Pride in Their Own Words: Jaime Woo
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Pride in Their Own Words: Jaime Woo

Jaime is a Toronto writer who has covered the local queer community since 2007 (at times for Torontoist). He is currently working on a non-fiction book about hook-up services called Gaming Grindr, due out in September 2012. Here, as part of a special Pride Week series of posts, he describes what Pride means to him.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Woo.

I love Pride.

I know many people who don’t. And sure, Pride isn’t perfect. But I enjoy the festivities using the same coping mechanisms I’ve developed for weddings and conferences. Attend the parts you enjoy, hang out with your friends, find out where the booze is—especially if it’s free—and spend the remainder of your time on Twitter.

Let me share a few items on my itinerary. I plan on visiting a bathhouse by Sunday, given that the police raids on several bathhouses just over 30 years ago instigated the protests and rallies that led to the Pride movement. Spa Excess has programmed a bout of erotic wrestling on Thursday, which I don’t actually find erotic but am curious to see live. Otherwise, I’m interested in seeing how the spa goes about giving away meatball sandwiches at midnight on Saturday. I’m assuming that nothing erotic happens with the sandwiches, but I could be wrong. (The idea of gourmet meatball sandwiches actually would pull me into the bathhouse more often, but that might just be me.)

Grindr, the popular cruising app, is helping promote a party on Friday at Fly, which I think will be a fun sociological excursion. I love the fact that technology now allows us to cruise men anywhere there’s a cellular signal. Where once men hid in the bushes under cover of night, now they neatly line up in a grid for anyone with access to a smartphone.

Sex has always helped drive innovation in technology: the availability of pornography on VHS won the cassette wars of the 1980s. I’ve often joked that a gay man likely invented the wheel so that he could get to his hookup quicker.

My post-drinking food is pulled pork from Poutini’s, which is across town in Queen West. That is gonna be one hell of an inebriated stumble.

I’ve left much of the weekend open, since I assume there will be a host of barbeques and condo parties to attend. Well, at least I hope so. (I haven’t checked my Facebook events that far ahead yet.) These get-togethers are an opportunity to catch up with friends, as well as to avoid the massively overpriced drinks in the Village. One of those franchised pubs once wanted to charge me $3 for a club soda. That was when I decided to start bringing a flask of that, too.

The Parade on Sunday will be fun to watch for a little bit. I hope to take photos of all the Asian families taking photos. This will be the day I walk up and down Church Street, just like everyone else. In fact, I’ll do about three laps and then call it a day. I don’t understand why people avoid the area: as a proud Torontonian, I have to show tourists what the city has to offer, right? It just isn’t Pride without some American nineteen-year-old, happy to be legally drunk off his gourd, sloppily trying to hit on me. This year, I’m sure I’ll get Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” annoyingly stuck in my head. I will bump into people I sorta know again and again and again and it will slowly go from awkward to hilarious.

By the end of the Pride festivities, I’ll be sunburnt, dehydrated, and sleep-deprived. I’ll have given many, many hugs to friends, lovers, and strangers. Ever the tech nerd, I’ll be asking everyone obsessively what they think of services like Grindr, Scruff, and Squirt, and talking about how those services have totally, absolutely, changed things. (Or not.) And before bed that last night, I’ll reflect on the adventures of the past few days and think about how lucky I am to be in a progressive city like Toronto, where I can live openly throughout the year.