Austin’s 10 queerest highlights of 2018

Somos Semillas presents a v. large check to RAICES (Photo by Anneke Paterson)

2018 wasn't all bad. Sure, some of our most beloved qmmunity members left us and we don't know when they'll be back again (here's looking at you Gretchen Phillips, Ann Cvetkovich, Paul Soileau). But lots can be counted among the highlights. Take, for example, Austin's queer-focused medical care, which went next-level this year. Or perhaps our city's thriving Pride celebrations – from Austin Pride, to Queerbomb, to Austin Black Pride – there's something (or everything!) for everyone under our rainbow umbrellas. Or the return, success, and creation of our queer festivals. Seriously, our hearts must've grown three sizes this year. Below, in no particular order, you'll find the highlights we believe made 2018 just a little bit better. And by "better" we obviously mean queerer. We'll catch ya in 2019, QTs!

1) Mainstays Celebrate Milestones

Every year a queer org, party, or business survives and thrives is a cause for celebration, and 2018 was no exception. Milestones included allgo, a grassroots org for Central Texas' QTPOC communities, observing their 33rd anniversary, while TGQ Social rang in their 50th meetup.

2) Not One but Two Trans Women Ran for City Council

Danielle Skidmore and Jessica Cohen joined the wave of LGBTQ candidates across the state (and nation) this election season with bids for Districts 9 and 3, respectively. While they weren't Austin's first openly trans Council candidates – Jennifer Gale ran numerous times in the early Aughts – and though neither won, they demonstrated the future: more inclusive, more radical, and queerer politics.

3) Queer and HIV/AIDS-Related Health care

Austin and Travis County committed to achieving 90-90-90 by 2020, to help Austin reach its goal of eliminating AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. AIDS Services of Austin and the Wright House Wellness Center (now with a spiffed-up new name: ASHwell) both opened sexual health clinics, and Kind – for PrEP and gender care – now offers telehealth so you can talk to yer doc over the internet.

4) Showing Up For Each Other

We'd like to tip our snapbacks to Cute Nail Studio for partnering with Out Youth to provide free nail and waxing services to trans and nonbinary youth. To TK Tunchez, Cheer Up Charlies, and the Somos Semillas crew for raising $6,383 for the RAICES Family Reunification Program. And to the 2018 Queer Dance Party Freakout for getting queers to the ballot box.

The Austin Chronicle Qmmunity Pride crew 2018 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

5) Qmmunity Rebrand: A Bigger and Better Gay Place

Fourteen years after Kate Messer unveiled this space to Austin queers, we decided a reboot – and more queer'd content – was needed for 2018. And we're loving it!

6) Oilcan's Still Stands

Austin's longest-operating gay bar shuttered its doors unexpectedly in September, but thanks to Rain stepping in temporarily and STS Warehouse, LLC for taking over a new lease, Oilcan Harry's is still open for business. It's just dropped the "Harry."

7) Pride Didn't Get Rained Out

Hurricane Harvey threw a wrench in Austin Pride 2017, so when the sky grew dark and the rains came hours before this year's parade, all was a panic. But it stopped just in time to leave the floats glistening with more than just glitter.

8) Janelle Monáe's Sets at ACL

Accompanied by an entourage of backup dancers, elaborate outfit changes (ft. the infamous yonic pants), and an actual throne, the recently out singer whipped the crowd into an "emotional, sexual bender" with back-to-back weekend sets destined to go down in festival history.

9) A Great Year for Queer Festivals

Just when you thought Austin's by-queers-for-queers festivals couldn't get any better, they did. The film fest scene got more inclusive with aGLIFF's rebrand to All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival. The inaugural Contrast Film Fest pushed boundaries by showcasing radical queer- and women-centered cinema. Austin International Drag Festival curated their first-ever KingFest to highlight the artistry of drag kings and masculine-of-center performers, while Gender Unbound doubled in days and illuminated the many talents of trans and intersex creators for its third year in a row.

10) "Best Of Austin" 2018

We've said it once, we'll say it again: The winner's circle was so very, incredibly queer. Let's give 'em all one last round of applause for being so damn awesome!

2 To Do

Violent Fem Take a break from the cookies, leave the ugly sweaters at home, and prepare to be dazzled by Austin's most high-voltage, most dangerous drag queens. Hentaii, Ruby Knight, Zane Zena, Noodles, CupCake, Rosalind Hussell, Tatiana Cholula, Cherry Haze, Veronica Valentine, and Chitah Daniels embrace their femme fatale onstage. Fri., Dec. 28, 10pm-2am. Swan Dive, 615 Red River. $5.

Bottoms Up Disco: A NYE Dance Party Look, there's loads of rad, queer to queerish events vying for your time and booty-shaking this night, and we think you'll be dancin' in bubbly anywhere you go (see the rest below). But we just love the curvrageous babes of Fat Bottom Cabaret. So if you're looking to drop it low, DJ See Jane Spin will help, while glam queens Althea Trix, Kitty Von Quim, Dandy Velour, Lana Del Gay serve you 2019 style. Mon., Dec. 31, 10pm-2am. Dozen Street, 1808 E. 12th. $10.

Q'd Up

Happy Hour With Simone A wild 'n' crazy HH with Simone Riviera, her world-famous Kappa Gamma Mascara punch, and live underwear models. Thu., Dec. 27, 6pm. Package Menswear, 1114 W. Fifth #202. www.packagemenswear.com.

Class Transitions An intimate strength training class developed for Austin's trans community by trainer extraordinaire Erica Nix. Thursdays, 6:30-7:30pm. Transform, 1909 Wheless. $15. www.transformfitnessaustin.com.

Drag Bingo and Texas Hold ’Em Game night at BT2 with drag bingo from 7-9pm and Texas Hold 'Em at 9pm. Thursdays, 7pm. Bout Time II, 6607 N. I-35. Free.

Neon Rainbows Nineties Country Night Yeehaw cowboiz! Getcher two-step on with DJ GirlFriend. Thu., Dec. 27, 9pm-1am. Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River. Free.

Workout! With Erica Nix Make exercise fun again. Dance, cardio, and strength training workouts inspired by Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Big Freedia, and voguing. Mon., Wed., and Fri., 6:10-7:10pm. Transform, 1909 Wheless. $15. www.transformfitnessaustin.com.

ToyBOX: Winter Wonderland? Papi and Chique perform their winter prep with Mad Max Morrison, Zane Zena, and more with DJ MouthNOIZ. BYOB, bbs. Sat., Dec. 29, 9pm-12mid. Hive Mind Hair Co., 3011 N. I-35. $6 suggested donation.

Bear Beer Bust Iron Bear's beer bust brings all the boys to the bar. Sundays, 2pm. The Iron Bear, 121 W. Eighth.

Die Felicia Presents Horror Classics Louisianna Purchase and Zane Zena wish you the merriest of holidays with a special screening of Gremlins. Sun., Dec. 30, 8:30-11:30pm. Barrel O' Fun, 1911 Aldrich Ste. 120-B. Free.

CupCake Bar Trivia Get schooled by Professor CupCake, leading Austin's gayest trivia game while Bobby Cook slings cheap drinks your way. Mondays, 7-9pm. Rain on 4th, 217 W. Fourth, 512/494-1150. www.rainon4th.com.

New Year’s Eve 2018/2019 A free NYE par-tay to ring in 2019! DJ Alpha, sweaty bears, and a champagne toast at midnight to getcha feeling bubbly for the new year. Mon., Dec. 31, 9pm. The Iron Bear, 121 W. Eighth. Free.

Saved by the Ball 2: The Max CUC is traveling back to better times and hipper diners – à la The Max from Saved by the Bell. DJs GirlFriend and Big Daddy B are setting the NYE scene with classic middle school dance party jams. So channel yer inner Zack, Kelly, and Lisa, and we'll see you on the dance floor. Mon., Dec. 31, 9pm. Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River. $5-7.

NYE Drag Party Rhonda Jewels and Drink Babe get glitzy for 2019 with DJs, drink specials, a countdown, and a fizzy toast come midnight. Mon., Dec. 31, 10pm. Irene's, 506 West Ave.

Free Week With Caleb De Casper & More Austin's queerest glam goth rocker joins Honey Made, the Reputations, Lord Buffalo, Whit, Hong Kong Wigs, Cheap Wave, and Oh Honey No! for a night of play. Wed., Jan. 2, 6pm. Empire Control Room, 606 E. Seventh. www.empireatx.com.

Free Week With Big Bill, Sailor Poon, Pelvis Wrestley Pick up the beat – it's pretty queer here – this winter Free Week at CUC. Wed., Jan. 2, 8pm-1:30am. Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River. Free.

Want more queer? Visit austinchronicle.com/qmmunity

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