It's rare that one gets to take part in making history, so I feel really lucky that I was asked to appear at the very first gay pride festival in Lincoln City, a coastal town with a summer population of 24,000.
My participation began with a reading at the library Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall, a lesbian/trans man couple who got all the questions during Q & A because the lesbian editor of the largest selling lesbian magazine is now in the surreal position of being legally married to a man because her female partner transitioned to male.
And now, Marc Acito talks about music theater geeks...
Diane and Jake write mysteries together, and I contend that anyone who can adjust to what they've been through is certainly capable of collaborating on a book. (On a side note, Diane and Jake are now foster parents of two teenage boys. When they signed up, they received a list of approved books they could have in the house. Mine made the cut. Their's did not.)
What we didn't know was that religious groups had threatened to protest our appearance, which explains why an armed cop attended our reading. ("I found it really enlightening," he said afterward.) A member of the library board even resigned in protest.
On the plus side, among the attendees were the mayor, an Episcopal priest and an out gay member of the city council.
God bless America.
There was no parade, just a festival with booths and entertainment, so all I had to do was show up at the festival the next morning to sell books. As Just Out editor Marty Davis said, "When have you ever gotten up at nine AM and thought, 'Wow, in an hour I get to see drag!'"
And see it we did. Here I am with Bette Midler:
When I looked down, I could see her hairy belly.
And here's the world's tallest Cher:
"Drag queens are just clowns with better outfits," she said. "Otherwise, it's just big shoes and makeup."
This was also the first gay pride festival I ever attended that had a pie-eating contest, which got a lot of attention because of this shirtless young gayling:
I consider it a sign of progress that gay men now feel it's okay to ingest carbohydrates.
Besides the chance to meet playwright William Luce, the coastal resident who wrote The Belle of Amherst and Barrymoore, my favorite moment came when I met a lesbian couple in their sixties who recently got domestically partnered. For the last quarter century, the women have lived quietly together, but came out in a big way when they were interviewed on the front page of the local paper. "A woman came up to me in the grocery store," one of them told me, "and said, 'I read about you in the paper and I can't believe it. I mean, I had no idea you were a nurse.'"
I'd like to think that Lincoln himself (whose depression may have stemmed from his own struggles with homosexuality) would be proud of Lincoln City.
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