Jeremiah Hein on “popping his WeHo Pride Cherry”, the eye of Horus, and keeping an eye out for a Brokeback Ennis or Jack.
Popping My WeHo Pride Cherry
The scene was 2005. I was 21 and had just joined a flock of fairies who I served at Denny’s. They were exactly what I needed being a new gay in a new town from a small quiet town called Oceanside, Ca. That year, I got my first tattoo, an Egyptian Eye of Horus (now every gay has one) on my chest, and I bleached my hair blonde looking like the gay rapper Feminem.
They brought me out and about and showed me what it was to be gay. We called ourselves “Hoefest”, and I was deemed The Godmother (probably because I was the oldest in the bunch, or the most likely to be connected to the mob).
In addition, our Godfather, or leader of the gay wolfpack, named everyone after their dicks. He named me, “Otterpop”. To this day, I don’t know why, but you remember those popsicles that taste so good…? I guess that’s why.
I was super excited to go to Weho Pride with Hoefest, since I’d never been. I had only experienced San Diego Pride and Long Beach Pride. West Hollywood was a special place to go to and you always felt like somebody there. Rage was…well, all the rage. Tigerheat was… well, turning up the heat. And DJ Ray Rhodes was…well, the road to a good time.
So it was fitting that I was introduced to Pride in WeHo. The Parade was one of the best I’ve ever seen. So many floats. So many hot guys. And so many cries of absolute elation, pride, and sexuality—a sexuality so fierce, that even the homophobes with their tired old signs could not pierce through the unity of a community that has been so discriminated against, muted, and thrown in the shadows. For one day our rainbow light would shine so bright it’d burst through all of California and turn the dark into light.
While it was fun watching the parade, I was getting tired of merely watching and wanted to do something, so we were eager to enter the festival. Mind you, the festival loop was small, smaller than San Diego, and way smaller than Long Beach, but for some reason, it was bigger than both. Maybe it was the men. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the season, or the reason, but for me, I was in heaven.
I remember walking through the loop with my friends singing Madonna’s Sorry, because that song was in my head for that whole summer. I remember being shirtless and thinking, I’m gonna get a nice tan after this sunburn, but the pain is worth the beauty.
My friend and I stumbled into a room where there were gay cowboys line dancing. Sure, there weren’t any Brokeback Ennises or Jacks, but nonetheless, it showed me that there were different slices of gay life than the pop infused twink stratosphere that I belonged to and loved. We left as soon as we went in because we didn’t belong, but as my friend dragged me out, I looked back and wanted to get a taste of that cornfed country bumpkin life.
Later I would figure out that that brand of gay, was one of my types, but I couldn’t admit that then nor did I know it then. That’s what Pride does, it teaches you about yourself and about your likes and dislikes and how that is dynamic and organic and can change and transform with experiences.
We ended the night going to Rage which was always fantastic. I hooked up obviously, because that’s what we did. I’ll always remember Weho Pride being the one that showed me that I liked gay Cowboys and I’m not sorry for that…even if I still dance to Madonna’s Sorry. Whenever I hear that song, I am catapulted back to Weho Pride 2005.
Catch Jeremiah Hein on the web series The Garden of Steven on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-nZqAdJjWE&t=360s.
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