It's hard to write this post without getting gossipy. Because there's an (awesome-sounding) party tonight that is, in fact, born out of a very real controversy. A controversy here in Austin.
So Austin Pride is this weekend, hosted by The Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. It is a two-day event with some MONEY and some extremely well-selected entertainment (Mario Cantone, haaay!) behind it. This is the 8th year of the festival, and may I just say that after living north of the Bay Area for two years in California, and losing my "Pride virginity" in Los Angeles of all places roughly four years ago with my gay besties, I was thrilled to move back to Austin and see that it HAD a Pride. My little Austin!
However, the official line from Austin Pride is that it is "family-friendly." I.e., no assless chaps. And the subversive, carnivalian, perhaps shocking forms of dress and behavior that come with an assless-chaps-embracing community.
The goal of Austin Pride - again, from organizers - is to be educational, to not alienate, to not scare anybody.
Which I can understand ... sort of. Ross and I were talking about this in the car the other day, and he said: "Well I see their point. They want to be taken seriously."
But that's just the thing. The standards that define "serious" and "silly" in our culture are shaped by heteronormative rules.
(And friends, at SF and Los Angeles Pride, you witness those rules being gleefully broken. Even though I'm not gay, or a man - though I've sometimes wondered if I might be a sweet gay man inside a woman's body? - that wild anything-goes spirit gives way to some exhilarating celebration. I enjoyed the longest dance party of my entire life at a Paramount Studios back lot that year in LA, a vast sea of shirtless and sweaty pectorals, with me, blond Tolly, happily bobbing away in the center of it.)
"But I know several serious drag queens!" I retorted, to Ross. Which is a lie. All the drag queens I've ever seen, in my life, are hysterical broads. They want to make you laugh.
You're laughing because you begin to see what a made-up thing gender is, where hormones and nature-bequeathed DNA strands stop, and social constructions take over.
Anyway, without getting too off-topic here, a group of queer activists in Austin have organized a "counter-Pride" march and party for tonight: QueerBomb. The idea is to celebrate queer culture in ALL its diverse, eye-popping glory, which I think is AWESOME.
For context, I give you some Pride background by the Austin Chronicle's Kate Getty, in an analysis she wrote back in 2008:
"The concept of Pride originated out of a riot in Greenwich Village, New York City, June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn to be exact, a speakeasy gay bar. After the events of that fateful evening, Stonewall became known as the place where, for the first time, gays, lesbians, drag queens, and those deemed "different" stood up to the oppression they regularly faced. In 1969, even the simple acts of same-sex dancing and canoodling were enough for search, seizure, and a nice beat-down. Police would raid gay bars on the regular. Queers were sick and disgusting and an easy target. But on that June night, after a day of laying beloved icon Judy Garland to rest, those angry Stonewall patrons pushed back in revolt. The event is cited as the beginning of the modern American LGBT movement. In honor of Stonewall, most communities celebrate Gay Pride in June with locally sanctioned celebrations without the threat of being beaten bloody, thrown into jail or a mental institution, or just plain killed dead."
Kate Messer's also has an article in this week's Chronicle, about QueerBomb, here.
Republic of Austin's Chris Apollo Lynn's insightful, personal post about QueerBomb is here.
And now, I give you tonight's QueerBomb details!:
MARCH: Friday, June 4, 8:30pm (details below)
PARTY: Immediately following march at Independent Studios (501 Studios)
FEATURING: Little Stolen Moments, Christeene, Kings & Things, DJ Jay Jay Booya and DJ Chelsea Starr (of Hot Pants Party fame)
The march will leave from The Independent and march down 6th, looping back up 7th for the party. Outrageous, gender-bending dress is encouraged.
In the words of one of my buddies (and a QueerBomb ring leader), "let's all look like Xanadu vomited on Sid & Nancy, mmkay?"
(PS: What are YOUR thoughts on Austin Pride and QueerBomb? Would love to hear how you all feel about any and all of it, no matter where you stand. Truly I am trying to take a nuanced viewpoint myself).