Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bring It: March 31 2011: Rites of spring, rites of passage

There’s something about White Party Palm Springs that keeps me coming back. It’s a rite of spring and rite of passage. It’s hard to think of a more definitively, quintessentially gay getaway.

On the one hand, the journey we take and the road trip we endure makes me feel like I’m starring in my own version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with the finale being an over-the-top display of glitter and glamor.

On the other hand, there’s an aspect of it that feels like a spiritual pilgrimage. It’s a sacrament of survival that gathers queens from all over, to groove under the sweltering sun and form a swishy sweat lodge.

It’s a gayer version of Burning Man, in a considerably more comfortable desert than the Black Rock Playa. I’ve heard Palm Springs called the Gay Retirement Village, and it’s no wonder. The essence of the experience is tanned and trim, rested and relaxed.

Living over the rainbow in San Francisco, we have every opportunity in the world to get our gay on, but it isn’t often that we get the sublime joy of dancing in the open air. Sure, we do everything “out in the open” in a metaphorical way, but a circuit party that takes place on a fairground in the middle of town is an affirmation all its own. It’s why I never miss the chance to get my dance on at Dore Alley or the Folsom Street Fair, and it’s also why I flock to the dick deck of an Atlantis cruise time and time again.

When I was just a baby fag hag, I remember imagining the White Party as gay heaven in a faraway land: beautiful boys, the aesthetic unity of everyone in fabulous white costumes, celebrities in the mix, and nothing but smiles with dancing for days. Now that I’m in the mix myself, I’m still pretty star-struck, especially at the Sunday T-Dance, when the sun sets poetically over our disco tribe, and dusk gives way to an explosion of colorful fireworks overhead.

I’m amazed that a seasoned circuit queen like me still sees magic in this seasonal celebration, and I hope I never get over it. Won’t you meet me there and help me live the dream of creating poetry in a picture-perfect moment? It’s one of my very favorite ways to love my gays.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bring It: March 18, 2011: Let’s hear it for the girls

I have to laugh that it takes the annual “girly issue” of Gloss to remind me that I’m a girl and not actually the gay man I think I am.

My insistence that I’m not like all the other girls tends to flare up when I’m faced with purses and heels and free-flying hair on the dancefloor. Another funny reality check comes every once in a while when I’m, say, in the men’s bathroom line at the club, and some well-intentioned boy will say something like “Are you having fun tonight? How does it feel to be the only girl with a bunch of gay men?” I try hard not to sneer when I respond with something like “Are you from out of town?”

As a fully immersed and entrenched fag hag, gay men have been my best girlfriends for as long as I can remember. But every gay man needs a wingman, and that’s where I’ve gotta give it up for Joanna Parks, my boo, my BFF, my “nonsexual life partner.”

You might know her as “the other girl” on the dancefloor, and there’s real comedy in how often we get confused for one another by good-hearted gays who apparently think all girls look the same.

Joanna is my true circuit sister, and she’s always been there for me as I’ve pushed my way through the gay glass ceiling. Together, we’ve gone everywhere that no girl has ever gone before, and neither of us would change a thing about our lifestyle. It’s not that we hate girls, we just love our gays more.

There does come a time, though, when there’s no substitute for having my girly by my side. Joanna and I call that time “dick o’ clock,” when the vibe in the club changes from “let’s party” to “let’s fuck,” and the music changes from “let’s dance” to “let’s get the fuck out of here.”

It’s a time when girls need to get gone, and I take pride in knowing when a girl needs to make herself scarce. If you ever see me in the back room, I promise it’s just a drive-by to hand out condoms, or to tell one of my boys he’ll need his own ride home.

One of these days I’ll take my homosociology on the road and find my way to The Dinah in Palm Springs to see what the girly equivalent of dick o’ clock is. But for now, Joanna and I are gearing up once again for White Party Palm Springs, to be wingmen to all our girly boys, and to cheer alongside them for girls like Robyn, Zoe Badwi, Alexis Jordan and Wynter Gordon.

If it wasn’t for gays loving their girls, we’d be nowhere at all, so let’s hear it for the girls!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bring It: March 4, 2011: We Were Here

Every once in a while the universe shows us the way. In my case, it showed me how and why to be gay.

Attending the recent Castro Theatre premiere of We Were Here, a documentary that reflects on the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco, I was reminded why I was essentially “born this way.”

I lost my virginity, discovered the gay dancefloor and learned about a disease called AIDS all in the same year, 1985. Just as I started to appreciate sexual freedom and gay pride, everyone around me started dying and condoms became mandatory.

I felt robbed, and an activist was born.

Growing up in Washington, DC, it was easy to get involved, and while most kids my age were on sports teams and in theater groups, I was volunteering at ACT UP and marshalling the first AIDS Walk. AIDS charities have been a constant in my life, and I remember that just before I realized my lifelong dream of moving to San Francisco, I witnessed the last time the AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed at the National Monument. It had grown so large that it could no longer fit in a single location.

Taking a look back at our history, it’s amazing what we’ve accomplished. We’ve come so far so fast – with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and marriage equality slowly but surely becoming law – it’s easy to forget the depth of our struggle and loss.

What we can’t forget is that prevention is still the only cure. I worry that this gets lost among the medical and policy victories we’ve gained, and that the generation growing up gay now doesn’t realize that AIDS, for better or for worse, has defined our community and given us reason to rally.

There’s still work to be done, and I’m incredibly proud to be part of the “San Francisco model,” that continues to lead the way. As I celebrate the 2nd anniversary of my monthly fundraiser at The Powerhouse, I’m grateful to have my inspiration and motivation reignited by this poignant film, and I appreciate anew the importance of organizations like AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Inform.

Of the millions of reasons why I love my gays, our dedication to mobilizing our talents and helping our own and giving back to our community top the list. And until there’s a cure, I’ll continue acting up and carrying on, in hopes of honoring those who were here and those who sacrificed their lives along the way.