I'm currently in the Antelope Valley-which is the high desert here in CA (my house in Long Beach burnt down on Jan. 1st) with my sister and brother in law, and they encouraged me to go to the local Pride festival today. I was pleasantly surprised. Why?
There were some things missing:
1. Corporate banners everywhere
Everything else that makes Pride what it is was there. Drag queens, outrageous costumes, vendor booths, political and social service agencies, entertainment, etc. But, there were no corporations selling their wares and no booze. Now, I have nothing against people who can drink. I don't. My family has an extensive history of problems with alcohol-and I'm one of those people who are allergic to it. When I drink (which I haven't by the grace of the Goddess for 19 years) I break out in a drunk. I'm grateful for being sober every day.
So, for people like me, Pride has been rather uncomfortable in the past. Today, I don't have a problem with being around people who are drinking-that's just a part of being in the LGBT community, since most of our social life involves alcohol. If you can drink normally, then have at it. However, it was very nice to just walk around and enjoy the festival without seeing people make fools of themselves while inhibriated. It's just so sad to see people stagger around, drunk off their asses, remembering when you did that too and thought it was 'fun'. There's nothing fun about staggering around and vomiting your guts out because you have acute alcohol poisoning and your body is trying expel the booze. So,why is it that some of us feel like we have to do that when we don't?
I'd like to think Pride is something more than getting tanked while walking around looking at the latest rainbow flag or T-shirt. I think Pride involves being happy with yourself as you are. For some people, alcohol is a way to ESCAPE being who you are. And I did that too, for a long time-from 1981 to 1990 I drank because I didn't accept who I am-a lesbian who just happens to be a woman of size. I either wanted to ditch the gay or the fat or BOTH. I thank the Higher Power of my own understanding that I don't do that today.
Also, why is it that the corporations started throwing money our way? I mean, I understand they want to make money, and the easiest way to do that is plaster ads all over Pride festivals. But-when I first came out, about the only corporations that would even think about advertising at our festivals were Wells Fargo, whatever beer company got the vendor contract (usually Budweiser) and that was it. Nobody else wanted anything to do with Pride. Now?
You've got the companies I just mentioned plus Showtime Networks, LOGO (which is owned by Viacom), and so on. There's nothing wrong with looking for new customers. I just wish they'd do it in a less obnoxious way. When you see one corporate banner after another, it gets annoying-one year, there was the Bacardi dance tent, then the Harley Davidson mainstage then the Showtime disco tent. It was like being at Disneyland back in the 1970's going into the Carousel of Progress brought to you by General Electric, and America The Beautiful brought to you by Monsanto.
I don't know if I'm just getting older and crabbier about this, or what. The booze has always been around Pride-and today it's easier to ignore. But-it was really nice today not to have to watch people stumbling around drunk and stare in the face of one corporate logo or another. It was a nice time on a nice day, watching younger brothers and sisters not be so anxious about being at a gay pride festival. It was just enjoyable.