The Titless Sky

It was the 19th Annual San Francisco Dyke March. Dolores Park, otherwise known as “hipster hill,” was completely packed. I was guilty of going, not out of solidarity or allegiance, but because a friend had asked me to come along with her. As for how I feel about gays, I feel nothing. True tolerance is when you detach yourself from the narrative entirely, judgeless.

The rally was a spectacle. The once green park now the color of flesh, bodies everywhere, most of them hosting some substance, illegal or not, dancing to the faint pulse of a PA system. I facetiously texted my friend “when is tits?” before we met, as it was well-known that many women would be topless. Walking to the park, we passed many excited youth from the suburbs, who had made a quick train ride into the city for the event.

Whenever a politically symbolic gesture, in this case being topless, is reduced to a stylized motif, the revolution is probably over. I wanted these tits to be more cognizant than drunk Mardi Gras tits, but I wondered. Yes, there were empowered lesbians there, but most of the girls flashing their tits flashed them, consciously or not, in obedience to the patriarchal male gaze. They were simply “hot” and wanted others, namely men, to notice, to desire them. Tits had sadly transcended politics once again. This dance was anthropological.

A black guy next to me said, “Know your audience, dude” in reference to seeing many guys try to pick up on the girls. “This is not the time,” he derided. I felt sad hearing this because it was true. In the world of gender constructs, straight men with boners would always use said anatomical vectors to steer the world. As long as the pretty girls were game. The fat butch lesbian is indeed an unfortunate stereotype, but I did see a few, stately as ever, and looked away. A mammal’s breast is meant to be sucked, which, politically, sucks.

The annual Dyke March’s website lists “transdyke, MTF, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, and gender fluid dykes” as the blurry demographic of dykes. I’m simply too straight and vanilla to understand what is what. There at the park, I was one of many: a straight dude sort of just looking at tits. It was less arousing than fantastical, the notion of seeing so many tits in a public space.

Our group of friends shared a blanket with growing damp spots from the grass. The black guy, who just shaved off his nine-year-old dreads, talked about how “free” his head felt. We discussed the price of shampoo. As the early evening clouds rolled in from the Pacific, it got more “nippley” and many put their shirts back on. The small bottle of Jameson had no chance, as neither did our respective beers.

My friend — a bisexual female (bi the way) who calls me “heteronormative,” at which I endearingly smile — packed a bowl and passed around the pipe. I took a hit and coughed a non-epiphany. I laid back and gazed at the titless sky, saddened by how littered the park would be the next morning. Our pot cloud blended with the smoke exhaled by the group next to ours, theirs to others’, and so forth.

When a city is complicit in illegal activity, transgressions of legality become less powerful. Everything in San Francisco is okay, and has been okay since the 1960s, except for the rent. Political sacrifice and liberation, if such can still exist, ought to happen somewhere else.

Illustration by Jimmy Chen


  1. “…but most of the girls flashing their tits flashed them, consciously or not, in obedience to the patriarchal male gaze. They were simply “hot” and wanted others, namely men, to notice, to desire them. ”

    meh… the ladies were just doing their thang, obedient to no one. trust me, I was once one of those bare-breasted grrlz at the march. and if you believe they were consciously flashing the straight voyeurs — don’t you know it! Flaunting the power 🙂

  2. “I’m simply too straight and vanilla to understand”…if you are going to write an article about somethinng you claim not to understand, I would expect you to make an attempt to step outside your world and try. Aside from your ‘tit’ obsrvations, what is the point of your article? Was it really about ‘Jameson, beer and pot?

    1. the quote you invoked is journalistic humility, in order to be approachable to the reader. it’s a “personal essay,” not a diatribe or anything; just my feelings about stuff. the entire point of the article is the POV from a straight dude, which in the context of feminism, may be refreshing. the idea of “stepping outside of oneself” is an obsolete conceit, if not arrogant, because we are inextricably subjective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.