|Above left: In memory of Michael Jacksonâ€™s death, Frisco Robbie, columnist Pollo Del Mar and Sasha Soprano pose with impersonator Drake Diaz before his performance at 18+ LGBT club The Crib. Above right: After providing color commentary with Beth Spots
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
Many people spend all year looking forward to June. It would be a lie if I didnâ€™t admit that, even before Pride month starts, I generally already look forward to it being over! This season, in particular, I had a bit of extra incentive which had me marking the days off my calendar in anticipation.
For those unable to live life authentically or embrace their emotional and sexual identities in their small hometowns, I understand why June is a beacon of hope! These people want nothing more than a chance to flood the nearest major city once a year to revel in the freedoms and excesses Prides across the country afford. Of course, despite all the liberties the Bay Area offers, even San Francisco is really no different.
Each year tens of thousands, multiples thereof really, swarm our city streets to spend one weekend unfettered by the social constraints, prejudices and closed minds of the communities in which they live. It is for those people â€“ the young men and women who have not yet been able to break the shackles of their upbringing to seek out their own truths, those more mature individuals who, for one reason or another, remain trapped either by choice or circumstances beyond their control â€“ that I celebrate Pride.
Having lived in San Francisco for over a decade, actively involved in the LGBT community socially, politically and philanthropically for the duration, personally commemorating the â€śgay holidayâ€ť now feels far less pressing or fulfilling than it did even a few short years ago. To be entirely honest, rather than enjoy the rush of people from the farthest reaches of Californiaâ€™s heartland into the city I know and love, I often feel, at a minimum, intruded upon during that weekend. Occasionally, it makes me downright angry!
The way partiers treat the neighborhoods and establishments where I live and work frustrates me. Just as I would if someone crashed a party in my private home, as a resident I feel disrespected and disenfranchised when people in town for only the day or weekend trash our streets and mistreat the locals, which is oh-so-incredibly common.
My blood boils at how, for many, Pride has become almost exclusively about what I consider the lowest-common-denominators of this event. Rather than celebrating the efforts of those in our community who choose to live honestly 52 weeks a year, fighting for our equality both through defined political action and simply being true to themselves, the occasion has apparently devolved into an exhibition in commercialism, public intoxication, lewdness and flagrant sexuality by people living out loud on only that weekend.
The more exclusively Pride becomes about these things, the less involved I personally feel as someone who would like to think I live a truthful existence year-round. Should those things be what the season has become, June for me is now less a practice in â€śprideâ€ť than survival.
Admittedly, it feels almost distasteful to mention â€śsurvivingâ€ť Pride in light of the tragic shooting death at this yearâ€™s Pink Saturday, as one 19-year-old man literally didnâ€™t make it through. However, given the increased number of events peppering the weeks leading up to the Pride festivities, the period can seem dangerously exhausting for any social member of the LGBT community.
In my experience, this is only further compounded as a professional performer whose schedule already includes several nights a week on the town. This time of year is hectic at best, overwhelmingly so at worst! Between my regular weekly gigs, special Pride month bookings and, of course, the fourth-annual June run of The Golden Girls: The Play, it felt like I was in drag more often than out.
During the final two weeks of June, I spent 12 of 14 days in make-up! Highlights include providing color commentary with CBS5 Eye on Blogs personality Beth Spotswood during a June 23 webcast of the San Francisco Young Democratsâ€™ District 6 Supervisorial debate, helping build/riding the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco float in the 40th-annual Pride Parade and being invited by Prideâ€™s Associate Director of Development Troy Coalman to guest emcee at the 40 & Fabulous VIP party/reception at City Hall.
However, no sooner were these festivities over than I was packed and on the highway, headed for a romantic Southern California rendezvous. My Dancer, mentioned in this column a couple of weeks ago, has rejoined the cast of Tony Award-winning Broadway musical In the Heights in Los Angeles, and we planned a week together there. With that, plenty of open road and him ahead, I had nothing but time to gather my thoughts about the previous month and what Pride â€“ even as it stands today â€” means in the grand scheme of things.
In some little burg along the way, I stopped to refuel, get some caffeine and use the restroom. I noticed the cashier, other patrons and the guy at the gas bump opposite mine, all of whom held their glance just that split-second too long. Though I certainly wasnâ€™t in drag, it was clear I stood out.
Only a day after Pride, and just 80 miles from San Francisco, and I felt suddenly conspicuous, self-conscious, gay. While nobody verbalized it, there was no need. The fleeting expressions on their faces assured me this wasnâ€™t a good thing. Their silent judgment, like the smell of cow manure so prominent in that area, lingered in the air.
Though I had done nothing wrong, I felt oddly ashamed. It was a feeling I knew well and experienced often many years before, and one I realize the LGBT people who choose to live in those cities probably still encounter almost every day. Itâ€™s unpleasant, hurtful and makes it hard to achieve â€“ much less sustain â€” anything even remotely resembling â€śprideâ€ť in oneâ€™s identity.
I couldnâ€™t leave the icky pall of that rest stop soon enough. Starting my car, I guided it back onto the highway, where a man â€“ and, so far, full acceptance â€“ waited ahead. Inside my Miata, the lessons of these last many years returned to me quickly.
Long ago, I decided to make that permanent trip San Francisco, where I get to live with Pride 365 days a year. For other people, they make that trip only one weekend each June. To me, thatâ€™s simply not enough.
Follow â€śThe Glamazonâ€ť at Facebook.com/PolloDelMar or Twitter.com/TheGlamazonPDM.
Email her direct at Pollo_DelMar@Yahoo.com.