Tag Archives: sf pride

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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SF Pride in all its splendor


My column this week is about driving a taxi during Pride weekend.

On Saturday, The City is abuzz with gaiety. Market Street is like a jugular vein from Civic Center to the Castro. Traffic streams inbound and out. The sidewalks are crowded with partiers who stop at each bar and inquire, “Is this a gay bar?” To which the answer is always, “Yes!”

It is Pride weekend, after all.


People, people everywhere, but not a flag in sight.

In the doldrums, I try to stay optimistic. Around midnight, the phone networks become overloaded, forcing people to wander onto side streets and up 17th to get a connection so they can order their Ubers and Lyfts. Other people jump in taxis.

“Oh, thank you so much for taking me home! I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there.”

It feels good to be appreciated, however misguided.

Read the rest here.



Searching for Pride at the End of the Rainbow


You know it’s probably time to call it quits when you’re waiting for the light to change at a stop sign and, after sitting there for almost a minute, your passenger rousts you from your daze by saying, “Uhm, my place is a few more blocks up ahead.”

“Oh, no wonder the light isn’t changing.” I laugh, realizing my error. Adding, “It’s been a long weekend.”

After five shifts in a row, my brain is mush. Even now, as I write this, with only one day of rest, I’m still recovering from working Pride.

I wish I had a funny or crazy story to relate from the experience, but all I have to offer is frustration and disappointment.

On Saturday, I drove up and down Market Street looking for a fare. The sidewalks were crowded with cheerful revelers. It was great to see The City alive again. I can’t remember seeing that many people out and about since New Year’s Eve. But inside I felt a growing desperation. I wanted to see hands in the air. I wanted people in my cab. I wanted to share in this experience. But nobody seemed to need a taxi.

And why would they? The streets were jam-packed with Uber and Lyft drivers taking advantage of hourly guarantees. Which meant, regardless of how many cheap rides they provided, they still made up to $40 an hour. That’s a damn good deal, since earning $250 during a 12-hour shift in a taxi is considered a profitable night these days.

I was hoping to do better than that with a massive event like Pride, but at the end of my shift on Saturday, I made $50 less than I did two Saturdays ago.

The theme of this year’s corporate sponsored Pride parade, racial and economic justice, seems to have been lost on most of the participants, who had no qualms supporting companies that exploit their workers, companies that destroy the livelihoods of honest, hard-working San Franciscans and, in the case of Uber, a company that takes 3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia, a nation that punishes acts of homosexuality with death, life imprisonment, castration or flogging. And that’s if they don’t fall victim to vigilante executions.

How is that any kind of justice?

Read the rest of this week’s column for the S.F. Examiner here.