There was one particular moment at pride that I think I will remember forever. I was watching the parade with my partner and a friend. Towards the beginning of the parade, there were a few groups that made me think about how much things have changed over the past decade. For example, school teachers were marching. Now, I do not recall there being any teachers who were 'out' and able to march in parades at any of the 4 high schools I attended, but I do recall a lot of teachers being made fun of for having non-gender typical traits and called many derogatory names. This was in the late 1990s.
Soon afterwards, there was a group of students representing Catholic high school students' attempts to establish GSAs at their schools, which made me think about how far we have left to go. When these students walked by, one of whom I recognized from a newspaper article, I got quite overwhelmed and actually cried. It made me think about how different my life might have been if I had access to this type of a group when I was a teenager.
I almost cried again when I saw the product placements, but in an entirely different way. There were pink razors being handed out to women from a portable bathtub looking thing that was being pushed by a few people (which reminds me, I was surprised by the fact that I didn't see another pair of unshaven legs on someone I would have identified as female). There were also the TD boys, men in little green underwear that represent the main corporate sponsor. I was intrigued by the lack of half naked females selling things... it seems within the queer community, men take over the role of objectified body. Even outside of advertising, the women whose bodies were not covered with clothing rarely conformed to hegemonic standards of beauty.
There was another aspect of pride that bothered me. By Sunday afternoon, Church Street was littered with garbage. I wish I had taken pictures of the amount of trash on the street. It didn't help that vendors and groups were pushing their leaflets and pamphlets, which were later tossed aside, or that there were relatively few employees emptying trash cans (all people of color that I saw). It just reminded me of kids trashing a house at the end of the night... still, the people were pleasant and the atmosphere was good.
Yesterday, after returning home from Pride, there was an incident that made me wish I were back in that atmosphere again (not the litter, but the more open and accepting environment that I experienced, especially on the Friday, which was referred to as Trans Pride Day). I play on the graduate student baseball team... we are in the lowest division and have never won a game, but it is usually still fun. The other team had a player on third base, and one of my teammates made a comment/joke insinuating that the player enjoyed spending a lot of time on his knees.
The player who this had been said to and the other people on my bench started laughing until I pointed out that it was a somewhat homophobic thing to say (implying that a man performing oral sex on another man is a bad or humorous thing). At this point, the group had stopped laughing and kind of looking around awkwardly, except for the guy who made the joke who repeated it more loudly. A friend of mine on the team walked over to me and started asking me about Pride weekend, I am assuming so that the other people would get the hint and stop speaking that way, which seemed to work for the time being.
When the inning was over and the rest of the players on my team came back to the bench he repeated the joke again, to which I responded something along of the lines of "Nice, tell the homophobic joke in front of the lesbian couple". I am not entirely happy with that wording because it implies that it would be ok to tell the joke if there were no identifiable queer people around, but I just responded without taking too much time to think about it. He shot me a dirty look, but nobody laughed at him this time, I am assuming because they were afraid of offending me.
I also think that it is weird that in some instances, such as this one, I feel compelled to say something about what I consider to be hateful speech. Yet, when people are directing it towards me (see here), I freeze and cannot say anything. Like, on a streetcar returning from Pride events in Toronto, a man was poking me and referred to me to my partner as her 'boyfriend' (even though I am not particularly masculine). Again, I froze... luckily, she knows me well enough to understand when I cannot respond and told him to leave me alone.