June 2010 marks the 38th Annual Pride festival. The Twin Cities Pride Celebration is one of the largest free GLBTA pride events in the country! Thank you, Twin Cities Pride for your free awesomeness!
So on Saturday I went to Pride In the Park, which is two days of nearly 400 hundred GLBT-friendly vendors, exhibits, food and concerts in Loring Park, a neighborhood of Minneapolis. The vendors were selling homemade crafts, artworks, tools, home improvement packages, sex toys, clothing, jewelry, food and beverages, and much more. Businesses were out pledging their support of diversity and GLBT rights for their employees. Non-profit organizations were fundraising and plugging their missions. There were advertisements for banks, churches, housing and neighborhood associations, restaurants, bars, social clubs of every stripe, a commitment ceremony tent, canoe rides and at least three concert stages.
Some things at Pride are a little racy – there are a couple of sex toy booths, and the Naked Minnesota guys in their barrels are awesome, but they really are naked under those barrels. I’ve checked – in the interest of science, of course. Accept nothing without verifiable evidence, right? But for the most part, the park is very family-friendly. I took Ashley to Pride in the Park last year, and aside from running across a drag king performing a very explicit dance to some very explicit pop song, everything was cool. She had a blast picking up every sticker, temporary tattoo, lollipop, pen, bag, notepad, ruler, and other miscellaneous swag she could get her hands on.
This year Ashley and I went to Pride in the Park again, with one little difference: She asked if she could bring a friend along. Like a sucka I said “Sure, why not?” Well, it turns out her “friend” is Marjie (not her real name) the six year-old daughter of a family friend who her Mom is babysitting. I should have said no when Ashley came out of the house holding Marjie’s hand, but
1) I hadn’t had any coffee yet, and didn’t fully comprehend the situation.
2) I was struck by the adorableness of Marjie, and was excited to take this cute little girl to the exciting party in the park with the balloons and the puppies and other stimuli.
3) I had never experienced how quickly six year-olds can change their minds and their emotions back and forth and back again.
4) I didn’t know at the time that a six year-old has an attention span of about 10 minutes and one city block.
5) I have never witnessed the awesome fury of a six year-old who is ready to leave NOW.
So, not knowing any of these things, I got both kids in the car, and off we went! We arrived at the park at about early (~8:30am) so we could snag a parking spot, and then we walked down to Hell’s Kitchen, which was probably a good seven blocks each way. Marjie was pretty good. She walked the entire distance on her own feet, but she walked it slowly (geez, no stride to speak of on a 4ft tall kid – who designed these things?).
Cool alley in the Loring Park area that we went through on our way to breakfast, and two shots of the Hell’s Kitchen street sign
At the restaurant, Marjie wanted pancakes and then decided she doesn’t like pancakes, and she hated eggs, but according to Ashley she loves scrambled eggs, and she wanted potatoes, and was not happy when we got hash browns instead of “real” potatoes (your guess is as good as mine), but at least she liked the fruit garnish and her apple juice. Ashley, for her part, ordered a $10 BLT and proceeded to eat the fries and took maybe two bites out of one half of the sandwich. I hope the cooks got to eat the other half.
Back to the Park.
Along the way to the park we had to stop at Target so I could get more cash from the ATM, and there was a minor slushie incident, but moving right along… On our walk I helped Marjie get over her fear of the sidewalk grates, and together we had fun hopping on all of the grates and manhole covers along Nicollet Avenue while “I’m 13 and way too cool for you bozos” walked ahead and pretended not to know us. We took the Greenway path between the apartments that leads to Loring Park, and both kids had fun dipping their hands and feet in the fountains.
At the park we first walked through the dog rescue/pet products section, and I nearly had a heart attack every time Marjie tried to hug a strange dog (No doggie faces near your face, Marjie!). We walked quickly by the sex shop booths (Nope, not those pamphlets, honey! No, we don’t need any penis-shaped candies. Thank you though, you’re too fabulous!), and on through the child-tempting vendor’s guantlet. We made it through that section without any casualties, but the girls had to stop and spin every contest wheel, and Ashley kept trying to sign up for mailing lists so she could get t-shirts, CDs, etc. They collected stickers on their shirts from every political party and non-profit organization that was giving them away. They managed to get temporary tattoos from Target, Cub and one university. They collected reusable grocery bags, dry-erase boards, and a safer sex kit even made it into Marjie’s bag (whoops, Brianne will take that one, honey!).
The girls trying on sunglasses, posing in front of the exhibits, Ashley in the Pfund cutout.
At one point we stopped at a concert stage to watch the drag queens and kings from St. Cloud University. Ashley was stoked because one of the kings was lip synching to Usher’s O.M.G, and that’s when Marjie freaked out. She started crying and pulling away from the stage and she kept saying “I don’t want to dance” – she wasn’t acting scared or covering her ears from the volume, she was just seemed pissed and wanted to leave. And this tantrum made Ashley mad (Y’all can do whatever you want, I’m staying here and watching the concert.) I finally convinced Marjie to sit on my lap and watch the show, and when we finally got up to leave she started crying again because she didn’t want to leave.
D’oh! Why you…!
The concert crowd and one of the St. Cloud University Drag Queens
After that we went to the food court and everyone was happy again.
We went to a few more booths and collected some more paraphernalia. On the way through we were treated to this guy reading from his bible and imploring the audience to let him save them. (Well girls, that man thinks that it’s bad if two men want to be boyfriends or two girls want to be girlfriends. What? Umm… because he just does, probably lots of reasons. But don’t say anything mean when we go by – he has a right to be here and to express his ideas, even if we don’t agree with him.)
Inside-the-head voice sez “You jerk, try not to get beat up by some drunk gay person while you’re here, okay?”
Finally, it was time to go. Everyone was exhausted, but relatively satisfied when I dropped the girls back home. Here’s Marjie’s final good-bye: “Hey, I got gum on your seat. Thanks. Bye.”
Seriously, she was standing outside of the car and her butt was still connected to the back seat by a two-foot long strand of chewing gum.
All-in-all, it was a very unique Pride experience.
Stop back tomorrow for more photos and stories from Sunday’s Parade and Festival.