Joel Rozen called me the other day to interview me for a story he's writing for Creative Loafing in Sarasota, Florida about the fact that this year’s PrideFest was canceled by the organizers due to fears that it was becoming too "vulgar." Indeed, the Herald Tribune, a Southwest Florida newspaper, reports that Karen Murray-Parker, the newly appointed president of Sarasota PrideFest, used to "[shake] her head at the protesters outside who held signs labeling gays and lesbians as depraved and immoral." But now, Murray-Parker is quoted as saying, "Maybe those protesters have something."
The end of Pride
Personally, I have no problem being labeled depraved or immoral by those who support the bloodthirsty, imperialist agenda of this fair nation, but I don't think Murray-Parker is taking this labeling as a badge of honor. Apparently PrideFest organizers are particularly eager to make Pride "family-friendly," so that parents of young children won’t worry about exposing their kids to -- gasp -- lewd behavior, which I guess means lip-synching drag queens, fruits in g-strings, “nonprofit” hacks behind tables (or microphones) and a few dykes with floggers (I'm just guessing -- if Sarasota PrideFest is actually an orgy of unprecedented sexual extravagance, well sign me up!)
I am, of course, no big fan of Pride “celebrations” myself, and if organizers were interested in banning corporate sponsorship, for example (since kids are particularly vulnerable to consumerism, and certainly suffer at the hands of multinationals like Budweiser, Pepsi and Tropicana, sponsors of last year's PrideFest), I'd say go right ahead! Unfortunately, this is an example, instead, of self-censorship for the purpose of some grotesque assimilationist agenda. (Please don't offend the straight people! Please don't offend the gay people acting like straight people!)
Kids are not afraid of sexual merrymaking, gender transfusions, panties on parade, or even gawking straight people with rainbow feather boas (although they may be afraid of their parents beating them up or raping them behind closed doors).
This is a border war, and Sarasota PrideFest is trying to decide who deserves the rainbow barcode... But, of course, there is a sassy silver lining to the canceling of this year's festivities, especially for those who aren't interested in branding. There's a whole year for Sarasota locals-- and I don't mean the PrideFest board -- to create something much more delicious, defiant and devastating. And no, it doesn't have to happen around the anniversary of Judy Garland's death. I can't make any predictions, but maybe some luscious, trouble will emerge.