After two weekends away — Palm Springs for FistFest and Anchorage for Northern Exposure 3.0 (URL to come) — it was good to not be away from home for a weekend. But that didn’t mean I had a free weekend. This was Seattle Pride.
Northwest Leatherboy Dan was up from Eugene. Last time, he stayed with me, but this time he decided to get a hotel, to give me some “recover from being gone so much” space. He didn’t have to do this, but I understand the choice: I usually prefer to ensure I have my own space during a potential “play” weekend, rather than be dependent on someone else (and rather than occupying them, forcing them to tend to me rather than their own preferences). I’ve always been more of a solo traveller, self-sufficient and wanting to make my own path.
Leather Community Picnic
The weather report for the weekend originally looked less than fabulous, and Saturday sure held to that.
Generic Leather Productions of Washington held their 6th annual Leather Community Picnic in Cal Anderson Park. This year, they (we, since I was involved in the planning, too) moved it from the far corner of the park to a more central location, to increase the visibility. We arranged with Local Dogs (a hot dog cart owned by one the GLPW members) to supply dogs and drinks as a fundraiser, which required some permitting and extra costs. A poster was designed, printed, and distributed around the city. Events were posted to Facebook, Fetlife, and so forth. All the sorts of things which should have made the picnic a good success.
But it rained. And not just Seattle sprinkles. It fucking rained.
Realizing that we would likely get at least sprinkles, I dug around at the last minute and found my REI screen house. Boy, were we glad I brought that, so there was someplace handy for people to get out of the rain a bit (although with mesh sides, it was hardly a real rain shelter, but it helped a lot).
A decent number of leatherfolk braved the rain, including most of our local titleholders (and some of the Oregon ones) and two of the SEA-PAH pup/handler pairs, who were planning to have a pup walk. But after a bit over two hours, we called it a day and broke everything down and headed our separate ways.
The rain stopped pretty much as soon as we left, although we were all wet and the ground was soaked, so we wouldn’t have wanted to hang around anyway.
One of the main reasons Dan came up was so that we could plot out the Demo and Fantasy pieces for the International Contest next month.
We had discussed a couple ideas for the Demo. At one point, I wanted to do a kink swing dance demo with Ruin, but the demo needs to be Sir/boy. Dan and I also discussed a depersonalization demo based on a workshop at Northern Exposure, but we came back around to something we’ve done before that we both liked and we think can carry some more pleasant weight than depersonalization.
We also fleshed out the Fantasy, based off an idea I came up with during the burlesque show at IMsL in March. I can’t provide any details here, but it will hopefully come off fun, with some good title team interactions (not just Sir/boy stuff but incorporating Ruin as well), and some edgeplay stuff (our regional theme this year) which is not the old gun/knife/rape stuff. I typed it up that evening and sent it off to Ruin, and she loved it.
I now have to build some set/props for it (I’m hoping just a couple hours work) and figure out what to do with music.
I have long disliked Saturday night bar stuff on big event weekends. If you aren’t out early (and I am never able to manage that easily), then there are long lines and inflated cover charges (supply and demand!) everywhere and you can’t change locations without more lines and more cover charges. I recall at least once in the Bay Area (for Pride or Folsom, I don’t recall which), driving 30 minutes into the City, finding 30+ minute lines out the door on every place I might want to go, and driving home instead.
This year, I rode to the Cuff, saw about 100 in line, then rode around the block and over to Diesel. There, I was able to walk right in. It was packed in there, but at least I could get in, get to the bar, and find some people I knew. I got to talk for a bit to International LeatherSIR 2010 Hugh Russell (one of my judges for the International contest), who was out with his partner (I think; I’ve never met his other half before that I recall, but this wasn’t one of Hugh’s boys); Hugh told me he has been reading this blog and is pulling together questions for my interview. (Mmm, hope the blog won’t have backfired on me! No, must remain confident that this better allows me to control the interview, both by ensuring I have better thought through various issues and by helping to feed what I want to talk about to judges who do read some of the blog.)
I gave a good hard cruise to a cute shorter bearded guy named Greg, and it paid off enough to get me a night of make-out and cuddle/sleep at his place, although not much more than that. He expressed that he’s recently had some bad drama in his life, and I think that may have led to a reluctance to go further (nor to go back to my place). I’m hoping to get the chance to know (and play with) him some more in the near future. We shall see.
A few years ago — perhaps coincident with moving the Parade from Broadway to 4th Avenue — the leather community became irritated at potential random placing of our group in the parade, where if we were in the back half of the parade, we could guarantee having a low turnout.
Other groups around the country have also had the same issue. Some have tried raising a stink and giving an ultimatum of “Give us better placement or we won’t attend” (to which I hope the local Pride committee replied “Fine. One less group we have to wrangle, more room for others”). The Seattle community took a different tack and would gather funds from various groups who would be marching under the banner to provide a “bribe” to the committee in order to get better placement. This year or last, though, we have formalized this and changed from a “bribe” to a formal community sponsor, ensuring us a spot along with the other sponsors in the first third or so of the parade. (This makes me at least much more comfortable with the process. Words have meaning, and “sponsor” carries a much more positive, legitimizing weight than “bribe”, even if the net effect is the same.)
In order to further entice leather participation, Seattle Men in Leather advertised that they would be providing some snacks and coffee and encouraging light “street play”, to turn the pre-parade wait into a sort of Sunday Leather Social. I didn’t get to the staging location until 10:45 or so, so I don’t know how well this actually worked, but turnout was some of the best I have seen, between Seattle Men in Leather, the Center for Sex Positive Culture, a truck of SEA-PAH pups, Seattle Girls of Leather, GLPW, Leather Reign, and all of our Northwest titleholders except Mr. Oregon State Leather.
With the disco music from one of the nearby contingents, Ruin and I did some West Coast Swing dancing on the street.
The weather report had only promised sun through the morning, changing to a 30% chance of rain by early afternoon. But the weather report was wrong, and the entire day turned out to be sunny and warm enough (not hot, but suitable for going shirtless during the parade).
For the length of the parade, I was twirling my flogger, including using it some on Dan and Ruin and Ms. Oregon State Leather Ms. Tracey (and a handful of bystanders), as well as loaning it to Tracey to use on Dan. I was very nervous of my right wrist, which has been problematic for months (and flogging sessions in Anchorage the previous weekend didn’t help), so I swung mostly from the elbow and shoulder or with my left and I seem to have escaped most aggravation.
We gathered most of the titleholders after the parade for some pics, although Seattle Leather Daddy Ryan and Seattle Daddy’s Boy Damien had to head up to the Cuff immediately. I’ve been generally pleased with the pics of me from the parade, both the posed ones and the candid shots, because indeed, I didn’t look fat to myself in the pics. I has been a few years since I’ve been willing to be photographed shirtless and not cringed at the pics.
Click here for my Flickr photostream of the event, with more pics.
Northwest LeatherSIR Jim, Ms. Oregon State Leather Ms. Tracey, Washington State Mr. Leather Colby, Washington State Ms. Leather Nyx, and Northwest Leatherboy Dan. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Gay News.
Washington State Mr. Leather Colby, Washington State Ms. Leather Nyx, International Mr. Bootblack/Oregon State Bootblack Nick, Ms. Oregon State Leather Ms. Tracey, Northwest Community Bootblack Ruin, Northwest LeatherSIR Jim, and Northwest Leatherboy Dan (kneeling). Photo by Mike Graves.
Several years ago, after losing a lot of money on the weekend, Seattle Out & Proud cut loose the afternoon festival and concentrated just on the parade. A local community organizer picked it up and has managed to turn PrideFest at the Seattle Center into a great event. (Especially when it is sunny!) Two stages of entertainment, shopping and community group booths, food booths, and dancing in the International Fountain are hallmarks.
Rain Country Dance Association, our local GLBTQ country-western dance club (which I’m one of the founders of) again this year had an info table inside Fisher Pavilion. These are low-cost tables for non-profit community groups, sports teams, etc., and there is a beer garden half in/half out of the pavilion which keeps people flowing in the area: a great option for us.
I was scheduled to staff things at 4 pm, so I decided to ride home, change attire and drop off the title sash. Going home was great. Coming back should have taken 20 minutes and took 50, as I took the freeway, bypassed the usual exit because it was stuffed with traffic backed up from the parade and festival, and then rode pretty much all over Eastlake, Denny Triangle, and downtown trying to get around things and back to the festival. (Would have been another 15 minutes in a car, I’m sure.)
Phil and I staffed the table, which have giveaway beads and candy, plus info sheets about country-western dancing, postcards and a banner for next year’s hoedown, and a computer slideshow of dance pics. At about 5:15, the number of people walking around was dropping, so we consolidated to a half table, and a bit after 5:30, Pete came back and we packed things up and headed them back to his car.
Getting home, I took a short nap and then thought about going out for some evening partying, but decided against it. The best place for that would be the Cuff, at the end of their street party, but they charge a hefty cover all day, even after the entertainment is done and crowds are thinning. I don’t like to pay more to get in than I’m going to pay for the drinks I’ll be consuming while there, and I don’t dance to thump-thump music, so it wouldn’t be worth it to me.
Updated on August 2, 2012:
Added picnic poster.