Welcome to Austin, Little Queerdos!

Advice from the queero community on making your time in Austin count

l-r: Caleb De Casper (Photo by Randy Culp), KB Brookins (Courtesy of KB Brookins), Jon-Erik Garcia (Photo by Dave Creaney), Aira Juliet (Photo by Alyssa Spatola)

Getting to know your new college city can be rough, but the ATX qmmunity has got some good advice to make your gay journey through Bat City a great one.

Host of Tuesday night drag mainstay Vanguard and one of the most vocal activists for active anti-racism within the queer community, Hermajestie the Hung chose Austin in contrast to redder parts of the state. "I came to Austin seeking Freedom, Refuge and Purpose," Hermajestie says. "I've received all of that and so much more." But it takes work. Hermajestie says new young queers must "remain aware of the incessant threats, [so] we can effectively prevent the loss of this southern safe haven by radically and intentionally creating and supporting safe spaces for Queer existence."

Comedian, drag artist, and host of a monthly queer trivia night, Aira Juliet speaks as an "OG Houston Hottie" transplanted to Austin. Finding her Black and queer community helped her gain a sense of belonging, so her advice to new folks is to seek connections. "Take time to build community," Juliet says. "You have nothing to prove to anyone back home or wherever you moved from. Take your time in Austin and live out loud for yourself."

Local club Barbarella's TuezGayz queer dance night is an Austin staple, started by Jon-Erik Garcia – aka The Glitoris – who's been in the city since their own college years at UT's business school. They advise queer students new to town that it's okay to start slow with campus-specific events before moving on to wider neighborhood and city activities. "We are all here together and it's important to facilitate community by being a part of it," Garcia says.

An activist, perfomance artist, personal trainer, and mayoral candidate, Erica Nix has been pumping up the Austin queer community for years. Her advice for new collegiate Austinites is to just jump into the fray. "At first, I found the queer community to be a little intimidating," she recalls. "I think that made it a little hard for me to 'get in there' ... What I do know is that everyone feels intimidated approaching a new community. So just be yourself, show up, and try to not be too [hurtful] or drunk all the time."

Local poet, performer, and organizer KB Brookins thinks there's something uniquely welcoming about Austin. "Though Austin can and should be better," they say, "it is the only city that has ever felt like home. ... [B]ecause there are many organizers working everyday to make Austin a city where all queer and trans folks can thrive, you are never alone in your experience."

Music artist and transplant from North Carolina Caleb De Casper made Austin his home after playing a show locally. "There is magic here that can transform your whole life if you give into it," he says. De Casper recalls advice a stranger once gave him: If you want to join Austin's queer community, be a creator and not just a consumer. "That doesn't mean you have to be an artist," he explains. "You can create anything from paintings and music to social change and community spaces."

Find more advice from Austin’s queer community at austinchronicle.com/qmmunity, and subscribe to Qmmunity’s weekly newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters.

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Hermajestie the Hung, Aira Juliet, The Glitoris, Erica Nix, KB Brookins, Caleb De Casper, Qmmunity

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