The first homoparaad went off without a hitch, but last years romp through the medieval capital made Tallinn look like Riga as boneheads assaulted paraders with sticks and stones. It was messy and left an unsavory taste in everyone's mouth, including Estonian journalism godfather Priit Pullerits who recently questioned the need for such a parade:
The purpose of the parade is to display eccentric behavior so it’s understandable that gay activists don’t want to gather in a forest or at a lake, where they can come together without annoying others. This is about the vociferous proclamation of sexual content in public. But one’s sexual preferences are a personal issue that doesn’t need to be rubbed in your fellow citizens’ faces. The organisers claim the parade is necessary to remind people of the existence of their homosexual fellow human beings, however I don’t believe there’s a single person in Estonia who doubts the existence of homosexual tendencies.Pullerits' op-ed piece drew a response from Queerty, a New York-based snarky online news source that took issue with both Estonia and Pullerits' more than famous vuntsid. "Because people already know gays exist, they should become invisible? What year are we living in? We understand Estonia isn’t the most up-to-date country on the planet (see Pullerits’ picture), but this shit’s ridiculous," commented Queerty.
Pullerits' style is indeed timeless. I happened to pick up the debut issue of Favoriit from 1993 or so last summer and Pullerits was rocking the vuntsid all the way back then. In fact, I think I am safe in saying that Pullerits does not look like he has aged one day since that photo was taken in 1993. It is quite striking.
But, even though I am terrified of the international gay press, I will say that Priit has a point. It could be a tad disconcerting to see transvestites walking down your street. And it could also cause a 'what year are we living in' moment. Transvestites -- the most noticeable participants in any gay parade -- were edgy back in 1975 -- the year The Rocky Horror Picture Show came out. Elton John in the duck costume? That was 30 years ago.
The bottomline is that transvestite is played out. It's as new wave as capezio shoes. It's as done as disco and it is not really coming back. It lives on in Amsterdam and New York the same way hair metal lives on in Los Angeles and parts of Pennsylvania. And why don't transvestites meet at lakes rather than on public streets for their gatherings? What do gays have against lakes? Point to Pullerits.
On the other hand, if said gays and their de rigeur transvestite accompaniment are so lacking in edginess, if they are so *yawn* boring, then why should we care if they have a parade once a year to feel good about themselves? Other people get to parade right? (Well, not in Estonia), but you get the picture. The Estonian government recently moved a statue just so Red Army veterans could have a more peaceful place to pay respect to the dead. And you are telling me they shouldn't permit a gay parade?
See, supporting the gay parade doesn't mean you like guys like Ru Paul parading down the street, it just means that you don't mind guys like Ru Paul parading down the street. That, in a nutshell, is tolerance. And that is why I am very much in favor of this year's homoparaad going off without a hitch and making the Estonian organizers feel very much superior to their Latvian counterparts. Because if Estonians can feel better than Latvia and gays can feel good about themselves, then everyone wins, even Pullerits.