Meet n' Greet

We attend Pride and Queerbomb meetings! And tell you about it!

Meet n' Greet

This is a tale of two meetings: Queerbomb and Pride – both held Saturday, both open and welcoming to the public. How interesting are meetings, really? Lesbihonest, it was difficult to have to be inside today – as it was, in fact, a freaking phenom day. Shouldn't we be doing something else instead? The answer, queermos, is: No.

Both meetings, in content and demeanor, showcased the organizing principles of each event, and as such are meaningful previews of things to come. Let's get in and go in order.

Austin Pride's meeting was held at 10am at The Highball, and began 40 minutes late, presumably to let everyone have time to order food and mimosas ($1 for those suckers – What?!?!). With the shades drawn, and people sitting at sundry tables, the location gave a hangover-luxe ambiance. There were about 30 in attendance including a number of AGLPF board members and the meeting was run by a sequence of coordinators. Each coordinator – Paul "The Veep" Huddleston, general info, Rick "Muscles" Holmberg for the festival, Russell "Respectable & Rowdy" Millner for the parade, Nathan "Mr. Entertainment" Garcia, for entertainment, Tracy "Feet So Swift" Kasparek for the 5k run, and a proxy for Karen "Head Prez" Thompson for the multi-faith worship service – stood up and made the case for what kind of volunteer work they were seeking.* Pride provided handy-dandy info sheets with the necessary email contact info – also provided on the AGLPF's website. Each event has its own email for volunteers. More info is available online.

Most interesting were the myriad explanations given for why Pride is moving to September. The official word is Pride is changing dates to include the LGBTQ student populations (who, it is assumed, leave for the summer), as well as echoing a similar calendar placement of other cities' Pride celebrations (San Diego, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Dallas were mentioned). These seem less like justifications than positive spin. The org also cited that a Pride event was held in September in the early Nineties, so this recent change in date is a way of "going back to our roots." Some, no doubt, will still have issues with the date change, as Pride celebrations across the country are usually held in June to mark the anniversary of the '69 Stonewall riots. And it could be argued that these are more important "roots" to connect to than an iteration of one particular Austin Pride held in the 1990s. There may be practical reasons for the date change; for example there are often problems with getting overbooked LGBTQ entertainers in June – too many Prides too little time! – as well as LGBTQ Pride "tourists" who spend all of June traipsing from Pride to Pride.

There are many positive signs from this year's Pride planners. This year Pride celebrations are moving to Fiesta Gardens, which seems to be a nice change, as that City of Austin venue doesn't charge exorbitant rental fees and doesn't insist on using a select number of food and beverage vendors (as the Long Center did last year. Speaking of the Long, going to Fiesta also cuts some of that "class aspiration" weirdness last year's venue choice inevitably brought with it for some…). Also gone from the meeting was the constant mention of "family friendliness," which again, is a welcome change. There was talk of a kids' section/area near/next to/the same place as the pet area.

There will still be a VIP area (the air-conditioned building on Fiesta Garden's grounds), but there's a slight move away from the strict hierarchy of last year – which showed nothing less than a simmering contempt for non-profs and those unable to afford entrance. There's a little bit of that here, insofar as money gets you a nice place to cool down. September is still hot, so it would be far greater a gesture to open this space to all attendees – as there will still be an entrance fee. The figure of $10 was mentioned.

There was no discussion of how much Pride would cost nonprofits and vendors, but I'm sure this information will be forthcoming. And as always, we'll be interested in those numbers.

The Queerbomb meeting, two hours later, was held at the Cepeda Branch Library off of Pleasant Valley at noon. The meeting began seven minutes late, and was attended by about 20 people. Being as Queerbomb is only 2 1/2 weeks away (!!!), the discussion at the meeting vacillated between nitty gritty logistics (the numbers of porta-potties) and a (continued) discussion of what Queerbomb is/should be. Those in attendance were seated around tables in a meeting room at the library, so the mood was one of practical urgency – in a non-commercial space.

The meeting was largely run by Bobby "Dandybeard" Johns, who seemed to have a meeting agenda that was flexible for interruptions and new items. Queerbomb this year is composed of a rally, parade, and after-parties (one official, and others adjacent). The rally is at Eastside Drive-in, and there was confirmation of table costs (F-R-E-E for 501c3's and other non-profit entities!!!) and an extended call for volunteers. There was also discussion of ensuring those marching in the parade would be guided safely along the route. At this meeting ideas were bandied about, getting the group to come to a kind of informal consensus about the role and number of Marshas (parade helpers) needed. Other community members, Risa "Fierce Femme" Puleo, Matt "Shayna Punim" Korn, and Beth "The Tatted Brat" Schindler all helped lead discussion.* Silky "Sass-quatch" Shoemaker reiterated the DIY soul of Queerbomb, which provoked an extended discussion about the nature of the event – on which no formal consensus was reached.

If you're interested in volunteering for Queerbomb you can write to

Regardless it's clear from both meetings that these events need PEOPLE, people! So get your little heinies organized and fired up for hot volunteer action.

*All nicknames are my own and are offered with love and admiration. Sorries.

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Queerbomb, Pride, AGLPF, The Highball, Class Aspirations, Cepeda Public Library, Community, Queer Non-Profits, Lesbian, Queer, Gay, Transgender, Allies, Queer Parade, Queer Rally, Queer Fesitival, Austin Pride, Austin Pride 2011

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