“That Bitch Got a Pistol” by R. Dale Smith

June 29, 2015

For the entire month of June RESTLESS is celebrating Pride by featuring work exclusively by LGBTQ writers. Check out the “Pride2015” tag for more.

1997 or 98, Pride Parade, NYC. I’m standing on a crowded Village sidewalk. People are hanging out of windows and standing on fire escapes on both sides of the street, many waving dildos the same way they’d wave flags on the Fourth. Author Michael Cunningham (pre-The Hours) walks by, head down, smiling. A roar of applause travels the route as a PFLAG group approaches, as if the parents are returning war heroes. Then, in a gap between floats and group marchers, a young and painfully thin Asian man appears in sunglasses, bob haircut, slinky black tube dress and heels, toting a toy machine gun. It’s drag but not drag—more like performance art. He’s making a statement of some sort. He stops in the middle of the street, holds the toy gun to his eye, aims at a pretend target, then flips the barrel up to his shoulder and marches off, runway style. This thrills the women beside me—young African American women who have come together to the parade. “Ooh, that bitch got a pistol!” one of them says, delighted.


R Dale SmithR. Dale Smith is writer and performer living in Richmond, VA. He toured nationally with his one-man play Jesus Phreak and has been published most recently in Hobart, Atticus Review, and Washington Square Review.

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