Trigger warning: This is an article written by faggots.
Five years ago, a group of us faggots (and one dyke) got together and decided to write something tongue-in-cheek to express how we felt that Capital Pride Week in DC is not something that should be limited to our community – it should be experienced by all. What we came up with was a rather sophomoric Guide for Straight Guys Getting Laid at Gay Pride.
We were jokingly targeting “bros” who normally wouldn’t see themselves at a Pride parade or festival. It was our way of saying “look, you fucking breeders, you need to lighten up and get over yourselves.” We meant it as a joke to prove a point, but it wasn’t our best work.
We lazily allowed it to be rerun the past few years as filler. It caused some chuckles, some introspection, but never much controversy. Until last year…when it was suggested by some that it was “an appropriation of gay culture by straight writers” and that it was “problematic” and “promoting rape culture,” because the post made the point that straight men and straight women would find themselves attending the same queer event, and that they would potentially find themselves mutually attracted to one another, and that they may even potentially and consciously agree to enter into sexual intercourse with each other – and in the process of attending a queer event (regardless of whether they got laid or not) realize that there are many reasons why a straight person would attend a Pride event. BECAUSE, THAT IS WHAT QUEER PEOPLE DO EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR AT STRAIGHT EVENTS.
If you’re not listening to Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, take a moment and subscribe. This past week, Dan addressed a straight male caller who wondered if it was ok for him to attend a Pride event.
“Don’t eat the pussy at Pride. It’s not for you,” said Savage. “Unless it’s bi pussy, in which case, go crazy.”
Savage further elaborated (via NewNowNext):
When you go to Pride you see dykes on bikes, you see the queer Christian organizations, you see the leather guys, you see the drag queens, you see the twinks shaking it on flatbed trucks blasting dance music, you see the middle-aged regular roly-poly queers, you see the gay dads and lesbian moms and their families. What you see is a million different ways to be queer.
I think the message in Pride for straight people–and why I think straight people should go–is that there should be more than one way to be a straight person too. That there is a script written for straight people about how you’re supposed to live your life and who you’re supposed to be and that script is confining and stultifying and restricting and straight people to need to break out of that. I think what a lot of straight people leave with is ‘Wow, there’s so many ways to be queer maybe I can conceive of perhaps a different way to be straight.’
Savage made the same point we were trying to originally make, but he made it so much better. With that (and yes, with some increased awareness of sensitivities), we’re more than happy to retire our former “Straight Guys Guide…” and replace it with something a little more expansive. Because, if you’re straight, you should definitively go to Capital Pride.
Straight Guide to Capital Pride
Go to the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday. It snakes up through Dupont Circle, down 17th Street, and across P Street to mark the rich history of where – for decades – gay people used to live and go out to gay establishments before the ridiculous Dupont Circle liquor moratoriums chased them all away. After all, if we forget our history, we are doomed to repeat it.
The parade then winds up 14th Street and towards U Street to inform the thousands of straight Arlingtonians who patronize its establishments that their brunch we’re disrupting is really just a misappropriation of our own queer culture anyway.
But, seriously, it is a fun time.
Straight People Marching in the Pride Parade
Straight people, please stop BEING SO BORING while marching in the Pride Parade. Try to be a bit more fabulous.
Yes, WE LOVE YOU marching in the parade. But, we can only take so many nearly-identical Delta Airlines, Heinz Ketchup, Whole Foods, Citi Bank, TD Bank, Suntrust Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Bank of America floats. They all look exactly the same. DRESS IT UP. You have a rainbow flag on a borrowed convertible? So does everyone else. That is not something to be proud of. This is not a shame parade. It’s a pride parade.
Remember that you are blocking us from seeing the Dykes on Bikes and from seeing the shirtless muscle boys writhing on the VIDA Fitness float. So, give us a distraction. At least put a drag version of Nina Totenberg on top of the NPR float (No, actually, put a drag version of Nina Totenberg on top of every pride float).
Shit’s gonna start feelin’ real good in about 30 minutes, Nina.
Gay people call themselves all sorts of things. You’ll hear “faggot” tossed around by men and “dyke” tossed around by women. Those things have different contexts when we use them. The same thing with “bitch” – which in the gay male language can either mean “my friend,” “that pretentious person over there,” “I am truly excited about this thing you just said,” “Really, you mean that? I’m still a bit skeptical” or merely “hello”. Its the uber ‘aloha’ of the gay vernacular and it has nothing to do with gender. [BYGays Editor’s Note: Similarly, I once had an entire conversation with a friend outside of the Howard Theatre that only consisted of us using the world ‘girl’. “Girl?” Girl. “Girl!”Gur-ul! “Girl?!” Girl. “Guuurrrl.”]. Yes, we can call each other those things, but you should not try.
But, try out a “Hey, Queen!,” “Hey, girl!” or even a “Yaaasss!” to someone you know for fun.
Other Key Gay Vocabulary
- Otter – Slim, hairy gay man
- Bear – Large, hairy gay man
- Cub – Younger, large hairy gay man
- Twink – Young, thin, smooth gay man
- She – Any man
- Woof – An approval of a man’s appearance (usually a hairy man); sometimes “hello”
- Butch – Lesbian with masculine traits
- Fem – Lesbian with feminine traits
- Soft Butch – An Ellen DeGeneres
- Baby Dyke – Young lesbian
- Power Dyke – Probably works on Capital Hill or K Street (can be any variety of lesbian)
- Cake – Ass (specifically, a great looking one)
- Cake Mama – Southern term for lesbian (unrelated to the above mentioned “cake”)
- Paint – Make-up
- Werk – To enthusiastically perform a task; typically a dance move
- Weeerrrrkkk! – Approval of the performance of the above mentioned task
- Shade – An insult or dis that is so true that the person being insulted has no rood to argue against it
- Reading – The root of shade. “Reading came first. Reading is the real art form of insults,” Dorian Corey (quoted in Paris is Burning)
Yes, We’re Messy
Pride is a great time for queer people to celebrate their history, and their love of day drinking. While it is great that much of society is accepting of us, much of society is not. And, therefore, it is nice to just be around thousands of like-minded people every now and then and safely let loose. There is drama. There is drinking. There is flirting. Absolutely true.
But, if you think we’re being over-the-top or overly messy, may we remind you of St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Halloween – THREE Straight Pride parties every year compared to just our tiny little one.
Hitting Up the Gay Club
Some easy-to-live-by tips will keep you feeling fabulous while hitting up a gay club during Pride (or throughout the year).
Please tip your drag queens, drag kings, and gogo dancers. They are working hard for you, so drop some coin on them.
Bathrooms in gay clubs are generally unisex. Yes, they may say ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ but go to any gay bar anywhere in this country and you’ll find gay people using both. Straight women are often surprised, but in the gay club bathroom its like a unisex restroom scene in Ally McBeal.
Unless you are truly bisexual, try to keep the guy-on-girl PDA to a minimum.
Gay men tend to take their shirts off on the dance floor. It’s ok. Also, you can look, but please don’t touch.
Lesbian bars. This is a little more tricky. Even gay men who love going to lesbian bars or parties know to keep their heads down and act as a guest. There are so few women-specific places for lesbians to be just around each other that, if they find a good one, its like finding a pot of gold (star lesbians) at the end of their rainbow. DON’T STEAL THEIR GOLD.
Straight man on your own? Best to skip it. You may unintentionally give off a creep vibe as lesbians are used to being objectified in the broader culture, and you hanging out by yourself or straight buddies will probably make them feel that way in the one place they have to themselves. Not cool. But, if you’re a straight guy or straight girl with lesbian friends, feel free to ask them if you can join in, but be respectful if they say no.
Whatever you do, DO NOT BRING YOUR BACHELORETTE PARTY TO A GAY BAR. Gay people hate (hate) that and they will either silently or not-so-silently judge you.
Otherwise, LET LOOSE!
Trans is a Part of our Rainbow
For many, the first conscious interaction with the “T” in LGBT came recently with the recent coming out of Caitlyn Jenner. While there aren’t reliable statistics just yet, it is estimated that on the low end there are at least 700,000 to 1 million transgender Americans. While trans experiences are different than gay experiences, trans and gay culture have been intertwined for millennia. Trans people have always been there for gay rights, and gay people are finally catching up to be there for their trans brothers and sisters.
When we’ve talked with people who’ve had a hard time understanding gender identity and transgender individuals, we put it like this: Imagine if you woke up one day and were suddenly forced to live every day as the opposite gender – to adopt and respond only to a name typically assigned to the opposite gender, to only be allowed to wear the clothes of the opposite gender, to go to work only as the opposite gender, and to constantly hide the fact that you are really male or female despite your outward appearances. That’s a thumbnail (just of thumbnail) of what transgender people have to live with growing up. And, while gender is fluid and not always a binary, the least we can do is respect the gender that people identify with themselves – especially when people have the courage to physically and socially transition to the gender they have always truly been.
Things to Hit Up
For an exhaustive run-down of things happening at Capital Pride, visit our BYT Capital Pride Guide.
Here’s a thumbnail of the Straight Friendly highlights:
- WED – Karaoke. Lesbian Jello Wrestling. Jewish Happy Hour. Middle Eastern Dance Party. Market Crash at Satellite Room.
- THURS – La Fiesta Latino Pride Dance Party. Leather Bar Crawl. Ginger Pride Party. Capital Pride Rooftop Rally.
- FRI – OUR BYT/CAPITAL PRIDE FLASHBACK OPENING PARTY. Seriously.
- SAT – Historic Gay DC Walking Tour. Pride Parade. Mixtape Party at 930 club.
- SUN – Pride Festival. Pride Concert featuring Wilson Philips, En Vogue, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Amber.
Know These Divas
Memorize these faces. You will need to know them to effectively communicate with your queer friends.
Trick Question! It is actually Betty Who
Dan Savage pretty much said it best on this week’s podcast:
“I think the message in Pride for straight people–and why I think straight people should go–is that there should be more than one way to be a straight person too. That there is a script written for straight people about how you’re supposed to live your life and who you’re supposed to be and that script is confining and stultifying and restricting and straight people to need to break out of that. I think what a lot of straight people leave with is ‘Wow, there’s so many ways to be queer maybe I can conceive of perhaps a different way to be straight.’”
Get more DC queer nightlight info by connecting on Twitter with the @BYGays. And don’t forget to get your tickets to the BYT/Capital Pride FLASHBACK Opening Party at Arena Stage this Friday (while they still last).
A hat-tip to Evan Ross Katz of ‘New Now Next’. After drafting our pull-quotes from the last episode of ‘Savage Lovecast’ we saw that he did the same thing a few days ahead of us on his site. Less we accidentally plagiarize, we want to give him credit. He actually has a more expansive take of the most recent episode of ‘Savage Lovecast’ and its well worth a read.