Sunday, June 24, 2007

Toronto Pride Impressions

On Seeking Attention: A few years back, Annie, Victoria and I would dress up in showy outfits during Toronto Pride and march up and down Church Street on Saturday night, which was an ego stroke. Hundreds of people would take our pictures, they'd stand around and point, and guys with video cameras would stand there tell us to shout things like "Happy Pride, Puerto Rico!"

But while part of me loves to wallow in attention like a dog loves rolling in roadkill, the other part believes that this craving for attention -- and achieving it in such an easy way -- is pandering to a part of my nature that should be controlled, not encouraged. It like eating too many sweets on Hallowe'en night. It seems cheap and desperate and fleeting. So I stopped going.

But taking part in Pride to promote Pridetoberfest? That's a different story!

On New Shoes: Since I'd be wearing my "sexy dirndle" outfit, I decided -- on a whim -- to try on the only pair of shoes I owned that would match it. Both shoes fell to pieces as soon as I put them on, they were ancient and the plastic was dried and cracked. They were like mummy-shoes.

I raced out to buy replacements. I wore the new shoes around the house on Friday night, trying to break them in. Making dinner in heels, doing the laundry in heels, cleaning the catbox in heels. They didn't hurt at all! They felt great!

Walking and standing on pavement is very different.

A Resolution: We arrived in Toronto at 9am and I decided to follow through with another of my recent resolutions: to not meticulously plan EVERYTHING. The thing I didn't plan this time was to double-check Jason & Craig's address. With only two hours to get ready, I wandered in the general vicinity of their apartment without actually finding it, maybe because I was on the wrong street. Payphones are a dying breed, they now cost fifty cents a call, and they don't give you any change back. My call to Jason gave me the right address and it only cost me a dollar.

On Human Relations: Flyers, flyers, flyers. It was very sunny and we were handing out flyers. Most people were very friendly and were happy to receive the flyers. Many were genuinely interested in the event. Other people smiled and shook their heads, which was okay; I think that when somebody smiles at you, you should at least smile back, and if you don't you're a jerk.

I got an inkling of how panhandlers feel, even when they're not asking for money. Some people, as soon as they saw my flyers, looked at me in a strange way that seemed almost animalistic; they turned their heads at an angle, squinted slightly, and stared at me aggressively from the corners of their eyes when they passed. This meant "don't you DARE waste my time with another stupid flyer." It was like getting a dart from hell right into your forehead.

I also didn't want to discriminate, but with so many people approaching I needed to quickly decide who was most likely to be interested and approachable. I didn't want to assume that twinky boys would be better targets than -- for instance -- a guy who looked homeless. People in wheelchairs? Sweet old Oriental couples? The older lesbian and gay couples? Kids who appeared to be underage? Naked men? The Village People? The Human Pony?

Would a homeless man be offended if I gave him a pamphlet, or would it give him a feeling of integration, or would he just be indifferent? I decided to exclude those who were obviously homeless, on the grounds that it would be like giving tap shoes to a person with no legs. After doing this for a few hours, a homeless man walked right up to me and held out his hand. So heck, I gave him a flyer.

On Picture-Taking Tourists: Many of the Japanese girls are giving "peace" signs when they take pictures this year.

On Daytime Drag: My face fell apart at 3pm on Saturday, due to a number of factors that were all my fault. On Sunday, Jason introduced me to the joy of Ben Nye Fixing Spray, which was a huge revelation.

Still, there's simply no way to do totally convincing drag in direct sunlight. Sun dries out foundation and makes it curdle. It's difficult to strike a balance between "understated" and "overdone." Anybody who gets within three feet of you will have their illusions shattered.

Context: I have recurring anxiety nightmares about failing exams and screwing up a DJ set, but the most common -- and nightmarish -- of them all are my dreams about Being Only Half In Drag. Like, being out in public and realizing that I'm wearing men's shoes (or even just shoes that clash), or getting out on stage to perform and realizing I'm not wearing any makeup, or -- the most nightmarish of all -- being out in a sunny event with tens of thousands of people, and realizing that my face looks sort of like a wooly cottage cheese.

On Sunburn: I had a vivid and sort of pretty negative version of a dirndle halter top on my skin. No wonder I'd been getting woozy; I always feel that way when I've been out in the sun too long. I hadn't put any lotion on my shoulders, back, or chest, which was only slightly less stupid than the time I didn't put any on my feet, and had to crawl to the telephone the next day to tell my supervisor that I wouldn't be in to work, because my ankles were so swollen they could no longer flex.

On Cel Phones: During dinner, the woman at the table next to me was on her cel phone from the moment she sat down to the moment I left, which was halfway through her meal. Her five-year-old son played a game with his auntie (or nanny). The game was called "I'm Going Away Now." I can't help thinking his mom plays this game an awful lot with him, for real.

On Repetative Vision: When I shut my eyes to sleep I saw people walking towards me...face after face after face, not realistic but sort of like a crowd you'd see in a comic book. They were all walking towards me and I could see my hand and I was giving them flyers. I never saw the way the faces reacted, I just saw them aproaching, and they shifted and wobbled like a film about LSD.


VanillaJ said...

I hate accepting flyers, but the BEST was when I was walking down Church St.and this cute lez handed me a flyer for a Womyn's dance - while my boyfriend was walking beside me! Of course,this produced a large smile on my part. Thank you, flyer lezzie.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I was faced with this issue as well...did I want to give "Pridetoberfest" flyers to heterosexual couples walking hand-in-hand?

I decided to (without much difficulty) because first of all they might be bisexual, and second -- well, if they're hanging out at Toronto Pride, they'd probably be just as likely to enjoy any other Pride event.

Maybe she thought Jon was actually a woman?