This last weekend was Homo Fest (the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Festival) and a few of us at our office went and shared space at a Lesbian Health table for a few hours. We hadn’t been to Homo Fest in a couple of years because I’ve been sick or we’ve had babies, but let me tell you, it sure has grown! There were several more Beer Gardens than there were last time I was there; a sure gauge for the size of the celebration. They even had a smallish Ferris wheel spinning around near the main stage.
If you’ve read me for a few years, you know we use to buy a table space for ourselves, but never reaped any financial benefits from it, so quit doing that. We did have a blast and a half laughing and being with each other as well as with the party-goers, but it is damn hard work, so we just couldn’t justify the cost any longer.
Remember the year we made Spec Pets? We took speculums and hot glue-gunned eyes, noses, feathers and sequins on them and made them drag queens, princesses, cowgirls and brides. We sold them for a few bucks apiece and actually sold quite a few. They were a dang hoot – and I had to stop laughing so hard as women kept asking, “Is that what you use now to do Paps?” because they were absolutely serious. I ran after the guys with them, “quacking” the speculum’s bills, telling them they better get in for their Paps right away. They just squealed and hid behind each other before running away to grab another beer.
The first year, I blew up REALLY big pictures of women giving birth and laminated them and hung them so people could see them from 50 feet away. While we didn’t garner any clients from the festival that year, I know we are still being talked about because of those pictures. You should have seen the reactions! Gay boys and dyke girls alike – aghast at the way a woman’s body stretches as a baby’s head comes out. I wish I’d gotten a half a penny for every time I heard, “Thank GOD I’m Queer/Gay/a Dyke/Lesbian/a Fag/a Homo/etc. so I don’t have to DO that!” Sarah would not let me bring pictures ever again. I giggle, though, straight-faced mentioning that I’m going to do so each time we have a booth. You can imagine the Gumby-like contortions her face and arms go through as she bellows her reminder argument against “those pictures!” and how I scared half the gay community out of procreation that year… didn’t I notice the birth rate dropping?! blah blah blah…. I just stare at her blankly and let her ramble on until she sees the corners of my mouth twitching. I’m only allowed to bring birth pictures to Homo Days in a photo album now. She watches with slitted eyes who I show them to.
We learned at our last exhibition to bring bubble machines. If you sell things at festivals (or are asking for $$ or whatever), bubble machines are the ticket to high volume visitors. Especially if your booth caters to kids, bubbles are absolutely incredible for drawing adults with money in. There are very few people who make faces at the bubbles. Curmudgeons. Tough noogies. Most people who walk through the bubbles laugh and smile – some try to eat them, many try to pop them, kids go way out of their way for them and kids-at-heart hang out near them for a few minutes, laughing.
After we’d done one festival with three machines just for our own bubble needs and had at least 40 people ask to buy them, we bought a ton of the machines and began selling them at the festivals, too. Amusingly, they began being the way for our business to make money at a festival, but it was labor intensive to bring them, stock them, store them, keep them safe, etc. We also had to sell batteries because the booths at the festival wanted the bubble machines, too! It became quite the phenomenon.
Buy your bubble liquid in giant bulk containers. Buy batteries at Costco and know that you will go through them like water. It’s worth it, though! Oh, and you can’t do this bubble trick indoors; too much of a slippery mess.
Each year, I hear all sorts of harrowing tales of our failing healthcare system. This year was no exception.
There was the very young woman whose lover pushed her towards me and made her tell me about the growing lump and increasing discharge from her nipple. The young woman (nearly a girl compared to my age) worked in a teeny-waged job with no insurance, yet didn’t qualify for Medi-Cal. She’d called asking a few places if she could come in, but they wouldn’t see her with cash up front; she was lost about where to go from here.
Another woman in her thirties, also without insurance and un-qualified for Medi-Cal, had had a “suspicious” lump that required follow-up in 6 months 2.5 years earlier. That breast had been leaking blood from the nipple for over 6 months and everywhere she called wouldn’t see her either. What could she do?
An HIV-positive woman told me about her expected uterine cancer that needed to be removed. She had Medi-Medi (Medi-Cal and Medi-Care), yet no GYN would touch her because of her HIV status – too “at risk,” they said. She said the under-lying insinuation was, “You’re just going to die anyway. Why bother?”
I asked each of the women to email me and told them I would ask Dr. Wonderful what to do. I don’t even know if he could do a thing, but I just couldn’t stand there and do nothing. I didn’t want to give them false hope – and told them that – but told them I knew a kind OB/GYN and if he knew anyone who could do anything, he would be then one. None of the women have yet to email me. That makes me sad.
I had a tender babydyke come up to me and ask if I could tell if her lover’d been with a man. Confused, I wondered if she wanted me to do an exam to see if she had a hymen… a throwback to medical care of old. I asked her if she’d had penetration in her own sex-making with her lover and when she said she had, I explained that penetration is penetration… and she expounded a little, saying that her lover’s body had “changed” suddenly without explanation and she (the woman I was speaking with) was highly suspicious. I explained that women’s bodies go through a myriad of changes throughout our lives – that hormones do all sorts of things we have no map or schedule for – and she could have had that happen. I encouraged her to talk with her lover and to come in and talk with me with or without her if she had more questions about her body or their relationship. She couldn’t have been 16 years old. I wanted to hug her.
Not to dwell on age (haven’t I?), I kept blinking and thinking, “Was I ever that young at Pride?” I turned to Sarah and she said we hadn’t been and it was a good thing because we probably wouldn’t have had our kids. She’s right! We came out when the time was right. And besides, we wouldn’t have our great Coming Out at a La Leche League Meeting story, would we? That, all on its own, is worth its weight in being married to a man for a short time. (No offense, former-husband-who-reads-my-blog. If I had to marry anyone, you were the best!) But those girls were… so young! In many ways, I wish I’d been so empowered as to have come out and stay out at that age. Such a different time 35 years ago. (Don’t I sound so dated? laughing)
Part of what I like to do in writing is share my history. The older I get, the more history I have to share.
(Trying to be affirming…) I have plenty of time to write all the articles I have to write, work on the Lenses I am working on – three at the moment – edit and copy the photos that are due to clients, take care of the 82 things on my Priority To Do list and begin the 325 on the Secondary To Do list….
WARNING!!! Spoilers ahead if you aren't up-to-date on Big Love storyline!!
Are you all watching Big Love?! Oh, my god. Is it the best show on tv right now or what?! (It’s the only new show I watch, so it’s the best as far as I’m concerned.) The tension is enormous watching to see what’s going to happen with Bill’s brother’s (brother-in-law’s?) money, (where did his mother and [her] brother GET that money from anyway?!) the Weaver gaming issue, the new wrinkle with the Green’s and Bill actually having to be on the Roman’s side (!) – it’s all so much fun! Sarah laughed Monday night after the show and said, “We’re addicted to a soap opera!” and I nodded and said All My Children was never this hot.