By Pat Sherman
When the shutter clicks and that 6-foot-tall drag queen and leather dominatrix are captured for posterity, it's often hard to tell the difference between San Diego's annual LGBT Pride celebration (the city's largest civic event) and the annual Comic-Con International (San Diego's largest convention), both of which take place in July.
Where the events differ is in the people they draw. Pride parade participants include elected officials, school teachers and everyday people in polo shirts, walking alongside gay and straight parents and their kids. Comic-Con, on the other hand, pretty much draws 40-year old virgins in Darth Vader costumes.
Hip-hop legends Salt- N-Pepa (Whatta Man, Push It, Let's Talk About Sex) headline the Pride festival Sunday night, July 17 (sans DJ Spinderella). The duo is a fitting addition to the weekend, given Salt-N-Pepa's unapologetically positive depiction of gay sexuality in its 1995 video, None of Your Business, and their work to draw attention to safe sex in the early days of the AIDS crisis, via their song, Let's Talk About Sex, and its spinoff video, Let's Talk About AIDS (a safe-sex campaign produced in collaboration with ABC News anchor, Peter Jennings).
"The record company, of course, was really, really scared, and we had to fight to put that song out," says Cheryl Wray, aka Salt. "We had been traveling in Europe, where we found that people were way more open to communicate about sex, especially with their young people. It was really enlightening to us."
Pride's Saturday night headliner, Margaret Cho, recently had the chance to dress up like a dude, appearing as testy North Korean despot Kim Jong-Il in an episode of 30 Rock. The comedian and Drop Dead Diva star says she hopes her parents, who live in San Diego, will come to her performance-along with other hetero San Diegans-in celebration of diversity.
But Cho offers one minor caveat: "I think people should probably put sun block on their ass if they're going to wear ass-less chaps. That's very important," she says, "because your ass is not very reflective."
LGBT Pride Parade
WHEN: July 16, 11 a.m.
WHERE: Starts at University Avenue and Normal Street in Hillcrest, then proceeds west on University to 6th Avenue, then south to
Balboa Park .
DEETS: Openly gay actress , anti-bullying activist and Family Ties star, Meredith Baxter (whose roles include convicted San Diego
murderess Betty Broderick), is grand marshal of this year's mile-long parade.
LGBT Pride Festival
WHEN: July 16, noon to 10 p.m.; July 17, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: 6th and Laurel Streets, Marston Point, Balboa Park
TICKETS: $20 per day; $30 for two days
DEETS: The festival includes performances by comedians Margaret Cho and Ross Mathews, singer Kristine W, Latin recording artist Toby Love and hip-hop acts Salt-N'Pepa and God-Des & She (Lick It).