Happy Pride! –  Online Celebrations in a COVID-19 World

To me there is nothing better than going to a Pride Parade and celebration. I attended my first Pride March and Pride celebration in Winnipeg in the mid 1990’s.  The parade was small because, Winnipeg’s out-gay community was pretty small at the time.  Back then there was a well established amount of homophobia in the city.  Even though Winnipeg had elected Glen Murray (Canada’s first openly-gay Mayor) in 1998 Winnipeg is a city in the Canadian Prairies and that area was somewhat conservative.  Everyone knows with time comes with change. The Winnipeg LGBTQ+ community has really grown and has been able to change the hearts and minds of those who were previously intolerant.  We’ve come a long way baby!

When I moved to Vancouver a few years later Pride took on a whole new meaning.  Vancouver is a much larger city and the gay scene was different.  First off there are a lot more gay bars and a lot more alternative night clubs that were gay-friendly. In the mid 2000’s I met Matthew Presidente through a friend I was seeing casually who was a manager at a gay bar called Numbers Cabaret. 

Numbers 2007

At the time Matthew was hosting and performing every Tuesday at Numbers and my friend said I should audition for Matthew’s show because he was always looking for new musicians to add to the show.  So, I decided to meet Matthew, audition, Matthew scheduled me to perform not too long after that and we have been friends and collaborators ever since.


Victoria Pride 2007

With encouragement and connections within the Vancouver Pride Society Matthew helped me get gigs to perform at the East Side Pride Celebration, New West Pride and the main Vancouver Pride celebration.

Vancouver Pride 2012

I would also back Matthew on guitar and vocals during his MANY Vancouver Pride performance slots over the years.

Performing at Pride with Matthew became an annual tradition and even when I lived in San Francisco I would travel to Vancouver for Pride to support Matthew. I also had the chance to perform with Matthew during the closing ceremony for the Out Games that were held in Vancouver in 2011, that was special! So, over the years I have looked forward to sharing the stage with him at this time of the year.


Out Games 2011

Now it’s 2020 and with the pandemic came the changes to the things that we would previously take for granted….this year’s Pride Parade and celebration.

Matthew reached out to me in early July. The show would go on.  Matthew said that he was just given the opportunity to do a pre-recorded set for the Calgary Pride online celebration and he would like for me to join him in a stripped-down performance of our song “Leather & Love”.  I told him I would be more than happy to do it.   

He also mentioned that he had decided to produce a “World is Watching- Post Pride Episode” and asked if I wanted to record a couple videos for it and I automatically said yes.  Matthew and I agreed that the perfect songs would be “Get Into The Smalltown Boy” (a clever Bronski Beat-Madonna mashup we created a few years ago) and “Love Machine” a blues/rock song I had written about picking up people in Bars that I was itching to turn into an electronic song.  I must say…this would be exciting!

We had already recorded an arrangement for “Get Into The Small Town Boy” a few years back. The beat for the early version came from a vintage Roland 303 GrooveBox.  I took it upon myself to create a fresh arrangement that had an electronic-disco feel to it. The new arrangement took a week to complete. I was happy with the arrangement we recorded a scratch track and sent it to Matthew to track his parts. Perfect!  Now I could work on Love Machine.

I began to work on the new arrangement for Love Machine  and then the unthinkable happened….we ended up being ordered by the Berlin Health Authority to be quarantined. Why? Because we were at a show at a bar on July 17th and someone at the show ended up testing positive for the Coronavirus 5 days later. We got tested and had to stay in quarantine from July 25th-July 31st so, we had a hell of a lot of time on our hands to finish the “Love Machine” arrangement, record, mix and and film videos for “Leather & Love” plus the “Get Into the Smalltown Boy” mashup.

“Love Machine” was finished on July 26th so, we would be ready to (once again) rearrange the apartment, so we could convert the living room into a mini-film studio to begin filming Monday, July 26th.  All of the songs would be shot at night so there would be a “club feel” to each video also, it’s easier to control lighting when the sun isn’t involved.  The shooting and  editing schedule was as follows:

  • July 27th from 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: Shoot video & record vocals for “Love Machine”
  • July 28th from 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: Shoot video & record vocals for “Leather & Love”
  • July 29th from 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.: Edit Video and final vocal for “Leather & Love”, send audio and video to Matthew for his final edit for the Pride Calgary video
  • July 29th from 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: Shoot video & record vocals for “Get Into The Smalltown Boy” & shoot B-Camera footage for “Love Machine”
  • July 30th-August 1st – Mix Matthew & Tara‘s vocal tracks for “Get Into The Smalltown Boy” & “Love Machine” plus, edit the videos for each song.  
  • August 2nd at 5:00 a.m. – Finish final edits, video rendering and submit videos to Matthew.

Once again Don and I could not watch Matthew’s “WIW-Post-Pride” episode when the premier happened on Monday August 3rd at 8:00 p.m. (PST) due to the 9 hour time difference but, we were able to watch it on Tuesday, August 4th and we loved it!  Everyone did some fantastic performances (you must watch the Kylie Minogue Medley – Matthew Presidente & Wanting Moi!)

So Happy Pride Everyone where ever in the world you may be!

“What do we want?  Cocktails!  

When do we want them?Now!

Why do we want them? Because it’s 5 O’clock somewhere!”