Hate Speech & Glitter by Tony Longshanks LeTigre

It was Sunday of Pride weekend, epicenter of the biggest and gayest celebration in the world: the parade kicked off at 10:30 a.m. A magnitude-8 glitterquake was set to rock San Francisco. People came from all over to watch, to take part, to turn shame upside down and be the most fabulous possible version of themselves.

Or just to get drunk and have a one-night stand with an equally intoxicated stranger.

Out was in, gay meant “happy” again, closets were for clothing – not people. If all those teenagers who committed suicide could have flashed ahead through time and space to be part of this, would it have given them the strength to keep going?

For some it was the highlight of the year. The sky itself turned pink for the day, and if you wore the right pair of sunglasses, the sun when you looked directly at it had a giant Equality sign blazing at its center.

The clouds, for one day only, carried designer labels. Astronomers announced the discovery of a triangle-shaped constellation of pink-colored stars in a previously unknown galaxy, suggesting the possibility of intelligent gay life on other planets.

Songbirds chirped the melodies of Lady GaGa songs. Policemen wearing feather boas maintained law and order while line-dancing to disco songs. Pigeons begged not for food, but for donations to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Hungry children with progressive parents snacked on packets of flavored lube. Tourist cameras filled up with pictures of crazy and fabulous people wearing fabulous and crazy outfits and doing the sort of things tourists love to take pictures of.

Somewhere on an airplane, President Obama contemplated a largely successful fundraiser for the LGBT community he had presided over the day before, confident he was advancing the country toward marriage equality in slow, strategic steps, like the chess player he was.

Somewhere else on another airplane, Michele Bachmann rehearsed lines from a speech she didn’t write and reflected that if a disaster of Hurricane Katrina proportions were to strike San Francisco during her upcoming presidency, it would be tragic of course, but not exactly the end of the world.

Rainbow flags waved from every corner, and a rumor was flying that Rainbow Brite herself, cartoon star of the 80s, was flying in from Rainbow Land as grand marshal of the parade.

(Actually – such is the way with rumors – it was Cyndi Lauper, who had flown in from New York the day before, but you can see how one might confuse the two.)

Homeless people at the library who usually used their free hour of internet time to surf sites featuring Girls with Ten Ton Tits! and Barely Legal Asian Pussy! and Cum-Swallowing Sorority Sluts! switched to gay porn for the day in observance of the holiday. One man visited a site specializing in “Chicks with Dicks,” presumably in a show of support for the intersex community.

For other people, Pride was an annual nuisance. Native San Franciscans bemoaned the inconvenience of the parade, the closure of the civic center and other traffic and business blockages, and the fact that people had to make such a lurid spectacle of themselves, walking around naked in broad daylight.

“And other things you don’t even wanna hear about,” said a woman driving a bus on Van Ness to her passenger. Both happened to be black. “I have a three-year-old son at home, you know? I don’t want him seein’ all that. That’s teachin’ him everything not to be. That’s the way I look at it.”

A girl sitting in the middle of the bus – she happened to be a white female lesbian who attended a lot of protests – heard the driver’s comments and immediately text-messaged her friends, “It’s so depressing when one minority group slags another.”

Then again, if you consider the possibility that queers are actually the majority in San Francisco – an exaggeration, but less of an exaggeration than it would be practically anywhere else – you could say the bus driver was a double-minority person (black, woman) voicing her oppression at the hands of a privileged majority: business as usual.

Of course, there are African-Americans who are homosexual. Women, too. There are even gay and lesbian couples who raise children and have families just like normal people. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a black lesbian couple with three kids somewhere – probably San Francisco. Things have gotten so complicated.

Some people objected to what they saw as the crass commercialization of the whole Pride celebration. They used a lot of similar-sounding phrases like “gentrification” and “mainstream assimilation.” Most of them were too busy reading academic texts to attend the parade.

Elders reminisced about the halcyon 70s, when the gays took over the city and ran it as a 24/7, nonstop orgy, and you didn’t have to cross the bay into Oakland to find a bathhouse. Before that sexually transmitted disease thing came and ruined the party.

Many younger people, especially visitors to the Bay Area, didn’t know what a bathhouse was. You mean like the Sutro baths? They knew Harvey Milk, though. He was the guy Sean Penn played in Milk.

And even if they didn’t know, all it would take is a quick Google search. Things have gotten so simple.

Really, who’s afraid of a bunch of queers? The most they’ll do is interrupt your hate speech and throw a little glitter at you.

Well, actually, they could send the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence after you, in which case…..you’d better say your prayers.

There were a few naked people sprinkled here and there, maybe a dozen. The nudists who usually walked around the Castro, plus a few overzealous Pride additions. Two boys with big dicks walked around in nothing but cock-rings and sandals, “Just to give ’em something to talk about.” (They couldn’t wait three months for the Folsom Street Fair.)

Fortunately there is no scientific evidence that nudity – or homosexuality – is contagious. And if you’re raising any three-year-old children, you might want to think about getting them out of diapers and into some decent clothing – people are starting to talk.

Sorry, what I meant to say is, what a perfect time to begin teaching your children not to be ashamed of their body, or of who they are. Pride, in excess may be a sin – and not everyone looks good naked – but self-loathing is such a shame.