Today, I was a Beauty Queen. I walked in the Astoria Regatta Parade at the front of the Blue Scorcher “Float” which we put together out of banners we made yesterday, combined with the signs from our farmers market booth, and flags made for the Lughnasa festivals of the past. It was held together with bamboo and zip ties. We loaded up the work bike with baguettes, and the bakers turned empty flour sacks into carrying musettes for more bread. I used the box stencil that we label our wooden delivery crates with to create sashes for all the royalty. I wore lipstick. We had a corgi. It was glorious.
We had a court of 4 women and 2 men crowned for the court this year. Using the beautiful copper and beaded crowns made by a local Artist, Sally Lackaff, for the Lughnasa court of 2009, back when we thought we would be continuing the festival for years to come. The Scorcher Court waved and smiled and carried the banners and the 5 bakers, including Sam, handed out bread. We walked in celebration of a dozen years of baking up community. I threw kisses, smiled at small children and waved at everyone. People waved back and cheered for us. Joe gave me a kiss in the middle of Commercial Street in front of the Labor Temple.
I can’t express how great it felt to be part of the celebration for the project that I spent so much of my love on. The bakery project is such a beautiful thing. There are 15 member-workers these days & 18 employee workers. It wasn’t always that way, it started in 2004 with five coop members, and spent 5 years in the middle with only two member-owners, Joe and I. So there is a lot to celebrate. Regatta weekend is usually super busy, the parade goes right past the Scorcher. The Saturday crew kept things flowing while we were out in the parade. Two homeless guys joined us for the last two blocks, happy as can be. Like I said it was glorious.
Back a few days ago, when I realized that I was going to be a beauty queen, I thought about what my “platform” ought to be. Immediately I thought, “LOVE!” seeing as International I Stand For Love Day was this week. Then I realized that I would be walking in a parade one breasted, with no prosthetic – and that maybe that ought to be part of my platform too.
After I was diagnosed, I can not even count the number of women, many of whom had been longtime Bakery customers, who let me know that they had also had breast cancer in the past. If you are lucky, you may live many years after treatment. Which means there are many millions of women out there who are walking around with a prosthetic, or reconstructed breasts, or are just scarred under their clothing. How many of them wear their prosthetic breast, because they feel ugly without it. Or they don’t want to “make” people feel uncomfortable? What if the option of just moving forward without any falsies hasn’t been on the table for them before?
So I walked as an Amazon Queen. I felt very beautiful. I wore sparkles. And no one pointed, no one looked shocked. In fact people cheered and blew kisses. My gown was low cut, my port scar was visible if you looked close enough. I wore my Lymphediva sleeve, which probably came across as a tattoo, making me seem way cooler than I actually am. I was surrounded by people I love, we were thanking our community for supporting us these last dozen years.
Today I was a queen, I was walking as an object of beauty for my little town on the upper left edge of this crazy country, just two floats up from the bagpipe band. I was a queen and I didn’t want it to end. Like I said it was glorious.