The road to the Utah Pride Festival is fraught with danger and excitement. “June is bustin’ out all over,” and with it comes the Utah Pride Festival.
The first Pride Day celebration I attended was in 1988 when the fledgling GLBT Pride celebration was held at Sunnyside Park. There was no parade. I don’t remember seeing any drag queens. We sat on the grass because there weren’t any chairs offered. We brought a picnic lunch; I don’t remember there being any food vendors. There was an oval of about 20 information tables on the lawn, and a truck trailer that doubled as a stage. I’d guess there were about 200 people roaming the park. There were a few speeches; Rev. Bruce Barton blessed the celebration and Allan O’Feldt sang some songs.
There was nary a tree in sight. News accounts had said there were no incidents or injuries, yet this princess-in-training got a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad sunburn that day. This was the largest gathering of GLBT people that I had ever been a part of and I was exhilarated. I swore, sunburn be damned, that I would never miss a Pride Day, and so far I have been able to attend every one for 28 years. The modern Pride festival is a far cry from the old days, but nonetheless, the road there is fraught with danger and excitement.
Having been a budding princess in training, stuck in the potato fields of Idaho among 5,000 sheep in the 1960s, I was desperate for role models. One of my childhood heroes was Sally Field as “The Flying Nun.” As any would-be enterprising princess in training should, I made my own nun’s habit, complete with big wings made out of cardboard. I waited until I was home alone on a windy day. I didn’t want an audience. I tied the habit on and went to the backyard;I jumped off the swing set into the wind. Sadly, I did not sail into the air like Sister Bertrille but instead crashed very unladylike at the bottom of the slippery slide, resulting in a sprained ankle. In hindsight, it may have been all the added weight from the rhinestones that I bedazzled on the habit.
Nowadays, as an adult queen, I still hold the memory of Sister Bertrille close to my heart. When I hit the open road in the Pride parade, I still feel the call of the wind and the urge to fly. Thus, I like to attach whirling, twirling, spinning pinwheels to my breasticles, and to wear a cape – for flapping like wings – hoping to turn into the wind and soar through the air. I walk the parade route thinking that I will a better chance to get a running start and catch the current. If Dumbo could fly, I sure as hell should be able to.
Sadly, over the course of repeated failures to fly, I have finally come to the miserable conclusion that I do not possess the sleekness of a jetliner; I’m actually bellied with the aerodynamics of the Queen Mary. I am no longer a delicate, svelte princess. I apparently have made at least one visit too many to Chuck-A-Rama because this rotundus abundus, maximus hippoglottamus, gravity-enhanced queen “CAN’T GET IT UP,” as it were. Oh the shame.
Thus being a permanently grounded parade participant the past few years, I take pleasure in stopping along the parade route and posing for photos with the parade watchers. This also has some inherent dangers. Excited photo-bombers would rush into the street to pose between the twirling breasticles. The words “you’ll poke your eye out” actually became my mantra. On two occasions, one of the breasticles fell off and landed in the street.Believe it or not, it is actually rather difficult to reattach a breasticle on the run.
Last year I decided to ride on a float for the first time. I positioned myself on the of the float,and posed with breasticles twirling the bow, just like Leo and Kate did on the Titanic. My goodness, that was exhilarating. And boy howdy, did that solve a lot of my wardrobe malfunctions.
All these problems aside, the most dangerous and fraught thing about Pride is the fact that, with my beehive hair, twirling breasticles and cape, I can’t fit inside a port-a-potty. Every year when I’m planning my Pride day wardrobe I come up against the most important of all eternal queries: ‘To pee or not to pee, that is the question!” Because of the difficulty relieving number one, I try not to drink much because what goes in must come out.
Two years ago I had a budding case of heatstroke from lack of hydration. So, if on Pride day you should find me lying in a ditch somewhere and I don’t respond to your jingling of shiny objects, please pour a bottle of water over me.
This story leaves us with several important questions:
- Should I design a bedazzled line of nun’s habits?
- Should I attach a generator to my pinwheel breasticles so I become a mobile wind turbine and recharge cell phones at community events?
- If everyone on the parade route pointed their wands at me and performed the Wingardiam Leviosa spell, could I fly?
- When a breasticle pops off during a parade is the proper distress call “Boob Down?”
- Should we make the phrase “What goes in must come out,” a new Pride day mantra?
These and other eternal questions shall be answered in future chapters of the Perils Of Petunia Pap Smear.