The road to the Utah Pride Parade is fraught with danger and excitement.
It was a hot and steamy night 44 years ago when the police made one of their frequent and routine raids on a gay bar. Apparently even a severe “man in uniform” fetish was not enough to prevent cops from fraying the very last nerves of the drag queens at the Stonewall Inn.
As legend tells, the police, after checking identification, were letting most of the bar patrons go, but were arresting all the men who were wearing women’s clothing. One of the queens being loaded into the paddy wagon decided she had had enough when the officer shoved her roughly and she hit him over the head with her purse and screamed to the gathering crowd, “Aren’t you going to do something?”
Before anyone had time to say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto,” another queen kicked off her stiletto heels and, thrusting them like a bayonet, yelled, “Get ’em girls!”
The cops were flabbergasted and confused. The fairies had never fought back before. The queens were fighting the hardest. They formed a kickline and sang: “We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We don’t wear underwear/ We show our pubic hair” to combat the jack-booted goons in riot gear marching to “squash the fairies.” The cops didn’t stand a chance. So began the modern Gay Right’s Movement. And our Pride Parade is in memory of that night.
I try to participate in the parade every year. I’m sure most of you have never noticed me because I try to be inconspicuous and blend into the crowd. I count walking the entire parade route as my annual quota of aerobic exercise. My doctor would be so proud. It is not an easy feat for a gravity-enhanced Hippoglottamus Buffet Queen to walk the entire Pride Parade distance. While preparing this year’s parade ensemble, in the quiet moments when I’m not being burned by the hot glue gun or shooting a staple gun through my Lee Press-on Nails, I am left to ponder memories of past Pride parades.
The first time I marched in the parade, I had just obtained a brand new pair of 5-inch platform ruby slippers that I thought I needed to wear. They looked incredible, but made my stride as unstable and gangly as a newborn giraffe. So as always, it came down to a choice of style versus function, and of course style won out. I was sure that my twirly-whirly breasticles would have enough of a gyroscopic effect to help stabilize me.
About halfway through the parade route, there arose an oncoming breeze, sufficient enough to cause the breasticles to begin spinning rapidly before my eyes, slightly hypnotizing me and making me dizzy. I felt my ankle give way as my left heel twisted out from under me and so began a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad, great and torturous fall from grace. I stumbled and, to my amazement, caught myself before I went down. Just as I was breathing a great sigh of relief, I stumbled again. To add insult to injury, the heel on my right foot got caught up in the hem of my hoop skirt. At this point the scene on the street held a very close resemblance to the Hindenburg disaster, though much less graceful. Bystanders were running for their lives to avoid being crushed. Resigning myself to all hope of remaining upright was lost, I screamed, what witnesses later described as a “death squeal,” on my way toward the pavement.
God does indeed watch out for little children, fools and, apparently, drag queens with insensible shoes, because just before my lips met the road, I felt someone throw their arms tightly around me and return me to the land of standing upright. Amazed that someone was strong enough to pick up my Bodus Rotundus, and grateful at being saved from becoming smeared on the street, I slowly turned around in order to thank my savior.
I became aware that I was being held in the arms of an Adonis, wearing only a dazzlingly white smile, a perfect sun tan stretched over a rock-hard six-pack, and a pair of short shorts. Surely he had just come from the film set of a Falcon video. I nearly swooned. He seemed to think I was still stumbling, so he kept holding on to me. Who was I to correct this beautiful “Boy Scout” as he performed his good deed for the day? He kept his big, strong arm around my waist, and walked with me the rest of the parade.
Side note to God: Please, please, please don’t let me have a fatal heart attack while I’m wearing my Pride Day pink-sequined dress with the twirling beefcake breasticles. It may look fabulous with a capital F, and would send all the other angels into fashion hell, but it chafes and I don’t want to spend eternity chafing. Besides, it is next to impossible to sit demurely on a cloud while wearing a hoop skirt without giving a very indiscreet view of the family jewels. Anthony Weiner would be so jealous.
As always, these events leave us with several burning eternal questions:
1. Should I consider this as my very own episode of Touched By An Angel?
2. If I had crashed to the pavement, would the front-page headline of the Salt Lake Tribune read: “Parade halted due to massive Pap Smear”?
3. What kind of street cleaner would be required to remove lipstick from asphalt?
4. Would my crash have left a crater?
These and other important questions to be answered in future chapters of The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear.