I've been out as queer since around 2003, and as I was very active in the local queer community for a number of years it should go without saying I've been to a lot of stuff.
I've been to festivals. I've been to activist meetings. I've been to conferences. I've been to rallies. I've been to marches. I've officiated same-sex weddings. But somehow in the past decade I've never gone to an actual parade, largely because I had no idea where Milwaukee's pride parade actually was. So I go to Pridefest at the Summerfest grounds yearly, but have always passed on the parade.
Not this year.
As far as queer experiences go, I give it a B+.
We walked to the parade area and went to a gay bar where somebody handed out tiny pride flags. I put one in my hair. We were predictably very cute, even if the heat made my moustache fall apart in ten minutes.
Then the parade started. The leader was a fire truck. I don't know if this is a normal thing everywhere or if it's a Wisconsin thing, but parades always seem to start with a fire truck.
I was too close to the ground and there were too many people in front of me to get really good pictures of the floats. There were a number of churches. A couple corporations (but not an absurd number like at some of the bigger parades). Some local school GSAs and oddly enough quite a few leather groups.
There was a queer Hmong group that marched in it with super cool signs. I'm regretting not having taken Hmong in addition to Spanish... I took Spanish thinking "oh, there's lots of Spanish speakers in the area, this will be a useful language." It turns out that I encounter way more Hmong speakers on a regular basis than Spanish speakers, just due to the area I live in.
Anyway we then walked to the Pridefest grounds (which took quite a while and involved trying to get over a drawbridge that kept being drawn). I'm trying to stick to a paleo diet, so food was a concern. Thankfully there was a truck there that sold sticks of meat with slaw. Admittedly I drank more sugar than normal, in the form of honey-sweetened sweet tea. I noted at the parade that I was able to look down and see my toes, something I haven't been able to do in a couple years.
The picture also shows my shirt, which will be important later.
I like noting the differences between Pridefest now and Pridefest when I first started going in I think 2007 or 2008. When I first went there was no merchandise for trans people... maybe like one button. This gradually increased and this year there were trans pride flags everywhere, and in fact there were genderqueer flags everywhere, too, something I didn't expect. Although gauging how accepted people are based on capitalism is garbage, it does give a pretty good idea of how visible a group is to see who is being marketed to at an event like this. Relatedly, there were a lot of people wearing trans Pride merchandise this year, because regardless of what cis gays think, a lot of trans people go to Pride events.
My pansexual pentacle shirt got a lot of love. I've found pansexual pride stuff really makes you stick out in a positive way, like the first year I wore a pansexual button and people kept pointing it out. One person asked where I got it. The answer is Amazon.
I did get one glare from a gay guy when I had a photograph taken with my girlfriend. Fuck that guy though.
Speaking of weird looks, on the way to the parade this guy walked past me, older guy with gray hair, clearly trying not to let me know he was staring at me. As soon as I passed him I could see in the reflection of the building next to us that he legitimately spun around to look at me. Fuck this guy, too. Not sure what he was even looking at. I wasn't even wearing my Pride stuff yet. Unless he noticed the boobs, but I'm pretty sure they weren't noticeable enough on my frame. The moustache, maybe? I've never had anybody spin around over that. Whatever.
Anyway, it was a pretty good day. I got like 25,000 steps in (my goal is 4,000). Heard some good music. Saw one person I knew. Got to eat good food and drink good tea. Will probably go again next year.