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24 • BAY AREA REPORTER • January 5-11, 2017

Parading ourselves by Brian Bromberger

Pride Parades: How a Parade Changed the World by Katherine McFarland Bruce; NYU Press, $28 verybody loves a parade” is one of those unattributable quotes, yet it expresses a sentiment shared by most people. On June 28, 1970 in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (but not SF), 2,000 gay and lesbian activists tested this opinion by initiating a new kind of social protest by parading down the streets of their cities, celebrating who they were unashamedly and with lots of fun, buoyed by the revolutionary spirit of the Stonewall Riots the previous year. This became the blueprint for Pride parades for the next 46 years, where now more than six million people participate in 115 cities across the country. Katherine McFarland Bruce, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC, has written an ethnographic history of Pride from its beginnings in 1970 to 2010, weaving together interviews, archival reports, quantitative data, and her own observations at six diverse, contemporary parades in New York City, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Burlington, Fargo, and Atlanta. San Francisco, like Boston or LA, was not included, in spite of the fact that when Bruce told people she was researching Pride parades, their first question was, have you been to the one in SF? Bruce’s focus was not solely on large, well-known parades, but extended to the Pride phenomenon across the country, to


study whether modest parades have anything in common with the grand spectacle of NYC Pride. Protests come in two forms: one is political by changing state laws and policies, but the other is changing culture, which is the province of Pride parades. Despite LGBT people now having unprecedented political rights and cultural visibility, “encountering a tolerance today that the first Pride marchers could scarcely imagine, parades seek to change the heteronormative cultural meanings that render LGBT people symbolically inferior to heterosexuals.” Pride is not a frivolous public party, but a cultural protest communicating the message that queer identity is to be celebrated rather than condemned, through words (signs and slogans) and actions (cheering, dancing, staging, and provocative displays). How political parades should be has been argued from the very beginning. Contrary to pre-Stonewall activism, which sought to convey that gay and lesbian Americans were the same as anyone else, Pride parades had little regard for palatable images. “For the first time, gay people marched for themselves, as themselves, without downplaying the sexuality or gender nonconformity that mainstream culture condemned. They embodied the new gay liberation ethos of pride by literally parading in celebration of their identities, invoking a feeling of euphoria as they found the openness both liberating and fun.” Some critics argued that provocative images (which the media always focused on)

risked hardening individual cultural attitudes (mostly anti) about LGBT people. But Bruce points out that the chief goal was to challenge these negative cultural meanings, with the intent not to persuade individuals, but “to change the cultural understanding of what is acceptable behavior.” Pride really belongs to the marchers and spectators that participate, and there is a blurring between roles of marcher and spectator. In light of the advances the LGBT civil rights movement has made, capped by marriage equality, the question about Pride parades is whether they are still necessary. Bruce argues that parades will remain regardless of the progress of cultural or political equality. She believes Pride “will evolve into a benign community celebration with broad appeal, serving a special role in uniting LGBT people around a common history and identity,” similar to St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish. Bruce has produced an important study, but this book cannot be considered definitive due to several jarring exclusions. Bruce does address the big elephant in the room, namely the effect of commercialism in both its positive (as financial sponsors for expensive parades) and negative aspects (as a market to sell goods to the LGBT community), but her analysis is superficial. Commercialism will continue to be the prime bugaboo of Pride and merits its own chapter. Bruce also doesn’t mention the vitriolic debate in the 1980s/ early 90s about the inclusion of the pedophile group NAMBLA


as a parade contingent. Eventually NAMBLA was expelled, but since this goes to the heart of her argument that participants rather than leaders decide agenda, Bruce should have provided some discussion on this thorny topic. Finally, it seems incomprehensible that there is no

discussion of AIDS, which has became an important element in Pride. This is an inexcusable omission that mars what is otherwise a thoughtful accomplishment. When the history of the modern LGBT movement is written, Pride parades will have to be seen as an essential component.t

disco of Young Americans (“Fame”) and the groundbreaking Station to Station (“Golden Years”), presented in the original 1976 version as well as the 2010 Harry Maslin mix – Who Can I Be Now? is a fitting title. The set includes live recordings, two versions of 1974’s David Live and Live Nassau Coliseum 76 and a disc of single edits and live versions. Of special interest is The Gouster, a previously unreleased album of songs (“Young Americans,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me”) that went on to become the Young Americans album. Released prior to Paul McCartney’s latest return to Capitol Records, the double-disc collection Pure McCartney (MPL/Concord) features 39 tracks. McCartney has had only four career compilations: 1978’s Wings Greatest, 1987’s All the Best, 2001’s Wingspan and now Pure McCartney. The tracks have been curated by Sir Paul, and more than half of the tunes are from his hit-laden 1970s period: “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “With a Little Luck.”

Superstar duets “Ebony and Ivory” (with Stevie Wonder) and “Say Say Say” (with the late Michael Jackson) represent the 80s. There are also a few songs from the 90s and numbers as recent as “My Valentine” and “Save Us” from 2012’s Kisses on the Bottom and 2013’s New. But albums Press To Play, Driving Rain and Flowers in the Dirt are overlooked. If you’re looking for a more thorough experience, spring for the 67-track, four-disc Pure McCartney set. You just never know who’s going to get the deluxe reissue treatment. Take The Verve, a band whose heyday coincided with the 1990s British invasion led by Oasis and Blur. Twentyone years after its initial release, The Verve’s second album A Northern Soul (Virgin/Universal) has been reissued in a deluxe triple-disc box set including the remastered album, a disc of EP B-sides, a previously unreleased disc of studio and BBC sessions, a poster, postcards and a book. The Verve didn’t hit it big in the States until its third album Urban Hymns, and its massive hit single “Bittersweet Symphony,” but listening to A Northern Soul can give listeners background. Standout tracks are “History,” “On Your Own” and “Drive You Home.” Elvis Presley has been dead almost 40 years and somehow there’s enough material to be mined for a new release, the double-disc Way Down in the Jungle Room (RCA/ Legacy). A compilation of The King’s final studio recordings, recorded in 1976 in Graceland’s den, aka the Jungle Room, with members of his longtime touring band, the set includes songs that appeared on From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee and Moody Blue. Highlights include Elvis’ renditions of “She Thinks I Still Care,” “Hurt,” “Danny Boy,” “Solitaire” and “It’s Easy for You.”t

Presents from the past by Gregg Shapiro


f you are still in search of the perfect gift for the musiclover on your list, even after the holidays, here are suggestions for that special someone, even if that special someone is you. Vinyl variety: Originally released on CD in 2007, the live Judy Garland compilation Greatest Hits Live (Savoy Jazz) makes its vinyl debut on pink vinyl, no less! Comprised of 14 legendary performances from the diva’s 1963-64 musical variety TV series, it features staples from her repertoire “The Man That Got Away,” “Swanee,” “Smile,” “What’ll I Do” and, of course, “Over the Rainbow.” Particularly delightful are duets with Ray Bolger (“If I Only Had a Brain”), Tony Bennett (“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”), and the now classic 1963 pairing with Barbra Streisand on “Get Happy”/”Happy Days Are Here Again.” The vinyl for the 40th anniversary reissue of Diana Ross’ eponymous 1976 Motown album may not be pink (it’s black), but it’s beloved by her queer fans. The now-famous cover photo, taken by legendary gay photographer Victor Skrebneski, on which Ross gave good face, sets the mood for what’s inside. Album opener “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going?)” became a standard for drag queens around the globe. Ballads such “I Thought It Took a Little Time (But Today I Fell in Love)” and “After You” also showed Ross at her best. The almost eight-minute “Love Hangover,” Ross’ crossover disco sensation (heard in Looking for Mr. Goodbar) that made her a full-fledge disco diva, paved the way for later club classics “The Boss,” “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out.” This 40-year-old album sounds as timeless as ever. The fourth of Fleetwood Mac’s

multi-platinum studio albums, 1982’s Mirage (WB), has been reissued in a marvelous expanded deluxe edition, including the original LP on 180 gram vinyl, three CDs and one DVD audio disc. In addition to two massive hit singles, Christine McVie’s “Hold Me” and Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy,” Mirage found the band returning to the more commercially accessible sound of 1977’s Rumours, although traces of 1979’s Tusk can be heard in Lindsey Buckingham tunes “Empire State,” “Book of Love” and “Can’t Go Back.” Nicks also shines on “Straight Back” and sweet country emotion of “That’s Alright.” The second disc features 20 “outtakes & sessions” and includes the Mac’s cover of Bob Nolan’s “Cool Water,” previously available on the second edition of the Revenge of the Killer B’s compilation. The third disc was recorded live at the Forum in LA in 1982, and the DVD audio presents Mirage in 5.1 Surround and 24/96 Stereo Audio. Learn (Frontier) by Rikk Agnew Band, on 180-gram vinyl, is a new

album with deep roots in the past. Agnew, the singer-songwriter of influential 1980s O.C. hardcore punk band The Adolescents and Goth outfit Christian Death, is still a brutal force to be reckoned with. But don’t be fooled by the hopeful tone of the anthemic, accessible opener “I Can’t Change the World” – Agnew hasn’t softened in the least. “Ripped to the Tits” is a cautionary tale about excess and moderation. “Bash!” confronts police violence, and the title track asks “What the hell is wrong with society?” “Punkbelly” introduces us to a frightening new kind of ailment. Discs by the numbers: When the David Bowie box set Five Years 1969-1973 was released in 2015, he was still alive. The second installment in the CD box set series, Who Can I Be Now? [1974-1976] (Parlophone), proves that time, like Bowie, changes with the subtlety of a chameleon, arriving as it does eight months after Bowie’s passing. Focusing on three studio albums – the glammy Diamond Dogs (“Rebel Rebel,” “1984”), the Philly soul/

January 5, 2017 Edition of the Bay Area Reporter  

The undisputed newspaper of record for the San Francisco Bay Area LGBT community and the oldest continuously-published gay newspaper in the...

January 5, 2017 Edition of the Bay Area Reporter  

The undisputed newspaper of record for the San Francisco Bay Area LGBT community and the oldest continuously-published gay newspaper in the...