do you march often?

[Title] fabulous disposition: queer life, love and drama in this prairie town
[Deck] do you march often?
[Byline] column by sean r. manson

Like my over-priced character apartment, spring and I have a love and hate relationship.As the temperature begins to rise, so does my stock of SPF 45. There is nothing hotter than the smell of a good sunscreen. I can recall all those warm nights at the bar when gentlemen callers would stroll my way and caught off guard by my scent stop to ask what I was wearing. My seductively casual reply would always be the same, “Coppertone, and you?” Yet why I have remained single continues to be a mystery.

But seeing as how this is the pride issue, I have decided to stop waxing poetic about myself and spring and instead muse about myself and pride. From some of the flaming stereotypes that I have perpetuated in the past, people may think that pride is my middle name. But contrary to popular belief it is not … because it is Robert.

A couple of weeks ago I talked to a most fascinating man about his first pride at Winnipeg’s first pride in 1987. At nineteen while he was preparing to march I was just learning how to walk. He relayed to me how he arrived at the parade anticipating masks would be supplied in order to cover-up. When there were none, people started using paper-bags in their place. Not partial to the bag look, he opted to discreetly wear a hat and designer sunglasses instead.

What a difference twenty years makes.

My first pride almost two full decades later was characterized by a considerably different experience. Of course I was concerned about appearances, but not in the same way my gaycestors were. My apprehensions were much shallower. With illusions of attracting a lover, I tucked my walking shoes away in the closet and polished up my loafers. Practicing pick-up lines in the mirror like “Do you march often?” and “That’s a nice pink triangle you got there” by the time I arrived at the parade I almost missed it.

Of course I was concerned about appearances, but not in the same way my gaycestors were.

Catching up to the rest of the crowd, no matter how fast or slow I walked I always seemed to end up behind the “gays for Christ” banner. Submitting to my fate, I decided to take my holy position in the parade as a sign. And like so many Christians before me I begged the eternal question, “why am I here?” Pride is not just about looking fabulous on Portage Avenue and Broadway. I call those days’ weekdays. Pride is about strength in numbers. (Kidding!) This is starting to read like a grade four assignment called “what is pride?” Heck I might as well go with it.

For me pride is the moment that comes in the middle of the parade, when you cannot see where the march began in front of you or where it ends behind you. And if in that moment someone happens to notice my fantastic loafers than that is just peaches.

Published: Outwords Inc. #152 May 16 – June 19, 2008