What’s Pride Got to Do with It?


Originally published in the S.F. Examiner on July 4, 2019.

“Does that make me jaded?” asks the guy in the back of my taxi, after telling me why he’s going home early from The Castro on Pride weekend. “Oh god, I must sound like a grumpy old man!”

“I don’t think you’re that jaded,” I respond absently, winding through the narrow streets above Ocean Avenue, adding, “It seems like a natural reaction to the corporate takeover of Pride, and how the hardships that gay men and women had to overcome in the past are diminished by this mainstream acceptance of the culture…”

Not that I’m an expert on the subject or anything. I’ve just listened to enough rants from numerous passengers over the past couple days. And if you’re any good at driving a cab, the ability to regurgitate conversational threads is akin to remembering how streets intersect.

Outside his place, the guy finishes with, “I put on pink shorts today. I did my best to participate. But it still doesn’t feel right, you know?”

“Well, it’ll all be over with Monday.”

“And I can go back to just being gay in peace again.”

Since I’m in the neighborhood, I hit up Beep’s for lunch and make my way back to The Castro. Get in line behind a Luxor cab. Slowly inch forward as pedestrians crowd the sidewalk and a battalion of dykes on bikes comes roaring down Castro onto 18th.

Finally, there’s someone warming my backseat.

“How’s it going?” I inquire.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!” he says.

I decide to laugh. “Pride got you down?”

On the way to Sutter and Lyon, he tries to reconcile his desire to participate in Pride with his reluctance to participate in Pride.

“It must be hard,” I say, “dealing with the corporate takeover of Pride and how past struggles are diminished…”

Like getting from point A to point B, conversations can be just as repetitive as the destinations.

That’s the easy part of the job.

Read the rest here.

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