It’s always a shot in the arm to be out with my people. Unlike a lot of folks, I really enjoy a huge crowd. I like the energy, the smiles, the friendly moshing, and especially the people-watching. Let me qualify this: I like huge peaceful crowds.
For more than 25 years Luiz and I have been attending Gay Pride events that have inevitably attracted huge crowds. Huge can be relative. Rio-huge is bigger than Niterói-huge is bigger than Itaipuaçu-huge. San Francisco-huge is bigger than Oakland-huge is bigger than Santa Cruz-huge. But in all our years attending queer pride events, they have ALWAYS been peaceful, no matter the number of celebrants.
|The organizing groups are decidedly political organizations.|
It’s just gosh darn great to go to Icaraí beach in Niterói and join tens of thousands of other LGBT folks and our allies and dance together in the street. Sign me up. Every year.
|The event really got going at about sunset.|
Over the years our experience at these events has been mixed and varied. In San Francisco the Parade was very political back in the 80’s and early 90’s. Then it morphed into a corporate-sponsored vanity event for a while and in recent years it seems to have morphed into an event that sufficiently pisses off some for being too political and others for being too commercial (that means it has probably found the inevitably mutually dissatisfying middle ground).
|Rejection + hatred + aversion + discrimination + violence against LGBT = HOMOPHOBIA|
In Rio and Niterói the events are decidedly political in nature, from the organizers’ perspective. Rallying slogans have been to criminalize homophobia, to come out of the closet and to fight for the right to love who you want. All the while, the folks that gather have one heck of a good time in the sun and into the night – dancing, singing, parading, laughing and just plain enjoying each other.
The whole dress-up thing was a lot more prevalent in San Francisco, I must say. Rainbow this and rainbow that. We frequently hosted a Gay Day brunch for our friends prior to taking to the streets which often included cooperative over-the-top dress up sessions and swapping rainbow accessories.
Last Sunday in Niterói I venture to guess that Luiz and I were two of only 10 people at the whole event wearing rainbow bling. Seriously. People were going all out in the fun department, but it was decidedly rainbow bling-free. WUWT? Whatever… we felt right at home all the same.
|With our new buddy Pedro.|
This year we met up with a young guy who touched base with me via this blog. Turns out he is a neighbor, living less than one block from our apartment. Go figure. Pedro. Nice guy. We met up in front of the grocery store at the corner and walked to the parade together. It was interesting to get a fresh faced and local queer perspective on the whole being out/parading/gay night life/community thing going on in Niterói. Well, at least one guy’s take.
In short it would appear that Luiz and his crew had more queer fun in Niterói in one weekend back in the day than these kids today are having in an entire summer season. But hey, that’s just our smug perspective. I think there is something to be said for going out and meeting people in the streets, in the bars, in the cafés, in the parks, and at parties that tops the hand-held computer app approach (puns intended). But again, that’s just us older guys talkin’ over here…
I’ll keep my overall summary to myself until I pursue further research on the subject. Any and all firsthand experience of queers in Niterói is welcomed in the comments (pun NOT intended).
|Service in the street.|
Don’t get me wrong. We had a great time out with the kids in the streets. We always do. No matter how much things may change, some things will always be the same for me. Give me a chance to go out with my people and I’m there.
Next Sunday, October 13th, is the Parade in Rio. Check it out.