Heather and Mattie walked the few blocks to the street party at a quick pace. Heather hadn’t bothered to dress up especially, knowing that Mattie was always the subject of any attention when they were out anywhere together. Once they entered the throng of people, all eyes, and often hands, would be on Mattie. Heather was okay with this. She was content to let Mattie be the draw, and to bask in the glory that surrounded her, knowing that she could take the opportunity to engage people once they approached to see her beautiful companion.
They reached the crowds of Church Street and were immediately an attraction.
“Oh my god! That dog is huge! Lady, can I pat your dog?”
Terrence felt the sweat trickle down his back and pool at the top of his ass crack. It was hot, the humidity making the inside of his costume feel slimy, bits of the rubber chest covering and heavy pants chafing against his skin from the inescapable moisture.
Heads turned to stare at him as he stormed away from the vibrant crowds filling Church Street. Dusk was approaching and the street was lit up with strobes and spot lights. Rainbow flags fluttered everywhere; drag queens, sparkling with sequins and glitter, posed for selfies with tourists. Terrence realized his mistake, his miscalculation, too late to be corrected.
The shirt was a little snug. Dianne rooted through the boxes to find another one a size up, one that didn’t fit so snugly across her ample hips. She didn’t mind her hips, “child-birthing hips” Bruce had called them once when she was pregnant with Madeline, they were part of her and part of her life story, but she knew a tight t-shirt would drive her nuts and she’d be fussing and adjusting the hem all day if she didn’t find something looser.
She tidied the boxes and shoved them back under the long plastic table, repositioning the table skirt and feathering out the pamphlets on top in an arch, making sure that a couple of boxes of tissue were within easy reach. They went through a lot of tissues at Pride. So, so many tissues.
Darren looked himself over in his bedroom mirror. Cargo shorts, white tank top under an open, short-sleeve cotton shirt with a palm tree pattern. Sneakers and short socks. Should he wear a hat? His Mom would suggest a hat, he knew, as she kissed him good-bye and told him to have a good day with his friends. A baseball game, he had told her, hoping there was actually a game on that day, not checking the schedules himself.
He met Michael at the subway. Similarly dressed in a loose summer shirt and shorts, Michael had worn a baseball hat. Crap, Darren thought, I should have worn one, too.
Having spent a lot of time in the gay community and attending at least a few Pride events almost every year, I wanted to do something to celebrate both Pride itself and the interesting people I’ve come across. Most of the people I write about in this series are outliers, people on the periphery of the parades, festivals, and events who don’t exactly fit in, but who most definitely add to the overall atmosphere.
I started outlining this collection last summer, when it seemed as if this year’s Pride would be like all the ones before it. With no parades, marches, or street festivals to attend, no parties or dance clubs at which to gather, I wondered if stories celebrating those activities would even be relevant for Pride 2020. But unique personalities are always worth celebrating, and hopefully by this time next year, we’ll all be back out on the streets, sun-burnt and glitter-covered, reveling in the love and acceptance.
In the meantime, I offer you seven stories of the (perhaps not typical) Pride experience. Running each morning from June 22nd to June 28th, they are short bursts of “flash” fiction, each a quick, fun read, coming in at under 1000 words, and offering a unique perspective on the diverse and amazing people celebrating Pride.
Please stop by each day, starting Monday, June 22nd, for a new story.
I’ve swiped this great idea from Pip at Meet Me at Mike’s. It’s a fun way to look at what’s interesting and important and it’s very grounding to take the time to stop and think about my answers based on the past month.
Making: knitting rainbow scarves for wee nieces’ Christmas presents
Cooking: easing into summer salads and trying to make do with the not-exactly-right ingredients because a trip across town for one specialty item seems frivolous — but is it still a Nicoise salad with a different type of olive?
Sipping: Hidden Temple Gin with Elderflower tonic; tastes like candied flowers and goes down way too fast
Reading: I’ve still got all the Zola to read but my author of the summer (in which I read through the entirety of their available work) for 2020 is E.M. Forster Continue reading “Taking Stock – May 2020”
I just bought a dress online. I had decided in Before Times that in 2020 I would not buy any new clothes unless I was replacing something that was no longer wearable. For instance, I bought new socks when all of my regular ones seemed to lose their elastic at the same time and kept scrunching down into my sneakers and bunching up under the arches of my feet. So the dress was totally unnecessary and a broken promise to myself, but it was super cute, very me, and something that I’d wear a lot.
If I actually had a place to go to that required wearing a cute dress.
Nobody reads my book reviews anyway, so I figure it’s totally okay if I cheat and pile a bunch into one post. I just want a place to record everything I’ve read because otherwise I’ll pick up the same title five years from now and read it again, and seriously, there are too many books to read, I’m not reading something twice unless it changes my life in some way.
So here’s what I’ve been reading lately…
This novel about a young Anishinaabe woman returning to her family home after the death of her father reads more like a young adult novel with traditional characters from the spirit world coming to life to help her come to terms with her loss and save her community. Beautiful artwork throughout by the author. A good entry point for readers of colonial descent to learn more about First Nations culture.
This pair of books by Emily White came to me at a strange time. Earlier this year I came down with a very weird case of laryngitis. Part allergic reaction/part bizarre cold (it’s entirely possible that I came into contact with Covid-19 before the official counts started), I was without a usable voice for six weeks, during which time I tried to go out and be social but failed miserably because I couldn’t talk loud enough to take part in any kind of conversation. I was feeling isolated and lonely (I’ve never found social media to be particularly “social”) and picked up Lonely thinking it might offer some solutions.
White was a Toronto environmental lawyer who left her practice to become a writer. Her loneliness did not stem from actually being alone with no social supports, however. She had family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours, but felt disconnected from all of them. She explores the differences (and similarities) between depression and loneliness, as well as the stigma attached to the admission of being lonely in an extroverted world. Ultimately she deals with her loneliness by getting out into the world where she meets her partner and is able to move away from the anxiety that has crippled her.
While most of us would acknowledge that we don’t share our true selves with the people around us, even the ones we love the most, are we more inclined to share our true thoughts with strangers? What about if we knew those strangers might come back to haunt us?
When artist Julian Jessop pours out his heart in a notebook and leaves it in a cafe for someone else to find, ideally also sharing their own story and then passing it on, he didn’t expect that the book, and the readers, would find its way back to him and the cafe. In its travels the green notebook collects Monica, the anal retentive cafe owner; Hazard, a… well, a bro-dude douchbag; then Riley, an Australian landscaper; on to Alice, a Mommy instagrammer pretending to have a perfect life; and then Lizzy, the busybody who brings the happy collection of friends, and the lies within their “truths”, crashing down.