South by Gay-west

The official unofficial SXSW recommendations for your queer Austin experience

Catch Kiki Machine at Girls, Gays, & Theys on Friday (Photo by @heyjinnij)

Picture this: You’re strung out from days of startup talk, and you simply can’t take another conversation about artificial intelligence that doesn’t concern how hot Jude Law is as Gigolo Joe. We here at the Institute of Queer Austin call this South by Southwest syndrome. The only cure: an unofficial party featuring local talent on local soil, free from tech talk or corporate chatter. In the interest of keeping y’all informed and healthy, we at the Institute have gathered recommendations of events considered to be “cool as hell” and “enjoyable for the average Joe or Josephine.” This message is brought to you by Austin’s bevy of great queer drag artists, musicians, and organizers who keep the underground, outsider spirit of the city alive.

Keep up to date with the latest in queer Austin-area events by following Qmmunity on Instagram (@qmmunity_ac) or checking the weekly column online at

Girls, Gays, & Theys

Friday 8, Cheer Up Charlies

An L.A. original, this platform for up-and-coming queer artists sprang from the cannabusiness person behind weed event org PuffDAO, Ashlee Belzo, in late 2022. After rocking the City of Angels with performers like Ryan Cassata and Praise Kink, GGT moseys on over to the Lone Star State with a lineup of Austin-area artists. Soak in sets by Noah Vonne, Arya, and Kiki Machine among neon lights, but get there early to enjoy DJ Super McN4sty blasting dance beats. Wonder if anybody’d object to a few puffs o’ Delta-8 during the festivities? If you plan to partake, better bring enough to share.

Poo Poo Platter: A Drag Tribute to the Cure vs. Depeche Mode

Friday 8, Elysium

Are you looking for your own “Personal Jesus” or want to find a place “Just Like Heaven”? Nowhere better to be for you than Austin’s best goth hangout, where monthly drag showcase Poo Poo Platter features local queens and kings pitting Cure against Depeche. Regular cast members like Bubu, Kitty Taylor, Summer Clearance, CupCake, and Basura are joined by special guests MK Ultra, Venus Rising, Solovino, and Good Lucifer – with the promise of many more names to come. Maybe “Boys Don’t Cry,” but you’ll certainly be sobbing when you “reach out and touch faith” during this drag show.


Saturday 9 + 16, Irene’s

Second time around the South By sun means Irene’s has packed twice as much local love into this year’s unofficial brunch bonanza. Of course, you’ve got music talent filling the roster: self-described “maryland girl in an austin tx world” Lizzie Budin, indie-folk duo Manesayer, and former American Idol contestant Gabi Turner. Hm, you might think, not quite gay enough. Well, think again: These brunches will be buoyed by a vendor market featuring Austin’s own Little Gay Shop – so nab queermade merch that’ll put dollars in the pockets of ATX gays rather than some dude’s startup.

p1nkstar at the Austin Music Awards (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Locals at SXSW

So you sold your soul and have a SXSW badge. Still wanna keep the local spirit? Here’s a few SXSW “official” queer Austinites to keep an eye out for.

Neon Rainbows

Monday 11, The Parish

The brainchild of local cowboy DJ Boi Orbison bolstered by "Dolly of ATX" Brigitte Bandit’s drag

Ivy Wei Chiu

Wednesday 13, Convention Center

Nonbinary filmmaker whose current projects include I Need Space, a docu- series on Austin queer nightlife


Wednesday 13, Convention Center

Electronica artist who holds the title of first trans winner of an Austin Music Award


Thursday 14, Rozco’s

Nonbinary choreographer, creative director, and musician whose dance routines rock any stage they take

Thelonious Love

Thursday 14, Rozco’s

R&B musician whose soulful songs mark his newest album Love Me Naught

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