Top image: DJ La Fraicheur’s view from the back of a truck while DJing for Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Pride parade 2014
We asked some of our favorite queers from around the world to share the story of their most memorable Pride. They sent us scenes detailing everything from baffling clothing loss and the worst parade float ever to a very real struggle for civil rights.
SAN FRANCISCO :: BROWN AMY
SF Pride, 2011: The weekend started with a DJ gig in a queer-run warehouse space with DJ Carnita. Purple Rhinestone Eagle melted my face with their set and a giant bottle of tequila was demolished in no time, mostly by my then-very-new date. It was gonna be a wild night.
We ended up going to the speakeasy. If you’ve been there, you may or may not remember the place I’m talking about. For those of you that don’t know it, it was an after-hours warehouse with a password, totally opaque black curtains so you had no idea what time it was, a piano playing jazz and a bed in the middle of the room; one of those places that was a good time yet always a bad idea. After using tarot cards as drug paraphernalia and continuing with tequila, we somehow made it back to my creepy sublet. Woke up the next (same) morning with a swollen middle finger. My date Sass had a fat lip, there were lemon bars smeared all over the walls, and the uptighty whitey that lived next door glaring more than usual. This was also the WORST hangover of my life.
I pulled myself together to throw, with my equally hungover or still high crew, the biggest party of my life, HARD FRENCH, and it was a total success: sweaty queers, non-stop dancing, all the performers killed it, and I’d say I had a pretty good set, except when I lifted the needle from the record that was playing.
Check San Francisco DJ Brown Amy at this year’s Hard French on Sun/29
NEW YORK :: DDM
Photo by Andrew Mangum
My favorite Pride memory would probably be New York Pride 2011. I went to do a show there and decided to stay for the weekend. I got to march in the Pride parade and was stunned by how much love I felt. Seeing all the faces of the community smiling and cheering was one of the most spiritual experiences I’d ever had. Hell, even the cops were nice that day. That was the moment I realized I was going to really stick to pursuing my dreams without compromising who I am.
Watch Baltimore rapper DDm’s new video for “Come Thru”
PORTLAND :: AMOANIA
The photograph I sent you, that is a very beautiful self portrait from Friday night at my first Portland Pride when I performed the song “Selfie” and took Polaroids of myself and gave them to the crowd. They all look like that. They’re just horrible. This took place at the Belmont Bodega, a real convenience store and I performed on a chair. This was just the beginning.
On Saturday I met up with Joseph, my soul brother from House of Aquarius. It’s really special and magic when we hang out and definitely part of the reason why this weekend popped off. Let me list some of the highlights to give you an idea of just how magical PDX Pride can be: Twerking onstage with Rye Rye (twice). Losing my clothes by the time the sun came up. Walking for 45 minutes in our expired club looks to change, only to buy more champagne and watch the parade. Going to Pica for Disco Brunch, where I passed out on a balloon. I hadn’t slept in a lot of hours.
When I woke up from that one we went back to Joseph’s house, passed out again, woke up to a text from my boyfriend Scott who I didn’t even know had driven down from Seattle for the second time that week. Joseph runs and lives in Timeshare – the downstairs is a gallery, the upstairs is his living space. The piece that was left up from First Thursday during Pride weekend was a huge fort made from red clothing garments. You could sit inside the thing and get inside a sweater and drink and hang out. So we did that for a little while, and then we went to Dickslap Portland and hung out with Adore Delano. I ATE A CRAZY MOLLY PILL OK. It worked til 7am, it was a lot. Me and Scott woke from the dead at around 7pm and mutually felt that moment where youre like “who did this to me?” Portland … you’re crazy. You make me feel like I’m tired of being gay. No more Pride … please no more.
Amoania is a Seattle drag queen
NEW YORK :: SUZY X
One time at the Dyke March, my friends and I approached a man wielding a “GOD HATES FAGS” sign and skipped circles around him singing, “We’re going to hell! We’re going to hell!” We cackled and made out with each other while he called us harlots.
Suzy X is a NYC writer and illustrator
SAN FRANCISCO :: LORELEI LEE
Two Photos of Pee and One of My Dog.
Here, I pee standing up, outside of the porta potty. Is there a line of more patient people waiting behind me? Not sure. Am I peeing on my sequined clutch? Probably. Am I wearing both a frilly white apron AND a boat captain’s hat? Yes.
Here, I attempt to pee into a vodka bottle. Why? Because, people with different junk than me made it look so easy. Special thanks to my friend Karen for “helping.”
Here, a morning after photo of my dog, relaxing in a stripper top. That isn’t hyperbole – those are actually my work clothes. Why? Because, Pride.
NEW YORK :: KRYLON
The year was 1995. I was working at a bar called Cake in Alphabet City, New York New York. Cake decided to have a float in the Pride parade, and I had to be on it. It was the earliest I’d ever woken up. The day was overcast and looked like rain. Cake was a rock ‘n’ roll queer bar, and the owner was totally into ’90s alternative music. The float was all done up with glitter, it was like a glam rock float, like a floating Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie video. There were two drag queens with humongous, cake-shaped hats, and all the rest of us were clad with glitter and feathers and glam and leather. Mistress Formika was DJing on the truck. We were selling beer and doing cocaine next to him, puking and pissing from the float, buying and smoking crack, everything. Then somewhere around 28th Street the float broke down, and suddenly it started to pour down rain. Mistress Formika decided to play Donna Summers’ “Someone Left the Cake Out In the Rain,” on repeat. And drag queens and go-go boys and people from floats all around came to ours to party with us. And we got voted the worst float in the history of New York City Pride.
Krylon is one-half of the queer hip-hop duo Double Duchess
NEW ORLEANS :: AKRUM SALEM
New Orleans doesn’t really have a dope Pride, it’s always felt kind of forgotten. But also it’s New Orleans, you are who you fucking are, Pride every day that’s just the vibe here. Most folks, including me, consider Southern Decadence our real Pride. It’s my favorite, like the Thanksgiving I always wanted. I can have all the meals I want and plenty to choose from and I can be a gayass freak and whore myself for AC and a shower, cuz it’s also hurricane season and there’s usually a storm that weekend (Mother Nature’s way to try and wash all the cocks.) One Southern Decadence, I remember I got eaten out by my favorite porn star Venice Cub. At the time all my expectations were met. I mean there’s plenty of amazing stories about my Southern Decadence experiences, but come on boo I ain’t about to say all that right now.
Akrum “Daddy” Salem was born and raised in Louisiana
CHICAGO :: BIG DIPPER
Photo by Dusti Cunningham
This was before I began rapping. I was dancing with a queer dance trio, doing nightclub and art gallery performances in Chicago; we were called DoubleDJ. We got booked at a club for Pride with a line up that was full of great friends and collaborators. That summer I had also gotten a job at a summer camp for high school performers and I was living in the dorms on a college campus and teaching theatre and dance and performance. Our Pride gig was right in the middle of our first week of orientation, so I had to sneak away from my job in order to perform.
We wore six inch heels, tight briefs, took our tops off and danced fiercely on that tiny club stage. We made the crowd roar and shared the stage with our chosen family. By the end we were all covered in sweat and glitter and smelled of whiskey and cigarettes.
I couldn’t stay out all night because I had to return to a stuffy dorm and be some sort of role model for high school students. As I took a hot shower in a tight rectangular shower stall, I watched the glittery warpaint from my night circle the drain and disappear. I was thankful for my queerness. I was thankful for the ability to straddle worlds and share in the delights of fantasy and art and a spectrum of people who express themselves truly. I was happy that I got away to experience something that night that no one else in that big concrete building could imagine. I was proud.
Holler at rapper Big Dipper to support his new music video
LJUBLJANA :: LA FRAICHEUR
My Pride 2014 is about reality check and being humbled. Being gay you hardly feel like a spoiled kid considering the lack of civil rights that exist in some parts of the world, but then you meet people whose struggle is beyond yours and you reassess your own luck.
My Pride 2014 is about DJing for the parade and after party for Slovenia’s capital city Ljubljana. This year, the city was lucky to even have a truck to work with, considering the trouble that organizers have had in previous years to even be able to rent a vehicle from companies who wouldn’t do business with them gays. 500 people proudly walked and danced the streets this year, 14 years after the city’s first pride.
My Pride 2014 is about meeting brave activists from neighboring Balkan cities like Sarajevo, who are not as lucky and still get beat up on a yearly basis over Pride, working their asses off against government or locals officials, religious organizations or hooligans so that 50 people can march the streets, be acknowledged, demand their rights, celebrate their identities. Yes, 50 people. In Sarajevo they are still dreaming about having a Pride despite the fact officials have banned the celebration over and over. Let me tell you, when they make it, I will be there to make them dance their well-earned Pride asses off.
My Pride 2014 is about their chosen slogan for this edition “JA, IN!?”, or “SO WHAT!?” After years of political struggle, after the referendum on gay marriage got rejected, Ljubljana felt it needed a break from fighting to just remind people of the mundanity of being gay. We’re gay, what’s the big deal?
My Pride 2014 is about still having my ears buzzing days after the gig because Slovenians are not joking when it comes to dancing to a five hours set of deafening acid-tech-house in a former military base now taken over by squatters. A decibel limiter? What is that?
My Pride experience this year is overtaken by the admiration I have for the people I met, people who are enthusiastic, warm-hearted, fierce, energetic, humble and full of hope despite the recurring slaps. Balkans baby. It’s where it’s at.
La Fraicheur is a French DJ living in Berlin