Scene: San Francisco


Scene 3: Dyke March
Dolores Park, June 23

Dolores Park on June 23

"It’ll probably be cold," said a friend of mine when I asked her what the weather was supposed to be like on Saturday afternoon for the Dyke March. "You know God hates lesbians."

But the weather was nearly perfect for San Francisco: warm, sunny, breezy but not cold — yet. At Dolores Park, a bowl of green grass and palm trees with a spectacular hill-top view of the downtown skyline, thousands of lesbians began arriving with blankets, camping chairs, shade umbrellas and booze. They wore feather boas, distressed leather, scuffed sneakers, corsets and thigh-high boots, fulfilling the costume requirements for Pride: anything and everything.

By midafternoon, performers had begun to take to stage set up in the park, but nobody paid attention. The scent-free, smoke-free area that was roped off just in front of the stage had plenty of space left, but the rest of the park was packed.

In New York, the Dyke March gathers together in Midtown and actually marches downtown carrying political placards and chanting about lesbian rights. In San Francisco, it’s a topless party.

I sat with a group of friends in the middle of the hill between a group passing around an extremely fragrant pipe and another group tipping back bottles of wine. It’s possible that the drinking and other kinds of amusement are necessary on a day when everyone expects to run into at least one ex-girlfriend.

Near the edge of the park, a bank of portable toilets were set up, wobbling, on wooden two-by-fours. Whenever a new patron entered one of them, the entire line swayed, leading to a bathroom experience more adventurous than desired — especially after a few beers.

Waiting for the bathroom, I talked to women about what club was the best option for the night. Nobody seemed particularly interested in going to the actual Gay Pride march on Sunday. "That’s for the boys," said one woman. Saturday was for the girls.

One woman made her way to the front of the bathroom line and negotiated with the one who was next for the toilet. She opened her wallet and handed over some cash. When she returned, triumphant, we asked her how much she had paid to jump the line.

"Five bucks," she said, grinning.

In the distance we heard the Dykes on Bikes gunning their engines as they prepared to lead the Dyke March through the streets of the Mission on a roundabout stroll to the Castro. As the sun sank behind Twin Peaks, the pale blue sky streaked with orange, the fog began to roll in, bringing with it the evening chill.

Instead of marching, my friends and I grabbed a table at Yum Yum House on Valencia Street. As we ate pot stickers and sizzling tofu, we watched the women of the Dyke March saunter past the restaurant windows. Every once in a while, we saw someone who was still topless, despite the chilly air.

Seated at a nearby table were some tourists who, apparently, had no idea that today was the Dyke March. They tried not to stare.

Scene 4: Frameline Closing Party
Swedish American Hall, June 24

The party in Freja Hall

"I always ask people to tell me their name again, even if I’ve met them before," said Stacy Codikow, founder of POWER UP. She wore a blue jean shirt and blue jeans, and I shook her hand.

"Yeah, we met at Q-Me Con," I said to her, and laughed.

POWER UP’s first feature film, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, was Frameline’s closing night film, and I had just come from the Castro Theater to the festival’s closing party at the Swedish American Hall. Built in 1907, the building’s interior is paneled in dark wood, giving it the feel of an old European manor house. The main space, Freja Hall, is connected to the smaller Balder Hall by a low-ceilinged hallway where I ran into Codikow.

"Danielle really liked it," she said, referring to Danielle Riendeau’s review of Itty Bitty.

"I did too," I told her. "I really enjoyed it." She smiled, pleased.

The cast and crew of Itty Bitty at Frameline, clockwise from top left: Andrea Sperling, Stacy Codikow, Nicole Vicius, Jamie Babbit, Lisa Thrasher, Daniela Sea, Guinevere Turner

In Balder Hall, Guinevere Turner, who played talk show host Marcy Maloney in the film, sat in one of the room’s Gothic thrones, cornered by an enthusiastic fan. I wandered back into the main hall where Absolut, one of the festival’s sponsors, had set up an open bar. The catch, of course, was that all the free drinks were vodka-based.

I saw filmmaker J.D. Disalvatore, whose film Shelter premiered at Frameline, working her way across the room. I ran into Cheryl Dunye as we were briefly trapped behind a crush of people rushing the open bar. Producer Andrea Sperling and her partner, director Jamie Babbit, stood with actress Nicole Vicius, who played one of the leads in the film, and filmmaker Jenni Olson.

"I’ve really enjoyed your writing," Olson told me.

"Thanks," I said, surprised.

"No, really," she insisted.

Jamie Babbit, whom I had just introduced myself to, looked on with some interest. "I like the layout of AfterEllen," she said.

"That’s great," I said, smiling. Perhaps the free vodka was working.

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