TIJUANA.- Previously having been to West Hollywood and Hillcrest's gay bars and festivals, Tijuana Pride was not as wild as I had envisioned. It is a step forward for the gay community in Tijuana, but there's still a lot of space for growth. The big banner in Plaza Santa Cecilia, by the welcoming arch known as "El Reloj" on Revolution Ave, stated that the 5th Annual Tijuana Pride show started at 7:00 pm and ended at 9:00 pm, Saturday 21st, but did not mention anything about a parade. In turn, I did not come out of my apartment before a parade had already passed through in downtown. However, an Israeli artist that was staying as my guest, went out and saw the action.
"Fake zebras, proud queens, real queers and free condoms" - The artist posted on his Facebook.
"It was crazy, there were a couple of floats and it looked like a normal gay parade, except the audience was all families," the artist tells me when he got back and I was getting ready to go out to see the pride show.
There were, without doubt, several gay gentlemen in the audience. But not the overwhelming cock-in-your-face dancing, that as a straight man makes me walk out of most gay scenarios. I was expecting debauchery, which there was a small share of, but what I wasn't expecting was the amount of women and children in the audience.
Seemingly straight women held their cameras and smartphones as two male strippers from Ensenada danced around only wearing thongs (that almost got ripped off), while a drag-queen dressed as a beauty pageant winner acted as host. Having previously ventured inside the gay bars in the area, I could already imagine what was going on. Instead, I opted for the classics: Nelson's and Turistico. In one of them I found a friend's birthday party, while the pride show was still going on right outside the double doors. The bar continued its regular cantina mood with a jukebox playing customers' choice in tune with plenty of caguama drinking, not affected by the pride show outside.
Plaza Santa Cecilia kept imitator after imitator entertaining with Laura León, Jenny Rivera, and other artists I could not recognize, while I was going from birthday party to pride parade to recalibrate my sexual barometer. Walking amongst the crowd were dozens of drag queens, most with banners proclaiming them "Miss Universe" or "Miss Baja California." Also, one dressed like Malifecent that seemed to be a big hit (including with the kids) and Rainbow Brite, who held hands with a balding man. Plenty of tourists around, including one grey haired man with a marriage equality t-shirt touting the US map.
Cops were on the scene taking beer cans from unsuspecting drunks that were never sanctioned to be partaking outside the bars, but no arrests were made. The show went on for thirty more minutes, longer than advertised, with a Gloria Trevi imitator as the last act. The official after party was at Ranchero Bar and all the surrounding gay bars, where most likely the real debauchery happened, but I was (incidentally) not there to witness it.
The official TijuanaPride website (Funds and Assistance against AIDS), reports the success of their event. They also mention that they had a smear campaign on social media against them, but that they would rather not discuss these sort of things since at the end, they have more support from at least a generous sampling of the people of Tijuana.