Side By Side

image

From November 21st to November 28th we’ll be posting writing from Ed Wolf documenting his trip to the Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg. Catch up with the first post.  

Part Two

I have a busy last day in San Francisco. Emergency visit to the dentist; I need a root canal when I return. And then to several banks, looking to buy some Russian rubles. It seems like everyone I speak to is aware of the hateful events that are happening to LGBT people in Russia. The receptionist, the hygienist, the dentist, the bank teller; it feels like the whole world is watching. But clearly, that isn’t enough.

It starts to rain, the first wet day in a long time. I check the weather in St. Petersburg. Cold and wet, maybe snow. What to do about shoes? I’m tall and wear a size 16. If I bring a second pair of shoes they’ll take up half the space in my suitcase. I pack several extra pairs of socks instead. I bring Ambien and Sudoku for the 7,867 miles that are ahead of me tomorrow. I pack 6 DVDs of “We Were Here” as well, in case I find someone who might be able to get them into an HIV agency, a clinic, or a library.

In the evening I go to Smack Dab, a queer open mic in the Castro that’s co-hosted by my partner, Kirk Read. He’s been curating this event for ten years with Larry-Bob Roberts on the third Wednesday of every month in the waiting room of Magnet, a community health clinic for gay men. Tonight is his last night as curator. Kirk will be starting nursing school soon and he needs to step back from doing anything that takes time away from anatomy, physiology and pharmacology studies.

I’m aware, as I sit and listen to all the queer readers, how privileged we are in San Francisco to have a Queer Open Mic that can be so openly advertised. A gay community clinic that doesn’t need a security guard, an LGBT Historical Museum across the street. I know that where I am going tomorrow people can be beaten and arrested for simply holding up a rainbow flag.