Saturday, Sunday and most of today have gone into one big blur. Partly because I have been so busy on both a pushed itinery and also because I was so desperate to do some much in the time that I have had there that the plan of doing a blog a day has kind of gone out of the window. I now have a few hours to spare before checking out and with rather bad sunburn the park that was once beckoning me with all its might makes me think ‘ouch’ a little. I have decided there for to pop some pictures with an over view of some of the fun and frolics I have had. Sadly I didn’t take my camera to the Blue Ball as that was an experience I shall never forget. Masses of pretty much naked men in a warehouse dancing to trance versions of the latest tunes all off their heads, unforgettable. I may have joined in, that’s something that only I shall ever know ha.
On Saturday morning we met the delightful Tami, she is ‘Gay Personality of the Year’ in Philadelphia and she met us for a gorgeous breakfast (I had pancakes with bacon scrambled eggs and potatoes – amazing) and for a tour of the famous ‘Gaybourhood’ we saw the hotels (I will be holding them to their free week stay they have promised) the shops, eateries the works including some of Americas oldest gay bars.
One of the things that struck me so much on the tour was the community. Soho I now know is not a community. We don’t have a community centre for example, we don’t have younger gay men looking after older (they call them the Phila-dentures very fondly), or older teaching younger in various classes from salsa to gay history. We have none of these things and it’s a shame. One of the things which to me symbolised the community feel of the place was the ‘gaybourhood mural’ which is part of a scheme in Philadelphia with all murals. The community gets together votes on a mural to brighten an empty wall (with convicted graffiti artists also helping as community service) in the area and then everyone joins in with the painting and it becomes a kind of public effort/gathering, again this is something we in London would never do.
After the morning with Tami we went of to the Rittenhouse Street Festival. Everyone joins in there are barbeques, stalls everything. It’s fabulous. It was then time for me to hit the Jacuzzi and have a smarten up before the Equality Forum Dinner, where we were joined by the wonderful Tami again, her girlfriend who I adored Melissa and the wonderful Marion who was our guide. The dinner was first class, the conversations interesting and I met a Governor which I found most exciting… it was in the toilets as well so that adds class to my story, oh and the fact I only knew he was the governor after the conversation at the urinal. I then got changed back at the hotel and was out again for the Blue Ball, which is a night I think best to forget.
Sadly this could not be forgotten the next morning (yesterday) when I woke at 8am only 3 hours after getting in to have a long shower before meeting Simon S2 to check out the Museum of Art. We made sure we stopped at the Rocky statue which has oddly been hidden. I mentioned the Museum and how fabulous it was in my last blog so I won’t bore you with the details again. I will say that it was Bongs birthday, or would have been, and was weird to be walking around the Museum he loved when he visited. I thought of him as I strolled around.
It was then a food hunt which I have to say has hardly been a hardship the food being so delicious. We decided to hop on the Philadelphia trolley to get to South Street (their version of Camden) a choice that ended up taking us bloody ages.
The trolley tells you everything you need to know (how Philadelphia was first and best for everything) and more. My encounter on Friday had been a light hearted one, this one was more harrowing with Dennis or whatever his name was finding himself very funny with in jokes to driver Dawn. I wondered if he noticed that no one else was laughing. The bad joke became even less funny for him (much funnier for us) when we were shunted hard by a car; yes the car happily drove into us and drove off. Well it took Dennis several moments to even acknowledge the hit! Unlike Dawn who I fear you would never wish to mess with. ‘Dennis, get out and see the damage, I need all your addresses and numbers, does anyone have whiplash?’ We then all had to sit and fill in our details and wait an age before we could move on.
South Street was explored and then we walked the front by the Delaware and headed for Sunday OUT the big street festival that isn’t Pride but sort of is, a little confusing. Was fabulous to sit on the street eating (yes more) chatting with Simon S2 who is a bloody nice fella and then take pictures of the people as they enjoyed the sunshine (the sunburn started here) and perused the stalls and other men. My random highlight was that I finally saw one of those famous homophobic cults who shout how gay men are paedophiles. As I gay man I should have been horrified, I was mesmerized and the battle of him verses the gay population was quite a spectacle.
Today, after an early night, we met Ellen and Sarah for our final Four Seasons breakfast. Ellen then took us to the Zoo. She was bemused we were so keen to go but it’s unlike any Zoo here (bar a pissed off leopard) and we saw Polar Bears, a real highlight for me. Speaking of highs it was then 400ft up in the balloon. Yes, me, who is scared of heights! Highs sums up the whole experience really, I am in love with this city, even the shops which I have hit hard not long ago. All too soon it will be time to go and I will be really sad to leave.