Your Blogmistress never dared to dream she would one day be in a calendar -- and for the month of March yet -- Women's History Month! This calendar is a wonderful gift from OUTWORDS, the brainchild of Mason Funk, to the people who participated in his project:
"OUTWORDS is the only project in the United States specifically dedicated to capturing professional quality on-camera interviews with LGBTQ+ elders from all cultural, economic, political and geographical areas and backgrounds."
OUTWORDS is really quite wonderful. You can go to....
....and watch video interviews with all kinds of fascinating people. When Blackberri died, I went to the archive and spent some time with the video avatar of this wonderful folk singer who was the first out gay person to perform on television. What a great feeling to be with Blackberri, to learn more about him FROM him, at the moment I was grieving his loss.
So dear Mason decided to make a calendar to send to all the folks who had participated in OUTWORDS. It was a big surprise to me. And I was excited to see it even BEFORE I got to March. And then, when I DID get to March... Look who's sharing the month (starting from top left):
Col. Grethe Cammermeyer & Rep. Karen Clark
The "BLACK RADICAL WOMEN" exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum
The WOMEN'S PROJECT
Michigan State Capitol for Pride
Little Old Moi in the 1989 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade
The Combahee River Collective
Gloria Steinem & Susan Allen, AND...
Holly Near, Odetta, & Ronnie Gilbert.
Quite a classy crew, don't you agree? I am honored and astounded to be on the same page with these amazing activists and artists. However, although I am LITERALLY on the same page, I am not METAPHORICALLY "on the same page."
In my life, the answer to the question, "Which one is not like the other ones?" often turns out to be me. That is true IN SPADES for this calendar page. That makes it all the sweeter. I'm so grateful to Mason for having the guts (aka bad judgment) to include me as one of the Miss Marches, capturing one of the greatest performances of my life.
Now, my little Bloggellinis, come gather round to hear how Blogmistress ended up with a dildo coming out of her hat and a belt of phallic vegetables (not to mention all the stuffed gloves), making a spectacle of herself on Market Street, the last Sunday in June in the year 1989.
Well. My friend Fraser and I were taking a class in gay literature, taught through City College of San Francisco. Fraser and I always walked home together. One night we were chatting about the upcoming Gay Pride Parade, which was about two months away.
We both loved the Parade. But neither of us had ever organized a contingent. In those days, we watched from the sidelines until we saw a contingent we liked or someone we knew. We would go join them and march as long as we felt like marching, go back to the sidelines, maybe get something to eat, come back, start marching again, rinse and repeat. It was all very loose. (That's not possible anymore now that they have barriers along the route.)
Fraser and I agreed it was time for us to GIVE BACK to this fabulous and beloved community event that had given us so much. We tried to think of amusing names for contingents we might organize. Fraser came up with "Gays Named Bruce." That was Fraser's birth name, which he hated. He had changed it a year earlier. At the time, "Bruce" was a stereotypical name for an effeminate gay man. That was the main reason he changed his name to Fraser. My idea for a contingent was "Lesbians for Penetration." I thought it would be funny to mock the stereotype of lesbians as women who couldn't bear the thought of any kind of a projectile inside them, let alone the unpleasant person attached to the projectile. We both congratulated ourselves on being hilarious, and dropped the matter for a few weeks.
Well, it turned out that I had dropped it for a few weeks. Fraser had just dropped it. When I brought the idea up again as the Parade got closer, he protested that he had never had any intention of following through and organizing any kind of contingent -- let alone one called "Gays Named Bruce."
I could understand that. Fraser had a kind of soft-spoken, elegant demeanor. He was indeed a gentleman, whereas I was no lady. In truth, I'm an exhibitionist. I decided to forge ahead with Lesbians for Penetration. So I went about organizing my contingent.
There was one teeny tiny miniscule difficulty: Absolutely no one would march with me.
Oh, I was acquainted with plenty of lesbians, some of whom I KNEW, from personal experience, were pro-penetration in the bedroom. But absolutely no one --- and I mean not one of the dykes I encountered at a time when dykes were plentiful in the city -- not one, no matter their sexual proclivities, was willing to carry a sign or march NEXT to me while I carried a sign with the words "Lesbians for Penetration" on it. Somehow the image of the virgin lesbian was sacred to all of them, although often honored only in the breach.
I KNEW I was being naughty when I came up with the idea, but I didn't realize until then that I had stumbled upon a FULL-BLOWN TABOO!
It was like a red flag to a bull. The more people refused to march with me, the more I relished the prospect of doing it. One day, I encountered the Lesbian Avengers in the Castro. The Avengers were notorious -- the most rowdy dyke organization in the city. They were signing up women to march with them in the Parade. I said brightly to one of them, "I'm marching with the Lesbians for Penetration contingent!" She gave me a look of such horror. Or was it disgust?
Really, what was the big deal? Didn't anybody have a sense of humor anymore? Did we really have to pretend that we had orgasms by dancing around in a circle holding hands until we fell to the earth exhausted?
Anyhow, who WAS buying all those dildos at Good Vibrations, the sex toy emporium?
Finally, the day of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade arrived. I got dressed, cut a little hole in my straw hat for the dildo, and went to the fridge to make my phallic vegetable belt. I was raring to go! My housemate, Iris, and I would walk together down to Castro and Market, where the Parade would begin. Iris was deep into bondage and SM at the time, but she also refused to be in my contingent. Part way down, I had to re-tie my shoe and handed her my sign while I attended to my laces. After a few seconds, she wailed, "Oh my god, I'm holding your sign! Get it away from me!" She threw it down.
I saw that red flag, I snorted, pawed the ground, tossed my head and got ready to march! I would show Iris and the Lesbian Avengers and... everyone! I got in line behind the Eagle, a big bar float with loud music, to give me energy. Behind me was the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. We started walking. I made sure there was lots of space between me and the Eagle float. After all, I was a CONTINGENT -- admittedly the only solo contingent, but STILL a contingent! The SF AIDS Foundation made absolutely sure that there was a LOT of space between them and me. Very shortly, we arrived in front of the crowd filling the sidewalk, waiting for the Parade to start.
The San Francisco Gay Pride Parade is a really big deal. An enormous number of people come to town to see it. It's massive -- 300,000 people and more crammed on the sidewalk, lining the street all the way down Market Street to the Embarcadero, waiting to see what the gay community came up with that year. Would the crowd get the joke? Or would I be met by the same silent disapproval I encountered from the Lesbian Avengers? At that last moment I suddenly had a terrible feeling that I might have made a BIG MISTAKE.
As I started marching, I saw puzzlement in people's faces, heard the titters, the giggles... And then the crowd burst into a giant roar of laughter. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people were surprised and delighted into a giant roar of laughter. It was glorious. As I continued down Market, I was met always with thousands bursting into laughter as they read my sign, saw all the lewd white hands and ogled my salacious carrot, leek and cucumber. I pranced all the way, waggling my dildo at the joyous crowd. Everything I'd experienced leading up to the parade -- the disapproval, the disdain, the prudishness --it was all dissolved by the Gay Pride Parade, that one day in the year when everyone is free to be themselves, when anything is possible and everyone is beautiful.
That enormous ocean of laughter engulfed me. I felt like that ocean was lifting me up and carrying me down Market Street. Oh, I pranced, you'd better believe it. I knew my back would be killing me the next day, but I didn't care. I never stopped prancing until I got to the end of the march, at the Embarcadero.
And then it was over.
Marching as Lesbians for Penetration was one of the great performances of my life. I've performed all over the world, but there has never been anything to match that day I pranced down Market Street and made 300,000 people roar with laughter.
And now that day has been enshrined in the OUTWORDS 2023 Calendar. I couldn't be more thrilled.
All for now, Bloggellinis!
Lilith Women's Theater | 547 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114