So, on Saturday, I dragged myself far out of my comfort zone and hauled my ass to San Diego Pride. Alone. By myself. In downtown San Diego. Without anyone to buffer me against the chaos.
And you know? I had a really good time! Well, maybe not a really good time, but it was enjoyable, if a bit overwhelming.
The first thing I noticed (after the both glorious and unexpected amount of girls walking around in just panties and pasties… because let’s be real: that is absolutely the first thing I noticed) was that it was geographically a lot smaller than I noticed. I really thought there were going to be more things to do. And, I suppose there probably were, like the beer garden, but because I’m not a drinker… Yea.
So, it really was basically just a music festival with a lot of booths to shop at around, which was great! The crowd was huge for the main stage, even fairly early in the day. I arrived around 4 in the afternoon and it was pretty much a sea of bodies. I think most of the people were camping out to see Kesha.
In order to stave off anxiety, I pulled my camera out. Events are easier to navigate behind a camera. My face is hidden and people tend to think I’m with some sort of publication or the event itself and usually just ignore me. Although, unfortunately, I’m too shy to ask people if I can take their pictures and there are only so many pictures of the crowd I can take before it becomes monotonous.
The booths were the pretty standard fare. There were tons of food places which I didn’t eat at because the lines were atrocious and I’m too poor to pay $8 for a hotdog. And there were a lot of merchandise booths (but not as many as food booths) where one could buy various rainbow/queer/leather/kinky things.
I did a few laps weaving in and out of the crowd while window shopping. I would have loved to spend some money, but I’m already trying to clear things out as it is. And the only thing I was really incredibly interested in were some photography prints that I just couldn’t afford at the moment.
There were a few interesting things and faces I saw while I did my weaving, though.
The herd was pretty thick which wreaked havoc on my anxiety. Luckily, there were a few sparsely populated areas where I could break away and take a breather.
It also helped that I ran into a familiar face while I was there! Story time: I used to do Renaissance Faire until things like money and time became scarce and I ended up having a huge drama-llama filled falling out with old friends who are very active in the Faire scene. And it just so happened I ran into my former guild mistress!
After a couple laps of window shopping, I decided to head back to the stage to wait for my coworker who I was possibly meeting up with. The fact that he said I could hang out with him and his for a while is pretty much the only reason I sucked up the ovaries to go. Even though I knew I’d be spending the majority of the day on my own, just knowing that there was going to be someone else there who I knew and could meet up with if I needed to helped. He also has dealt with anxiety, so he totally understood and was really sweet about letting me chill even though he was hanging out with his *ahem* friend from LA who he doesn’t get to see often.
So, I sent him a quick text and he was still looking for parking, so I had a while to wait. I’ve been really into Pokemon Go recently and was lamenting not being able to play (I mean, I could have, but the game drains my battery like a sink and I didn’t want to be phone-less). And lo and behold, who to my wondering eyes should appear…
I deeply regret not getting his name and contact information, because this pretty much made my Pride. If anyone has any idea as to the true identity of San Diego Pride’s Ash Ketchum Pokemon cosplayer, let me know. This guy deserves due credit. And he was terribly kind about letting me take his picture even though he was with his friends.
After that my friend from work arrived and I managed to find him not far from where I was standing. He was having some issues clicking with the other work people he was waiting for and while he was waiting he wanted to go back to his car and get his shirt. He invited me along and I went, thinking, “Oh, fifteen, twenty minutes. What’s the big deal?”
To my out of shape self? Apparently very big deal. I felt so bad because he was being really nice inviting me to tag along with him even though we don’t know each other that well and I’m sure he’s got better things to do than babysit a 28-year-old femme with social anxiety. He didn’t abandon me even when I told him to go on without me and meet his friends when I had to stop and rest.
I’m really glad he didn’t, too, because I probably would have just headed home and then I wouldn’t have gotten to see Kesha.
Although, “see” is a relative term. Between being far, far in the back, and being behind the sound and lighting booth (which had a black mesh tarp on it), and the scores of people in front of us, and me being a shorty among this group of towering gay men, I could barely see anything. But I could hear it and it was magical.
It also started late, which was unfortunate, because I told my mom to come pick me up around 9:30. And honestly, even though I could have called and told her later, I didn’t want to be there any later than that. The show was a literally solid mass of people. People were trying to squeeze by through the three inches of space between one body and the next and it just wasn’t happening.
Being shoulder-to-shoulder with the people around me wasn’t terrible (well, not as terrible as I would have imagined) and I got a lot of breasts inadvertently shoved into my hands, which was awesome. But it was a clusterfuck and just sensory overload. I was relieved when my work friend and his group said they were going to start heading back up. We formed a train and barged our way through the crowd.
Aside: These dudes were amazing, by the way. Super friendly, even though I’m about a decade younger than they are and socially inept. My friend from work is this tall, buff guy. He lives at the gym pretty much and he goes surfing all the time. If you just looked at him, he’s not someone you want to mess with, but he is the nicest guy. So, he just “got butch” (his words) and pushed through the crowd. And another guy who was behind me was so funny as we went through saying, “Not sorry! Not sorry! We’re not sorry! Especially not sorry to you!”
It was a blast.
And then we went our separate ways and I came home.
I’m incredibly sore from the hiking I did. According to my Fitbit I walked almost four and a half miles. Which is about four miles more than I usually walk each day. But it was worth it!
I’m on the fence if it was fun enough to warrant going again next year. I think it would be a little more enjoyable if I had people to go with and spend the day with dancing and stuff. Also maybe if I went as one of those panty and pasties girls. But, aside from the music and eating, there also really wasn’t a lot to do.
But even if I decide not to go back, it’s definitely something I’m glad I did once.
I love you all.