Reflections ….. Summer of ’88

Long before Rite Aid adorned our communal-hood, the parking lot of Mayfair (also known as “Gayfair”) was the site of the Pride parade’s reviewing stand. On the adjacent corners were the famous Chicken Pie Shop and The Brass Rail, San Diego’s oldest gay bar. It was from that corner that I viewed my first Pride parade along with my two young daughters.

That year’s theme was “Here.and Here to Stay!” My wish was to do just that. It had been a difficult year for our little family. We were new in town, trying to fit into a community that would accept me as a single, gay dad. Amenities now commonplace were lacking then. There was no societal support for men with kids. There were no changing stations in men’s bathrooms. My girls weren’t allowed in the boys’ fitting rooms, and I was barred from theirs.

The gay dad’s group was disappointing. Surprisingly, I was the only member of the organization with sole physical custody of his kids. Instead of support, being the new meat in town, I encountered unwanted sexual advances.

On that Saturday in June, the girls and I were enjoying the diversity of a wonderful parade. A vivid recollection was the solemn pause when 6,000 lavender and white balloons were released in memory of lives lost to AIDS. Soon after, a man next to me wondered aloud why anyone would bring his kids to Pride? “Probably because everybody loves a parade?” I retorted, but he didn’t think it was “a place for kids.”

Following the parade, we attended the Pride festival (held in the old Navy Hospital parking lot). Helen Reddy was the headliner, but the highlight for me was meeting Queen Eddie who instantly became a friend. After sharing my challenges, he offered his usual astute advice: If you’re ever stranded on the freeway, just make sure you have on tight pants, honey. Someone will help you. You will survive.

He was right. We have survived. Actually, thrived. Thank you, Queen Eddie.

About the author:
Mike Lamb is still motivated by Eddie Conlon who lost his life to cancer in 2002.