Prideful 2024

I sit here listening to Marissa Anderson music, which is intimate Americana guitar music. It makes the world feel smaller. It’s Pride, and I see my friends posting their day in West Hollywood, and I see a lot of clone-looking crop-topped twunks all over my Instagram feed, and I miss out because I have to work today (at a church, which, from all accounts, is homophobic, but I spy plenty of queers in that choir), and I’m not sure West Hollywood is my scene. “What is your scene,” my brother asks me, and I sit and think and say, “well, I used to go to ambient concerts.” 

                  When I think of pride season, I reflect on the past couple years steeped in summer-heat pride parades. I had a prideful optimism to be part of “the community,” to consider “gay politics,” and I always love a paraded procession of flag-bearing homos. “Happy pride!” everyone says on the streets. And a year ago, I stood to watch drag queens perform Good Morning Baltimore on a daytime stage, while Andy (he dresses up as a mermaid. I’ve been on a couple dates with him. He’s in a merman Netflix documentary.) walked up to me. “Are you happy?” he asked. What a bold question to ask during pride. “I’m content,” I said. I enjoy my life. It’s relaxed. “That’s good,” he said, and walked away. I don’t think he thought I was happy. 

                  As I walked to my car, sunburned and tired, I met Luke. He dyed his hair neon blue. And he hooked up with me once a few years ago, before shooing me out of his house, because his Calvary Chapel Pastor Parents were coming home soon, and he lived with them. He called me after I left, asking me if I wanted to get Jamba Juice, while I sat at a coffee shop, so I said, “uhhh…not right now.” He asked if I was okay. “Yeah.” We lost touch, until at Pride, he said he sort-of remembered me, and told me that his parents kicked him out when he came out. Then his parents retreated to Texas. He asked for my number while he was high out of his mind, and I walked to my car, out of Orange County and its booming pride stages pulsing with friction and competing beats, to a little Long Beach tea shop.

                  A dark cozy shop with wooden walls and a desert garden patio sits on Fourth Street. Two communal tables, with some smaller straggling two-seat tables surround a stage, where Danny Paul Grody, a guitarist, will play later that evening. For now, a barista brings me a fruity chamomile tea. The sun sets on the desert patio, inviting a soft glow through the glazed windows into the store. I open a Frank O’Hara poetry book. He praises urbanity and chaos, against an idyllic experience of nature. I’m not convinced. By the time I close the book, music begins. 

                  The guitar is repetitive and hypnotic. It soothes. And I relax with the dim, red lights, thinking that this, too, is prideful (Danny Paul Grody is a gay man, with a husband and a child, posting images of the ocean and his family on Instagram). Happy pride. 

                  This year, I am too tired from working to drive up to West Hollywood. So I listen to Marissa Anderson’s (lesbian!) sparse guitar album. For now, a new little pride ritual, outside of the sunbaked heat of the afternoon, apart from the masses of people drinking together, without the club music throbbing overhead, with no bartenders running on a frantic vodka-soda autopilot. Just sweet little music as dusk takes over, falling into my body, belonging not (for now) to some gay clone culture, but, for a moment, to this small world, with the light softening immediately around me. Feeling happy.