Panic! at the gay pride parade, or “It’s raining men, hallelujah”

Now that I’ve changed out of my dripping clothes and have blow-dried my portable electronics (both my Treo and my iPod still work, thank goodness), I can tell you the tale of Nashville Gay Pride 2007 – which may become known as the year the festival almost drowned in drama. No, really!

Karsten and I had just returned to the festival after slipping away to munch on some black bean nachos at Calypso Cafe (note to organizers: there aren’t nearly enough vegetarian food options at Pride), when big, fat raindrops started falling. That didn’t seem to be deterring the guy with the rainbow mohawk (yes, I wish I’d taken a picture, too) so it wasn’t going to deter us either. We made our way through the exhibitor tents, waving hi to David Briley in his own Briley for Mayor campaign booth, and came upon our attraction at any festival: the greyhounds.

It also happened to be raining a little harder at that point, and we heard the first clap of thunder, so we ducked under the booth’s canopy to pet the pups, and that’s when the skies started to break loose. Rain was pouring down, so we tried to help the greyhound organization volunteers gather up their brochures and photo displays, but everything started happening faster and faster, rain beating on the tent overhead, dumping in on us in sideways sheets, wind picking up, the festival noises growing dramatically louder as the crowds took cover and volunteers battened down their supplies.

But suddenly it was like waves in the ocean crashing over us, all the force of wind and rain combining to rip tent canopies from their posts, and everyone scrambling to hold on to the posts and the chairs and the tables, which were all blowing over and blowing away, and with one tent canopy gone, as many humans and dogs as could fit crammed under one tent. The dogs looked panicked but stayed impressively calm — just shaky. But so did all the humans nearby. The rain was driving into us so hard I had to turn my face away, but then my glasses nearly blew off, so I had to hold on to them with one hand and hold on to the tent post with the other, the whole time wondering whether lightning would strike the tents, or whether a tornado would blow us all away before that could happen. My breathing was too shallow and I knew I was risking hyperventilating, but I couldn’t calm myself down. Thick branches were hitting the ground from the old-growth trees all around us, and papers blew past and stuck to every surface.

Finally the rain and wind died down enough for everyone to calm down, and we all started looking around at what an utter mess the park had become. It was still raining and there was still thunder and lightning, so we all stayed put, but some folks started talking through the shock of it all, asking what the hell just happened, wondering if anyone had been hurt, wondering if the people and equipment at the sound stages were alright, and so on.

Eventually we braved the rain to get back to our car and come home, figuring we were already so wet we couldn’t get any wetter. We still couldn’t tell if anyone had been injured, but there didn’t seem to be any big localized commotions where anything terrible might have happened.


I can’t say for sure, but you can probably see why my guess is that this will overshadow any other drama that might have happened at Pride today. I also predict that there will be a lot of “near-death-experience”-inspired hookups as a result of this storm. And in a way, that outcome is as good as any rainbow.

5 Comments so far

  1. diamond dee (unregistered) on June 4th, 2007 @ 1:59 am

    girl i know what you’re saying i was there to although i was under the tent with roxie and that was under the big tent over by wendys and i saw the tent you were under blow away basically i have never seen a storm come up so quickly as that one did i told my friend i was with if the tornado sirens started going off to grab her shoes and hold on to her wig as i was getting ready to do the same and make a run for the wendys across the street but that was one of the worst storms i’ve ever lived threw and hope to never have to go threw that again out tent even started to blow away and ppl starting holding on to the poles

  2. Kate O' (unregistered) on June 4th, 2007 @ 8:56 am

    See, that’s what’s so unique about the situation, too:

    i told my friend i was with if the tornado sirens started going off to grab her shoes and hold on to her wig

    Where else could you say that? Well, maybe if a storm broke out at Dollywood or something. ;)

  3. jag (unregistered) on June 4th, 2007 @ 9:25 am

    My poor dog was so freaked out by the throngs of people and then sent over the edge when candy got tossed her direction from a float that I think she’d have had a massive coronary if we hadn’t already been gone by the time the storm hit. It was a doozy!

  4. Rich (unregistered) on June 6th, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

    I got soaked by the food vendors, and watched two of their tents blow down. Once I was thoroughly wet, I decided to walk back to my car. I could have swore I felt pea size hail as well. The worst was over by the time I sheltered under the Parthenon for fear of being struck by lightening. The joke I kept hearing was that it was God smiting us “sinners”, but I prefer to think He was helping us with our Dorothy impression. End result was a fried cell phone, but my camera started working again when it dried out. Even with this, I had an awesome time!

  5. Hersband and Wife (unregistered) on June 6th, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

    We were running for our car to put the top up when the rain started but we never made it because the winds over took us and we were thrown into the very car we were trying to save.

    We landed on top of each other then screamed and ran for the west side of the Parthenon where we found the doors barred for entry for anyone. We stayed on the steps for shelter with many others and waited out the storm. Once the storm was just rain again we went to our now rain soaked car and drove to the Out&About Newspaper tent gathered up our things and went home to nurse our wounds. The next day we went to the ER as our bruises had bruises and we wanted to make sure we had no broken bones.
    All is well and we are just bruised.. but we can say we were very proud at how everyone pitched in to help out everyone else.
    Our camera was ruined, our laptop wet as well. But we made it through. Forever proud of our rainbow community in Nashville.
    After all isn’t it the rainbow that shines the most after a big storm like that?

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