Warning: to my readers who are easily triggered into internet activities they want to avoid (i.e. viewing pornography) by pictures of scantily-clad people, I recommend reading with images turned off or skipping this post. There's no actual nudity, but there's some lack of clothing in several shots of people playing in the fountain.
So...I went to Seattle Pridefest since I was in the area. I was looking for something to do on such a beautiful day, a couple of friends were going to be there, and I figured there'd certainly be an entertaining photo op or two, so I went. Most of the stuff usually associated with Pride disgusts me. The sleazy flirtation, trashy costumes, tasteless kitsch, crude immodesty, celebration of cheap sex...I don't care how mainstream some people seem to have themselves convinced it is or should be, I still think certain attitudes and behaviors about sex and relationships are disgusting, cheap, trashy, and degrading, not just "different". But long story short, and justifications aside, I went, and maybe partially because I wanted to ogle some hotties...is that so wrong?
Here's what I found:
Big, Wet Dance Party
Around 2:15, I arrived at the International Fountain near the towering Space Needle at the Seattle Center, which is an epicenter of post-parade revelry with blasting, pulsing music and tight crowds watching people dance in the water spray in a huge bowl.
As I stood on a bench, talking to friends on the phone and trying to locate them across the crowd, a middle-aged gay couple walked in front of me, and one of the guys pointed his camera right up at me and snapped a shot. I didn't know whether to be flattered or offended, so I chose to be oblivious.
Freaks and Hotties and Normal People, Oh My!
Freaks and hotties, that's admittedly probably what my four friends and I were scanning the crowd for. There were many "normal-looking" people there, and I found myself trying to resist the urge to only take pictures of the more outlandish ones, but let's be honest: they make more interesting subjects. So keep in mind that photos you see of Pridefest may, in fact, not quite accurately represent the general crowd there but probably highlight some of the characters unique to that crowd. Anyway, we found many costumed characters from the parade, hoards of dancing, gyrating bodies, children running around in the water, several sets of bare breasts of the female variety (yes, non-offensive nudity is legal in public parks in Seattle), and...oh my...Hottie McHotterson dancing in the fountain with...booooo, a girl. And...double boooo, kissing her. The hottest guy there was hetero. Figures. I gotta be honest, the percentage of hot gay guys in Seattle is lower than in Utah, in my opinion.
A Nipple Nudge
I felt a fleshy tickle on my left arm as we moved through the crowd. I turned my head to see with whom I was playing bumper bodies, and my line of vision was filled with voluptuous mounds of skin-covered fatty tissue, and I realized I had been brushed by the enormous, bare breast of a large-and-in-charge woman who was apparently slightly more comfortable with her body than I was and politely twisting her torso slightly away from me so as to not nipple-nudge me again. I thanked her with a total evasion of eye contact and a face distorted in disbelief as I forced myself not to completely write off any possibility of heterosexual functioning later in life should I choose to pursue that route. My first adult contact with a naked breast wasn't what I had imagined it should be, and I was dismayed that would likely be my only frame of reference for it. Eyes forward, I glimpsed another set of pastied parts which elicited just enough curiosity to hint at an ounce of hetero left in me.
More Freaks and Hotties
As we moseyed around the fountain to the booths, I couldn't help but grin at the outlandish outfits (or lack thereof), hair, costumes, and body piercings which one expects to see at events like this, particularly in Seattle. I also couldn't help but notice some quite attractive folks, though I wasn't interested in making eye contact or flirting. I wasn't in the mood. Not there. Not then.
I lifted my camera to my eye to take pictures of some of the "sisters" from the parade (which I had skipped), and one stopped to say, "You know, I'm tired of everyone taking my picture. Can I take yours? Can I just take a picture of you guys?" I saw reason in this request and handed my camera over to the nice, mesh-clad drag queen, who snapped several photos of my buddies and me as his two cohorts wandered around behind us and diva'd their way into the background.
Information and Education
At the booths, I picked up some brochures about adoption (from an organization for non-traditional families), knowing my rights (ACLU), Seattle's AIDS walk, Hepatitis A and B vaccination on-the-spot (there are free clinics here), HIV vaccine trials, immigration equality, Seattle's PAWSwalk (Progressive Animal Welfare Society), and Bumbershoot 2009 (there should be some good artists I like this year). I also stopped by the Alaska Airlines booth to enter to win free flights and picked up some 15% off coupons. I was tempted to snap a picture of the well-build model standing in skivvies on a pedestal in the underwear booth, but I opted against it despite his obvious invitation to be seen and ogled. My favorite booth was possibly the Gourmet Blends booth with balsamic vinegars and oils, primarily because I got samples. Trust me, a bit of bread with vinegar on it is far more useful to me than a fake tattoo or a condom. They had a really tasty black currant balsamic which I decided I must have in my kitchen, though I had no money on me, so that will have to wait.
I stopped out of curiosity at the QCamp booth when I asked one of my buddies if he'd heard of it, and he said a couple of his friends had gone and that it was kind of maybe like JIM but gay-affirming. I was skeptical and amused, so I had to ask some questions. The fellow fielding my questions was totally cute in a mildly socially awkward way (I mean that in the nicest way possible, I guess), and he won me over when he declared his distaste for promiscuity and sleaze. We had a brief conversation in which I surmised that this camp is possibly mostly for people who need some help making social connections and a bit of hand-holding for establishing quality connections with others. Maybe. I also decided it was most likely not remotely similar to a gay version of JIM. But he was cute and endearing, and I resisted the urge to pinch his cheek and make an "oh, you're so precious" face at him before moving on.
Fruity Old Men and Lesbian Gangstas
After the booths, I decided I'd had my fill and headed back to my car. However, the spectacle of the fountain and the fact that I was waiting to hear back from somebody before going to my car combined against me, and I sat at the edge of the fountain and snapped some shots of the most entertaining dancers.
On my way out, I passed two girls and a guy with a little girl running around. After I'd walked past, I heard the guy say, "You're so cute. You know that? Hm? You know that?" I wryly grinned as I pictured him talking to the cute little girl and her shyly smiling. Then one of the girls said, "Hey, you hear'm?!" I turned to see them all looking at me expectantly. I smiled as I kept walking and said, "Oh, well thank you!" Not knowing what else to say, I gave them a nod and kept on towards my car, shyly smiling.