This past Saturday my son and his best friend (both 12) and I loaded up the wagon and headed southeast to Providence, RI for the city’s 36th annual Pride Festival. I had spent the days leading up to the even assembling bags of book swag to give away at our vendor booth.
I was delighted to have the greatest variety ever for an event like this, with goodies from
and Eden Winters
(I hope I didn’t miss anyone!)I was excited to have I also had books more publishers than ever to display and to sell, so I felt like I had Shawn & Lorna from Torquere Press, Radclyffe of Bold Strokes Books, and Cecilia Tan from Circlet Press along for the event. Torquere even came through with a coupon code for RI Pride attendees and all proceeds from book sales going to It Gets Better!
When I started taking books to Pride events in 2008, I spent a lot of time talking up new media and ebooks. In those days, folks seemed to be still reeling from the erosion of GLBT bookstores and publishers and wanted to know where to find books — any books — that told stories along the GLBTQ spectrum.
This time around I found that folks were hip to ebooks and the new small presses. What they wanted to know about was new publishing models and how to find great books online. From a marketing perspective, that’s my takeaway from RI Pride:help your readers find books they’ll love by cutting through the thicket of the giant esellers and steering them toward more boutique etailers. This may be no news to some, of course.
As always, I have great conversations at Pride, and this year my standout chat was with the charming ginger co-proprietor of Burlyshirts.comwho was not only super sweet (and so solidly in love that I wanted to bring every flighty young thing I’d met earlier in the day over to show them how it’s done) but really encouraging about ways small businesses within the GLBT community can support each other.
The parade in the evening is a nighttime affair, illuminated and uplifting. While my twelve-year-olds perched on a trashcan to see better, they got several supportive comments from passersby who thought they were boyfriends (they’re not). I stood beside a friendly stranger, a gay man about my age (no, not telling) and we cheered and wept and pointed out the creative touches on various floats (a pair of steel balls dangling from the trailer hitch of one pickup was my fave). I had to take my glasses off and wipe away tears when a huge and exuberant contingent of Youth Pride passed by. We’ve come so far, though not far enough, you know? I gave a watery smile to my new friend, who totally got it, and a reassuring thumbs-up to my kids, who — blessedly — didn’t.
I love Pride!