Video Digest: June 27, 2008

Gay, gay, gay! Pride, pride, pride! From Dykes on Bikes to boys in hot pants, videos of the international glories of gay revels.

June is the gayest time of the year, thanks to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (L.G.B.T.) pride celebrations happening throughout the month. This June is extra-special because same-sex marriage was just legalized in California; just last night as I was standing on Castro Street, a car stopped at the intersection and the man in the passenger seat yelled, “I just got married!” The whole block applauded.

In honor of Pride Month, let’s digest some videos of parades and parties past. We’ll start with a double whammy: Bearforce1, the “world’s first true ‘bear band,’” on a float in the 2007 Amsterdam pride parade. These four gentlemen are not the smooth-chested boys of gay stereotype; they are hairy and proud and unstoppable, and must be seen to be fully appreciated.

In Washington, D.C., they have dancing “cowboys.” My father, an excellent dancer, has always maintained that “real cowboys don’t do triplets.” Well, neither do cowboys in hot pants; the real fakers are in musicals like Oklahoma, truly the height of ridiculousness. These guys here are serious dancers with serious moves, no joke.

As a refreshing break from all those big, burly chests, let’s see what the ladies have been up to. Atlanta, where all the streets are called Peach Tree, shows off its Dykes on Bikes organization. Often the Dykes on Bikes lead the Dyke March, a lesbian-centric parade that happens before the big Sunday bash. Incidentally, this isn’t novelty, although costumes are sometimes involved. Dykes on Bikes mean business.

Tel Aviv held its pride parade earlier this month, complete with giant pandas, blindingly silver hot pants (again with the hot pants), and an Israeli-Jewish-Gay dance floor anthem with unexpectedly serious lyrics. Mostly serious, anyway.

Getting progressively freakier, put on your tiny pants and enormous (faux) feathered headdress and shake it at the Sao Paulo parade. Around 3.5 million people came out, so to speak, to celebrate pride in 2007, including one quite benevolent pope impersonator. Might the actual pope take lessons in loving one’s neighbor from his Brazilian friends?

The lesbians and friends of San Francisco gather in Dolores Park on the last Saturday of June for the annual Dyke March. The all-day event is long on gathering and short on marching, but when surrounded by a strong lesbian community in a collectively great mood, who wants it to end? When I attended a Dyke March one year I learned that sexual orientation has nothing to do with a woman’s desire to go topless. This makes the march much more rewarding people-watching than other nudity-friendly events, which tend to draw more older gentlemen in nothing but a hat and shoes—and I don’t know anyone who would rather see their grandpa naked than a joyfully topless lady.

Guten Tag, it’s pride parade in Berlin! The Germans call their celebration Christopher Street Day, after the June 27, 1969 Stonewall Riots on Christopher Street in New York City. That date is why June is L.G.B.T. pride month, and why the serious festivities traditionally take place on the last weekend of the month. Check out Mr. Gay Europe 2007 at 1:12—his name is Jackson Netto, and he concurrently held the Mr. Gay Germany and Mr. Gay Swimwear titles before winning the big title. He is also my new imaginary boyfriend.

Although the super-sculpted, smooth-bodied, square-jawed physique of the ideal (gay) man is as ugly a stereotype as the fashion-model-body of the ideal woman, there is something irresistible about the Mr. Gay International “competition” (read: beauty pageant). Especially the swimsuit portion, where the hot pants are shortened into teeny tiny swim trunks. It’s kind of exploitative and could give a person seriously low self-esteem, true; on the other hand, are you going to not watch a bunch of really, really good-looking guys pose and prance in teeny tiny swim trunks? We’re human, after all. Besides, there are several men of color competing, and Mr. Argentina, your 2008 Mr. Gay International, doesn’t shave his chest. This is the greatest beauty pageant ever; I can’t wait until 2009.

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