Whither the pride flag?


Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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42 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Its really no different than the people who fly the American flag all year round to express their patriotism. Except that the people are broadcasting their sexual patriotism.Report

    • Well, I’m not one to fly an American flag year-round, either.

      And totally OT, but do I recall correctly that you live in San Francisco?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I live in NYC. ND lives in San Francisco.Report

      • Forgive my confusion.

        I ask, because our travels also included the Bay Area. While we didn’t stay in San Francisco, we did drive into the city a couple of times while we were in the area. On one trip, with both kids conked out in the backseat, we decided to see The Castro, famous as it is.

        It is tiny. Like, seriously tiny. Having lived in Chelsea, I was totally shocked by how tiny it is, given its fame.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Somehow I didn’t realize or had forgotten you were in NYC. I was recently ruminating on if we actually have any current New Yorkers amongst our regulars. Whereabouts are you? My sister is currently practicing with one of the big firms there on 6th Ave.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        SF is only 49 square miles and 800,000 people. We are a town compared to New York. Brooklyn itself is 96 square miles and 2.5 million people,

        A friend wad called SF the “incorporated villages of San Francisco”

        And you should have sent me an e-mail about meeting up!Report

      • @newdealer Even though I know it was a typo, I love trying to come up with a definition of “friend wad.”

        But The Castro is like one frigging block! Come ON! SF is supposed to be like super gay! (In fairness, I believe you have other, perhaps grander gay neighborhoods.) I made the Better Half turn around three or four times and drive back because I was sure we had missed something.

        We were actually about an hour outside of San Francisco, and only made it into the city for a couple of short jaunts.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kazzy, I work in Chinatown and live in a nearby Brooklyn neighborhood. My commute is thirty minutes including walking times. I think only my dentist and my mom’s previous neurologist had better commutes for the NYC metropolitan area.

        Russel, the main drag of the Castro is one blog but did you check out any of the side streets?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Yes, next time you’re around let us know.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Bah, Lee. I lived on 78th/West End and worked at 15th/8th. Straight shot on the 2 train and a bit of walking. 20 minutes door to door. IN YOUR FACE!

        And, @russell-saunders , I’m sure your familiar with the adage that it’s not the size of the boat that matters, but the motion of the ocean.Report

      • @leeesq I did, indeed, make the Better Half drive down various side streets. Which were lovely. But very soon the Conspicuously Gay character faded away.

        Maybe the gays in SF are so assimilated they don’t bother flying pride flags? Or (probably more accurately) there are other gay neighborhoods that are bigger, but not as famous.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Russel, I’m guessing that the LBGT community is so assimilated that they are distributed widely throughout San Francisco at this point. I’m also guessing that most people can’t afford to rent near the Castro unless they make a lot of money, have a ridiculous number of roomates, or lucked out with rent control.Report

      • @leeesq I actually considered that a plausible answer, except I refuse (REFUSE!) to believe that gays are more assimilated in San Francisco than they are in New York City. For five of my six years living there I was on the Upper West Side (not known specifically for its gays), and felt happy as a clam. But still there is Chelsea and the West Village. There is no similar place in San Fran?Report

  2. Avatar Kazzy says:

    As I read this, I was actually thinking of all the time I spent in Chelsea when I used to work there (though I was unaware of the recent attack). I was thinking about how, even if that neighborhood, arguably the gayest in all of Manhattan, most businesses still made a point to fly the flag, even if it was a small sticker on the door or window. And they did this because there were still a handful of places that were decidedly un-gay-friendly. They might not have been actively hostile towards gays, but they certainly weren’t “safe spaces”. And this is not to say that every business that lacked a sticker was such, but that the ones that did put the sticker out clearly wanted to make themselves known as such. It is the same reason I am trying to put a “Safe Space” sticker on my classroom door: not because I am gay or anyone in my room is, but because I want any gay members of the community to know that my space, the little domain I have control over, is one they can come to with little worry. That was always my understanding of the flag, at least as an “outsider”.

    Also, good to have ya back.Report

    • Kazzy,

      Have you gotten any pushback from your administration or parents in trying to put that sticker on your door?Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      Now Boston is neither SF or NYC, but we still have some fairly pro-gay areas. That said, yes, seeing a rainbow flag does make me feel very welcome and more likely to visit a store or restaurant. In such places I am more likely to be made welcome, more likely to be correctly gendered, and less likely to encounter trans-hostile clientele. For me that is a big deal.

      So, yeah, fly the flag.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    Welcome back, Russell.

    I got nothin’ to add to the post, as I don’t really feel like it’s my place to say anything, but I enjoyed the perspective nonetheless.Report

    • Oh, fiddlesticks. It is anyone’s place to express an opinion, assuming it’s in keeping with our comment policy hereabouts (as I have no doubt yours would be).Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        FLAGGED for using “fiddlesticks”. Such foul language!

        Welcome back, Doc. I was wondering where you’d gotten to.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’m hoping this post wasn’t Doc’s last bow.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I had always assumed “fiddlesticks” was a reference to a violin bow (or, a euphemism for…well, you know).

        Apparently not, they are actual sticks:


      • Avatar Chris says:

        Heh… well, when you put it that way (with “fiddlesticks”).

        Seriously though, to me it’s sorta like the Canadian flag. I like Canada, I’ve met a lot of nice Canadians and even made some good Canadian friends, and if there were ever a time when my friends, or any Canadians around here were treated differently because they were Canadian (except in offering them poutine), I’d have something to say about it, but whether, when, and where they display their flag just doesn’t seem like any of my business, and if their are protocols, norms, or standards to be applied to the displaying of their flag, I assume they can do just fine coming up with them without my input.

        That said, I really enjoy the Texas versions of the “Canadian” flag (e.g.).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Who on earth uses the terms fiddlesticks.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Who on earth uses the terms fiddlesticks.

        Not enough people. That’s who.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        My grandfather used to say “fiddlesticks” and “holy mackerel” with some frequency. I need to work both into my vernacular.Report

      • Who on earth uses the terms fiddlesticks.

        *coughs politely*Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I say fiddlesticks quite a bit, though I can trace this to a few sources:
        1.) A random Simpsons episodes where Bart is told not to grift and responds with the phrase in a particular old-tymey way.
        2.) A bar in NYC called Fiddlesticks.
        3.) And the person who introduced me to the bar also introduced me to a snack fry called Krinklesticks.

        It became fund to say both Fiddlesticks and Krinklesticks the way Bart did and, well, now I say it.

        I also say Oi Vei often and recently lectured Julie on the appropriateness of y’all, which I’ve similarly co-opted. I have no qualms stealing language if I find it uniquely useful.Report

      • @kazzy I am going to challenge you on the “Simpsons” reference, for I believe my Simpsons-fu is strong enough. IIRC, the “no grifting” admonition comes from Marge as she seeks to join the country club. He slides a pack of cards back into his sleeve while saying (I believe) “raspberries” and wearing a devilish smile.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

        You are correct, sir.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Argh. As soon as I saw the reply email, I thought, “Goddamnit, it was raspberries, wasn’t it?” Regardless, I like the way he said that, I do say raspberries, and I do say fiddlesticks.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Its just that the term seem so WASPy.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Well, I’m the guy who un-ironically says “Good grief” and “good golly” so I am probably not the best metric of such things.Report

      • Does it mitigate things that I use “oy, vey” far more often?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        What I guess I’m trying to say this as its like somebody wants to curse but can’t or won’t for some reason. I don’t think that people should make a habit of cursing but if they want to curse than they should curse rather than using a cutesy way around it.Report

      • I would swear like a longshoreman if I could get away with it in the office.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        “Sit the @*&#^ down, you #%@^#@ little @^@%, and roll up your #&@^(#* sleeve. Yeah, you need a &(@&@% shot. Boo-(&)^$%*-hoo. Do not @^#%@&# cry. Do you &(@&@% hear me? If you’re going to @^#%@&# cry, I’ll @!@^!%@ give you a @^#(@&# reason to ^((%#()% cry.”Report

      • My late aunt used the term, and she was catholic.Report

      • “What I guess I’m trying to say this as its like somebody wants to curse but can’t or won’t for some reason. I don’t think that people should make a habit of cursing but if they want to curse than they should curse rather than using a cutesy way around it.”

        I don’t completely disagree, especially when the type of people who tend to say “fiddlesticks” get all high and mighty when others curse, not realizing that their “fiddlesticks” or “heck” or “darn,” etc., are useful in large part because they’re euphemisms and depend on the words they’re euphemisms for in order to have their utility.

        Still, while I wouldn’t say I never curse, I really try not to and I prefer the euphemisms. It’s largely just a personal preference, and in my better, less judgmental moments, I tell myself that whenever I hear a string f-bombs or s-bombs. In my worse, more judgmental moments, I simply don’t like it and interpret it vaguely as hostility, especially if I don’t know the person. If, however, I’m not supposed to judge people for using curse words, I think the favor ought to be returned for those who prefer “softer” words for their interjections.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    San Diego’s Pride parade is a huge event. I don’t know how it compares with West Hollywood’s, although I’m sure nothing compares with San Francisco’s. And you were indeed in the gay-friendliest section of the city.

    San Diego and San Francisco is just far enough away that Mrs. Likko and I aren’t upset you didn’t arrange a time to meet up with us. But If you come to L.A., Doc, I’ve some gin I want to watch you drink. If you liked Terrior, you’ll love Botanivore.Report

    • Rest assured that if we are ever in LA, I’ll let you know well in advance. I figured our California destinations were too distant this time around to try to arrange anything.

      We were visiting family in the Bay Area, and they had the Terroir on hand for me to try. It’s the first gin (which is probably my favorite variety of hooch) I’ve ever had that I would sip all by its lonesome. I was given the St George Spirits gin sampler back as a going-away present, and I like all three. I think I may like the Rye variety the best, since it makes a lovely variation on the manhattan. The Botanivore made a good martini, but I’d have to adjust my usual recipe (which works beautifully with good old Gordon’s or Bombay) to accomodate its different flavor profile.Report

  5. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Bernal Heights is known as a lesbian neighborhood.

    There are gay people everywhere in the city of course but the Castro is still the gay neighborhood. And yeah or neighborhoods are tiny compared to comparable ones in New York. The hipster sections of Valencia are only a few blocks. The hipster sections of Williamsburg go on forever in comparison.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I suspect that there are a lot of things happening at the same time:

    There’s a small amount of upside to flying the flag, even for allies who are not themselves gay.
    There’s less and less downside every day to flying the flag, and practically none for being the 17th or 18th flag flying (compared to the 1st or the 2nd).
    Pride flags are cheap and plentiful. (Amazon is selling them for less than five bucks!)

    The eventual goal, I imagine, is to be mundane. We’re not *QUITE* there… but this particular phenomenon strikes me as being one of the inevitable stepping stones to gay mundanity.Report