The few weeks before the big weekend seemed to fly by completely out of my control. I had a checklist of thing that I absolutely needed to get done. Then a few days passed and I thought, "Eh, jeans aren't something that you like super have to wash all the time, I don't really need to do laundry." A week passed and I decided, "Planning out a rainbow themed dessert is a bit much." (Plus, all the calories!) Two weeks passed and I figured "If I just pretend that I didn't manscape on purpose, I'm gonna seem soooooo butch."
After the whirlwind few months I'd just had, jetsetting around the country, I really just couldn't get myself motivated to commit to the non-stop party weekend that is Gay Pride.
I wasn't the only one, either. When Travis and I arrived at the hotel, we found Jamie, Simon and Trevor sitting on the couch watching local news and drinking water.
I mean, this obviously wouldn't do. I called everyone lame, mixed a drink, turned off the TV while they were watching it, and put on some dance music. To which Jamie responded, "We were taking bets on how long it would take you to mix a drink, turn the TV off, and put on dance music."
You f#%!ers love me.
We'd bought tickets that night to an event called Grown & Sexy Pride. I was a little bit (a lot) concerned that it was going to be a pride party for the geriatric lesbian community, but I tricked the group into thinking it would be amazing anyway for one reason and one reason only.
Willam is the most infamous of all of the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race. She's (He's? Drag queen pronouns confuse the shit out of me) the only queen to ever be kicked off of the show, forever cementing her reputation as the most badass contestant in Drag Race history.
She's also my goddamn hero.
Seriously, in my years of obsessively stalking her on the internet, she's helped shape the person that I've become.
She taught me about the importance of treating friends and colleagues with respect.
I've learned not to be afraid to take a little "me" time.
She also taught me the importance of generosity.
Most importantly, she's instilled in me a sense of selflessness that I've carried on into all of my interactions both personally and professionally.
Plus, the bitch can side-eye!
The 1st Ave party turned out to be really amazing. There was a DJ spinning dance music between a number of different performers doing drag, burlesque, and a very "stomp the yard"-esque performance by a group of dancing lesbians (so actually a bit more like put on work boots, till, fertilize, and seed the yard...and then make hummus).
My self confidence was through the roof that night too. I tell you what, that pool day in Vegas must have been some sort of turning point for me, 'cause I've been giving exactly zero f#%!s about what I'm perceiving to be other people's opinions of me. Last year, I made it my goal to introduce myself to just one person, and this year I couldn't stop making friends. I introduced myself to so many people that night.
The chick with the Willam tank top:
"Oh my god, gurl, I love your tank top!"
"Oh, thanks, I got it for my birthday!"
"It's my birthday...can I have it."
"Is it really your birthday?! Do you think it will fit you?!"
"Are you calling me a liar AND fat on my BIRTHDAY?!"
"How do you know that this isn't a Tyra Banks in a fat suit thing?! Boy are YOU gonna be embarassed when I shame you for fat shaming me on national television"
"I didn't...I just..."
"JUST KIDDING, GURL! LOVE YOU BYEEEEE!"
That chick's cute friend:
"Your friend was just really awful to me. Does she treat you this way too?"
"Is this a Stockholm Syndrome thing? I'm Chris, what's your name?"
"Not one for jokes, huh Bryce? K, byeeee"
The guy my friend wanted desperately to marry (or possibly just tounge sloppily on the dancefloor):
"Are you finding it sooooooo flattering that my friend is repeatedly and aggressively slamming his pelvis into you from behind right now, or is that like super annoying?"
"Started out flattering...it's moved past that."
"Hey! Shut it down!" (to friend) "I'm Chris, by the way." (to friend's prey)
"Shut up, I just met someone ELSE named Bryce!"
"Dude, your glasses are, like, SUPER adorable."
"I'm Chris, what's your name?"
"Seriously. There's like a CRAZY amount of people named Bryce here tonight. You don't even know!"
Willam. Freaking. Belli.
The drag queens on stage were performing a Spice Girls mash up, and I was taking a hundred pictures of the Posh one (and only the Posh one) when I heard a gasp and felt someone yanking on my arm, abruptly turning me so I was face to face with Willam.
I overreacted a little.
I took a moment to compose myself and try to come up with the perfect thing to say to her...and this is what came out:
It wasn't super clever or original, but she was kind in her response.
"Oh, well thank you so much!"
"No. Seriously. I like SCARY love you."
Also...not really my most brilliant moment.
"I came out to watch the show, so..."
"Oh yeah, absolutely. Can we just take like 8 or 9 pictures first?"
She was a pro at handling my hysteria and inconsideration for the other performers in the show, and afterwards I took out all of the singles that I had and shoved them into the hands of Posh Spice (and only Posh Spice), turning back to a disinterested Willam with a look meant to convey, "Oh yeah, no big deal that we're just hanging out together. I'm totally enjoying the show. Look, I'm paying her. Is this what you want?! Can we be best friends now?! Can I smell you?"
This girl who was SO sick of my shit:
I dropped my glass on the floor, and she shot me the most withering glare.
I replied, "Calm down. It's not even the worst thing that I've done."
My level of excitement was reaching a boiling point (nearly pushed over the edge by Willam "liking" the Instagram photo I had just posted), so I decided it was time that we moved on from this party before I went full on Swimfan on Willam or really pissed off one of the people standing around me (possibly Bryce).
We ended the night on a rooftop bar, away from the crowds of celebrating gays. I called my sister, insisting that she didn't even understand how much I loved her while she repeatedly asked me, "How high up is this rooftop bar?", and "Could you please not stand too close to the railing for me, buddy?"
It was one of my best Pride nights ever.
I was in a funk for most of Saturday. The only thing that I could get myself psyched up for was the used book tent. Every year I tell the group that I'm with that they should leave me there, and I'll meet up with them after I've carefully examined every damn book on those tables. Part of me doesn't want them hovering around acting all annoyed at the amount of time it's taking me, but a bigger part of me is also desperately hoping for a "meet cute" in the book tent at Pride.
I picture me and a slightly dorky, but totally hot, guy in glasses and a Battlestar Galactica shirt both with armloads of books turning and bumping into each other, spilling our books all over the grass in the tent. We both apologize profusely before bending over to help each other gather and separate our piles. He notices that I'm buying one of his favorites and says something like, "Oh, you're cute and you have good taste!" I'm not at all awkward about it, and I answer back with a clever quip that even now, in the fantasy, I'm swooning too hard to actually come up with. We end up talking for hours over funnel cakes (I say we should share, but he decides to get his own, which is what I was hoping would happen in the first place), and when my friends come looking for me, I tell them they can go f#%! themselves, I'm busy.
So when I heard from behind me, "Good choice on that one, I read it last year, and it's amazing!", and turned to see a pretty cute guy also with an armload of books. I should have been thrilled.
Instead, I immediately began thinking, "Oh god, someone's talking to me. Who just walks up and starts talking to people?! Did I remember to put on deodorant today? I wonder if I can just pretend I didn't see him? Nope, I've made eye contact. Just smile. Not like a crazy person. Like a normal person smiles. And then get away. YOU'RE NOT READY FOR THIS!"
I managed to spit out something along the lines of, "Oh. Yeah. I liked...some...books...I read last year too..." before I averted my eyes and moved to a different table.
I'm going to die alone.
It rained for most of the afternoon which kind of put a damper on the rest of the evening, making it hard to really get excited about round two of partying out at the bars. We started out at Jetset where I pretty quickly developed an entire imaginary relationship with the bartender wearing a bro-tank and a hat that said "YOLO" in rhinestones. It took awhile to get into the swing of it though. It wasn't until we got to The 90's and made it to the dancefloor just in time to hear "Since U Been Gone" that it really started to feel like Pride.
Once out to the dancefloor, it was clear that I was ready to have a balls to the walls, no shame, Proud (even though there's no reason I should be) night.
I'm not sure if this is a universal thing, of if it's just me being a disgusting human being, but you know that time of night where everyone is a sweaty, horrible mess, but nothing has ever been more fun than what is happening right in that moment? Like, under normal circumstances, if someone were to bump into you, like at the grocery store, and you feel sweat rubbing off of them onto you, it's enough to make you cancel whatever plans you have to immediately go home to shower. But at 1 in the morning on the dance floor when a strange girl sending behind me whips her ponytail so hard that it wraps around my head entirely, into my open mouth and eyes, coating my whole face with her perspiration, I literally can't find a f#%! to give.
It was the best.
By Sunday morning, I'd exhausted every Proud bone in my body, and I just couldn't stomach sitting at a parade for 37 hours. I mean, it's not really that long, but that's what it feels like after about the 20th church float that goes by (I get it, Jesus REALLY loves me). I decided to skip it entirely and go home and go to bed.
I feel like it says something about the state of acceptance in this country that I felt completely okay with missing out on the parade, an event that used to be such an important reminder to me that our community is loved, supported, and that we weren't alone in this fight.
Or it could be that it says something about how my drinking habits are making me miss out on special moments in my life, and maybe I should consider seeking treatment.
Probably that state of acceptance thing though.
Oh, and by the way, it was also on Sunday morning that I figured out that the three Bryces I met on Friday were definitely just the same guy, three different times.