Dyke in Gold Knickers
Radical carnal expression celebrates its third QueerBomb
Last year I showed up to the QueerBomb rally with a truckload of ladies and about a pound of Aqua Net in my hair. We had slapped on some coordinating swashbuckling colors and called ourselves "Pussy Pirates." I milled around the information tables which circled the lot like pioneer wagons and watched the negative space fill up with queers and their families and supporters, young and old. As I was turning toward the stage to hear the speakers, a fella with a shoe-shine box caught my attention. He had walked in off the street, just wanting to see what the fuss was about. And, he said, he noticed the only thing not shiny about me, was my boots. How could I say no? He delivered his free buff and polish with just a dash of kneeling-at-your-feet erotic finesse. This was his QueerBomb: to kneel at the feet of a dyke in golden knickers, and let the boot black say, "Right on. You're queer, you're here, and I'm into it."
Whether or not you are especially LGBTQI or A, come June 2, those who are will be making some joyful noise on the streets of Austin. Some of the noise will be familiar. It will be about equality, visibility, and community engagement. And some will come out a bit juicier, as QueerBomb celebrates sexual self-expression, gender emancipation, and the right to bear sequins, assless chaps, and neon weave.
QueerBomb began in Austin in 2010 – the result of a small group of artists, activists, and friends being fed up with an annual gay Pride celebration they felt didn't represent them. Corporate sponsorship, censored personal expression, and pay-to-parade policies were leaving a bad taste in the mouths of an increasing number of Austin queers. Vanilla pride had become downright unpalatable to a section of the queer community that identifies more as a rainbow of fruit flavors, pun intended. QueerBomb organizer Beth Schindler, who's been involved with the group since its inaugural year, put it this way, "The whole definition of being gay or being queer is about your sexuality. So it's hard to take that element out of it. If you take the sexy, carnal stuff out, it's just an awesome parade."
The alternative rally, procession, and afterparty of QueerBomb are all free, and the group promises that it will stay that way. The group also prides itself on proactively encouraging the range of queer expression. It's full of kids, and elders, and people with their freak flags in full furl, and everyone seems to love it that way. And since the Austin Gay Lesbian Pride Foundation, the organization that hosts Austin's annual and "official" Pride, moved its parade to September, QueerBomb has become the primary Austin celebration for the nationwide month of Pride. (AGLPF will host a Stonewall Rally later in June.)
QueerBomb starts with a rally, but everyone seems to agree that the heart of QB is the procession. This is where, straight from the manifesto, we "reclaim the radical, carnal, and transgressive lineage of our ever-changing community." There's a lot of reclaiming that happens. I see Austin queers claiming and reclaiming their identities, shame-free sexuality, involvement over apathy, and the essential importance of performing these things in public spaces.
I say "we," not because I had anything to do with pulling this off organizationally. It's just hard not to say it. It feels right. To participate in QueerBomb is to own it. Organizer Paul Soileau (also known around town as Rebecca Havemeyer and Christeene) says, "It's yours. No one is giving it to you. Like we said when we did the fundraising: It's the best party you are going to throw all year. So bring it, spread it, do it." And people are doing just that.
Austin is catching on to what the New Orleans-style participant parade is all about. If you have a group, you represent – be it Central Texas Boys of Leather, Out Youth, or Erica Nix's workout crew. If you have a creative bone in your body, you put it to use, with dance crews, zombie walkers, bike floats, and giant puppets, all of which are rumored to appear at the march. Austin, pay attention. Now on year three, the march/rally/hot-sweaty queer party continues to expand exponentially, from 800 the first year to more than 5,000 expected this Saturday.
"The baby's got legs now," says Soileau. "It's walking. And it's knocking shit off the shelves."
The QueerBomb Rally starts Sat, June 2, 6pm, at Pine Street Station, 1101 E. Fifth, and will feature booths from local nonprofits and community groups, a merch table, a full cash bar, and rousing speeches from the main stage.
The procession will leave from the rally. Feel free to unleash your noisemakers, dancing, chants, flags, signs, banners, costumes, and bike or wagon floats. Pedicabs provided for whomever needs them (inquire at email@example.com). The march moves west on Sixth Street, proceeds north along Congress, and back east via Seventh Street to Pine Street Station, where there will be a formidible throwdown.
The afterparty features DJs, a number of full bars, dancing, reveling, the hugging of friends, chatting up your neighbors, and macking.
Trannyshack!, Friday, June 1, at the ND at 501 Studios (501 N. Brushy) and Queer Night, Gear Night, Saturday, June 2, at the Chain Drive (504 Willow).
See www.queerbomb.org for more details.
Check out the Gay Place, p.59 for a full list of events. See more online at: austinchronicle.com/gay.