Andy Hinds | Parenting
My wife and I have been living in North Park for almost 10 years now, and I’ve lost track of how many San Diego LGBT Pride Parades and other Pride Festival events we’ve attended.
We can easily walk or bike to Hillcrest so, unless we’re out of town, it’s really hot or we just don’t feel like being in a mob scene, we at least go to the Parade. Why not, right?
Now that we have kids – our twin girls just turned 4 – we are probably even more likely to go to the Parade. The only one they’ve missed so far was in 2009, when they were a month old. Not because they wouldn’t have enjoyed it, mind you. It’s just that when you have month-old twins, you rarely leave the house.
We probably didn’t even realize that Pride was happening. Or that it was July. Or that there were still grown-up people out in the world, doing fun grown-up stuff.
So we have taken our kids to the Parade for years, and they love it, but it’s not quite the same as it was before we had them. In the old days, we would often go to some ancillary parties, both small ones thrown by friends and the more-or-less official ones.
One year for example, a friend of ours had a bunch of his friends visiting from out of town for Pride weekend. There was some kind of party every night, but the big one was the “Zoo Party.” My wife and I knew vaguely what the Zoo Party was, and when our friends asked if we wanted tickets, we were all, “Sure. What’s not to like about a dance party at the zoo?”
First of all, the ticket price was not to like. They were around $80 a piece, as I recall, and, looking at the promoter’s website, I see that they now run as high as $125. I had not asked how much they cost when my friend offered to pick a pair up for us, and probably would have demurred had I known.
I’m sure a lot of people are happy to pay that much for what to them is an amazing party experience; but if anything costs more than a nice dinner out, it better be life altering for me or I will be severely disappointed. When I found out the price of admission, first I hyperventilated a little, then I thought, “OK, if I don’t get to ride on a dancing giraffe, I’m gonna demand my money back.”
In retrospect, I should have known what I was getting into. I had been to Rich’s and The Brass Rail before, and other gay clubs in other cities. But this was like one of those clubs on steroids. Literally. It was a cross between a rave and a bodybuilding tournament.
There must have been close to 1,000 men there, and maybe eight or nine shirts in the whole crowd. Those shirts were worn by me and the seven or eight women present. Someone in our group asked me why I didn’t take mine off.
“If I had known about the pose-down,” I told him, “I would have trained for a couple months in advance, gotten a spray-tan, and painted a six-pack onto my belly.”
As usual, a couple overpriced mixed drinks dulled the sting of the sticker shock and the sense of inadequacy I felt from being a mere mortal at this Dance Party of the Titans. I grooved awkwardly with my wife and our friends, and enjoyed the spectacle while trying not to be trampled.
Nowadays, the most we do to celebrate Pride is to find a shady spot and watch the Parade go by with our kids and maybe another family or two. Sometimes it’s a little bawdy, what with the floats full of guys in Speedos shaking what their mamas gave them, but whatever. Four year olds don’t see anything unusual about that. Grownups do inexplicable things all the time.
They might ask why those guys are dancing in their undies, if anything. Of course, I might have to reevaluate my blasé attitude about these matters by the time the kids are tweens; we’ll see.
At this point, to our kids, the Pride Parade is just a lot of dancing, music, glittery costumes and free trinkets (which are some of their favorite things). Someday we’ll probably explain the social and historical context of Pride celebrations, but growing up around here, I kind of expect our kids will pick up on it by osmosis.
—Andy Hinds is a stay-at-home dad, blogger, freelance writer, carpenter and sometimes-adjunct writing professor. He is known on the internet as Beta Dad, but you might know him as that guy in North Park whose kids ride in a dog-drawn wagon. Read his personal blog at betadadblog.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @betadad on Twitter.