If indeed America loves its second chances and good things come in threes – except maybe celebrity deaths, right? – then it’s fair to say that, even in this shifting sociopolitical landscape of rancor and finance, that Tampa Pride has hit its sweet spot in its third iteration. Once the epitome of what everybody understood a pride celebration to be – think poppers, leather, and Priscilla the Queen of the Wong Foo – the annual event’s organizers aren’t bothering with so much bacchanalia these days. Like similar celebrations the world over, the substances have been traded for substance, the hook-ups for hope.
There’s certainly an argument to be made for the old, leather-daddy days of tripping over a drag queen’s wayward Lucite heel while running toward a rather attractive man-mirage. That outsider mentality wherein cultural miscegenation that was frowned upon by anti-assimilationists is deeply embedded in the LGBT psyche, right there next to Anita Bryant’s pie face and 4.a.m. couch surfing after being abandoned by your parents for being gay. What we used to do was throw it all out the window, don a frock and a wig and make the celebratory best of it. Don’t get us wrong; it’s easier to glorify our sideways glances of bad behavior when they are indeed in the rear view mirror. Many of us lost numerous friends to irresponsible sex, drug use, even violence. It was a civil war, and it doesn’t really need to be reenacted. (Although, it’s fun sometimes. Not gonna sanitize everything, are we?)
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