Celebrating Pride is an ‘act of revolution,’ organizer says
We started QueerBomb four years ago because we sensed a need for change in the community, specifically in the way we celebrate Pride,” explained QueerBomb organizer Daniel Mullens-Spencer.
“We wanted to do a Pride celebration that was in Pride Month, one that was free from any corporate entanglements,” he continued. “We wanted a celebration that was a truly raw representation of our whole community, something that was free and fun and some place that everyone can come to and feel welcome.”
QueerBomb is being held Saturday, June 24, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at RBC, located at 2617 Commerce St. in Deep Ellum. It will include a rally and a march as well as a dance party featuring live entertainment, and it is designed, Mullens-Spencer noted, to be as much a political statement as a celebration.
“We’re going to a have a rally full of all kinds of local organizations. We will have LGBT artists and crafters there. Lawna Jocqui [with the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence] will emcee the rally, and we will have a whole line-up of beautiful speakers from different parts of the community, parts of our community who don’t normally get their voices heard,” he said.
Those speakers include trans activist Drew Jones, 2017 South Central Leather boy Dontrel Johnson and Niecee X with the Black Women’s Defense League.
“We really want to bring all these voices forward,” Mullens-Spencer said.
At the heart of the QueerBomb philosophy, he said, is the idea of “taking Pride back to its roots. The original Pride parades were protests and marches, and they were extremely political. Being out there, being ourselves and being proud is an act of revolution, in our opinion — especially in this current political climate.”
Right-wing politicians currently in power — in the federal government and especially here in Texas — have put the LGBTQ community clearly in their sights. Mullens-Spencer said QueerBomb and its supporters aren’t going to let them keep the community down.
“Yes, Pride is a celebration,” he said. “But we embrace the political side of celebrating who we are. They [right-wing politicans] want us to be afraid.
They want us to disappear. In QueerBomb, we say nope. We are not going anywhere, and we are not going to be silent.”
That’s one reason that QueerBomb is held outside what is commonly thought of as the gayborhood. “We go into a straight club, in a straight area to hold our celebration, our rally. Because we want people to see us, to see who we are and that we will not go away,” Mullens-Spencer said.
Last year, QueerBomb was dedicated to the victims and survivors of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. This year, it is dedicated to LGBTQ youth. “They are some of the bravest, most amazing young people in the country, and especially here in Texas, where our governor and lieutenant governor have put them under attack,” Mullens-Spencer said.
While some have seen QueerBomb’s more activist Pride events in June as being at odds with Dallas’ traditional Pride events — the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, this year sponsored by Lakewood Brewing Co., and the Festival in the Park, held each year in mid-September — Mullens-Spencer said there’s room for both.
Mullens-Spencer said that while he personally tends to be more on the in-the-streets, in-your-face end of the LGBT activism spectrum, he knows that those who work behind the scenes play an important role as well. He sees these difference between QueerBomb and the September Pride events as similar to the differences between in-the-street activism and behind-the-scenes activism.
“I certainly don’t want to try and put any rules on what you can and can’t be proud of, or what and how you can and can’t celebrate,” Mullens-
Spencer said. “We chose to have our Pride event at the end of June because that is the actual anniversary of Stonewall [June 28]. We got tired of people not knowing why we celebrate Pride, why June is Pride Month. QueerBomb is a remembrance of Stonewall and everything it stood for and everything it meant.”
He also pointed to a recent controversy over the city of Philadelphia’s decision to add a black stripe and a brown stripe to the usual six-color rainbow Pride flag as an example of why QueerBomb strives to be as inclusive as possible.
“I’ve heard people — mainly white cisgender [LGBT] people — complaining about the extra stripes, saying that the flag already represented everyone,” Mullens-Spencer said. “I tell them to think about it this way, think of the brown and black stripes as a reminder of the diversity of our community. Those two stripes represent the parts of our community that are in the most danger right now, that are the most under attack. It is absolutely appropriate to lift up those people right now. It is the right thing to do at this juncture.
“I think,” he continued, “that we really need to stop and take a step back and look at ourselves right now. We want people to treat us better, but we have to be better, too. We want to get to a place of equality, but if we want to get there, we have to take everybody with us.”
Again, though, he said, Mullens-Spencer isn’t saying that those who choose to stay with the six-stripe rainbow flag are wrong.
“Every expression [of Pride] is valid and has weight,” he said. “I’m not saying everyone has to be the same or think the same. I personally find the brown and black stripes to be be very beautiful. I think adding them to the flag mends some rips in our community. There is lots of baggage we have carried with us for a long time; we have to move beyond that. That’s what QueerBomb is about.
“A ‘bomb’ can mean a lot of things,” Mullens-Spencer concluded, “and sometimes, things have to come apart to be rebuilt better. We have to have conversations like these. We will end up being a healthier community because of it.”
QueerBomb Dallas 2017
Saturday, June 24
Rally, march and party
RBC, 2617 Commerce St., Deep Ellum
5 p.m.: Rally Yard opens, with DJ Shams, local organizations and artists hosting booths.
6 p.m.: Countdown to Impact with spoken word artists Lady BSmoove, Gayle Bell and Rodd Gray, followed by a performance by Mercury Rocket.
8 p.m.: Pride Rally, hosted by Sister Lawna Jocqui of the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and featuring speakers South Central Leather boy 2017 Dontrel Johnson, Niecee X of the Black Women’s Defense League, trans activist Drew Jones, artist and QueerBomb organizer Alex Stone and activist/artist and QueerBomb organizer Daniel Mullens-Spencer.
8:30 p.m.: QUEERBOMB, when the LGBTQ community takes to the streets of Deep Ellum to celebrate Pride.
9:30 p.m.- midnight: Big D Queer Dance Freakout and Celebrate on the Rally Yard stage with DJ Wiley, DJ Athena and DJ Night Nurse.
10 p.m.: Bombshell Drag Spectacular on the RBC Main Stage, hosted by Raquel Blake, with special guests BLEACH! Nicole O’Hara Munro, Kandy Cayne, Fantasha and a special midnight performance by Starfruit.
Big Pride in Little D
A coalition of groups is celebrating Big Pride in Little D — or PriDenton — with several events on June 25.
The day’s activities begin with Denton Trans-Cendence hosting the first Denton Trans March. The group will gather at Denton Square at 2 p.m. and march “to the Denton Pride Event at Oak Street Drafthouse, where we will join the rest of the LGBT community in celebrating PRIDE in Denton,” Denton Transcendence wrote on its Facebook page.
Oak Street Drafthouse, several blocks east of the square, hosts PriDenton from 2-8 p.m., billing it as “a family-friendly gathering of fun and fellowship with our beautiful diverse community.” Located in one of the oldest houses in Denton, the drafthouse’s outdoor yard has picnic tables and is dog-friendly. Food trucks will be parked on the street for the occasion.
One PriDenton sponsor is t-shirt printer Pan Ector that will offer on-site printing of Denton, Pride and LGBT t-shirts.
Other sponsors include University of North Texas Pride Alliance, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, OUTreach Denton, Glitterbomb, CRUZ Consulting and Diversity Training and Texas Queerlesque Festival. OUTreach Denton began with LGBT youth programming by the Unitarian Church in Denton and has expanded to offer other LGBT social and activist events. Glitterbomb performs a variety show weekly at Mable Peabody’s.
Mable Peabody’s, Denton’s LGBT bar that is located close to Texas Women’s University of East University Drive, hosts a weekend of Pride events beginning Friday, June 23 with Queeraoke. Saturday is Omni-Freak Dance Night and on Sunday doors open at 4 p.m. for free hotdogs and chips.
On Saturday, the food truck venue Backyard on Bell, 410 North Bell Ave. in Denton hosts comedians, Dezi 5 and RuPaul Drag Race star Sharon Needles. Proceeds from the event benefit local nonprofits and LGBT individuals in need. The event takes place from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Needles is set to take the stage at 11 p.m.
— David Taffet
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.