Watching The Defectives

Gentle readers, I’m rerunning my annual Pride rant for the thirteenth year. I wrote this post in 2005 a couple of days after attending Pride in NYC. In the following years I’ve reposted it in advance of Pride in the hope of encouraging you to attend your local events. Have a wonderful Pride Month. Love each other.

Watching The Defectives

Last Sunday at 12:30pm, I was in position on Christopher Street with Terrence, his glamor boys, and touring UK bloggers Dave and Darren. The Pride parade was due to round the corner any minute, but I tore off in search of a bodega, crossing my fingers that my desperate need for a soda wouldn’t cause me to miss Dykes On Bikes. Half a block away, I found a little place and ducked in, weaving through the customers clogging the aisles on rushed missions like mine. I was third in line, two bottles of Sprite under my arm, when the man in front of me spotted a friend entering the store.

“David! Sweetie! Where are you watching from? Come hang out with us on Allen’s balcony!”

David, a bookish looking middle-aged man, destroyed the festive mood in the little store in an instant. “Absolutely not. Those defectives and freaks?” he spat, indicating the colorful crowd outside the store, “They have nothing to do with MY life, thank you very much. This parade has as much dignity as a carnival freak show. It’s no wonder the whole country hates us.”

Luckily for David, the Asshole Killer mind ray I’ve been working on is not yet operational. I settled for pushing him a little, just a tiny bit, just to get by him in that narrow aisle, of course. I returned to my sweaty little group and tried to put what I’d heard out of my mind for the remainder of the day, because I knew that by the next morning, the thousands of Davids of the world, the ones who have media access anyway, would all issue their now familiar day-after-Pride rant. The one where they decry the drag queens on all those newspaper front pages. The one where they beat their chests and lament, “Why don’t the papers ever show the NORMAL gay people? Where are the bankers and lawyers? Why must all the coverage be drag queens and leather freaks in assless chaps?”

And every year, the logical answer is that bankers and lawyers are boring to look at and that pictures of marching Gap employees don’t sell newspapers. There’s no sinister media agenda intent on making gay people look ridiculous, no fag-hating cabal behind the annual front page explosion of sequins and feathers. It’s just good copy. Drag queens are interesting. Even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones.

Yet right on cue, the day after Pride, the Davids of the blogosphere dished out their heavy-handed dissections of parades around the country. Only this year, there was a palpably nastier tone to an already traditionally nasty annual debate. Blame the election, blame the recent avalanche of anti-gay legislation, but this year, the usual assimilationist arguments went beyond the hypothetical speculations that maybe our Pride parades were too outlandish, that maybe we weren’t doing the movement any favors by showing the country a face that happened to be wearing 6-inch long false eyelashes. This year there was some actual discussion about HOW we were going to “fix” Pride parades. Of how we might go about “discouraging” certain “elements” from taking part in the parades.

This is the part of the story where I have my annual post-Pride apoplectic attack. This is the part of the story where the swelling volume of Nazi analogies overwhelm my ability to speak and all I can do is twitch and bark out little nonsensical bits. This is where I always forget the name given to the Jews who went to work for the Nazis, helping load the trains. “Because that’s what you are asking us to do, you assholes!” Then I always ask, “Who are we going to sacrifice to ‘save’ ourselves? Which child will it be, Sophie?” And this is the part of the story where my friends accuse me of being a hyperbole-laden drama queen, wasting spiritual energy on a non-crisis, and of co-opting the Holocaust as well. More on that later.

These people that want to “fix” Pride don’t understand the role that Pride parades have come to play. Initially, the gay parade was about visibility. It was about safety in numbers, and more importantly, “normalcy” in numbers. It was about the idea that if only straight America could see us, could just SEE US, that they’d love us. And accept us. That if we’d mass and march by the righteous millions, the sheer unstoppable force of our collective image would topple bigotry. Would right wrongs. Would stop hate.

Of course, that didn’t happen then and it doesn’t happen now.

What DOES happen, is that Pride parades, at least in the big cities, have become nothing more significant to straight America than an annual traffic nightmare. As a tool of the gay movement, the Pride parade is now merely a walking photo op for politicians and perhaps not much more. A couple of years ago, the ultimate arbiter of America’s cultural zeitgeist, The Simpsons, made note of this:

(The gay pride parade is going past the Simpson house.)

Chanting marchers: “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!”

Lisa Simpson: “You do this every year. We ARE used to it.”

What does all of this mean to the Davids of the world, the gay assimilationists that want to, wish they could, somebody do something, there’s gotta be a way we can, Dignify This Parade? The ones begging: “Can’t we get our people to at least DRESS respectfully for one lousy day? Is that too much to ask of our people? “

Yes, yes it is.

Because you are kidding yourself if you think Pride parades, in any form, will EVER change the minds of homophobes. The straight people who show up to see Pride parades are already largely convinced. We’re parading to the choir, Jesse. Those straight people love our freaks, bless them.

Oh, you could test run a “defective” free parade. You could form urban anti-drag squads and go around to all the gayborhoods on the morning of the parade and give all the drag queens 50% off coupons for Loehmann’s, offer good during the parade only. And they’d GO, of course, cuz hey, those girls love a bargain. But the resultant bland, humorless, “normal” gay parade wouldn’t change the course of the gay movement one bit. The part of straight America that is repulsed by drag queens is quite possibly even more terrified by the so-called “normal” gays, because “those clever calculating creatures look JUST LIKE US, and can infiltrate and get access to our precious children. And that’s been their disgusting plan all along, of course.”

So where does that leave us? Are we post-Pride? Is the parade just a colossally long waste of a miserably hot summer day? Is the Pride parade just an event that does a better job of moving chicken-on-a-stick than it does of moving hearts? I’d say that, yes, as an effective tool of the gay movement, Pride’s usefulness has largely waned in many U.S. cities. So do we even need to keep having these parades, since they no longer seem to have much of an impact on the state of the movement? No, we don’t.


Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

I’m not worried what the outside world thinks about the drag queens, the topless bulldaggers, or the nearly naked leatherfolk. It’s OUR party, bitches. If you think that straight America would finally pull its homokinder to its star-spangled bosom once we put down that glitter gun, then you are seriously deluding yourself. Next year, if one of the Christian camera crews that show up to film our “debauched” celebrations happen to train their cameras on you, stop dancing. And start PRANCING.

If you’re out there wringing your hands and worrying that Pride ruins YOUR personal rep, listen up. Do you think that straight Americans worry that Mardi Gras damages international perception of American culture? America, land of the free, home of “Show Us Your Tits!”? They don’t and neither should we. Our Pride celebrations are just our own unique version of Mardi Gras, only instead of throwing beads, we throw shade. No one has to ask US to show our tits. We’ve already got ’em out there, baby. And some of them are real.

A co-worker of mine heard me discussing my Pride plans last weekend and said, “I really don’t understand what it is you are proud about. I mean, you all say that you are born that way, so it’s not like you accomplished anything.” She wasn’t being mean, just genuinely curious, and I think that a lot of gay people probably feel the same way. On this subject, I can only speak for myself.

I’m proud because I’m a middle-aged gay man who has more dead friends than living ones and yet I’m not completely insane. I’ve lived through a personal Holocaust (here we go again) in which my friends and lovers have been mowed down as thoroughly and randomly as the S.S guards moved down the line of Jews. You, dead. You, to the factory. And you, you, you, and you, dead. I am inexplicably alive and I am proud that I keep the memories of my friends alive. I am proud of my people, the ACT UPers, the Quilt makers, the Larry Kramers, the Harvey Fiersteins. I’m proud that I’m not constantly curled up into a ball on my bed, clutching photo albums and sobbing. And that happens sometimes, believe it.

And outside of my personal experiences, I am proud of my tribe as a group. Sometimes I think that gay people are more creative, more empathic, more intuitive, more generous, and more selfless than anybody else on the planet. Sometimes I think that if an alien culture were surveying our planet from light years away, they might classify gay people as an entirely separate species of humans. It’s easy to spot us because of our better haircuts.

But sometimes I think we are the worst people in the entire world when it comes to standing up for each other. The gay people who’d like to soothe their personal image problems by selectively culling some of our children from Pride events? They disgust me. They appall me. They embarrass me. To them I say: The very road that YOU now have the privilege of swaggering upon was paved by those queens and leather freaks that you complain about as you practice your “masculine” and give us butch face. If you want to live in the house that THEY BUILT, you better act like you fucking know it. United we stand, you snide bitches. America’s kulturkampf ain’t gonna be solved by making flamboyant people go away.

I’ll end this by making one final Jewish reference. Possibly you’ve heard the Jewish in-joke that sums up the meaning of all Jewish holidays? “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” My Pride version?

They wish we were invisible.

We’re not.

Let’s dance.

  • David Milley

    As always, timely. Enjoy the party, all!

    • David Walker

      Sing out, Louise!

      • David Milley

        We did! Just got home (and logged back in) late last night. The combined chorus experience was a blast!

  • AtticusP

    Always look forward to reading this each pride, Joe. Thanks.

    And I would rather be defective than deplorable any old day.

  • Puckfair52

    1971 Just graduated Hs Started College and found GAA on Wooster Street started marching in all their zaps working the dances & cabarets. All my photos from that period were lost.

    That’s me 1977 in the leather vest no shirt we marched uptown to the park. after That my husband and I marched with the Quakers for years he was a Quaker. I remember so many of those early parades Gays in the Village being derisive of the marchers,
    No I see we have Gay Fascists again. TERFS a whole assortment of twisted hobgoblins that are strangely a testament to what we called for back so many years ago. COME OUT OUTTA THE CLOSETS & INTO THE STREETS!

    • Strepsi

      As a fan of our people, I support this message.
      As a fan of treasure trails, I support this photo.

      Happy Pride! 🌈

    • medaka

      You are FABULOUS. Thank you for this, Mr Puckfair!

  • Boreal
  • blackstar
  • greenmanTN

    Thank you, Joe.

    People seem to think that I’m lying when I sometimes say I view being gay as a gift.

    I’m not kidding. I am a white male southerner, relatively “masculine,” so I wonder at times if I were straight if I might not be ordering NASCAR tickets at the moment.

    Being gay has allowed me to be the “other,” which I believe led me to develop empathy for others not like myself, which I view as a gift, and an occasionally a very effective pick-up line!

    • blackstar

      yes. I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

      • Strepsi

        I am what I am, I am my own special creation.

        • greenmanTN
          • Every time I see this I keep waiting for Sean Connery to pop up and say, “Bond. James Bond.”

          • greenmanTN
          • David Walker

            It’s OK, greenman. Not to worry. We got your back.

            And I couldn’t agree more with your post that started today’s Musical Wayback Machine. It’s not just that I can’t imagine what it’s like to be straight, and not even that I don’t want to be straight, but I am glad…proud… happy that I’m gay. My life has had meaning because I’m gay. As my first year without Jack approaches, I’ve been thinking back over our 37 years together. They couldn’t have happened without him in my life. “I’m so glad we had this time together.” But life before Jack was fun and difficult and rewarding, too, because I am gay and I accepted it and I treasured it and I ran with it. Thank you, greenman. Happy Pride.

          • Bryan

            “Oh, Schneider…!”

    • TuuxKabin

      You’ve started the weekend dance party in our house early, thank you very much. Good way to start the day. And finally, a warm sunny one. Cheers.

      • greenmanTN

        Enjoy! I’m your go-to guy for obscure 80s music.

      • greenmanTN

        When one of your favorite artists as a teen keeps releasing music you like when you’re in you’re 50.

        • Strepsi
          • greenmanTN

            When you realize that the singer of one of your favorite songs is probably due for a hip replacement…



          • Waarki

            Well at some time you gotta piss off the neighbors ’cause it needs to be played LOUD…

          • greenmanTN

            Oh god, don’t remind me. The new (2months?) across the street neighbors were playing music so loud it was like Woodstock in my front yard. I closed all the doors and windows and it STILL sounded like the speakers were in the room with me.

            So I kinda… flipped, lifted one of the the kitchen windows and SCREAMED “Turn that goddamn music down!” Somone over there responded with “We can play it as loud as we want!” To which I responded “Shove those speakers up your fucking ass!”

            I almost never lose my temper, but when I do it’s noteworthy.

            So within 1-2 minutes the police showed up and told them to turn the music down. Now they think I’m the one who called the police, which I did not do. I will admit to yelling out the window, not a high point in my life, but now I have neighbors glaring at me because they think I called the police on them.

          • John

            You’re a hero in my book!

          • Waarki

            The neighbors I had, back in the day, would never attempt to do something like that. They knew that my roomie at the time was one of John Cage’s students and I was well into noise / musique concrète / industrial and that we wouldn’t play back anything at a loud level as much as a repetitive rhythm or obnoxious noise. We really didn’t play fair as our arsenal consisted of Merzbow, Whitehouse, P16 D4, and any number of experimental musician or sound archivist … Think: David Lewiston and his Tibetan Monks series….

          • greenmanTN

            When I lived in Houston I had a friend who was angry at the Iranian guys who lived in the same apartment complex and early on Saturday morning would play (Middle Eastern) music very loud while they worked on their cars. His complaints about it were constant, but he hadn’t mentioned it in a while so I asked what was going on.

            “Oh, it’s much better. I took care of it. I Mermed them so they stopped playing the music so loud”

            “You did what?”

            “I Mermed them. I put my speakers in the window and blasted them with Ethel Merman songs. When they turned their music off I turned off mine too, but when they started playing it loud again I hit them with some more Merman. So they still play their music but much softer now because I put the fear of Merm in them.”

            It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. I could just picture these poor Iranian guys playing music and working on their cars, then suddenly it’s “There’s NO business like SHOW business, like NO business I KNOOOOOOW!!!”

            Used judiciously Ethel Merman might bring peace to the Middle East.


          • Waarki

            Since you lived in Houston I have to ask if you followed the music scene there? I was born and raised there so was around for … 13th Floor Elevators/ Roxy Erickson , Fever Tree, Red Krayola, Townes Van Zandt… oh lord the stories!

          • greenmanTN
          • Waarki

            I was a rabid Sue Tissue fan 🙂

          • greenmanTN

            Since you are a fan I assume you know about Su’s small part in Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild”?


            That was one of my favorite movies and the time and I still like it.

            OT, but I tried for years to discover who the musician/band whose music because I really liked it, but with no luck. Then I finally found it!


          • greenmanTN

            Ever listen to Polyock? Their first albums were produced by Phillip Glass, who imposed his style on them.


          • Waarki

            Missed out on them somehow which is odd because they have a ‘Factory’ sound which i was very much into at the time. You could have told me this song is by Section 25 an I would have believed it. Definitely captured the time and feel of the period. Speaking of Factory Records and the entire Manchester/Factory scene, you remember these guys? Royal Family and the Poor….


          • greenmanTN

            Never heard them, but I like them. I wasn’t really into the live music scene at the time, and I left Houston about 16 years ago.

          • JCF

            If Prince (my generation) had Just Got HIs Damn Hip Replaced, he might still be here… 🙁

          • CanuckDon

            Discovered this newbie last night and absolutely over the moon with it…..

          • Strepsi

            What a find, thanks Don!

          • Kristinajgonzalez

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj134d:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash134MarketProjectPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj134d..,..

          • greenmanTN

            The Australians have been getting away with FAR too much! I don’t care if their water does flush in the opposite direction! (I actually do know that isn’t true.)


          • Bryan

            “Remember those days, the early nineties…”

          • greenmanTN

            LOVE Graham Norton AND song. When I’m down in the dumps I watch GN on YouTube.

      • greenmanTN

        You might enjoy this, another recent Holly Beth Vincent song.

        And retro…

        • TuuxKabin

          Yeah, in a haunting, stir my curiosity way . . . you rule when it comes to, I wouldn’t say obscure, but far away sounds and style. The first one, Holly Beth Vincent, wonder how come I never heard her before, even on this university radio station we frequent, Fordham’s radio studio, usually has introduced us to songs like this. One of the line ups, after this song, on youtube is with Lene Lovich, gon’ jump the que and give it a go.


          • greenmanTN

            My first job was in a record store in small town Tennessee. In a way music was how I differentiated myself, developed an identity, in opposition to the prevailing tone. My classmates liked KISS and Jimmy Buffett and I liked more obscure music, which at the time spoke to me when I needed it most, gave me strength. (Which is kind of ironic considering that I have a terrible singing voice and couldn’t hold a note on a bet. Truly awful.) It didn’t hurt that I’m an inveterate smartass and went for the jugular when crossed.

            Football jock, upon seeing me in shorts for an intramural soccer game: “If I was on the field I’d eat your lunch!”

            Me: “Since you’re in the neighborhood and hungry, how about you eat my dick?”


          • greenmanTN

            Don’t know if you’ll see this, but whatever.

            There was a TINY record store within walking distance of my house before I was able to drive, the type of record store that would open records for you and play them so you’d know if you wanted them or not.

            I spent many afternoons there with Maxine, a kind of “country” woman with a heavy accent, the only employee of that store. (There was another, larger store elsewhere in town, so this was an annex. )I don’t think I ever saw more than 5 other people in that store the entire time I hung out there,

            So it was just me and Maxine, hanging around and listening to Grace Jones, the Talking Heads, or whatever also caught my fancy, though I’m sure that was not to her tastes at all. Sometimes she’d go to the ice cream parlor in the same shopping center and buy us both an iced tea, so we’d sip sweet tea and listen to New Wave music. I actually did buy many of the records FWIW.

            I actually think that might be a good play, the outcast gay boy and the country woman hanging out together and listening to New Wave music.

          • greenmanTN
          • greenmanTN

            Thank you. Odd truth, but if I immediately love some song but it doesn’t stick with me, but if it takes muliple listenings to “get it,” but it sticks with you longer ^^^!

            Just for fun…


        • TuuxKabin

          That gurl can run, in ‘for what’s it worth!” Never heard a single remake of this. Love it.

          • greenmanTN

            Uh-oh, now you’ve gone and done it, encouraged me. Woe be unto you. 🙂

            The Go-Go’s song Our Lips Are Sealed was actually co-written by Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three, and I prefer the FB3 version.


            And a lovely gay-themed video by the Icelandic band Sigur Ros.


            Are you beginning to understand why some people consider me a bit odd? No joke, due to a switched test (PKU) at the the hospital my parents were told I was retarded (for lack of a better term), so they pretty much left me alone, expecting that I could never learn. There is a reason why “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” is a saying. They figured out the mistake later, but not before I had developed a rather malicious attitude toward them. There were a few… episodes along the way. 😈

    • Strepsi

      I think we know from a very young age who we are

      • greenmanTN

        It is almost surreal to me to see parents of a… flamboyant son, say “He doesn’t know it yet but he’s gay” and not have a big issue over it.

        Many gay boys are pretty obvious, not that it’s a bad thing, My older brother is also gay, but he was the one they always suspected. Playing Bette Miller albums constantly was a huge whopping clue, much less his color coordinated outfits, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. So I was supposed to be the straight one.

        It didn’t turn out that way. I was the first one to come out to them at 17 . The next morning they got him on the phone and said “___ just told us he’s gah. Do YOU have anything to tell us?” He hung up on them then called back later to tell them he was gay too.

    • CanuckDon

      I hear ya! Being relatively masculine as well but small-framed with red hair, I have often wondered how things would have been for me if I’d been straight and feeling society’s pressures to get a wife and family. Those aren’t quite the appealing characteristics that women seek. I most likely would have towed the line like so many heterosexual men do to fit in and odds are, I’d have ended up a mousey husband. But thankfully, my desires overpowered any need to just fit in. They were much too strong for me to ignore when I was in my teens so my path was set and there was no hesitation (and thankfully, I discovered that some men were attracted to me).

      I think of a conversation that I had many years ago with a young co-worker. We were good friends. He thought it was so cool that I DJed on the side. That year, I was the DJ at our city’s big Pride dance. He said that he envied me as a gay man because it allowed me to have freedoms that he felt he didn’t have. He was very straight (got married a year later) but typical computer geek and had no interest in sports. That was the kicker for him in most social circles…having to cope with his straight peers because it seemed a prerequisite that hetero men had to have a keen interest in sports. It’s a chat that I’ll never forget.

      • David Walker

        Thanks for the story. Rock on! And Happy Pride.

      • greenmanTN

        One of the assistant football coaches lived across the street from us. He was was big n beefy, pretty good looking so far as those things go. He was taking with my parents, telling them I should join the football team.

        I however was in my early cooking mode (it was self defense. My mother couldn’t cook worth shit).

        No lie, I marched outside and asked if he wanted to try one of my teriyaki turnips. I seriously made teriyaki turnips, which were quite tasty IIRC.

        The subject of me playing football never came up again.

      • greenmanTN

        I was the late accidental pregnancy, so for good or bad I was free range chicken. My parents read to me but otherwise I was almost feral. Most Jr High students don’t get picked up by a 45 year old guy driving a Lincoln Continental to go to a motel. Actually, because I was smart I thought I knew everything, thoought I was an equal when I was really just jail bait, “chicken.”

        • CanuckDon

          The last of six here. One of my older sisters had a child out-of-wedlock at age 22 and two years later, one of my older brothers knocked up his girlfriend when he was 18 so my gay path was full of rainbows as far as my parents were concerned!

          • greenmanTN

            I’m the youngest too, not just in my immediate family but also cousins on both sides. My sister and brother were truly evil, once stripped me nude, dropped me under a streetlight, ran inside and turned the porch light on and locked the door. I forget what I’d done, being a pain in the ass little brother no doubt, so my mother made me apologize to them, nude, before she opened the door and let me back in.

            I took care of her for the last several years of her life. It was truly a shame that the only thing on TV was marathons of Gilligan’s Island, hours and hours of it.

            Karma may be a bitch, but I occasionally act as a facilitator

      • greenmanTN

        It’s probably very common in a way, I think, that men are supposed to like watching sports, especially televised sports. I think many men adopt that “interest” as a way to fit in with other straight men, so they paint their faces and wear “foam fingers,”or whatever.

        I personally couldn’t be bothered. What it is this “our team” business? You don’t know anyone on the team so I don’t know why you’re so hyped, especially when your flabby ass can barely make it to the food vendors without hyperventilating.

  • blackstar

    This song never gets old 🙂

    • TuuxKabin

      Ahhhh, da’ baby. Yes. Sweet! Thanks! Great compilation. And it’s not allergies making me tear up.

    • Thank you, Che’ – I’d not seen this version before, for some reason. The video is beautiful.

    • Todd20036

      Nice to see a rap artist who actually gets it.

      Not too many who do

    • JCF

      I’m reading a book now called “The End of White Christian America” (published last year. It’s painful how the author, Jones, has no idea Drumpf could be coming).

      It talks about this song—particularly, its performance at the Grammys that year, w/ a same-sex wedding there—as emblematic of the changing America leaving White [he means White Conservative, here] Christians behind. Specifically cites Mary Lambert as example of a gay Christian who was pushed out of her church (“I’m not crying on Sundays”).

  • Strepsi

    Aunt Ida says it best – the world of heterosexuals is a sick and boring life!

    • blackstar


    • Bluto

      Queers are just better.

  • Puckfair52

    I was also thinking that all the Corporate groups are tedious but a tradeoff for SO CALLED MAINSTREAM CONSUMER RESPECTABILITY arrrrrgh! ah well.
    GAA was too unwieldy they said lets start the National Gay Task Force removing the voice from direct community participation & the creation of Professional Gays! and HHRC from beers coffee and pot at the Firehouse to Cocktail Parties & awards Gala’s!
    Miss Marsha was already starting to feel left behind in 1972 I imagine where she’d be today! She and some others shoplifted a Pork roast once and brought it to the Firehouse and we had a nice little meal a bunch of STAR street queens and me the half queen half leather boy. Ah well time marches on more importantly is keep on marching.
    Identity & status as varied as we have become was a hard earned fight! There will always be the curmudgeonly outsider who claims not to belong, Like it or not they do!

    • Skokieguy [Larry]

      I in the past have disliked the corporate takeover of many pride parade, basically because it squeezes out many of the smaller, homegrown and heartfelt groups that want to and should be part.

      However, domestic partner benefits were pushed by many large corps and they used their financial muscle to beat back state level anti LGBT bills. Did they do it for financial and convenience reasons? In many cases yes, but the result is that we benefited. Doing the right thing, even if not for the most lofty reasons, is still the right thing.

      • Strepsi

        I agree, and I also think that – even if they are trying t get visibility in this one parade, it puts them ON THE RECORD as being pro-rights.

  • billbear1961
  • Happy Pride, O’ my Children! Take the cover off your flame and burn it bright – today and EVERY day. Rejoice in being “defectives and freaks”, and never let the “Davids” of this world tell you otherwise. The Gods love their “defectives and freaks”, for we are the strong ones. We are the ones who live with honor, shining in our truth, laughing in the face of pain and loss, and glorying in meeting every challenge.
    Fight and Love until your final moment, O’ my Children. You can rest when you’re dead.

    Love, Light, and Lipstick Forever
    Mommie Dammit

  • JT
    • JCF

      Remembering Gilbert…

  • GayOldLady

    I love this story Joe. Thank you for sharing. Happy Pride Everyone. Love, Hugs & Kisses.

    • Skokieguy [Larry]

      Love back atcha! And the photo of the Chicago ‘boys’ you posted is amazing, something I’ve never seen before. Do you know any context or history of it or the group of women?

      • GayOldLady

        No, but I wish I did.

    • billbear1961



  • Strepsi

    @JOE – I love this column, thanks. I also say that we need these parades just to feel like – for ONE day a year – we are safe, and in the majority. For a lonely gay kid your first parade is overwhelming and life-altering. It also makes me so proud of the young generations. They are not here for your homophobic bullshit. LET’S DANCE!

    • Todd20036

      The funniest “It Gets Better” video was a parody called “It Gets Worse”.

      It’s geared to the high school jocks and cheerleaders who are BMOCs in school, but 1 or 2 years afterwards, no one remembers they caught the winning touchdown or had the prettiest uniform, etc.

      They’re the ones who’d make fun of their gayer fellow students.

  • margaretpoa

    I hadn’t seen your Pride rant before but I love it! One part jumped out at me:

    Where are the bankers and lawyers?

    They’re in the Human Rights Campaign’s parade, honey. What? There is no HRC Pride parade? That figures. The haters want us to be invisible so they insist that we comply. No thanks. Apart from assimilation being ultimately self destructive, it’s fracking BOOOOOOOOORING!

    Thanks, Joe.

    • Steve Teeter

      And besides, part of the point of these festivities is that bankers and lawyers are perfectly free to show up in their sequins or feathers or assless chaps if they want to. So much of the gay world is about being who you choose to be on your own terms. You can always go back to wearing the suit on Monday.

    • LesbianTippingHabits

      The real question re the bankers and the lawyers is, how do they tip?

      Remember, tips are good karma. And karma never lies. Just ask Hillary.

      And only the wait staff knows for sure. Thank you, and Happy Pride!

  • billbear1961
  • billbear1961
    • Strepsi

      Good one Bill baby! Saw the revival on a whim on Broadway a couple years ago, it was terrific. HAPPY PRIDE

      • billbear1961

        Happy Pride, to you, and one and all!

      • Now THAT is my idea of a teddy bear!

    • David Walker

      Thank you, Mr. Bear. That’s also the very beginning of the movie version of “Boys in the Band.”
      And in honor of the Tonys tomorrow night, here’s the revival version from (seriously?) 6 years ago. Take it away, Sutton Foster.

      • billbear1961

        Happy Pride, dear David!


    • JCF

      “And black’s white today”.

      If only this attitude had extended to Cole’s racial beliefs (that there’s no difference). He was one of those gays for whom it was fine to sleep with black men—but when his friend Monty Wooley actually deigned to live with one… (ye gods!).

  • Hanwi

    I respect Joe and everyone’s opinion and right to do what is best for them.

    I went to a gay bar just once, there were guys running around wearing only boots and a jock strap. For me personally it was really embarrassing. I only go to “straight” bars now and I have yet to see a straight man dress or act that way.

    I have nothing against people dressing and acting how they want, it’s just not my scene.

    I hope y’all have a great weekend.

    • -M-

      You do know there’s all different kinds of gay bars and events with all different kinds of scenes?

      • Hanwi

        Of that I have no doubt.

        • -M-

          Cool. While the number and variety of gay bars varies with location, the ones where the clientele are mostly gay and usually clothed are fairly common. 😉 🤗

    • billbear1961

      I’m not extremely knowledgeable about “heterosexuals at play,” AND have no desire to be; however, I suspect that if you go to the right KIND of bar, you might find some straight men whose deportment is at least as freewheeling as the “boots & jockstrap” crowd in some gay bars.

      I haven’t spent much time in the bars–several in Montreal, one in Quebec City, perhaps a grand total of a dozen times. I don’t smoke (of course, bars are smoke-free NOW), don’t drink, don’t dance, have never been intoxicated, cannot abide LOUD music, and am VERY reserved most of the time in most circumstances. I would make Queen Victoria look like a wild woman, and there is NO POINT in my even TRYING to act “hip,” as I would look as absurd as Albin in la Cage aux Folles pretending he’s John Wayne.

      ALL THIS to say that I understand not fitting in or being uncomfortable in bohemian social settings (you see, I don’t even know the proper term–my references are almost Victorian), although the gay bars I HAVE been to were a little more staid than the one YOU mention! You might be more comfortable in what is referred to as a piano bar, I think. And there are gay cafés. (I did see some chaps in chaps, and little else, on ONE occasion. That was nice, but whatever’s going on around me, I tend to behave like I’m at a museum or an art gallery, which is a little awkward for OTHER people, as they don’t quite know how to treat ME. A bear who behaves like your maiden aunt is a little confusing for people, especially for men in a gay bar!)

      We ARE who we ARE, and must be TRUE to that. We just have to accept that we may find ourselves on the margins sometimes, maybe often. But I don’t believe you should ever do anything you find not to your liking, anything that makes you uncomfortable. That’s not the same as saying OTHERS should conform to OUR norms, of course–which you seem to understand. Each to his own!

      I hope you have a friend or two to spend the weekend with, men whose tastes are like yours!

      Social needs vary, like all other needs, from person to person, and they sometimes change with age, as well.

      Some people are naturally reclusive, and find all the company they need in a very small circle.

      • Hanwi

        I have a lot of the same dislikes and I’m not normally a bar person either. While I do enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage I hate loud music, big crowds and I don’t dance either.

        If I do go to a bar it’s usually with my dad to watch a baseball game during the day when It’s quiet and we can talk. I don’t necessarily care for baseball but I love spending time with my pa 🙂

        • billbear1961

          Well, THAT is a very different bar experience. 🙂

          You’re lucky to have a good relationship with your dad.

          My father and I can barely tolerate one another.

  • Bluto

    Perhaps Shelley has been more successful with her asshole killer mind ray.

    • TuuxKabin

      Gawd she’s furbulous!

  • That_Looks_Delicious

    Just saw this and thought it fit the occasion.

    • Bluto

      LOL. Awesome mom.

    • Strepsi

      Even Grindr is adorable with an Irish accent

      • I first saw this about a year ago – damn near pissed myself laughing, and it STILL has that effect! The boy’s a hoot, but his parents are just priceless.

    • Oh. My. Fukkin’. GAWDZ!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! No, really – I shouldn’t laugh, because I AM this woman.

  • Charlie

    Thanks for sharing the article. Tomorrow is gonna be a big day in DC…HAPPY PRIDE y’all!

    • LesbianTippingHabits

      Today is already going to be a major day in DC.

      Capital Pride Parade starts at around 4 pm in Dupont Circle area.

      Don’t forget to tip generously for good service. Happy Pride!

  • Rebecca Gardner

    leather freaks in assless chaps?
    If they had an ass they’d be called pants. 🙂

    WOW! Another year gone by. Happy Pride everyone.

  • Acronym Jim

    We’re not defective, we’re the festive.

    Flame on, my fabulous, festive, family!

  • LesbianTippingHabits

    As long as everyone tips generously for good service, Happy Pride!

  • Strepsi
  • Tiger Quinn

    Joe, I’m going to say this with much respect: it’s time we started looking forward. We’ll never forget our history, but these annual posts…they just don’t seem very connect to the now, and a modern gay has a WORLD of complexities. Maybe it’s time to broaden the scope a bit. Peace.

    • Strepsi

      Oh I disagree, I still see different Debbie Downers come out of the woodwork – even young ones – at different pride events griping “we’re past that” and daintily bitching about the coverage of only the sexiest outrageous outfits, and I like JOE’s realness: “Because you are kidding yourself if you think Pride parades, in any form, will EVER change the minds of homophobes.”

    • Ross


      Joe does like 4,000 posts a year. ONE is on the Pride Parade.

      And you complain.


    • Your past is what defines you, Tiger, for this it never becomes irrelevant. Life is no more complex or challenging than it has ever been, Che’ – it just comes at you faster. How you deal with the challenges is a thing defined by how you learned and grew under the influences of your past.
      Some learned nothing, or very little, and fold under the assault like a house of cards.
      Some learned, but didn’t grow, and are confused and overwhelmed by the rush.
      Others learned, grew strong, and use the lessons of their past to push their future forward.
      Then there’s tired old bitches like me. We’ve seen it all, taken our wounds, made our scars into beauty marks, tossed on a comfy mu-mu and set about making our children miserable sure our Children can stand on their own two feet. We won’t be here forever, and somebody will have to take our place. The next generation of tired old bitches must learn our lessons, so they can take over our job and pick their Children up off their knees, dry their eyes, give them a hug and send them back out to fight the good fight.
      No, Tiger. Joe’s memorabilia posts are ALWAYS relevant – the weight of that past formed this present, and laid the grounds for our future.

    • billbear1961

      You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.

      There are FAR too few people in this country with a sense of history.

      If there were more, they would be far, FAR more ALARMED about the terrifying rise of FASCISM in this country.

    • David Walker

      I disagree. “We’ll never forget our history.” Maybe WE won’t, but the teen-, 20- and 30-somethings have no idea…and, worse, don’t care. I saw it when I worked at our LGBT Center. People with no idea of what happened just in the last century. And when they find out they have a history, they tend to want to know more. Joe’s column is for me, an elder gay, to remember where I came from, what I went through, and is also for those far younger to understand how they got where they are. An African American who doesn’t know her/his history is still an African American, but those who know some of their parts in making US history have a much better knowledge of self and what is possible. LGBTQs exist, but our existence is much richer when we know our history didn’t start at the Stonewall AND can figure out why Stonewall is such a big deal. “We’ll never forget our history.” That’s true both if you don’t know it and if you aren’t reminded. Peace. And Happy Pride

    • Ben in Oakland

      We are always looking forward. But the past reminds us of why we are looking forward.

      For myself, I really don’t like going to pride parades, though I have been to many, and marched in a few. But then, most of what is on offer doesn’t really interest me any more.

      But the part that does interest me is this: it is a clear statement that we are here, and we’re not going anywhere except at the business end of a gun, and maybe not even then. And THAT is the part that upsets the anti-ex-gay industry no end…


      And this (below) is why we have pride parades.

    • Ningsisa

      Who says the scope isn’t already broad? Americans of all people are terribly uneducated about history, and the bad political decisions we make show it.

      The other thing is we need to be aware of how quickly the rug can be pulled out. I’m thinking, say in the 1930s Germany after advancement in gay rights, or in the late 1970s after a period of advancement in the early 70s. Then AIDS.

      One thing the right-wingers are correct about is “freedom ain’t free.” Part of understanding that is knowing our history.

  • Todd20036

    Where’s that photo of Barack Obama with the rainbow coming from his hand, or at least the rainbow WH?

    • billbear1961

      Above, posted by Picky!

  • PickyPecker

    Thanks for posting that, Joe. I enjoy reading that each and every year.
    Here’s to US! Happy Pride, my friends.

  • PickyPecker
    • Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing that again… not any time soon, anyway. A shame, too – the old girl never looked more beautiful.

      • billbear1961

        Yes, she did–she did.

        • I knew what you meant the first time, m’love. MUAH!

    • David Walker

      Thanks, Obama.

    • JCF

      We’ll always have Obama’s Rainbow White House…

  • Jean-Marc in Canada
  • Sam_Handwich

    omg, we booked tickets in the winter to see Book of Mormon in NYC, and it only **just now** occurred to me that we’ll be there for Pride weekend!!!! we’re going down there for the show on Saturday the 24th and spending the night. We can’t get too crazy, have to head home late Sunday. but i’m so excited to get to see the parade in person!!! AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! 😀

    • David Walker

      No such thing as coincidence, love. Congratulations. And boogie like it’s 1979.

  • petewestcentral

    Happy Pride Month to everybody. Maybe it’s been too long a time since I was scrambling down in the streets. Anyway, i marched in New York, Chicago and Detroit, all great times. My only exception in reading the essay is that I never heard others say, and I certainly never had the thought that if straight America could see us they would love us. I was out there marching in the streets to demand equal rights and protections under the law.

  • Orlando Pride isn’t until October 14th but we did a marathon 4 days at Disney last weekend…Saturday especially was a sea of red shirts

    • OK, I admit it – I’m jealous! I SO want to go to Gay-Day at Disneyland, but I keep missing it. I did get to spend my 35th birthday there – many eons ago – and it was the best birthday EVAH!

  • WhitewaterDave

    Going to my very first NY Pride this year! I’ve always wanted to experience it, and now that I have time on my hands i will. Plus, I really need a big get-a-way.
    Been a JMG fan for like ever, so I finally decided to join the group. Joe, I met you when you were the Grand Marshall for the Palm Springs Pride Parade. Always hoping you’ll make it back out.

    • Strepsi

      Welcome Dave, and enjoy — and if you make it up to Canada, Toronto’s is HUGE and Montreal’s is SEXY!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/4x3_620/trudeau-mtl-pride-parade-20160814.jpg

      • Gregory In Seattle

        Is that Prime Minister Centerfold?

        • coram nobis

          Yes, indeedy. Lucky they.

      • Mike_in_the_Tundra

        It’s so unfair that you guys have this, and we have “the orange one”.

    • billbear1961


    • David Walker

      Life is better with JMG. Welcome from one Dave to another.

    • Welcome to Joe’s little nut farm, Dave! Don’t let the residents scare you – they tend to get excited now and then, but then the nurse comes by with their meds…

      • WhitewaterDave

        Thank you all for the warm welcome!

  • I’ve seen Chicago’s Pride parade evolve (if I can use that word) over the past 40-some years from a small (relatively) event in Boys’ Town, going up Halsted Street from Belmont to just short of Grace and then back down Broadway to Diversey and out to Lincoln Park, drawing a small crowd.

    Over the course of the years I’ve marched — starting with that very first parade, when we just joined in spontaneously — and I’ve ridden in floats. I’ve seen our politicians join in — everyone from aldermen to state reps and senators to representatives of our Congressional delegation (if they can’t make it themselves). The police now have a contingent, as does the Fire Department. In fact, major corporations have floats now. Everyone wants to be included. (And after all, that’s what we’re about, isn’t it?)

    The last couple of years (and I assume this year as well) the Parade started at Montrose and Broadway (for those not familiar with Chicago, that’s about a mile and a quarter north of the original starting point), down Broadway to where Halsted begins, down Halsted to Belmont, back to Broadway and out Diversey to the park. That’s somewhat over two miles. Last year it drew over a million people, making it one of the largest Pride parades in the world.

    Yeah, bus service on the North Side is a mess for most of the day. No one cares.

    And it’s a family thing — people bring their kids to watch. They especially like the drag queens.

    In the park afterwards, you can see lots of kids wearing rainbows.

    (A footnote: In those 40-plus years, I have never known it to rain on our parade, no matter how the day starts off.)

  • I’ll be in the Pride Parade as a brand new Seattle LGBTQ Commissioner. It’s the only Seattle City Commission (created in 1989) that connects with all City departments, and the only one with no time limits, so I could end up dying in Office by the 22nd century 🙂 I also arranged for a float for our Greater Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition (created to “Trump-Proof Seattle”

    • David Walker

      Congratulations! Well done and Happy Pride.

  • coram nobis
  • every year when i read this, i think, ‘gosh, it’s nice to be so Old.’ as in, progress is so wonderful, that even becoming an irrelevant and forgotten category can represent happy developments in society.

    the kids won’t really ‘grok’ this like those of us who came up under this argument did. i remember when lots of ‘sensible people’ could get behind arguments that established us as sick, sinful, dangerous perverts. mostly, the ones that do this today are at the fringes, and dying off rapidly. soon there will be gay children born where it is no matter at all in terms of what people think about the child’s health, normal nature, and unique individuality.

  • Bryan

    I’m up for a little dancing this Pride month.
    Thanks, Joe!


    Happy Pride, JMG family.
    I hope we all can celebrate us with pride, integrity, and compassion while flying our freak flags high!

    And remember,

  • Tempus Fuggit

    Oyez, encore.

  • coram nobis

    Well-spoken, Joe, and perhaps this is appropriate here.


      💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜 this!

  • Moebym Reborn

    I’ve always had a soft spot for those so-called “defectives and freaks”, misfits and outcasts. If they “fall in line” or disappear from view because they offend others’ sensibilities, the world would lose so much of what gives it color and beauty.

  • UK Canuck

    I’m not very good as a gay man. I don’t go to clubs. I can’t stand loud music and I get claustrophobic. I can’t drink more than two pints, I can’t dance, and I turn into a pumpkin well before midnight. If I smoked, it would probably be a pipe, whilst wearing a cardigan and slippers.

    But I love me a Pride parade! Wouldn’t miss it. My friends and I always meet up at a coffee shop on the route to view and cheer on the various groups that march through our small city centre. I’ve got friends that march with their various groups and it makes for a fun morning out. Afterwards, we’ll grab lunch and then my friends will carry on to the main event in the park but, because it’s basically like a club tipped out onto the grass, I’ve learned over the years that I can’t make myself enjoy it and have stopped trying.

    I still buy a ticket, though! Because asylum seekers aren’t permitted to work in the UK until their refugee status is granted, we’ve got a scheme set up so that donors may pay for a ticket for an asylum seeker or refugee to go to the Pride event which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. For many of them, it’s the first time they’re able to celebrate openly without fear of persecution. And isn’t that what Pride has been about since the beginning?

  • i love love love sharing this every year. i referenced this brilliant piece of yours in my HuffPo op-ed.
    to you and the others in here, i’m proud to be your brother, and let’s continue to inspire change and Pride.

  • doninkansas

    I am personally hot a fan of the Pride stuff, not because I don’t think we should do it, but rather because most of things involved don’t appeal to me. However, I think it still has a place and is important that at least once a year we are able to gather in large groups for the public at large to see we are not going away. It also serves as a sign of hope for those places where being public about your gayness is still a death sentence.

  • thatotherjean

    Happy Pride Month, folks. Go. Dance. Or stay home and applaud the dancers. There are still people who want to stop you: don’t let them.

  • barrykyle415

    There’s no improvement in our lives that wasn’t pushed along by drag queens. It always–ALWAYS–take a drag queen.

    Happy pride everyone.

  • JCF

    [Heh, I heard “Watching the Detectives” at the gym this morning]

    Last Saturday was Pride here in Sacramento. I was ALL SET to go…and my dad (almost 97), for whom I am sole caretaker, suddenly had a new health issue (his hand swelled up for some reason—I think he probably hit it on something, but w/ his memory issues, just couldn’t remember it).

    So PLEASE, GO TO PRIDE for me, and others who can’t. Thx.

  • acde

    Thanks for sharing that beautiful rant again. I have never read it before and as a queer senior, it strikes him as very accurate today and even more so compared to when you wrote it.
    “They wish we were invisible.
    We’re not.
    Let’s dance”

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    “David” is really Todd Starnes, right?

  • bandanajack

    thank you joe, is right.
    rarely has anyone captured my thoughts, my mood, my anger, and my frustration so thoroughly in one post/rant.