i stand corrected: the settlement to which i journeyed this past weekend for pride festivities is NOT a small town, it is a CITY. in my snooty urbanity, i simply assumed that it was a small town, because that’s what it seems to be from my perspective. the rural-urban divide is alive and well, my friends!
the city, as i will now call it, is too hip for a parade or a picnic, or any other of the more typical pride-type events. no, instead they leverage their local heritage into a more memorable experience: an evening ride in the open-sided passenger cars of an antique steam train, from the downtown core through the forest to an old mill, where we were treated to performances and a party.
in short, it was rad.
since the festivities didn’t start until dinner time, we had a whole day to relax in the dry roasting heat. at 10 am, it was 28 degrees celsius in the shade of my friends’ porch: hot! still, we went to the farmers’ market, where i got blueberries which i devoured to the point of illness. there was a stall selling baked goods, including super-cute sugar cookies. oats first pointed out the gingerbread family to me, saying that it was obviously us since the two larger cookies were decorated with icing swimsuits that matched the ones that she and i were wearing: one in shorts, the other in a bikini.
our local friend joined us at the booth just as i was oooh-ing over the chicken family sugar cookies, at which point the vendor came over and i complimented her on her creativity. she thanked me and leaned over to the plate with the chickens and pointed at each member of the family in turn: “they’re all there, see? there’s the mom and there’s the dad, there’s the chick, and the egg is the next baby that’s coming!”
we replied with tight-lipped smiles and quickly walked away. “did she really need to explain the heterosexual family model to us?” asked our local friend. apparently. i realize that some people would see this as over-sensitivity, but really: arg! how am i going to make room for my children in this world?!!
head full of these thoughts, i was a bit adrift during our next stop at a small open flea market. oats tried on a leather jacket and requested my opinion as she checked out her reflection in the car window. it was nice, but a little ill-fitting, and i told her so while smoothing it around her chest and waist. the vendor was watching us, reminding me again of how visible oats and i are, particularly in a smaller city with fewer queers. i found a handlebar bag that would be perfect for my upcoming bike trip; after i paid the vendor, she held out something in her hand. “for pride,” she said to me as it took it: two small metal rings inset with shell.
my heart melted. i thanked her profusely, and joked to oats that now we could wear them and everyone would think we’re married.
blind heteronormativity = 1 point
welcoming acceptance = 1 point
noon in the city and hey, we’re tied!
the rest of the day was spent at the lake, swimming and snacking and napping in the shade while trying to tune out the mega rock hits blasting from the speed boat anchored just over from our little section of beach: mostly heavenly.
as the sun began to set, it was time to get proud!
the charming ticket vendor at the heritage train station
the train: three cars passenger cars lovingly decorated
before the train ride begins, we are welcomed and introduced to the crew
this is the steam locomotive, coming around to the front of the train so that it can pull us up the hill to the mill
the view from the ridge, during a brief forest-free moment
a surprise stop at a road crossing saw the train set upon by rocky horror bandits, complete with water and bubble guns!
about 30 minutes from our departure, we arrived at this train platform in the forest: the mill
passengers disembarked and followed the trail of streamers and xmas lights to the mill… there were about 100 of us on the train, and then more who’d driven to the site: a pretty respectable number of queers, for a remote-ish city!
performances! this self-described tranny drag king rocked out some lip-synched numbers, and i found myself rather charmed by the whole experience despite my aversion to national flags/rainbows
the sky grew dark, the music grew louder…
and the glow stix got a little brighter, until the clock struck 11:30 pm and it was time to hop the train back to the city. personally, half an hour in a moving vehicle with a group of very drunk and loud young people is my idea of hell, but we all know that i’m no fun and should’ve taken my sober self to a more quiet part of the train. if there was one. at any rate… yay! pride! in a small city! so many million times better than staying at home, or going to the pride events in a massive urban centre where you feel like a lost puppy in the vastness of it all!