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Pride - rainbows and flamingos here we come!

After a weekend of Independence Day pool parties, nights out at Rich’s and relaxing, I think I am ready to tackle the San Diego Pride season.

Ricky and I were driving last night and I asked him if he realized that our favorite time of the year was just a week away. Yes, next week is Pride Week in San Diego and I’m trying to get myself all rainbowed-up and ready for the glittery mess that will ensue.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, it has been tough for me to get into the “Pride Spirit” this year. In past years, you could have probably called me “Mr. Pride San Diego” and not been too far off. I would begin proclaiming “Happy Pride” right around the time of Long Beach Pride (third week of May), celebrate National Pride Month all of June and cover my house with rainbow flags and pink flamingos around July 1.

Speaking of pink flamingos, the fabulous proprietors of Urban Mo’s/Baja Betty’s/Gossip Grill have made these a symbol of Pride in San Diego and within the next couple of days, these establishments will be adorned with them (Gossip Grill already has them up). Everyone will want one and will do all sorts of things to steal them from one of these restaurants.

By Pride Sunday, flocks of poor, deflated pink flamingos will start to appear in gutters and trees throughout Hillcrest marking the end of Pride (you may also find flocks of drunken gays passed out in gutters and against trees throughout the ‘hood). Why Mo’s, Inc. decided to make the pink flamingo a legendary symbol of Pride is something I do not know, but it is fabulous and a true sign of San Diego Pride.

By the way, instead of trying to steal a pink flamingo from the palm trees in front of Mo’s, you can just head down to any Party City store and buy one for $1.49.

While I have yet to adorn my house with everything gay, I am slowly getting into the spirit. The rainbow flag rose high above San Diego State University last Thursday, along with a beautiful rainbow flag image on the high wall of the Hard Rock Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. These were both beautiful sights that got me excited for Pride.

Of course, as a volunteer coordinator for San Diego Pride, I have been busy preparing for my role within the weekend celebration, but it just hasn’t felt the same this year.

I’ve tried to understand why I have been in this “Pride funk” and just can’t figure it out.

Maybe it’s the cold weather? I associate unbearingly hot days with Pride and we just haven’t had one of those yet (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Maybe I’m 30 now and Pride has a new meaning to me, different than when I was younger. Maybe I’ve just been to too many Prides?

Regardless, I keep reminding myself of how important this weekend is and what it ultimately means in our community’s struggle. Beyond the go-go boys, drag queens and glittering glory that overtakes Hillcrest on the third weekend of July each year, Pride is also our time to stand up, be proud and let the world know that the gays in San Diego demand equality, gosh darnit!

On that note, as you walk around the Pride Festival this year, take a moment to look beyond just the booths that have sexy models, alcohol and free giveaways. There will be a number of local and national organizations that will be giving away a wealth of information about what they do and how you can help.

Because I consider Pride to be the “Gay New Year,” I encourage you to consider getting involved with one of these organizations. There is no advocacy organization I know of that has enough help – so help them out!

By next week, I am certain that I will be all gayed-up and ready to rock it - San Diego Pride style. My week will start off on Tuesday, July 13 at SDPIX’s “Dirty Jock Party” at the Flame and go downhill from there.

Pride will be fun, Pride will be messy and Pride will be meaningful. I just need to get into the groove!

Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".