I loved it! Best. Pride. EVAH!
Honestly, guys, we have come thousands of miles compared to previous years. I've been attending San Diego Pride since 1976, and have been in the Parade THIRTY-FIVE TIMES! Jeepers - I just figured that out. I have only taken three random years off… Twice while I was overseas in the Navy, and once because I was burned-out and needed a break.
SETTING UP THE LEATHER REALM
This year, a larger number of men arrived on Thursday and Friday to help set up the Leather Realm. The men and women who have set it up for years were quite gratified to have the extra hands, and everybody worked very quickly and effectively. We're going to do this every year, because it made a huge difference. There is no good reason to have a tiny number of ultra-dedicated volunteers do all of the work, when extra hands can make it so much easier. Our FetishMen crew got a lot of love and approval for working full-out, and in such a friendly way!
A few of the folks who came in and out as the evening progressed…
The Greeting Committee
These wonderful men stayed at the entrance to make sure that everyone entering the party felt welcome. Nobody asked them to - They were doing it because they are really that nice. In fact, all of our gay brothers who attended this annual Family Reunion behaved in ways that were very pleasing to our brothers and sisters in the kink community. I was proud of every one of them. This is why FMSD is widely respected by the world outside of our sub-sub-culture in the San Diego community. By being wonderful ambassadors, we raise the level of civilization in the world.
LEATHER CONTINGENT IN THE PARADE
Here are a few of the folks who marched -
The folks who arrived late didn't get in the picture!
After some wandering around, my crew and I found our contingent, in front of the Center. Everybody had ample supplies of water, snacks and sunscreen, and time passed while we enjoyed some amiable catching-up with each other. The newest and youngest members got to see us old-timers being serenely relaxed and happy together, and we made sure that the young/new guys were introduced around. One big, happy family.
Then, it was time to march!
My favorite part during the Parade was watching how everybody inter-reacted with the spectators. The older folks were dignified, glorious and stately, and the younger guys were bouncing off of the satellites with youthful joy and energy.
Our own Shelton, in his work gear.
These photos are by Jorge Garcia.
The second half of the Leather Tribe Pride Contingent.
Once the Parade was done, we all trooped together to the Volunteer gate at the Pride Festival, to deliver the club banner and to participate in the Leather Realm, which is a fenced-off area at the Pride Festival for the kink community.
THE LEATHER REALM
I am the least-qualified person to review the Leather Realm, because I showed up, took a nap, gave my talk and then collapsed from heat exhaustion.
I'm okay with how things went, because what I saw during my short visit completely satisfied me that the Realm was PACKED, congenial, satisfying, expertly-staffed and well-organized. I can't imagine any way to improve it, since the goal for the Realm is to provide useful, relevant information about our community to around 10,000 people a day.
Robert and Michael stayed on-duty behind the banner at the club table all weekend, with complete dedication to welcoming and informing newbies that were curious about FMSD. Together, we signed up almost five dozen new members between Saturday and Sunday.
This is a superb example of what good leadership can accomplish. If you want to see what supreme management looks like, follow Christi Campbell around. The Realm was her baby. I sure hope that she is training others in what needs to be done each year, because this annual Leather Realm project must be aging her at an accelerated rate - So much to oversee!
TEAR-DOWN OF THE REALM
I've heard from the men who helped at the end of the weekend, disassembling the Leather Realm. They worked hard with the rest of the team, clearing out the area so that it would be spotless and undisturbed the next morning for the Balboa Park visitors. They have all sorts of ideas on how the tear-down can go faster next year, and are already planning to do something about it. Idealistic zeal and big hearts!
Every year, more and more of our gay FetishMen brothers are getting involved in Pride events. So many of my generation stopped participating except as spectators, for far too long. That has changed, and the process is accelerating. More and more fine younger men are putting their energies into making our community a better place. Everybody is finding each other again, and building lifelong friendships in the process. Brotherhood is on the rise.
The folks who visited from other cities are deeply impressed with our community.There is something very different about us, and it's all very nice. Things went great last year, they got much better this year, and I can't see anything but upward motion for the years to come!