For many, 2010 will mark a year of great growing pains for Pride celebrations in Austin. It's the year the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce decided to move away from one of the best Pride celebrations Austin had ever seen (2009) by ignoring the lessons of history, dismantling the progress that did occur, and reinventing the wheel. As a result, many people were hurt, many differing opinions were dismissed, and many livelihoods were challenged, despite AGLCC's purported mission to represent the earning interest of Austin LGBT, members or not. The harm done by this sort of community fracturing is not irreparable. At any time, anyone in that organization who wants to step up and address the community as the constituency it was entrusted to serve – as opposed to a ripe market, ready for the plucking – the community will embrace.
Now, this is not to say that thousands will not nor should not attend this year's mainstream Pride. Hell no. The crowds will be legion, as they should be. (As of press time, we'll have a booth. Come see us!) No matter who is running it or making bucks off you, it's still your festival. It's still our festival. We empowered the people in charge. Just as we empowered big oil and all the folks who make beaucoup from it, we'd better own our responsibility for the spill in our Gulf of Mexico. We, too, are culpable. And if it isn't the community's mandate to reassess that empowerment, so be it. But at least this year, with regard to Austin Pride, there are clear alternatives.
Enter: QueerBomb. I, personally, Kate Messer (the person, not the Chronicle), was consulted early on in the formation of QueerBomb, and after enjoying the manic energy and prankster ethos, have been loosely affiliated since. QueerBomb as it exists is not one entity. It is a concept. And this year, in Austin, for Austin Pride 2010, QueerBomb has legs and will manifest in the form of a parade and a party (see listings) – one night in Austin without corporate sponsorship and without random unenforceable platitudes. (Seriously. Note to Pride: If Nakia is your barometer, there are so many more within your ranks to fire. He wasn't even affiliated. Nor was the venue at the time. They are now, thanks to your shenanigans.)
Romantic notions of "Z for Zorro," "V for Vendetta," or "I Am Spartacus!" notwithstanding, QueerBomb belongs to not one person or cause.
And just as with the Austin Pride parade audience, everyone is on QueerBomb's guest list. It's free, and everyone is a VIP. Weirdos, normals, the slightly skewed, and those that balk at such reductive labeling: All invited! Families, the kind with responsible parents who are happy to have open discourse with their children about things that are new and challenging and who don't rely on overt censorship at the hand of misguided and inexperienced community leaders: Invited!
Mainstream Priders: Invited! You! Me! Invited!
This is the year that it had to happen. I have been following or attending Austin Prides for almost two decades. And contrary to popular whitewash, AGLCC did not invent Pride. (This is where knowing our history comes in mighty handy.) And nor should they own it. This year, it has taken a public trust and run roughshod over the very people it is entrusted to support.
The Gay Place krewe in general and I, specifically, heartily endorse QueerBomb. But we are not not endorsing AGLCC's Austin Pride. There are hundreds of folks not caught up in the heady debate who are working their butts off to bring us what they believe will be a fabulous community celebration, and they and their intentions deserve to be honored, no matter their community politics or beliefs. We can all agree ... or we can all agree to disagree, no matter. Therein lies the beauty. Therein lies the truth.
Okay, pals, it's time to go out and get our Pride on. We hope you are enjoying this Pride Guide and will use the following list of events to inform your festivities. Whether it looks like a Q or an X or a mixture or both, come out and make your own damn history.
For more on the QueerBomb and Pride debate, see "Split Pride: Gay Event Plans Marred by Tension," News.
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