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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Inside Seattle Gay Pride

Sorry to be quiet for a few days, had a busy few days with summer-y things and parades and whatnot. Sunday we spent the day at the Seattle Gay Pride Parade and Pride Picnic, and boy howdy, all those gay recruiters the fundamentalist Christians think exist sure must be doing a good job in Seattle, because there were a LOT of the gays and their allies out and about. Pretty much, it wasn’t a good day to be in downtown Seattle if you’re homophobic or can’t handle seeing same sex couples acting like they have a right to do things like hold hands and kiss in public like everyone else.

There were LGBTQ folk all across the spectrum out and about in downtown Seattle for the Pride events, along with their friends, family, random supportive pro-gay people coming out just to say, “we support you and we love you.” There were homeless guys who were just excited to have something different going on, homeless guys off their meds who were seriously pissed that something different was going on in their space, and lots of LGBTQ parents out with their rainbow-clad kidlets in tow.

We had a scantily clad Batman, Robin, the Joker and Cat Woman on roller blades, some Goth zombies, a group of naked men clad only in body paint and body hair, and any number of roller derby chicks careening around with a vaguely menacing air, as roller derby chicks are wont to do, but they weren’t actually running anyone over or elbow checking passers-by or small children. Everyone was feeling very jolly and cheerful and into peaceful coexistence at the Pride Parade, what with New York passing gay marriage and the sun making a rare appearance in the Seattle sky.

A few years ago when Prop 8 was up to be voted on in California, emotions around gay marriage were running particularly high when it came time for the Pride Parade. That year there was no organized staging to speak of, no one was sure how it was going to work, there was a permit (presumably) but not so much a plan. Everyone just kind of met up at Volunteer Park in Cap Hill and at some point, some dude with a megaphone yelled, “Let’s go, people! No, THAT way!” and roughly tens of thousands of people marched from the Hill down to Westlake Center. It was a pretty awesome thing to be a part of, what with my 8-year-old son being interviewed by local news about his views on gay marriage, and the kids all yelling and waving their small fists in the air, and then-four-year-old Luka, marching for two miles and shouting, “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want ’em?” “Now!” A naked woman even came out on her balcony and stood there, majestically watching us pass and smoking a cigarette. You see that a lot in Seattle, actually, and she might have just been enjoying a post-shower cigarette for all we knew, but everyone took her nakedness as a silent show of support.

This year was the 37th year Seattle has had a pride parade, but in the years we’ve been actively participating, this seemed to be the most organized. It was an actual PARADE, a real event organized by grown-ups who know how to organize things.

Who organizes parades, I wonder? Do they have parade organizers who fly in from places like New York or LA to tell places like Seattle how one properly conducts such a thing as a parade? However it was done, this year there was indeed a plan, and staging, and a route, and an assigned order for your group, and police barricades, and coordinated t-shirt colors and floats and everything.

The Unitarians were 37th and we waited patiently for over an hour to start moving. Neve was marching with the Gay Fathers with her BFF Kendra and her dad Michael, and they waited over two hours to start moving. And there was no naked woman on a balcony, but hey, you can’t have naked women every year, but there was a giant walking penis, and a pack of naked dudes with body paint covering their kibbles and bits, and some shirtless women here and there. Interestingly, I noticed that a lot of the shirtless women had their nipples covered with stickers or tape (fricking OUCH) even though that’s not legally required just for walking around here in Seattle. You do have to wear your decorative pasties if you’re working in an establishment where alcohol is served, but if you’re just walking down Fourth Avenue you can be as bare as you dare. Maybe they were supporting women who dance naked for a living in some sort of nipple-sticker solidarity, though.

Before the parade started they had a bit of a pre-parade event at Westlake to entertain the people who got there early to stake out the best parade-watching sites. They had a drag queen resplendent in a beaded, sequined, orange evening gown, and a famous burlesque dancer (Indigo Blue, who, as it happens, is one of my fave local burlesque dancers, so that was cool), and a Queer Tango group, which my friend Michael was dancing in.

There were 176 groups, according to the roster, in the parade proper; the Dykes on Bikes led the way, of course, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were on-hand. All the usual gay support organizations were there, and the ACLU, and several other church groups besides ours — including Seattle First Baptist! What?! The atheists even turned out too, just to balance things out on the spiritual side of things.

On the “Hey, there’ll be a lot of gay people and allies at this parade, we should have a presence there so we look supportive” front, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was there, along with a surprising number of corporations both local and national (Group Health, Microsoft, Starbucks, BECU, Verizon, Expedia, Macy’s, Amazon, Best Buy, Wells Fargo, Orbitz, Alaska Airlines, PCC Natural Markets, Cupcake Royale, Zipcar, Chipotle). Also, there was a Filipino Drill Team, and a float with a giant unicorn that was farting a rainbow. That one belonged to the gay rugby players. No, I’m not making that up. Who would make up a rainbow-farting unicorn?

Also there were a couple guys doing some type of … costume art? Statement art? One was wearing an enormous dress and hat made entirely out of Fourth of July-themed disposable picnic stuff, and the other was wearing an equally enormous dress made of aluminum cans.

I’m not sure if any protestors showed up this year; I didn’t see any, for which I was thankful. We marched the whole parade route, which took over an hour, and people waved at us and cheered and made Justin Bieber hearts at us. There were so many people — same sex couples young and old, and hipster kids, and goth kids, and heaps of little kids being raised to love and coexist and not judge others, which so far as I’m concerned is a hell of a lot closer to what Christ actually taught than what many (not all, but yes, many) Christian churches teach.

I even saw several people crying along the parade route, and I teared up a little myself at this show of support by the city in which we’ve chosen to raise our family for a community that includes my teenaged daughter and other LGBTQ kids. Seattle has pretty good support for LGBTQ youth — which is a good thing, because even here in liberal Seattle, which is practically communist according to some folks I know back in Oklahoma, my daughter has already faced harassment and the loss of a friend, and buried deep down in my fragile mother’s heart, there’s a seed of fear there that someone could hurt her physically. I feel safer with her here than in a lot of other places we could be living in.

All in all, it was a pretty awesome parade.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon