Pride parade & more rules… a good thing?

One of the Greaaaaaaaaat Fun events of my early days in the scene was marching in the Pride Parade with my club-mates; first, with Leather-United Chicago and then its successor group, the Chicago Leather Club. 

Wether marching, driving a van, or riding on a float, it was a hoot to get squirted with water on those hot sunny days, to toss beads, or condoms, or candy to the laughing crowds lining the streets. Good times, good fun… and a positive message.

Still, there were often hecklers at the end of the parade shouting their homophobic – and sophomoric – taunts at we marchers. Fortunately, the Chicago cops made sure that they flanked the groups and made them stand behind short barricades.

Now comes news of new rules for the Chicago parade. The changes?

  • Barricades will line the entire parade route
  • Only registered parade entrants, parade marshals, police, and other city officials will be allowed in the street
  • Parade participants will no longer be allowed to toss anything to attendees (they can still pass out T-shirts, keychains, wristbands, stickers, candy, etc.; they just have to do it by hand)
  • Neither confetti cannons or water guns will be allowed
  • Float participants have to be on time; no one will be allowed to get on or off a float once the event has started
  • Finally, pets are no longer permitted in the parade.

So what to make of these new rules? I think they’re great. As big as the Chicago parade has become, it’s time to make sure that some little girl on her daddy’s shoulders doesn’t take a string of beads in the eye. Likewise, though the water cannons did feel great in the heat, a participant in last year’s parade fell off a float and broke a leg. And, though pets are wonderful, it would be too easy for someone to lose a pet under the wheels of a float.

Perhaps more important though, I remember the venom in the eyes of those homophobic redneck hecklers from years past. With economic troubles left and right, people are going to begin snapping. If “they” were barely able to contain their violence before…

Playing nice in the sandbox together

My polyamorous triad (one female, two males, We3) recently attended a board meeting of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. This group could not fit our life more congruently; NCSF works to preserve the freedom of the BDSM-Leather-fetish, swing, Pro Dom, and polyamory communities – and we’re members of all.

I’ve spent 35 years in the swing-polyamory communities, 21 years in the Leather scene, 17 in the BDSM-fetish world, and 15 or so working with dominatrix’s on their marketing, web sites and play spaces (often serving as a friendly ear). Sadly, I’ve seen tragically avoidable prejudices among those groups.

Many BDSMers look down on swingers while many swingers look askance at BDSMers. Many Leathermen and -women assume a holier-than-thou attitude toward fetishists and BDSMers. Many in the other groups condemn Pro Doms, coping the traditional het attitude that they’re “just” whores. And, of course, polyamory types also feel indignation from those in the other groups who carry the burden of “monogamy” due to their upbringings.

Of course many other puritanical-culture inanities such as men feeling superior to women, hets abhorring GLBTs, and – why not – conservatives deriding liberals actually exist in our midst!

What?

One of the things I love about the Dallas BDSM community is that it is uncommonly accepting. Even the outré We3 Triad is pretty much accepted (though oft at arm’s length). When I went to my very first NLA-Dallas meeting after We3 moved here from Chicago I was aghast! In a single room, I counted gays, lesbians, cross dressers, transgendered… and hets! More incredible, they all seemed to not only respect, but actually like one another. I had found heaven.

After years observing the heavy drama in Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Denver, Atlanta… the list is long, I had given up hope of finding sanity, selflessness, and serenity in the scene. Cleverly, you’d all hidden it away from prying eyes right here in Dallas!

But that was three years ago…

Since then I’ve seen a rise in separatism. Leathermen don’t appear at NLA as often anymore. A panel of women at SPLF – probably with legitimate gripes – burned bright with rage at the alter of separatism. Even a keynote speaker at an event railed against “inclusionism” and sang the song of the “good ole days of Leather.” How terribly, insighfully clever…

Let me offer up a simple truth

You can have your private groups and exclude anyone you wish. Go for it! I applaud you! Then, remember that in the not-too-distant long-ago, people just like you and me; Leatherwomen and –men, BDSMers, fetishists, swingers, polyamorists, and dominatrix’s were hassled, beaten, and yes children, murdered.

I had a rubber-sash friend, a little man with a perpetual smile and a puppy dog demeanor. He was walking in boystown in Chicago with a few friends one night when an SUV swung up. Several men jumped out and beat the “faggots” unconscious. My little friend lost nearly a third of his skull and will never be the same again. The cops? They “investigated the crime.” Two years ago we went to a Caribbean island. The week after we left, two gay men from New York were similarly attacked. Again, a gay man lay on asphalt with bits of his skull shining on the pavement, his brain exposed. The cops? They “investigated the crime.”

Suggestion

Savor and enjoy your chosen clans, separate yourselves into gatherings of people with like minds. Enjoy your sameness. Celebrate it. But then, come together with people in other camps, with different genitals… even those with opposing viewpoints. Listen to them. Respect them. Savor your differences, but find common cause.

Remember, we are ALL of us commonly despised, misunderstood – and therefore scary to the church-going majority. We need to both learn from one another and support one another. Times are very, very good for us right now in the fringe community – but that can change in a heartbeat.

Look up a man named Magnus Hirshfeld and see what happened to the first institute for sexual research in the Western world. Ever see those pictures of Nazi youth burning books on a giant pyre? Those books were about us friends.

Come together

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