Give Back to Queerbomb
Queerbomb 2013 seeks the community it creates
By Kate X Messer, 9:55AM, Tue. May. 7
In 2010, a small band of rag-tag queer community lovers got together to address the issues many people have expressed and still express about the corporate and sponsor-driven nature of annual gay Pride celebrations.
This band of queers (with which this author is loosely affiliated) wanted to do something, to make a stand and to give the entire community the opportunity to make a stand as individuals collectively assembled in the name of love, free love, queer love, and liberty.
They called it Queerbomb. They scheduled it for the first weekend in June to commemorate the Stonewall uprising, and to present an alternative take on mainstream Pride. In 2010 it went off. They expected hundreds of people to attend. Over 1,500 did. In 2011, the number doubled, and last year, in 2012, rally attendees, procession marchers, and after partiers numbered over 5,000.
For the first three years, Queerbomb's formula was simple: No logos, no sponsorship, no corporate or "official" group presence – a rally with speeches and occasional music, a procession that launched from E. Fifth Street just east of I-35, proceeding west on Sixth Street (Dirty Sixth), a turn north to blow kisses to the Texas State Capitol along Congress, a turn east to march back along Seventh, and a return to an area at or proximate to the original rally for a wild after party.
This year, Queerbomb is scheduled for Saturday, June 1, and in response to direct criticism within and outside of their ranks that the focus on the after party was diluting the original mission they are foregoing the after party. This move was also in response to the very real effect that the 'bomb's presence has had in galvanizing and honing so much of queer/gay Austin to adopt radical inclusivity – so much so that the community itself now is made up of so many organizing groups – whether it be bears, queer people of color, house-music hussies, drag kings, transfolk, shock drag queens, traditional drag queens, dykes, or whomever – can throw their own pockets of after party. Add to this that Chaos in Tejas is happening across the street from the QB rally site, and you've already got a citywide after party. Ergo, Queerbomb entrusts the reins of the post-procession celebration to the community, where those reins belong. There will be no "official" Queerbomb after party. (Gay Place will present a comprehensive list of Queerbomb after parties as June 1 draws near.)
Meanwhile, the City of Austin, which has in years past granted Queerbomb a political status which has made the permitting of the proceedings affordable for a non-corporate-sponsored entity, was considering a change of status that would price the group out of existence. Through discussion, clarification, and negotiation, the city has agreed to accept Queerbomb's status and the cost of permitting remains within reach.
But that reach still costs money. And so does a street closure. So Queerbomb is trying to raise the funds necessary to accommodate what is estimated to be a crowd of over 7,000; the group is already behind in their fundraising efforts due to the focus on meeting the city's requirements.
The Queerbomb IndieGoGo campaign has less than a week to hit their mark of $8,500. They will accept donations up until Saturday, May 11, 11:59pm PST.
Queerbomb has had impact, directly or indirectly, on the opening of hearts across Ausitn's LGBTQ community. This affect is evident in the explosion of subcultures that now have weekly and monthly gatherings around town. And this impact has certainly been felt in the more open, inclusive policies at both the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation, which hosts the city's annual Pride celebration in September and the Austin Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (which founded Austin's first sustained and ongoing annual Pride parade).
So, is there still a need for Queerbomb? It would be tough to imagine Austin going back to a time where the only voices taken seriously in the LGBTQ community were ones backed with cash. But it's not impossible to imagine it, either. The backslide between 2009's open-hearted Pride and 2010's radical exclusivity was jarring. Despite valuable lessons and in light of the opening up of groups in general, Queerbomb remains the only radically inclusive group/non-group in town to host a citywide celebration of this magnitude, and to set aside the progress that Queerbomb has helped his town achieve would be sad – and oddly disloyal, for if Queerbomb is anything, it is 100% Austin. There is no going back.