I’ve helped organize bi contingents all up and down the west coast, and this year’s Pride at San Diego was the most memorable and rewarding I’ve yet experienced. For those who don’t know, San Diego Pride was hit by a record storm last weekend. Despite dark clouds, flash floods, and lightning, people still turned out by the tens of thousands to celebrate. This year’s theme was “Liberty and Justice for All,” which rang doubly true given the Supreme Court’s recent decision establishing marriage equality across the country. It may have been rainy and wet, but the LGBT community wasn’t about to let anything dampen our spirits!
As usual, I marched with amBi, only this time instead of the typical sunny skies one expects in San Diego in July, we had a once-in-a-century monsoon bearing down upon us. It poured so hard, water filled up gutters and started flowing down sidewalks. The weather blew out two of our four speakers, and our roller bladers had to take off their skates and march barefoot. The dancers on our float were absolutely soaked. Fortunately, we bi folks really know how to make lemonade when we’re dealt lemons: We whipped our 45 foot (15 meter) parade flag in unison and made the rain dance. As for the dancers, you can use your imagination to picture the effect of wet gogos, some of whom were spinning on a pole. The crowd went wild.
Over at the festival, amBi members staffed a Bisexual.org booth. The organizers of the festival didn’t plan for rain, and our tent wasn’t secured properly. Every now and then a deluge of water came down when the puddle on our roof grew too heavy, leading to more than one Flash Dance reenactment. Smiles were in abundance, and we all laughed at the absurdity of it all. With water pelting us from above, below, and on all sides, we gave away bi-themed hats, sunglasses, bracelets, face paint, and more. The grand prize was a “Bi Kiss,” from a guy and a girl simultaneously. It was cheeky fun, and the crowd formed long lines in the rain for a chance to spin our wheel. There was a downpour of love for the B in LGBT.
Here’s what some in our group had to say about the experience:
Joy: “I didn’t know what to expect. Would we be well received or be seen as ‘promiscuous bisexuals?’ A few shied away from the bi kiss, but most were thrilled to receive one. I met fantastic people from all over and even got to kiss a few (on the cheek, of course!).”
Shinichi: “I definitely will remember this Pride as the one where it rained. However, that wasn’t enough to get anyone’s spirits down. We marched on, and it was inspiring to see all the people who braved the rain to watch us.”
Cindy: “Hearing the cheers build and the shouts of ‘I’m bi!’ and ‘Thank you!’ as the amBi float rolled along the parade route was so fulfilling, because I knew we were contributing to someone out there knowing that they’re not alone.”
Dan: “A teenage girl came up and grabbed one of ouramBi/Bisexual.org postcards. With a look of excitement and relief in her eyes, she told us that she is going to use the postcard to finally come out to her mom. That is why we do this.”
Perri: “I walked in the parade with friends and family, thrilled to see the huge crowds of spectators. It was definitely a fabulous experience. In spite of the flooded roads, everyone put their best foot forward.”
Drew: “An amazing woman at the booth told us she felt more comfortable with herself after chatting with us. She was especially excited when she learned about the San Diego chapter of amBi, an opportunity to learn more about herself and to make new friends.”
Kathy: “I never would have believed that at ‘almost 65’ I would be marching in a Pride parade. Having been raised Southern Baptist, I’m surprised to be the very proud mother of a bi son. Supporting him and his amazing friends was an honor (albeit a wet one).”
Christian: “Being a part of the amBi contingent was nothing short of amazing. This was my second year joining, and it was wonderful dancing on a float in pouring rain! The people I met, the friends I made, will stay with me a long time.”
Erin: “What an amazing and beautiful Pride! Fun prizes, lots of kisses, beautiful wet people, and tons of smiles everywhere! For me, this was the best Pride in years, and I’m thankful to be part of this Prideful community!”
Daniel: “I’ve been in lots of Prides with amBi, but this one was definitely special. I joined the gogo dancers on the float. Spinning poi on the back of the flatbed in the rain was magical! Like a Bi Rain Dance.”
Candace: “An experience like none other! The fact that it was raining and there were still people who came out to march and watch us shows just how much love there is in our community.”
Matt: “I was perplexed at all the interest in our booth. I learned that given a supportive environment, bisexuality is likely much more prevalent than we’re aware. amBi’s work is so important, as it enables people to feel safe and confident expressing their true selves.”
Sophia: “A god, whom some might use to marginalize the LGBT community, saw fit to bless the San Diego area with record rainfall, a welcome reprieve for the drought-stricken community. When I passed the protestors who were shouting ‘God is raining on your parade,’ I reminded them that you can’t make a rainbow without rain.”