Okay, I promised some stuff I had left over from but didn’t have room in my last post about the 2018 OutReach Pride Parade & Rally that occurred last Sunday (August 19). Unlike that previous post, I promise I won’t even bring up the controversy that surrounded the parade this year. Nope, this will be all positive. The first thing is that though some of the same socialists who despised the police being at pride also despised the presence of corporate sponsorship (no, I’m not gonna get any darker than that in this post), there was, without mistake, a sincere presence of businesses who wanted to show their support of the LGBT+ community. Just as with the charities, non-profit organizations, and church and advocacy groups that also populated the parade, they made it known that they truly support our community and do not venture to discriminate against us. That they also do so with their checkbooks and accountants through their sponsorship of Pride does not (and should not) hurt, no matter what your level of disdain of the corporate world. And, yes, sometimes I do think this world has gotten all-corporate, if you know what I mean. Still, I do understand the necessity of having a benevolent, philanthropic sponsor offering cash.
One business that may not have had a presence in the pride parade but does have a popular presence on State Street is Short Stack Eatery. They’re located in one of the more prominent corners of Downtown Madison (State and Johnson Streets), and have become popular for not only catering to the college crowd (they’re open round until Midnight on Thursdays and Fridays, and round-the-clock from Saturday morning until Sunday evening) but also to the LGBT+ community they openly support. If you don’t believe me, why not stop down to Short Stack sometime and see if they have their LGBT rainbow and trans pride flags on display in their window, as they did last Sunday. (Side note: I’ve only had the chance to dine at Short Stack once, but it was the best chocolate chip waffle I’ve ever tasted. Yum!!!)
Speaking of last Sunday, Short Stack also had in their windows some thoughts about the history and meaning of pride celebrations. I spotted these notes in their window while making my way to the parade staging area. Though I gave them just a quick once-over (I really wanted to get to the parade), I snapped photos of them for later (and gave a quick “excuse me” smile and waive to the pair dining in the window underneath these notes). They do reflect on the police-at-pride controversy, but also note how pride celebrations began and what they are today. The thoughts Short Stack posted are so meaningful and sincere that I’m including the three notes I took pictures of here. Thank you, Short Stack, for your support of our community, and for cooking up some pretty awesome eats.
One of the drawbacks of carrying the banner of our support group was not being able to snap photos of the happy onlookers along the parade route. That included someone who myself and another member of our group spotted during the staging period. This person wore a long-sleeve, skintight, black vinyl dress and matching shoes. My groupmate, who has always been one to fancy a little bit of leather and lace, spotted this dress before I did. But I knew the next question she wanted to ask of that person would be, “Where did you find that dress?”
Another person I wish I had snapped a photo of was someone in full drag, from the dolled-up hair and makeup to a purple bodysuit and long, long PVC boots. She was not a performer at the rally (or so I want to think), but I imagine she was there in support of the pride king and queen. While it was probably uncomfortable for her (and her drag mates) to be fully dolled up on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, I imagine their desire to support their drag sisters and brothers meant much more.
Speaking of drag, my friend (I’ll get to her later) and I spotted a cute gentleman wearing a tight shirt, shorts, fishnet stockings, and an absolutely gorgeous pair of shoes. We had to stop him to ask where he found those shoes, and he mentioned a website called The Drag Queen Closet. I had never heard of that site, but visiting it this morning I learned that it’s, naturally, an online store for drag outfits, wigs, shoes, exquisite dresses, etc. I wish I had been at liberty to snap a photo of his gorgeous shoes, but I think the pair that are at this link and are also what I’ve posted below were similar to what he had: Subtle heels, lace-up threads, buckles at the ankles, and a stellar array of studs and jewels. They’re making your heart melt, aren’t they?
A pleasant and very popular sidelight of the post-parade rally was the presence of a very colorful sculpture, one that appears to have made its rounds around Madison this summer, including at the Plan B nightclub:
The sculpture is billed as Full Human Spectrum and, yes, it has its own Instagram account. The sculpture is created by one Ryan Hartman, and his marker positioned next to the piece at the State Capitol last Sunday sums up the importance of Full Human Spectrum thusly:
“This sculpture represents the full spectrum of humanity, not exclusively those who identify as LGBTQ. It represents you and me and all humankind together. Our colors make up the full spectrum. We are each uniquely different and all together we are beautiful.”
View this post on Instagram
So happy to be able to have the #fullhumanspectrum out and supporting the #lgbtq #community and all of humanity. We are all one human race on this planet and we need to start unifying not dividing because of our differences. Together we make up the #Specturm #love #peace #pride
Full Human Spectrum, as I noted, has made the rounds around Madison this summer, including more than one pride-related event last weekend. On Sunday, the piece was stationed at the west end of Capitol Square, with its seven rainbow figures directly facing down State Street and staring at the rally point (where State Street meets Capitol Square).
As you can surmise from the above photo, Full Human Spectrum proved to be a very popular photo opportunity for more than a few Pride participants. As you can also surmise from this photo, the seven figures that make up Full Human Spectrum are showing *ahem* a lot of junk in their trunks (both upper and lower). I mention this because while surfing through the local TV news early last Sunday evening (i.e. dinner hour), one of the stations had a reporter do one of those “we’re live at the scene” standup reports literally in front of Full Human Spectrum. Only a few seconds into the live report did the camera operator likely realize, uh oh, there are some shortcomings on display here (again, it’s live TV!) and ever likely so slyly advised the reporter, with a move of the camera away from the sculpture, to step away from the mannequins lest the station receive viewer complaints (“Hello, FCC?”).
Now, at this point you’re probably thinking, “Gee, Allison, did you take your picture with these figures?” Well… of course I did! And I got cheeky, too!
Yep, that’s me with my arm around the pretty muscular green figure of Full Human Spectrum. Something that my friend picked up about this artwork rather quickly was that the mannequins used are of different body types, from full figured to muscular to slim to both *ahem* upstairs and downstairs plumbing (the figure in blue appears to have both, nicely representing a trans figure).
All 7 figures of Full Human Spectrum were so lovely, so much that it was a bummer to wrap my arm around just one. In my defense, though, the green figure was very, very cute.
My friend also posed in front of Full Human Spectrum, and got even cheekier with the figures. Speaking of my friend, perhaps you’ve heard of me talking about J. before on here. Heck, I’ve written a whole poem in tribute to and in fondness of her. But while I have hesitated to share an image of her on here, out of a desire to keep her anonymous, I noticed that the best photo I had of me from last Sunday was also with her. So, I sought out her permission to include her on this photo… and she said she would be honored.
So, ladies and gentlemen and gender nonconforming, I present to you… J. Or, to be all formal, Jen.
That’s me on the right, in my Pride Sunday best of denim skirt, white lacy top (the same one I wore last year), sun hat, two pairs of glasses (my regular eyeglasses that I can’t do without and a pair of souvenir sunglasses American Family Insurance was distributing to paradegoers) and a pair of pride-colored Mardi Gras beads I bought at a pride parade in Madison many years ago (I was a male-mode spectator, natch).
What I didn’t bring, however, were the rainbow shoelaces I wore last year (I didn’t have time to lace them through my best walking shoes) or the cowbell I also was given last year (again, I didn’t give myself a lot of time to dress up and put on makeup). Jen, however, did bring her cowbell, and wore that thing out quite a bit while we held up our support group’s banner. Jen didn’t, however, bring her sun hat, which was similar but not exactly like what I’m wearing here (she was running late, too). That sun hat of hers was the one I wore to last year’s Pride, which occurred literally a few days after Jen lost her job. Before she headed home after last year’s Pride, I gave her that hat and a word of encouragement: “Wear the hat not to keep the sun out of your eyes,” I recommended, “but to keep the rain from pouring down on you.” Yes, Jen was very grateful. And, yes, she still has that hat.
As you may have surmised from the shirt she’s wearing here, Jen has a very strong social justice bone in her body. That strong sense of standing for the underappreciated and shunned led Jen to the TG/crossdresser support group I’m a part of. Jen and I almost immediately hit it off, and the two of us have been friends ever since. We’ve hung out and chatted after group meetings, we’ve exchanged birthday greetings, and we’ve given each other support when facing the daunting task of looking for new employment.
I hope I don’t make Jen sad when I say this, but I hope any company here in Madison who longs to serve the under-served in our community (trans or otherwise) deserves to have her as an employee. Jen is warm, friendly, empathetic, open-minded, and is ready and willing to stand up and speak out for those who deserve to be defended. Jen, I can’t say enough how wonderful it is to have you in our group’s lives, not just in mine. Thank you so much for being with us last Sunday, and for having our backs the other 364 days of the year.