Thursday, June 21, 2012

Best Pride Ever!

(Cross posted from my blog, 'cause I wanted to share the pix!)

As always on my posting days, I'll draw a random winner from among the commenters to this post. About 48 hours from now, I'll do that and the winner gets a $5 Torquere gift certificate!

RI Pride, along the Woonasquatucket River
This past Saturday my son and his best friend (both 12) and I loaded up the wagon and headed southeast to Providence, RI for the city's 36th annual Pride Festival. I had spent the days leading up to the even assembling bags of book swag to give away at our vendor booth.

Swag assembly

I was delighted to have the greatest variety ever for an event like this, with goodies from
Elizabeth Brooks
JM Cartwright
Vincent Diamond
Rachel Haimowitz
DC Juris
Catherine Lundhoff
Belinda McBride
Syd McGinley
VS Morgan
Nora Olsen
Sloan Parker
J. Rocci
Marie Sexton
Andrea Speed
Damon Suede
and Eden Winters
(I hope I didn't miss anyone!)
Goody bags
I was excited to have I also had books more publishers than ever to display and to sell, so I felt like I had Shawn & Lorna from Torquere Press, Radclyffe of Bold Strokes Books, and Cecilia Tan from Circlet Press along for the event. Torquere came through with a coupon code for RI Pride attendees and all proceeds from book sales going to It Gets Better!
The booth -- everyone loves the rainbow lollies!
When I started taking books to Pride events in 2008, I spent a lot of time talking up new media and ebooks. In those days, folks seemed to be still reeling from the erosion of GLBT bookstores and publishers and wanted to know where to find books -- any books -- that told stories along the GLBTQ spectrum.
This time around I found that folks were hip to ebooks and the new small presses. What they wanted to know about was new publishing models and how to find great books online. From a marketing perspective, that's my takeaway from RI Pride:help your readers find books they'll love by cutting through the thicket of the giant esellers and steering them toward more boutique etailers. This may be no news to some, of course.
Bear Pride
As always, I have great conversations at Pride, and this year my standout chat was with the charming ginger co-proprietor of Burlyshirts.comwho was not only super sweet (and so solidly in love that I wanted to bring every flighty young thing I'd met earlier in the day over to show them how it's done) but really encouraging about ways small businesses within the GLBT community can support each other.
Nighttime parade
The parade in the evening is a nighttime affair, illuminated and uplifting. While my twelve-year-olds perched on a trashcan to see better, they got several supportive comments from passersby who thought they were boyfriends (they're not). I stood beside a friendly stranger, a gay man about my age (no, not telling) and we cheered and wept and pointed out the creative touches on various floats (a pair of steel balls dangling from the trailer hitch of one pickup was my fave). I had to take my glasses off and wipe away tears when a huge and exuberant contingent of Youth Pride passed by. We've come so far, though not far enough, you know? I gave a watery smile to my new friend, who totally got it, and a reassuring thumbs-up to my kids, who -- blessedly -- didn't.
Youth Pride
I love Pride!
NYC Marching Band -- awesome!

16 comments:

Syd McGinley said...

wow! what a wonderful looking day! And such a great table you put together! You're such a fab ambassador!

Lee Benoit said...

The day was great fun and totally exhausting. Taking introverts out in public is hazardous. Thank goodness for Grasshopper and Eddie Haskell, who kept me sane and brought me frozen lemonades!

Michelle said...

What an amazing day...wich I could have been there...on the sidelines though...I'm to shy to talk to real LIVE people. Great job! :)

wulf said...

Very nice post. I enjoyed all your pictures :)

penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

Lyra L7 said...

Wow, so many nice goodies and I wasn't there*sigh*

lyra.lucky7ATgmailDOTcom

Lee Benoit said...

Michelle, I know what you mean. I am so introverted I almost didn't do this the first time around (four years ago). But I put on whatever magic hat lets me teach, and get down to it. Once I get going, it's a blast and I learn so much. Wish you could have been there too!

Wulf, I had a hard time narrowing down pictures. Glad you enjoyed these!

Lyra, I wish I could offer a swag bag as a prize this time, but I gave them all away at the festival! So many enthusiastic readers, so little book swag...

Clare London said...

What a great report - and a great event :) Good for you.

Lee Benoit said...

It was a terrific day and night. I think the best part was watching my son play tour guide for his friend (this was Grasshopper's third Pride).

JM Cartwright said...

Hey, Lee - thanks for carrying the banner (smiles) for us all. I l especially loved the part of your report about the Youth Pride. So promising; and it warms my heart.

JulieBites said...

Looks like y'all had a great time. I wish we had a parade, Nashville did an Equality walk this year but I hope it grows to parade level next year. Also, Nashville pride broke attendance records this year which was exciting. I had a lot of fun volunteering. :)

juliebites at gmail dot com

countrygirlxxoo said...

Wonderful...just wonderful. *sigh* Wish I could've gone with you. I've went to some Pride events, but, like any kind of outing like this, it's not as fun if you have to go by yourself. *snerk...I said outing...I make myself snort sometimes. LOL* Glad you had a great time though!

Lee Benoit said...

Heya JM -- The Trouble with Angel poster always slows people down! It was rivaled this year by a silicone breast in the Northeast Leather Alliance booth next door...

Juliebites -- I feel the same way about Worcester Pride, which is very small despite having more colleges and the same size population as Providence. I think a dedicated core at the center makes these things grow (Providence's parade had a float with some of the original organizers of the first RI Pride back in 1976!) so it's great that you're involved and working for the dream!

Hi Countrygirl! Yeah, this was an outing all right. ::grin:: But I have to say easily a quarter of the folks who visited the booth were straight allies, which was very cool. So many reasons to feel optimistic!

Loveless3173 said...

Wow!!
This looks like a most awesome festival! Sadly, I have yet to go to a pride parade or festival or anything like that, but DAMN, I wanna go so badly. The next time there is one here in Los Angeles I am so going to make all the plans to attend.

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing this with us! =D

Judi
arella3173_loveless(at)yahoo(dot)com

Lee Benoit said...

Hi Judi,

Yes, you should absolutely go to a Pride event! There's an electricity to them that I probably can't convey with words. And you always see something you don't expect and that stays with you a long time (for me this year it was a young gay couple whose boy-next-door appearance was roughened by their matching "I Heart Penis" T-shirts. Sweet!

Del Darcy said...

What a terrific writeup, and what a wonderful day it must have been. Thank you!

Sean Michael said...

This looks like such an awesome experience. Thank you for sharing!