Queer South By Proficiency Check
Your search for queer fun at SXSW is just a dice roll away with Qmmunity's recommendations
By James Scott, Fri., March 10, 2023
To my queers and allies, prithee that I might speak in honest terms about how South by Southwest is actually, like, really overwhelming. The idea of hanging out in a big convention center trying to navigate a sea of polo shirts and Patagonia puffer vests just to stumble into a panel on whether "Mind Control for Good" is possible just doesn't spark joy, personally speaking. Let's cut away the chuffa, and go straight for the good part: Grab your closest D20, roll, and get a number. Whatever numerical set you land in will have a corresponding high-quality queer SXSW recommendation attached that you can attend. No networking or panicked schedule shuffling required.
Ah, so you've rolled for the film track, have ye? Great news: South By is busting with choices for the queer cinephile. Check out Emma Seligman's Bottoms, a sapphic comedy starring Seligman's Shiva Baby lead Rachel Sennott, whose recent hilarious turn as an online brain-rot victim/podcaster in Bodies Bodies Bodies remains legendary in the Chronicle production room, and The Bear breakout Ayo Edebiri, who the more cultured among us may recognize from her and former Gawker writer Olivia Craighead's celeb podcast, Iconography. They play two high school seniors whose desire to chase cheerleader skirts results in their founding a school fight club. Well, it worked for Edward Norton, didn't it?
Take off your headphones and enjoy the live music capital the way it was meant to be experienced: at a corporate Festival that ditched its fling from last year, NFTs, to discuss the latest AI girlfriend app in complete seriousness. Well, no worries: The queer music still bangs no matter how you hear it, so make time to catch the Ophelias, a Cincinnati-based band of women and nonbinary artists, when they play Central Presbyterian Church on March 14. Their sound is, and I quote, "inspired by nostalgia, nature, the Midwest, horror movies, and the moon," which to my uncultured ears gives perfect headphones on while staring out the rain-spattered window in your parents' car conjuring melancholy over your best friend not texting you back vibes.
You have to learn something at this cultural behemoth of a Festival, and it might as well be cool queer stuff. Go for the topical route and attend the Don't Be a Drag, Just Be a Queen session on March 16, where stars of RuPaul's Drag Race like Gottmik, Jaida Essence Hall, and Symone talk with the Trevor Project's Kevin Wong about every angle of drag. From its historical roots to its current forms and its endangered status in multiple legislative bodies – including this very state's! – these queens are spilling so much tea you ought to bring a digestive biscuit for dipping. Mmm, spicy.
Look, let me level with you. You are actually getting my best recs in this category, because I write a column every week about Austin's queer community and I'm very biased about it. Get thee to Vanguard: The Drag Revolution on March 16, a session hosted by the creator of Austin's regular Tuesday drag show of the same name, Hermajestie the Hung. Alongside this legend of the ATX queer scene will be local drag superstars Amber Nicole Davenport, Amy Graves, and Sha'nyia Ellis Narcisse for a discussion on the ways Austin's Black, queer, and trans artists are changing the city's nightlife landscape. Also, the program notes hint at a possible announcement of their opening what would be the first and only Black-owned queer nightclub/cabaret in Austin. I'm obvi obsessed. Another rec (See? Biased AF: I'm giving you TWO recs here!) goes to the tri-talented lineup for Fifth Street club the North Door's March 15 show. Not only will you witness queer hip-hop and ballroom baddie BabiBoi spinning their hot new tunes, but the lineup also includes Austin Music Award nominee Turito, fka Y2K, whose work as a DJ and digital artist move yer body like few others, and the first trans AMA winner, p1nkstar, who displays the incredible artistry that won her Best Electronic every time she performs.
Get to know Austin's queer scene outside of SXSW by checking out Qmmunity's news and events coverage at austinchronicle.com/qmmunity. Pro tip: Our guide to queer Austin biz is a great place to start!