IT'S THE ONLY TIME I CAN KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE, HONESTLY. I’ve done improv, I’ve acted, when I’ve been on television, everyone asks why I (unwittingly) smirk so much, but through years of practice, there’s only one performance I have ever been able to repeat. It happens every couple of weeks, someone will have a sly or shy smile, someone I’ve met or someone I’ve known for a while, they’ll say, “Hey… Did you know you have a parade every June? The…” They pause. “Y’know?” They want me to finish their sentence. “Y’know! The Ray Pride Parade?” And then they grin as if it’s the freshest pun on the face of mirth, and I react, the same performance, through rehearsal and repletion, “Oh god. In all these years! Surely I’d! You! My God, you are good. You’re funny. The. Ray. Pride. Parade. No. No, I’ve never heard that. Haha. Haha.” “It’s a made-up name, right, it’s a great name, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not your real name, is it?” And I have to explain it’s my mother’s middle name, and how my middle name is my father’s middle name, so watch where you’re stepping, mister, or sister. The only fresh twist after hearing that a hundred times or more was the time that Newcity was participating in some Halsted Street event and a promotions person asked if it’d be okay for there to be a sign, “You’ve Got Gay Pride, We’ve Got Ray Pride.” And as it goes with most bad ideas, I said right away, sure, yes, please, so long as I never have to see the sign or any pictures of it. I have enough Ray Pride issues as it is.
[Originally published in a slightly different form in Newcity, 22 June 2005.]