Signs of Pride

Every year during the August long weekend, Vancouver becomes a gay mecca. It probably already is, but the annual Pride celebration tuns the city into a San Francisco North. Today, Sunday, is the Pride Parade, a flotilla of gay-themed floats streaming through the streets of downtown, egged on by tens of thousands of well-wishers, parade-lovers, and sexual orientations of all stripes. I got firsthand experience from the inside of the parade last year when, for the “float” (actually, an old black truck decked out with signs and streamers) sponsored by one of the papers I write for, I duded myself up in buttless chaps and a black leather vest and not much else, and allowed our randy receptionist, dominatrix-clad, to lead me around by a leash and, ever so often and to the crowd’s great delight, smack me on the ass with a riding crop.

The things I’ll do for attention! Actually, I figured I might get a girlfriend out of the deal, but for some reason, dressing in black leather, allowing myself to be spanked in front of thousands of people and being part of a gay pride parade didn’t result in my phone ringing off the hook, or any marriage proposals. At least, not from any straight girls.

Meanwhile, signs of gay pride are everywhere. Yesterday on Commercial Drive, the centre of lesbian activity (gay men prefer the West End), butch-cropped women in couples filled the sidewalk and the aisles of a sex-toy store. I was surprised anything was left on the shelves, actually. And this a.m. I came back from getting a coffee to find a Harley-Davidson decked out with rainbow flags parked in my building’s underground lot.

I won’t be checking out the parade this year, however, or even boarding the boat that the (gay) owners of my neighbourhood gym have rented to celebrate both Pride Weekend and the 10th anniversary of their gym. Instead, as I told the girl who helped me select some items at the sex-toy store, I’ll be staying in and celebrating Straight Pride Weekend. I was trying to be funny, but with all sincerity she replied, “It’s all about being proud of who you are.”

I did look pretty good in those buttless chaps, though.

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