What do you get when you add one part queer pride with one part of Austin weirdness, add a smidge of Mardi Gras, a pinch of Carnaval, and about 5,000 creative souls from all corners of society? Here, deep in the heart of Texas, we call that Queerbomb.
Austin’s alternative to Pride, or Pride without the corporate sponsorship and branding, aka Queerbomb, celebrated its third year this week. Since the Austin Gay & Lesbian Pride Foundation moved Austin Pride to September last year, Queerbomb remains Austin’s only celebration during Gay Pride Month. The event featured a rally and procession through Austin’s Entertainment District and celebrated the Stonewall riots and honors the courage of those who have laid the groundwork for the gay rights movement.
The event started early on an early summer evening, this past Saturday at Pine Street Station with attendees checking out the tables that many local non-profit and social organizations had set up. There games all around from hulahoopin’ to the dildo ring toss … and there were condoms being given away just about every which way you turned.
OutCast, Austin’s only radio program by and for the LGBTQ community and one of our media partners, was well represented with the show’s host, Stephen Rice, along with his co-host Bradley Pounds and of course myself, representing OutCast and KOOP. Our friends at the Octopus Club were also there, with Mary Morrison, who was joining the festivities for an early birthday celebration, along with Brandon Watson and Marcus Sanchez who was also representing AIDS Services of Austin at the event. I saw the crew from aGLIFF there, but couldn’t pull myself away from watching the dildo ring toss to stop by and say hi.
I was also excited to hear that they are starting house of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence right here in Austin. Sister Kerianna Kross, one of the founders of the DFW house, was in town for Queerbomb with a few of her other sister representing the order and giving locals an idea of what the sisterhood is all about and they appeared to be a big hit with the crowds. Look out, Austin Babtist Women! The Catholics are coming! The Catholics are coming! You can find out more about the Sisters check out the website for the Mother House in San Francisco at www.thesisters.org and the the Dallas house at www.dfwsisters.org.
Up next was the rally, emceed by the one-and-only Rebecca Havemeyer and featured several speakers, including the head of the local PFLAG chapter and a performance by The Queertastiks. You can find out more about the Queertastiks on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Queertastiks/55419133387. The rally’s highlight was when Rebecca pulled off her wig and her alter ego, Paul Soileau, emerged to thank the crowd for coming out and bringing some in crowd to tears at times. He was obviously touched by the response from the community which was apparent in the turnout.
And for him to move the crowd while he’s standing there in a polyester blue dress, gold go-go boots, WITHOUT his wig and I-35 buzzing away right behind him … that should tell you how much of what he said actually resonated with the people. I’m gonna try to hunt down a video to share with you all here, because it was a thing of beauty.
Also, it was nice to see so many friends there from across the LGBTQ spectrum. I ran into Paul Huddleston, Dustin White, Nathan James, and Benny VandenAvond from the Austin Gay & Lesbian Pride Foundation; Kyle Golden & Paul Arellanes from Work It Training; Kate X Messer from Austin Chronicle and The Gay Place blog all dressed up like a pirate (butt pirate? ah, I’ve been told she was a pussy pirate … well that explains that sign in the crowd and it makes a whole lot more sense); Bobby Cook from Rain on 4th & abcde events along with his entourage; Jorge Peña aka DJ Divorcée from Mouthfeel sporting a Roman centurion uniform; and many, many more. Queerbomb really is one of the few places that I will get to see all the people from completely different social circles in one place at one time.
Immediately after the rally, the procession stepped off heading up Austin’s 6th Street on a Saturday night. The procession was quickly joined by others who didn’t make it to the rally but were able to catch up to the procession as it worked it’s way through downtown. After hitting Congress Avenue, the procession turned back down 7th Street, heading back to Pine Street Station with stops in front of Rusty’s and Lipstick 24 with the crowd calling out bar goers to get “out of the bars, into the streets.” Rusty’s was nice enough to let me hop up on their roof to grab a few pics so I could convey the size of the group, but there just isn’t a lens that could capture the entire crowd, no matter how high up I get.
The procession ended back at Pine Street Station and the evening continued with the after-party until the wee hours of the night. I, on the other hand, had an appointment with my bed and pillow, and intended to keep it … granted, I did make a pitstop at Rusty’s on the way home for a quick beverage and conversation … and to thank them for letting me use their roof. After a 5-day-straight run of events and 3 months of event-after-event I’m completely tuckered out. And honestly, I think I am gonna either hole up for the rest of June and just hibernate or fly out west and veg poolside and/or in the mountains for a week or two.
Kudos to all the organizers and all the supporting organizations and donors who helped make this year’s Queerbomb possible. For more information about Queerbomb, check out their website at www.queerbomb.org or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/qbatx. Mark your calendars for next year’s Queerbomb for the first weekend of June 2013.