Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
CP: Today’s LGBT Pride is to Pride of the early 1980s as a McMansion is to a sleeping bag.
RN: Oh, goodie, another one of Claude’s Heroic Tales of Yesteryear. Does anyone have anything I can open a vein with?
CP: No, I’m pretty sure you have not heard this one.
RN: Right. Anyway …
CP: Pride was just getting underway, and I volunteered with Target City Coalition, its early organizer. This was back when Allan Spear was out at the Capitol but a dozen years before statewide gay rights passed in Minnesota.
RN: You’re being a little vague about the year, but I believe I was attending Joseph P. Nicollet Junior High School at the time. Just to make it all about me for a second. You were saying?
CP: To get a permit for a block party on Hennepin Avenue, we allied with the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, sued the city and won.
RN: That is so Sally Field in “Norma Rae.” I’m impressed.
CP: You should be, Sally Struthers. To get the live music in place for one block party, I drove a rented flatbed onto Hennepin Avenue with a rock band and its amps bungee-tied to the back.
RN: Wow. That’s the butchest thing you’ve ever done.
CP: I almost knocked the bass player overboard when I hit a curb. The crowd was there, we plugged in and they started playing. I was probably wearing bracelets and a bandana-as-headband.
RN: Now, that’s a visual. Please tell me that the band’s name was Devo. Or the B-52s. Or Bronski Beat.
CP: I think it was local rockers Urban Guerrillas. Point is, Pride in the early ’80s, with themes like “An Army of Lovers,” was defiant and DIY. Nowadays the parade includes floats for discount kitchen countertops and the Anoka County auditor.
RN: I noticed the gays-going-mainstream in the late ’90s. I was working the booth at the AIDS Emergency Fund/Every Penny Counts, and a nearby stand was hawking J.C. Penney credit card applications. St. John’s Bay meets Loring Park!
CP: Guess we have done the same. Once editrix of the sharp-elbowed Q Monthly, you now write for our state’s largest daily. Do you pine for the old days in your office with the Harvey Milk poster on the wall?
RN: That job was a riot, partly because it’s where we met and became friends. Awwwwww.
CP: Even in the ’90s, I remember the Pride parade being more spirited, less interminable. We had a blast marching with that giant rainbow flag into which bystanders threw money to help people living with HIV.
RN: Those were the days, mi amigo. Now I suppose you’ll be watching the parade from the sidelines, carrying a thermos of vodka stingers and a disdain for the young’uns who don’t know — much less appreciate — all that you did to make it possible for bodybuilders, God bless ’em, to strut the length of Hennepin Avenue wearing little more than a cotton ball and a few yards of dental floss.
CP: Nah, I love seeing the baby gays out having a blast.
Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib