Photoblogging...And a Faaabulous Surprise: The San Diego Gay Pride Fair Posted by: Dale Franks
on Sunday, July 30, 2006
Today, The Lovely Christine and I did a portrait/candid photo shoot for a family at Balboa Park. We did the shoot from about 11:00 to 14:30 and, in that time, we took about 1300 photos of this family (who also signed off on model releases, which means we own the images for commercial purposes, too):
By the way, note the little girl on the right. Every posed shot we took, she put on a funny face, or, like in this picture, stuck out her tongue, or did something unusual. Can you guess which one of these little girls will cause the gray hairs that will sprout like weeds on her father's head in another eleven years or so?
Actually, that's probably not fair. Both of them look set to become little heart breakers in the fullness of time.
The really great thing about this shoot was seeing how close this family is. Mom, Dad, and the kids, were prone to throw hugs and kisses at each other at the drop of hat. They are all just really lovely—and loving—people, and just being with them to take pictures was an absolute joy.
Chris and I just stood back, for the most part, and took pictures of them interacting. We were touched by how close they were, and the obvious love that they took such great pleasure in showing each other.
During the shoot, we came across a fellow doing a show in the park. He was a sword swallower who claimed to be one of only seventy-three sword swallowers in the entire world. That sounds like an awfully small number of sword swallowers worldwide, but, since I don't have any countervailing statistics, I guess I'll just have to take his word for it.
Swords, of course, are a definite no-no in Balboa Park. You're not even supposed to be in possession of a sword in Balboa Park. it is, after all, an edged, offensive weapon. For that matter, in California, you're not legally allowed to carry any blade longer than 2.5" anywhere in public.
As it happens, though, this fellow did, in fact, have a sword with him. After looking around to ensure there were no Park Rangers in sight (and, of course, signing a model release, in return for five bucks), he pulled out a sword and gave us a demonstration.
During the actual show he performed, his "sword" was two pieces of aluminum riveted together, and the real sword remained hidden.
Also during the show, he made a very mild sexual reference, and said something to the effect that, "If you want to see something like that, you'll have to go and see the event at the other end of the park."
We didn't know what he was talking about. When we drove to the park, we saw they were setting up some sort of event, but we didn't know what it was. We were curious, so after our scheduled shoot was over, Chris and I went to see what he was talking about.
Even though we were at the opposite end of the park, we could hear music playing? What was it? A concert? a San Diego street fair?
None—or rather, all—of the above.
When we got there, we learned it was the annual San Diego Gay and Lesbian Pride celebration! Once we learned that, we simply had to go in and take pictures. So, after a morning of wholesome, heterosexual, family experiences, we were treated to...something different.
From this point on, however, we must, alas, take the story to the extended entry, due to mature content that wouldn't be appropriate—or work safe—for the main page of a general interest blog.
Please note before continuing: I say "mature content" for a reason, and I mean it. If you're at work, and you click on the link below...well, that's on you. You've been warned.
Before I begin, let me say this: No matter what may follow, in terms of humor or criticism, The attendees at the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Pride Celebration were, as a group, friendlier and warmer than most public gatherings I've attended. People were, in general, happy to have their pictures taken, eager to engage in conversation, open to speaking to strangers, and full of good humor. Even an individual as misanthropic as I am found the attendees to be open, friendly, and willing—indeed, eager—to engage in jokes and conversation. It would be nice if every public gathering was as full of friendly people as today's Gay Pride Celebration attendees. Having long been the subjects of derision and enmity, the LGBTG community has responded, for the most part, in being friendly and inclusive, rather than insular and suspicious.
This is not to say, however, that everything at the fair was above criticism. For instance, at the entrance of the fair, even before you enter, there were several chaps like this helping with crowd control.
Before you even enter, you know that something different from the usual street fair is happening. But, about this, and more, the criticism will come in due course.
There was no shortage of hot girl-on-girl action at the event. Oddly, however, it wasn't quite as titillating as you might expect from watching the run-of-the-mill porn video. Not that I would know anything about that personally, of course.
Gay guys are buff. There's no two ways about it. Take your average hetero male of, say, forty years of age, and a gay guy of similar age. Usually, there's just no comparison. This goes a long way towards explaining why, when our chicks see a guy our age, and tell us that he has a hot body, hetero males usually reply, "He's gay." Most middle-aged, hetero, family men simply don't have the time to spend in the gym keeping our bodies up to date. I mean, we already have our chicks. We don't demand that they do 2 hours of tai-bo every day to get rid of their baby fat, and, in return, we get to limit our exercise to weekly lawn mowings. Thats The Deal.
Apparently, the gay community has a different deal.
Maybe it's just me, but I noticed that the snacks at todays event always gave top billing to large sausages. If it wasn't Louisiana Sausages, it was Brats or Polska Kielbasas, or jumbo corn dogs.
I'm just saying.
Now, I present the next few pictures in preparation to some criticism of the event in general.
A little gay porn for sale.
A useful leather device, to help with pulling. Or pushing. Or whatever. I love the selling catch-phrase, by the way: "Hard, Rough and In Control.
A towel for cleaning up...uh...messes, which was being given away for free.
A number of men were wearing similar garb. You should note that the smaller, more subtle message on the Calvin Kleins worn by the fellow on the left was "Kiss me here!"
I've seen Vegas showgirls wear more subtle makeup than what this chap is wearing.
A not inconsequential number of women were wearing tops like this.
See what I mean? One notes, by the way, that the women wearing this style of "top" weren't your average "Vivid Girl". For my money, Brianna Banks wearing this top is cool. The average lesbian wearing this top is...less so.
This, by the way, is where the criticism comes in.
The LGBTG community always complains that the American people aren't more accepting of their lifestyle. "We're people, just like anyone else!" they always claim. But are they? I mean, obviously, they're people, and deserving of the same respect that anyone else is, but there is a difference in how they comport themselves in public.
For instance, there's a large number of sexual devices available to the heterosexual community. But, when I go to an American Legion street fair, I don't see booths selling Vietnamese spin-fuck chairs. I don't see heterosexual girls wearing nipple-hiding electrician's tape as a summer top. The Vivid Girls aren't manning a booth that sells "Barely 18, Version 11". Young men aren't poncing about wearing Lycra briefs so tight that you can tell what religion they are.
The thing is, if your problem is that a large number of Americans think, rightly or wrongly, that you're a bunch of degenerates, the way to settle their minds isn't to offer child and family admission to street fairs where "The Hard Rider" is openly sold, or where "Cum Towels"—emblazoned with cute little spermaceti—are given away free as a promotional device.
Heterosexuals, as it happens, also find Cum Towels useful, but we don't make public displays of them at events where we encourage the attendance of families and children.
As a practical matter of politics, if your goal is to convince the American people that you aren't, in fact, a collection of degenerates, then public displays of what the general community would also consider to be degeneracy probably aren't helpful.
And this is coming from a libertarian who—all joking aside—supports gay rights in general, and gay marriage in particular (although through the democratic process through referendum or state legislatures, I should note, and not by fiat of the courts). You catch more flies—or bears, for that matter—with honey than you do with vinegar.
Think about it. If your primary goal is to get in the face of the breeders, and yell, "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!"...Well...then, carry on. On the other hand, if your goal is to encourage acceptance and toleration among the electorate in general, so that they find it less onerous to vote for things like gay marriage (which, by the way, more than 60% of California voters rejected the last time they had a chance to vote on it), then you may find that a more accommodative and less aggressive approach might be useful.
The general rule of Rock and Roll is that Chicks Don't Rock. OK, Sure, there's your occasional Veruca Salt. But for every Hole, there are ten Wilson Philipses. These women, however, were a lot closer to Flyleaf than the Bangles. They were very good. Three of them were pretty hot, too. All of them, however, were lesbians, so Chris didn't mind me taking lots of pictures of them.
I also noticed that they were wearing military-style costumes, with lots of Camo. There were also several booths for veterans, and booths decrying the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. I presume there's some sort of tie-in.
As I mentioned previously, people were happy to pose for pictures. This, as the young lady told me, was her "glamor pose". She told me that about 10 times. She also rubbed my shoulder while she was telling me this, which Chris took exception to. Note to chicks: If you want to earn the undying hatred of The Lovely Christine, touch me in a friendly manner. I can only assume that the fact that this young lady was a lesbian was the only reason that she didn't earn herself a free trip to the emergency room.
Even at that, she almost earned me one. Italian women don't appreciate members of the opposite sex showing interest in their men, the existence of the occasional comare among Italian men notwithstanding.
Again, people were happy to pose. Indeed, they asked us to take their pictures, despite the fact that that had no idea where—or if—their pictures would ever be seen.
So, that was our day at Balboa Park. Overall, we enjoyed it. I hope you enjoyed seeing a portion of it, too.
Well, point taken. But you need to remember that these pride events are once a year street parties that bring out the wild side of the GLBT population. There is a history to it but like many traditions, few folks remember how it got like this and don’t really care. Essentially, it is about shock value to some participants.
However, it is not nor should it be viewed as a fair representation of the GLBT community at large any more than a visit to Spring Break in Florida would represent all straight college students. I think Girls Gone Wild kinda got that party accurately, no?
Gay people come in all shapes, sizes, colors and degrees of taste. In that way we really are a lot like straight folks afterall...If some of us enjoy gay sex and like to celebrate that in public sometimes...sorry! Just look away. I’ve learned to do that when I see straight couples making out in a movie theatre.
As for the politics, equality and freedom should not be about making the majority feel more comfortable or tolerant. We are who we are, warts and cum towels and stickers and more. American freedom means we all have the right to self expression and legal protections. Get used to it. ;-) But glad you had a nice time and found what you were looking for at a gay pride event...
Glad you enjoyed your faaaaabulous time at the gay pride event. I myself am a gay American and I agree with you to a certain degree regarding your assessment about how gays complain about not being totally accepted in America, yet they way the carry themselves at gay pride events would seem only to encourage such poor acceptance. At least one might assume thats’ the case.
But having said that, I doubt gay pride events are representative of the entire gay community. No more than Spring Breaks represent the entirety of the young hetero community.
Perhaps, though, gay pride events — in all their exuberance and pushing of the envelope — truly emphasize the core of the issue: the tolerance of differences, even stark differences. Furthermore, perhaps gay pride events offer the challenge to American society that acceptance or tolerance should not be based on what level of sameness or perceived "normalcy" any group has with the majority, for sameness and "normalcy" hardly require any great exercise of tolerance.
It is in the acceptance and tolerance of vast differences that a society experiences maturity, not in the demand that others be the same as the majority.
I would finally say that I am not convinced gay Americans really demand acceptance, per se. They merely demand equality — in all their joyous, colorful and sometimes racy peculiarities.
I really couldn’t care less is someone is gay or not. It is just when I turn on the t.v. and see saturday night live doing skit after skit being gay or pick up a childs text book for health class showing how to lube properly for anal pentration that I get pissed.
Hell be gay..be queer.. I dont care until you throw it in my face then I care.
While listening to Sirius Alt last evening, the DJ started talking about gay musicians coming out - as its entirely unimportant to me, I tuned it out. That is until he gets onto gay astronauts. It was his final comment that set me off. To paraphrase: "wouldnt it be great if instead of an American or Soviet flag, these guy would plant a LGBTG flag.
Well sure... it they fricken PAID for the mission. Taken along logical lines, why dont they plant a Colorado state flag instead of the US flag. Sure, its fine to recognize, and tolerate different segments of ones society, but the overall binding element not only is our gayness, and in fact to plant either a gay flag or a Colorado flag is inherently intolerant of all others.
Back in the early 80’s my girlfriend would go dancing at this wonderful discotek - great music, great dancefloor - in DC. It was known as a gay bar, but it really was a place for anyone to have fun, open to gays, bi’s, hetero’s etc. I suppose that 25 years ago, homosexuality wasnt as widly accepted and consequently that community, once they found a place open and welcoming to them didnt want to blow it, and acted with some decorum.
Unfortunately, there is today a very small segment of the non-hetero community that is intent upon forcing the greater society to embrace ALL manifestations of the LGBTG community.
There is a wonderful South Park episode where Mr. Garrison is trying to get fired due to his sexuality - so that he can sue for millions. The ever PC SP citizens not only put up with Garrisons increasingly lascivious antics, but sends off to sensitivity training camp (run by Nazis) the boys who mention how weird Garrison is becoming. The town wants to give Garrison an award for being such a courageously open gay, and here is his "acceptance" speech:
Mr. Garrison: God-d_mnit, don’t you people get it?! I’m trying to get fired here! [the applause dies down] Man 3: [softly] Oh, that’s courageous. Mr. Garrison: Look, this kind of behavior should not be acceptable from a teacher! Mr. Slave: Yeah, Jesus Christ. Man 6: But the mu-se-um tells us to be to-le-rant Man 3: [stands up and raises his arms] Yes. The mu-se-um. Man 7: [stands up and raises his arms] The mu-se-um tells us. Mr. Garrison: Tolerant, but not stupid! Look, just because you have to tolerate something doesn’t mean you have to approve of it! If you had to like it, it’d be called the Museum of Acceptance! [the audience looks on] "Tolerate" means you’re just putting up with it! You tolerate a crying child sitting next to you on the airplane or, or you tolerate a bad cold. It can still p_ss you off! Jesus Tapdancing Christ! Randy: He’s right. Our boys didn’t hate homosexuals, they just hated the way this a__hole was acting.
On the other hand, if your goal is to encourage acceptance and toleration among the electorate in general, so that they find it less onerous to vote for things like gay marriage (which, by the way, more than 60% of California voters rejected the last time they had a chance to vote on it), then you may find that a more accommodative and less aggressive approach might be useful.
For me that’s always been the ultimate irony about the whole gay marriage debate: the spectacle of watching social conservatives put so much energy into legally preventing gay Americans from becoming more conservative and living more conservative lifestyles.
Yeah, so? Spring Breaks don’t reflect well upon the college age set, so I’m not sure why you bring that up.
I brought it up to compare/contrast stereotypes imposed upon specific groups. So similarly, in the same spirit of your statement regarding spring breaks, gay pride events don’t reflect well upon the gay social set.
It is obvious that you missed great other parts of the festivities, namely the interfaith pavilion, the Center’s rock climb, and other family centered areas and activities. You have focused solely on the parts that are not "conventional" without even one word on these other areas. This is very typical..let’s focus on the sliver in the eye of our neighbor and forget the beam we have in our own. I suggest you take a walk down any of Florida’s beaches during Spring Break and see how the heterosexual’s play...not much difference to me. The Girls Gone Wild videos speak volumes on that topic alone.