbbing noggins a mile and a half downtown to stand blinking and sun-burning in the stark and shadeless streets of a neighborhood and businesses that are about as gay as a bucket of bolts and don’t give two rainbow flavored shits about us or our community.

Then we wander the vast expanse of Seattle Center, curing ourselves and our cute Pride outfits in the smoke of a million gross food kiosks as we hope and pray some cute guys have the gumption to get nekkid in the fountain, and then… TRAPPED! It’s damn nigh impossible to get back to The Hill because all public transportation options evaporate (busses stop, and you want a cab or an Uber? Just try it, sucker!), so we have to trudge miserably a grueling two miles uphill back to The Hill in the scorching sunlight with our skin blistering and smoking as our eyes are seared out of our faces and we slowly die of dehydration…

Or at least that’s my experience. Ginger. You know.

But the reasons I don’t like the parade go far beyond my own personal and very lazy reasons.

First of all, I really just hate parades. All of them — 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Homecoming, you name it. They’re stupid. And boring. Yawn!

But I always dragged my thundering headache out of bed for the Gay Pride Parade because it was never about the damn Parade, was it? The Parade was a useful device for not only celebrating our culture and marking our history — it also was a great big marching Fuck You to the forces who would destroy us that let anyone who was confused about the matter know damn good and well EXACTLY where they were — The Gay Ghetto! Capitol Hill! We were HERE we were QUEER and if they didn’t like it they could PISS RIGHT OFF. It was the ultimate placeholder — a definitive brushstroke that defined queer space and unified our neighborhood.

I have never supported the move of the Pride parade downtown. Never. You can save all of your lame arguments—the inevitable changing face of neighborhoods, greater visibility, it got way too big for Broadway, blah blah blah.

As far as I’m concerned, when that parade moved downtown it was the beginning of the end of Gay Capitol Hill. You can trace the aggressive and unabashed land-grab that’s going on today and the disintegration of gay presence on the Hill in a straight line back to that stupid, stupid mistake.

I can’t help but feel that if we still marched down Broadway and kept the crowds and party on the Hill, we wouldn’t have lost so much gay identity there. Maybe we wouldn’t be fighting so hard for our simple right to exist in the neighborhood we basically created and called home. And maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have to be having the ever-increasing numbers of rallies and marches protesting the exploding numbers of hate crimes and homophobia (I personally know five recent bashing victims — five!) that now thrive there instead.

Oh yeah whatever, we got more “visibility” all right — among bewildered tourists, annoyed commuters, and downtown business owners. And in return? We traded away our haven, our home, our beloved Capitol Hill. Frankly, that’s the worst land deal since the natives sold Manhattan for a beaded necklace or whatever. And do you know where are those Native Americans now? They’re not on Park Avenue, that’s for damn sure.

Come back to us, dear Pride Parade! Back to Capitol Hill! We need you! It’s where you belong! March your rainbow ass back down Broadway and help us reclaim the glory of our Gay Ghetto once more! Are you listening to me, Pride Parade? Do you understand what I’m saying?