Saturday, July 30, 2011

Points of Pride

It's Pride Weekend in Vancouver, which means tomorrow I can take the kids to the West End to see spangled parade floats full of hairy gay men in assless chaps flagellating each other with foot-long purple dildos.

The Vancouver Sun is getting into the spirit of things with their weekend edition. There's a column explaining why hairy men in assless chaps flagellating each other with dildos came to be a Pride Parade staple (it has to do with irony and self-parody), and a number of other related stories, including an interesting history of the storied Davie Street neighborhood and how it's becoming less gay-centric. Ron Dutton, who is described as an archivist for the B.C. gay and lesbian communities is quoted as saying that nowadays...
There are gay Buddhists and gay volleyball and gay knitting. There's a gay antique car club...So now you can be a part of your community with ever darkening the door of a bar or an overt gay business.
The way I see it, the visitor in this idiom is blocking the light at an open threshold, so I always thought the expression should be "darkening the doorway." Darkening a door just doesn't make sense in that context. And it's interesting to note that although there are plenty of sources that list the "darkening the door" idiom (going back to Ben Franklin),and offer a definition, none that I found provided an explanation for the metaphor. There are, of course, a number of citations for "darkening the doorway" as well, including this from a test of English idioms:
"Get out of here, Jed! First you show up drunk, then you hit on my wife and then you insult my son. Get out of here and don't come back! Never darken my doorway again!" An irate Matt told him.
Correct answer: (c) doorway
So I suppose we can deduce that either version has a respectable claim, but I'm sticking with my "doorway" preference. We can also deduce that Jed is an asshole.

But back to the Weekend Extra section of the Sun. A few pages on, there is another story, this one about how, many years ago, the owner of Joe's Cafe on Commercial Drive asked a lesbian couple to stop kissing, and how a rival (lesbian-friendly) cafe opened nearby in response. The story begins with this puzzling sentence:
A decade ago, Pat Hogan opened up Josephine's Cappuccino Bar and Wimmin's Crafts just off Commercial Drive as a place for lesbians to grab a cappuccino and, if they wanted, each other's hands or lips.
I'm certainly no expert on the amorous techniques of the urban lesbian, but this idea of them reaching out and gripping each other's lips strikes me as unlikely behavior, even for the really butch ones who ride the motorcycles topless in the parade.