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Over exposure

Lezlie Lowe strips down for the Pride Parade.

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Confession: I find buttless chaps a turn-on.

Clarification: the naked underneath kind, I mean, not cowboy-style with jeans.

Sad fact: I only ever get to see in-the-flesh buttless chaps at Pride parades.

Much more sad fact: I’m not actually turned on by the gay leather men who wear them, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

So please, boys, listen to your hearts and give me what I’m looking for this Saturday at the Halifax Pride parade.

I’m not saying everyone will be happy. Certainly not. At a national Pride organizers’ conference held in Halifax last April, the issue of nudity (and that’s not limited to bum cheeks) came up during a panel discussion when a Halifax-based gay grandfather recounted his grandson’s lack of comfort with Pride parade skin-showing.

Bob Fougere was just about as respectful in his objections as you can imagine, suggesting a balance needs to be found between “rights and responsibilities.” But his comments—a small part of a reportedly lively panel—made international headlines as a rift in the gay “community.”

Funny that, given nudity is by no means a new conversation among Pride coordinators like Halifax’s Hugo Dann.

Dann, Halifax Pride Week co-chair, says states of undress are an issue for every pride committee across the country. “We have children, we are children, we have parents, we like to share our events with our straight friends and neighbours and our families. So of course this comes up.”

Is the answer segregation? Yes. And that’s easy enough to figure out—the family picnic is a fun bring-the-little-ones event. Naked week at Seadogs Sauna isn’t for your three-year-old nephew. But everyone loves a parade. It’s the place to see and be seen during Pride Week, no matter whether you’re 8 or 80, gay or straight, buttoned-down or buttless.

Hugo Dann is as diplomatic as all get out when he’s talking about this tricky little problem (and it is a sticky one, because, really, how can you respect people’s freedom to be themselves while you’re telling them you’re offended by whom they want to be?). He says the Pride committee demands parade participants abide by Nova Scotia’s laws when it comes to nudity (men can’t be full-frontal nude; nor can women, and they must have tops).

“What more can you do?” Dann says. “I believe that if you give people freedom and you advise them in relation to that freedom, people will behave responsibly.”

Besides, he says, “Here in Nova Scotia, it’s such a happy experience. It’s such a good time. The people who might cause offence are so few and far between. And it’s only might cause offence. I honestly question whether there is anything seriously offensive in the parade.”

What about the chaps? “Are buttless chaps outrageous?” he says. “They don’t offend me.

“Some of the drag queens’ fashion choices are what’s outrageous,” he says, laughing.

Personally, I could do without seeing another feather boa in this lifetime, but all in all, I’m with co-chair Dann. If you’re going to the Pride parade, you need to know what to expect. And that’s pretty much anything—mums and babies, dads and teenage sons, drag queens and bears, transgendered people, straight-but-not-narrow men, some leatherwear, some skin.

So bring on the buttless chaps if that’s what floats your boat, because Pride Week is all about celebrating who you are. And at the parade, you need only worry about pleasing yourself. (And me, boys. Don’t forget about me.)

What are you wearing to the parade? Email: lezliel@thecoast.ca

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