A Straight Person’s Guide for Attending Pride
Hooray! It’s Pride Month in San Francisco. The rainbow flags are flying proudly on Market Street, queer people are coming from all over the world to experience our friendly, little city and it seems like there might be fornicating gay unicorns around every corner. If you’re a straight person who wants to experience some of this magic you are more than welcome. I’ve created this handy, dandy guide so that we can all have fun and nobody gets cheap, corporate beer thrown in their face.
Do come with a spirit of celebration and support
A straight female friend of mine recently told me, “I want to go to Pride to get drunk and make-out with guys.” I tried to remain calm and not lose my shit, but this kind of attitude really pisses this particular gay off. Not that we homo’s don’t love a good make-out sesh as much as the next person, but a slightly more elevated attitude toward pride is also appreciated. Like maybe do some cheering at the parade before you start your man hunt?
Things are going so well for gay people in major cities that its easy to forget past struggles and discrimination. Of course it wasn’t that long ago that gay people weren’t allowed to get marry, but did you know that in the 1960’s gay people weren’t allowed to act “homosexual” in public, women were required to wear feminine clothing and it was illegal for men to dress up in drag. Being gay could get you fired, beat up, arrested, kicked out of your apartment, and generally ostracized in every way you can imagine. Thank the goddesses we’ve come such a long way, but its important to remember queer history as we celebrate pride together.
Please come to pride to help us celebrate how far LGBTQ rights and visibility have come and what a wonderful and diverse community we have (and if you also happen to meet a cute boy who wants to suck on your face, great). Keep in mind that this is the one weekend a year we queers get to enjoy the critical mass of being the marjority (Even with the most generous estimates we are only 10% of the population). If it helps, imagine something about yourself that we were made to feel ashamed of or what it feels like to always be in the minority. Not great right? Okay, so let’s put on our rainbow accessories and go kick shame in the ‘nads!
Don’t get so drunk that you do stupid things
Blackouts are fun and all but starting fights and grabbing people without permission is not cool. This isn’t Bay to Breakers (aka: straight bro pride). Pride actually means something to a lot of people and it’s not just another excuse to get super drunk and act the fool. Pride has adorable, gawky teenagers trying to figure out who they are. Leather daddies who don’t want your puke on their chaps. Kids with their proud gay parents. Queer people from Indiana and Utah who still can’t be out and gather in big, happy tribes. Regular folk who don’t want to deal with your shenanigans. Get it together.
Be respectful of queer space and check in on your straight entitlement
Just because you say you’re “cool with gay people” doesn’t mean you don’t have some straight entitlement and internalized homophobia. Most of us have at least a little bit of internalized homophobia, so you’re in really good company. Pride is a really good time to think about these things while also watching men in cheering leading outfits fly through the air like perky cannon balls.
Another thing to be aware of is that some of us cranky older queers are a little bummed about the continuing loss of gay spaces, especially dedicated bars (Hope you’re enjoying lesbian bar heaven my dear and dirty Lexington). These places used to feel like home and were where we could go to be ourselves with other queers. Yes, acceptance and assimilation has lots of benefits. For the most part I can kiss my girlfriend in any bar in San Francisco without getting stink eye. But all this acceptance has come at a price and a lot of us still miss our clubhouses. Which is my way of saying I’m not up in Marina Bro bars every night of the week getting in the way of straight mating rituals, so please don’t try to make Pride all about you. If you’re straight, remember that you’re a guest and not the star of the show. Be polite or we just might have to take you to the BDSM area for a little spanking.
Do tell us how hot/fabulous/amazing/sexy/amazing we are.
When in doubt about how to interact with a gay in the wild compliments are always a safe bet. Tell us you wish you could look that good wearing only rainbow feathers. Tell us it sure looks like we workout. Tell us we are having a legendary hair day. Ask us thoughtful questions about our lives, like what it was like to come out in Southern California in the 1990’s or why lesbians like cats so much. We love straight people who genuinely want to learn about gay culture. Get your Margret Meade on and have fun learning about gay culture and history. We queers are pretty fascinating…
If you’re not a dyke/lesbian/bi-sexual woman/transwoman please don’t walk in the dyke march.
There are very, very few dedicated “women’s spaces” anymore and the Dyke March is like a walking church of sisterhood. Your job is to make amazing signs that say things like “We love vagina’s” and “I’m a bike looking for a dyke” and to stand on the sidelines shouting encouragement. You’re also welcome to join any of the dance parties along the route and offer high-5’s. We will make a marching exception if you are wing-womaning an actual dyke. Tech bro’s march at your own risk, but that angry lesbian stereotype didn’t come from nowhere.
If you screw up someone’s pronoun don’t make a big deal of it
Even the most gender aware person is going to use the wrong pronoun sometimes. We are all rafting the wild and wooly gender river, just trying not to flip over and make a mess of it. If someone corrects you, just say a quick apology and move on with their desired pronoun. Even though you might feel bad about your blunder, a big, drawn out apology puts the person you mis-gendered in the awkward position of comforting you and trying to make you feel better about what exactly? Your perfectionism? Your lack of mind reading abilities? In general if you’re unsure about the pronoun to use people really like when you ask. May I suggest, “What pronoun do your prefer?” as a much preferable to “Are you a girl or a guy?” If you make an honest effort to get requested pronouns right most trans people will really appreciate it and not get mad when you blow it here and there. Especially with they/them, as the grammar part of your brain may be locked in a fight to the death with the human kindness parts of your heart.
Please keep in mind that this guide is written by one grumpy, middle-aged lesbian who has lived in the city for a decade. The LGBTQ community is huge and diverse and I’m sure there are people who disagree with my pride opinions and that’s great. Hooray for diversity! These are just general suggestions inspired by my attendance at many, many Prides. Yeah, I’m super gay.
Alright straight stuff, you are now officially certified to attend Pride! Don’t forget to hydrate and wear sunscreen, as the sun is bi-sexual and hits on everyone. Have a fabulous time!