Huh? What am I doing here??

I guess... hmmm... I had some free time at work today (Jun 25th) and I had such a fun time yesterday that I just had to share it with someone, and I figured why not here? Who knows? Maybe if I haven't pissed off the admin here too much, I might start making occasional appearances again... Anyways, on to what happened that was so fun...

Up at 7 am. On a Sunday. Not my usual idea of fun, since I love to sleep in. I do so love it. But not today, since it's a big, big day. Chelle and I are meeting up with my friend Kyra, and taking the 8:30 AM train from near her apartment in Lisle in to the city. Why so early? We're having breakfast with her friends in Stonewall, the area GLBT support group, before heading over to the Gay Pride Parade.

Yes, it's my first time seeing the parade! And I am so excited.

Anyways, really quickly I get dressed all in pretty colors, cause I'm definately wanting to get in the spirit of things. Rainbow tie-dyed shirt and hat, white shorts, hair in two braids (with rainbow hair bands at the end), rainbow nails, and such. All bright and colorful! We need to be at Kyra's place by 8:15 to walk to the train, and it's at least a 30 minute drive. At 7:45 we're running out of the apartment, me still trying to toss on the last little bit of jewelry. Fortunately, the roads are nice and empty, and we make it in plenty of time.

The train's a little late anyways, so we weren't as pressed as we thought. But after a nice hour long ride in, we then have to walk a little ways over to the nearest El station, and take it out to Boys Town. It's also my first experience on the El, though there's really nothing exciting about it. (Other than the really sudden starts and stops that throw you around a little)

The restaurant where we're meeting them, Ann Sathers, is a whole two buildings down from the station. I could tell from the moment I walked in what kind of area this was - not the type of crowd you'd see in a Denny's on Main St. or such. We head up the stairs, into the reserved room, to find all the tables are filled already. So while someone goes to dig up another one, Kyra introduces me to other members that I hadn't met before.

Finally, a table comes, and the three of us order breakfast. While we wait the HOUR it takes to get our food, a few more late stragglers come in, two women. The couple sits down with us, the only open spot. Kyra introduces us to them, and we just start chatting cause we're there... and fortunately, it was so much fun talking to them that it keeps us from really being that annoyed about how long our order is taking (even if the two of them do get served sooner than us yet despite ordering later...)

Well, a little while later we finally get our food, eat our now half-price breakfast rather quickly since pretty much everyone else is gone (what were the cooking staff DOING back there? Never mind, I don't want to know...), and we head out to do a little wandering around, maybe some shopping, before settling into our parade watching spots.

We considered waiting a few minutes for one interesting shop, The Alley, to open - the skimpy leather outfits in the window made it look worth checking out, and I was highly considering getting a simple cartilage piercing in my ear, but we decided to keep walking, maybe to come back later.

We crossed a side street with residential area (and just about every car had a rainbow sticker - such a cool area), and out to the other big road for the parade, and start heading down, looking for shops.

We only end up entering one: Gay Mart. (Yes, that really is it's name!) More or less like any other gift shop, just with almost everything having the rainbow or some other indication of where you are. To my amazement, they even have a couple buttons with the transgender symbol on it - so of course Kyra and I grab them. A few other novelty items later (a magnet, a rainbow static cling for the car), and we're back outside walking toward where we're meeting others to watch.

I realize rather quickly how incredibly good natured the crowd is. Sure, there's not always a lot of room to walk, and you're getting bumped around - but there are always apologies, smiles, people saying "hello", and just a complete lack of that negative attitude you find at just about any other gathering of people. I usually feel uncomfortable in such large crowds - but I was just the opposite here.

Finally, we end up right by the church which is the customary parade watching spot for the Stonewall group, (the few of them that aren't marching, that is), and we grab our seats - some triangular windowsills that are just big enough for a person to sit in. After some struggling to get up there (they have to be like 4 1/2 - 5 feet off the ground), I manage to get situated - without scratching myself or even dirtying my white shorts. I realize quickly it's going to be a good view.

It's not even 1 pm at this point - the parade doesn't start until 2, and it'll be at least 30 mins until it reaches us - so I get to become quite familiar with my little niche of the universe. After all, I don't want to get down, because it was so tough getting up there, and I don't to lose the spot either.

I did get to do a lot of people watching - and trust me, it was easily as much entertainment as the parade. Guys walking along without shirts, jeans with one leg cut off up to the belt, exposing the thongs they had on underneath. All sorts of odd hair colors and styles. All varieties of gender bending. Women with no shirts, and only tape or other small decorations covering their nipples. And plenty of hilarious shirts (one woman walking along with a shirt that had a picture of a woman pulling down her panties, with the caption above it "Good Bush" - and next to it a picture of W., with the caption "Bad Bush") There were plenty of straight couples there also - so it's not just for the GLBT crowd.

And thanks to my pretty colors, I wasn't exactly unnoticed - even on the windowsill. Plenty of comments from people about how colorful I was, how much they loved the outfit, how much they loved the nails. And the good nature of the crowd was obvious here also - as I let my now bare feet dangle (sandals up on the sill next to me), every once in a while someone would give my foot a slight tickle, or play with my toe for a second. I even had a few people come up and take pictures of me - it's really wierd when a stranger comes up and asks "Do you mind if I take a picture of you?" - and then tells you that you look great afterwards as they wander off.

Oh yeah, the parade itself... lots of floats, all the politicians up front (boo hiss), a pretty long delay near the front I later realized was due to protestors jumping into the parade, complaining about the lack of prosecution of racist and abusive cops, including the chant "Do your fucking job, Dick" (the guy they were protesting's name was Richard). The biggest cheers were for PFLAG, and the various GLBT youth groups.

Finally, after over 4 hours sitting in that windowsill, and a really tired and achy behind and legs, I get down (and almost collapse as my legs scream in utter protest at the landing), and we wander around to find restrooms. Plenty of portable toilets, all with long lines. Finally we sneak back into the restaurant from breakfast, using their "for customers only" restrooms. :)

And somehow I managed to make it home before collapsing completely. I'm not quite sure how right now, I was actually pretty tired. (Who knew 4 hours of sitting on cement was so tiring??)

Anyways, I know I'm going to do whatever the heck I need to be able to attend again next year!