Saturday, August 16, 2008

As Paris Hilton Would Say, "Hot.", today is the third triple-digit day in a row for Portland, which is highly unusual. We usually see 100 degrees somewhere in August, but this is a little intense. Fortunately it's slated to drop to the upper 80s tomorrow and the low '70s on Monday.

Still, in the meantime, there's no question about the most popular spot in the apartment.

I have not (yet) taken a single vacation day this entire summer (too much to do!), but Thursday morning between fits of feeling like I wanted to cry I decided maybe I should ask for Monday off. I found a cheap hotel room for tomorrow and Monday night out at the coast, so I'm just going to drive out after church, spend the night, and then take all day Monday to do, oh, nothing.

A while back I promised you a live-blogging roadtrip event for Hermiston, Oregon's first-ever Gay Pride. Umm...I didn't really get around to that. Co-traveler SMB live-blogged (as best he could, given spotty wireless access) on the JustOut webpage -- read here for details. (No, I did not go with him to the strip club. Honest.)

Here's where we stayed. "Tillicum" is a ubiquitous local Native American word, but I have no idea what it means. I confess that, churchgoer that I am, I picked the motel for its dirty, punny connotation. (And the $50/night rate...which, I have to say, was possibly a little inflated, given the amenities.)

Actually, we had a great time. For dinner Friday night, we ate at the first-ever Shari's Restaurant, which was founded in Hermiston, and had truly excellent table service. Breakfast the next morning was at a new restaurant in Umatilla (home of a chemical weapons dump), and while the waffle was excellent, the water was not; and I think the waitress was not entirely sure what to make of two men not in cowboy hats who whiled away the time until the food came by browsing the restaurant's antiques for sale.

Afterward I followed SMB around for some [wo]man-on-the-street interviews, and ended up buying some homemade lavender soap from a friendly, gray-haired lady who said, "It's okay with me if people choose to be gay [!!!], but I don't think Hermiston is ready for any 'New-York-style' protests." I don't think she has anything at all to worry about. As we walked away, SMB remarked that he wasn't sure she even comprehended that we ourselves were queers, despite the fact that I'd talked to her about living in New York and yoga and...well, I bought a lavender soap from her.

"Hermiston Pride" never really got off the ground. First, I guess "Pride" was judged to be a tad ambitious, so it was retitled "Equality Day." The "event" was co-hosted by Western Farm Workers and the Society of Friends, who were there to protest the Iraq war (and had an amazingly powerful Tibetan prayer-flag display).

Hermiston was represented by the local organizer, his mother, and one 18 year old girl who came up to me and said, "So...are you...G, L, T, B...?" I smiled and said, "Oh, I'm G, very, very G." She smiled back and said, "I'm B...which stands for 'bitch.'" I liked her immediately and immensely. Aside from that, the entire turnout consisted of two guys from local organizations in Portland (one of whom was beautiful but clad in a most unfortunate hawaiian-print shirt), a lesbian MCC minister from the Tri-Cities (Pasco/Richland/Kennewick), SMB from JustOut, and a reporter from Spokane's local gay paper. I don't think a single random person from the greater Hermiston metropolitan area even came by. I snapped this picture of a rainbow flag in the park where 'pride' was held because it seemed to me to perfectly encapsulate the flaccid nature of the entire day.

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