So to keep this a free site, Christi has suggested that I pull material from the vault and write about some of the things I do when I’m able to sneak away from Florida, things like showing her some of the gayer parts of NYC.
Now, contrary to anything Christi might tell you, I’m not actually gay. Nonetheless, I’m not above occasionally indulging in intrinsically gay activities, such as going to parades, or even uber-gay activities such as the New York Pride Parade.
I remember what it was like when I first moved to NY. From my loft in Chelsea I could hear the commotion marching down 5th Ave. Being somewhat parade-curious, I checked it out and wow, let me tell you, that was some Gay. Growing up in southern Michigan you don’t see so many floats dedicated to post-op transsexual Asian volleyball teams.
Since moving out of Chelsea a number of years ago I haven’t had an excuse to catch the parade. So when I just happened to be back in NY with Christi a few months ago, and she expressed an interest in experiencing the gayness herself, I was happy to oblige. And wow, let me tell you, the times they are a changin’.
Don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty of gay. You still had your Gay Lawyers for Buddha and whatnot. But what you also had this year, which I don’t remember 10 years ago, were the corporate floats. Verizon, Delta, Macy’s, among others, all had gay floats. I guess I always had my suspicions that Starbucks was at the very least "bi," but who knew that there was something intrinsically gay about Gotham Lasik or JP Morgan Chase.
I’m not quite sure when this corporate influx came about, but I have to admire the balls of the first Macy’s suit who had to make this presentation:
“All right, hear me out on this on. There is this group of really large and excessively hairy men who refer to themselves as 'bears.' Now what makes these guys interesting is that they love to have sex with other large and excessively hirsute men. I imagine it’s predominately sodomy, but probably not exclusively so. You’d also have your oral pleasures, your manual stimulations, nonpenetration assplay and whatnot. Anyway, the thing is that once a year they get almost naked, maybe they’ll have on some leather chaps, denim short-shorts (I don’t know, it’s summer and it’s hot out) and what they do is they drive a float covered in frilly crepe paper down fifth avenue in celebration of their sweaty man-love. Now, as the head of corporate branding for Macy’s, I don’t imagine I have to tell you where I’m going with this one: We NEED to be behind that float! If that’s not what Macy’s is all about, then I don’t know Macy’s.”
Naturally, on the one hand I’m proud to think that our country has come this far. Less than twenty years ago, most any image of one boy liking another boy (in that way) would have sent corporate America running for the hills, shrieking like a little school girl. So, obviously I applaud the courage of the companies willing to show their support for the gay community.
However, it is a little strange to see. And I can’t help but wonder if this changes the focus of the Pride March. It’s just that when something becomes so commercialized there is always the fear of it losing its original vision. In a year where even the Republicans are embracing their wide stances, I would hate to imagine people forgetting the true meaning of Gay Pride Day: the hot, anonymous gay sex.
I would think there was copious man on man, and lesbian, sex happening somewhere in the city that weekend. But what I saw at that parade, more than anything, were people shilling. On both sides of the parade barrier there were legions of day temps who handed out free samples of the newest gums or moisturizers, or whatever needed to be marketed to New Yorkers that weekend.
There was a very young family next to Christi and me that seemed to be making out like bandits. I’m not sure their exact heritage but they cheered quite enthusiastically when the “Venezuela Gay United” float went by, so I’m going to make them South American. Anyway, they were happily collecting parade swag by the fistful. They had a shopping bag filled with free samples of breath mints, beauty products, and the like. Every so often their two year old would reach into the bag and pull something out. And being two, he couldn’t really tell the difference between the Trident White Cinnamon Tingle and the only slightly differently packaged Astroglide Personal Warming Lubricant. It’s amazing the things you’ll chew on when you can’t read.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun to watch the foreign tourists who were obviously just walking by and didn’t know quite what to make of all this. Two older Japanese women politely “ooh”ed and “aaww”ed with wide eyed delight whenever one of the more ornately adorned drag queens would sashay by. I watched them as one of the sample distributers handed them a wooden paint stirrer from the Pleasure Chest. It had “SPANK SOMEONE HAPPY” printed on it and it could be used as a 20% off coupon for “any single impact implement” from the store.
The exact meaning of all this was a little confusing to the women at first. With puzzled looks, they conferred in Japanese, until one of them finally figured it out. She bent over, ever so slightly, and used the small wooden paddle to tap herself on the behind. “Ohhhhh! Hai,” the other one said, and nodded enthusiastically. To signify that she understood, she herself bent over and let her friend tap her behind, softly the first time but with an audible CRACK the second time. This took then both by surprise, and they almost fell to the ground giggling.
So, come to think of it, I suppose my fears about the integrity of the Pride March might have been a little unfounded. If, as it turns out, a little push from the commercial sector is what it takes to get two Japanese women to share their first lesbian SM experience, so be it.
And once again, from the largess of corporate generosity comes cultural understanding. God bless America.
PS Of course the one product that Christi and I were both surprised to find absent at the parade was this:
PPS I don't ever do this but, powerful poker personality Barry said I had to put a picture of him in my next post “Listen here, my man, I don't care what the subject is! You sneak me in there.” And my friend Terence said that if Barry got in then he had to be with him. So, by request, that's Barry and Terence up there (the non-bear looking guys). Happy pride to both of you.