The World As Mare Sees It...
Pride 2005 2005-07-03

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It’s a funny thing, living in Toronto. There’s so much that needs to be seen, to be experienced, to be done Sometimes, maybe when you’re in your 20’s, or your 30’s or maybe even when you hit 75, you look around and realize that there’s a whole whack of something that you’ve somehow missed doing. (And sometimes, you don’t look around, but you do get a message from the campy, 47-year old Barbra-lovin’ gay man trapped in your body, telling you to get with the program, dammit, because it’s now or nevah, dahling.)

And after all, how you can you let your friends label you a massive fruit fly, and live in a city that hosts one the biggest gay Pride celebrations in the world every single year, and not actually attend this giant street party until you’re way beyond fruit fly and moving slowly but surely into fruit… basket. (I don’t know… I was going for still life and sedentary…)

And you know, I try to be blasé and clever and sophisticated about things, but sometimes, no matter how much you take the girl out of the suburbs, you just can’t take the suburbs out of the girl.

Right; from the beginning, shall we?

Sleye is the marketing chair for the Walk for Life this year. It’s a 5K stroll that happens in a few months, and to build up a suitable buzz for it, the Aids Committee of Toronto (ACT) got themselves a vendor booth for this year’s Pride Day. Volunteers to hand out stickers and info-cards detailing the Walk were needed, and so I signed on.

What the hell, right? I have to be honest, though. Initially, I just wanted an excuse to go see the Parade. Every year, I say I’m going to go, but every year, no-one in my circle is interested. Then, my sense of independence goes and fails on me, preventing me from just going alone. (Lame.) And so, every year, I end up devouring the full-colour spreads in the newspapers the next day, instead of joining the actual party. (Stupid.) Obviously, this volunteer gig was the way to go.

So, yay. Pride, party, parade, people in the street, drag queens, half-naked eye-candy and boobies. I was going to see it all, and I couldn’t wait. (You know, I did theatre for quite a few years – you’d think I’ve seen enough of this…)

Right, so Sleye and I get downtown around nine in the morning to help set up, and right away, I start looking around in wonder. I’m 31 years old, for pity’s sake, but I swear to God, right from the beginning, I had a face on me like I just got off a farm in Wisconsin.

And honestly, it wasn’t just the guys with the matching beards – braided and stretching down to their waists. And it wasn’t the number of fellows in ass-less chaps being led around by chains. And it wasn’t even the guy walking around wearing nothing but sandals and a Crown Royal bag. (Although, it might have been him, a little bit.) It was that everybody was so supremely, enormously, superlatively happy! Everybody was having so much bloody fun!

“Happy Pride!” I’d say, and push a card in someone’s hand.
“Here, sweetheart! Will you wear a sticker? Happy Pride!”

”Happy Pride, gorgeous!” I’d say it with a giant smile on my face, because really, what I was wishing them was a wonderfully good day, and in return, they’d smile back at me and wish me the same thing. It doesn’t matter that I’m a girl who truly loves boys; last Sunday I was a girl who’s really a boy, and a boy who’s really a girl and a girl who loves girls and boy who loves boys and maybe, I was a song by Blur, come to full and blooming life. Happy Pride, indeed.

Why else would every minority within a minority (which isn’t so much a minority anymore) let me put a sticker on their arms and their chests, and on one lucky occasion, the left ass-cheek of a boy who understands that I’m a lover of natural beauty?

You want to know what I really dug about the whole thing? We were selling FashionCares bracelets (like LiveStrong, but red like the ribbon); the price was a donation of a-dollar-or-more, and they were going like hotcakes. That little bit of red rubber brought them in, but it also got them asking what we were all about. They learned that ACT supports social outreach programs for people living with AIDS and HIV in Toronto. They learned about counselling options, and getting a ride to treatment, and a whole bunch of other things that the good people at ACT are responsible for. And they learned about the Walk for Life on September 18, which was the point of it all.

Everybody cared, see? ACT made everybody, in the midst of the giant party, stop and think about something that’s deadly serious, and I was part of that. Really, I went home with, not so much a sense of accomplishment, because that’s not the word for it, but a sense of… well-being? Yeah, well-being. It was like something was finally right in my life, because I was doing something that actually counted. And though the cause is a worthy one, I don’t think it’s that alone that made me feel so good. I discovered, I suppose, that volunteering is a seriously good way to spend your time. Doing something, for nothing, for someone else, just because you want to? Yeah, that’s kind of cool. And obvious, but only in practice. Because in theory, it’s just another thing that one thinks one should do one day, without fully understanding how truly special it can be.

It’d have to be special, frankly. I came home with three degrees of lobster-tinting that day. Damn faulty Coppertone. I mean really; did you know that you’re actually supposed to take that “re-apply every half hour” thing seriously?

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