Verizon is gay. So is Frito-Lay. I mean to say I had had my suspicions about that Chester Cheetah all along (after all, I’ve seen him openly flaming); but now I know for sure. Further more, I have recently learned that Pepsi products are also gay, which explains the brand-name of one of their leading beverages, Gatorade, right?
For that matter, Walgreen’s is also gay, along with Home Depot, and the entire Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist Church. In fact, according to the wide ranging assortment of corporate sponsorships backing the crowds and displays at this year’s30th Annual Pride Day parade in Phoenix on April 17th, being gay is as American as well … the Bank of America.
Unofficial police figures estimate that the crowd for the long-running multi-day event Phoenix Pride event at Indian School Park would be over 30,000 and did not dispute that spectators along the parade route and/or participating in the parade that morning exceeded 5,000. When you are talking economies of that scale, many a business is willing to try bi-.
Like Starbucks, there’s a gay on every corner these day and he is not checking out your butt, merely questioning your sorry fashion sense. But the Starbucks at this year’s Pride Day had a guy in a Star Wars storm trooper suit, gave away free coffee, and raised funds to build a water well in Uganda. You know, Uganda? the country where the American right-wing has sent lobbyists to attempt to convince the Ugandan government to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. If that’s the kind of courage that comes from being queer, I hope we all get gay.
And the morning of the Pride Day parade it seems like it--like all of Phoenix could be happy and gay all at once. For a small town reporter in a pink shirt carrying a moderately clever but clearly heart-felt sign, my first trip to a Pride Day parade had me walking with a mince and I was definitely gay to have finished the parade route with only moderate chaffing.
Dozens, I’m serious, dozens of people queer as folk jumped out of the crowds that lined the parade route to get their picture taken with my sign that read, “With Liberty and Justice for All” in rainbow color painted by children.
And I wore the pink shirt to identify with Phoenix Code Pink, which also must be gay. If not, they'd call it "Phoenix Code Some Super-Butch Color to Appear Exaggeratedly Macho." If Code Pink’s stated agenda, “Troops coming home from all wars” is gay, then I'm gay for that.
These days over on the Tea Party end of the American Main-street there is a lot of talk about a gay agenda. But that morning the closest thing I saw to gay agenda was when these two schedules stuck together front to back.
The queer nation mentality however was widely displayed on parade. No wonder the right-wingers were worried. They want to do ridiculous things like love their children unconditionally, dress outlandishly, and love unlimitedly. They wanted to throw darts, hug a lot, and listen to dance music. They wanted to end wars. They wanted to wear fashion disasters that did not involve blue, white, and red--with stars.
And I will tell ya, after some of the train wreck fashion statements I gasped at picketing the Glen Beck rally at the Jobing Arena the week before, I am clear that being around all that gayness left me feeling a lot happier. Glen Beck and his crowd are decidedly not very gay. In fact, they’re not happy at all. And they have reason to be worried and not that the soap gets slippery in the shower sometimes. Turns out that despite all his strident pandering, and all their saber rattling, the newest New York Times poll only gives the Tea Party 18% of the electorate.
Over at Beck’s rally the people yelled at me that “we need to the kill the commies,” when they read my protest sign for the Beck event that read “Insure Domestic Tranquility/Provide for the Common Defense/ These are the Real American Values.” The continuing effrontery and foolish arrogance displayed in a typical encounter with a tea partier has me wondering if the reason the 18th century minded White American males are fighting tooth and nail against change is because they have every right to be afraid of revenge? That they know they have acted like jerks?
On the other hand at the Pride Day Parade, people I didn’t know kept running up to me, hugging me and yelling, “Happy Pride!” On Pride Day, this supposed sexually deviant LGBT sin-fest, the worst that happened was I got lei-ed by a family of three, complete with bicycle built for two, who carried signs that read, “We love our children unconditionally,” with hand-rain bowed Os. Their 6 year old’s sign said, “I love my Gay sister and brother.”
No. Glen Beck’s behind the times. It’s no wonder America has gone gay, just like America is already Black and is next to swiftly turn Hispanic. In the land where Manifest Destiny once meant a Christian god meant Indian murder and everyone took it in the shorts, at the 30th annual Pride Day parade both the cowboys driving the Wells-Fargo stage and the Navajo Indians (as represented by Ms Indian Transgender, 2010-2011, Kristel Lee) were merely having fun together (some of the best “being gay” to be had and all). And I bet you already thought of a biker clubs and classic car clubs were gay? Well, at the Pride Day, the crowd of those types of guys were truly jolly; though you may not want to say, “Hey gay guy we love you!” to every biker or car nut you see.
Still all joking aside, like the shirt on the chest of my favorite drag king, Fox Malone, read, “Queer rights are civil rights.” Or the sign carried by a member of PFLAG: “I hope one day my children will live in a world or acceptance without feeling afraid or rejected.” I feel the same way about my kids and they’re straight. That’s as American as loving a hotdog or a slice of pie. The sticker the Stonewall Democrats distributed that day best crystallized the meaning of the morning in three words: “Equal Means Equal.”
Of course when it comes to buying a part in a long-time big time annual downtown pageant that dares to dream all Americans have equal rights and are not only tolerated, but embraced, lots of folks are ready to buy in to selling some dreaming. Gay America is bought and sold America just like everything else these days, except with cuter models.
Macy’s has long backed parades with big balloons, but generally not with this many fishnet hose on so many of the men who held the strings. But if you don’t believe me, check my Facebook photos. (That’s right, I’m inviting you to friend me and check my pics of pecs and pickled people in every color of the Rainbow and generally several at once on a sunny Saturday morning in Phoenix.)
On Pride Day, however corporate and academic America simply see Americans and their dollars in action. Bank of America’s gays’ green spends just as gaily as at US Airways’ or at ASU. ASU Gay? A fact the folks from U of A have been rumoring about this for years. And, just saying, there has got to be some joke available about juxtaposition of the words “gay” and “Cox” (as in Cox Cable, yet another corporate sponsor); but I am sure you have already thought of some.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ