A few observations:
While we were looking for our contingent, we had to walk past where the opening groups were lined up, many of whom were crowding the sidewalk. Life takes on a slightly surreal quality when you are faced with running a gauntlet a full half-block long of people in costumes consisting mostly of balloons. It is rather like fighting through very colorful and somewhat squeaky forest undergrowth. The muffled roar of the Dykes on Bikes waiting to start off the parade sounded like an angry metal bear.
The Glide Float was blaring "O Happy Day!" from its speakers. I found it made me happy to hear gospel music in this setting. Later on, I did see a few "Jesus Loves You" signs, which I thought rather sweet, although the intentions of the sign-holders may not have been.
I saw only two totally naked men. They were applying sunscreen -- a very wise thing to do. The sun was blazing, and it seemed much warmer than the 64 degrees forecast. And there are places you simply do not want to get sunburned.
The best t-shirt of the day: "San Francisco Public Defender's Office - Getting you off since 1921." Nice Constitution float, too, guys.
I spent most of the parade riding herd on the wheel monitors on my side of the car, who had a tendency to stray beyond the designated distance to the car. I felt perfectly okay doing this for one of them because he was my son. Instead of marching, next year I should simply go all the way and become a safety monitor. You get a t-shirt and everything! Instead of a button, which none of the contingent monitors in our group got because the parade organizers ran out.
Market Street in San Francisco is very pretty when taken at a leisurely 1.5 miles per hour, and when you are not sitting in traffic fuming about the lack of places to make left turns.
Based solely on its exterior architecture, the Hotel Palomar joins the itinerary on the tour of luxury hotels I fully intend to undertake after I win the lottery.
The one sad moment of the day was discovering that I had dropped my cashmere purple scarf somewhere after disembarking from the car after we were through the parade. Somewhere in the vicinity of Mission and Ninth someone now has a nice purple scarf. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.
We didn't go to the festival area around the Civic Center Plaza, so among other things, we missed the Occupy Pride people. I can understand their point: we're all fooling ourselves if we believe that anything other than a chance to gain filthy lucre is moving Bud Light and Virgin America to sponsor the parade. It is an advertising opportunity. And no, I do not view Wells Fargo, or other corporate sponsors, as working towards "Global Equality" (the theme for this year's parade) -- in the case of Clear Channel, radio home to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and others, they are working actively against equality at home and abroad.
But large free public festivals like this are extremely expensive to put on. Just the insurance carries a hefty price tag. Having corporate sponsors means more fun for more people -- and this is supposed to be a celebration. And while I would wish that the event was less corporate, the involvement of corporate America means that LGBT folks are now a market to be paid attention to. That's huge. And all those Wells Fargo employees on that float next to us when we were getting set up are going to be able to go to work and probably not worry about losing their jobs because they were in the parade. Maybe it will be okay for them to keep a picture of their partner on their desk, or bring them to the next company party.
Things change so fast these days, and it becomes easy to forget how far we have come. If you had asked me when I graduated college if we would ever seen legalization of same-sex marriage, I would have answered "not that I can see." But here I am, twenty-nine years later, and I am far more sanguine about the march towards gay rights than I am about holding on to protections for women's reproductive rights, something which seemed so much more secure back then. There is a lesson in there, of course, about not taking your gains for granted.
Taking a day once a year to celebrate that progress, and remember all those who came before, even while we recognize there is a long way to go, seems right. Even if we let corporations help pay for it.
But then what do I know? It was my first Pride.
It won't be my last.