Queerbomb parties with Pride, but also stresses the need for activism to continue
Queerbomb, by its very nature, is many things to many people.
Depending on whom you ask, including folks from Austin to Dallas, it’s a nod to the radical roots of the struggle for LGBT equality, or it’s simply a big fucking party.
But in Dallas organizers — including Daniel Villarreal with Queerbomb Dallas that is celebrating its second anniversary on Friday, June 26 — agree it’s an alternative to what they call the increasingly corporatized mainstream Pride celebrations held in Austin and Dallas.
Call it what you want, just don’t call Queerbomb a Pride parade.
Queerbomb was founded in Austin six years ago to provide a freewheeling, gender nonconforming and free alternative to that city’s parade.
“Austin Queerbomb started because many people in the community were not satisfied with Pride being so infused with corporate sponsorship … as most are around the world,” Paul Soileau, one of the founding members of Queerbomb Austin, wrote via e-mail.
“Queerbomb was formed to create a space free of corporate holds on our pride and history, as well as offering a political rally fully equipped with local speakers, a glorious march downtown and an after party to celebrate the joy of it all — all for free.”
Last year, Villarreal co-founded the Dallas offshoot to provide the same kind of alternative.
“[Dallas Pride is] highly corporate and politically impotent. They are only about the audience and spectator,” Villarreal said. “We put together the free event encouraging people to not just be spectators but to participate.”
It’s also political. “You won’t see protest signs or any signs of protest [at Dallas Pride]. The focus seems to be on celebration,” Villarreal said. “Pride is something political. It’s healing, invaluable and empowering.”
Participants get plenty of opportunities to get involved and engage their queer history at this year’s Queerbomb Dallas. Attendees may speak at a political rally, march with fellow activists and/or party until dawn at an event at Texas Theatre featuring drag performers Nikki Trash, Damien Dupree, Elle Ay’Elle,
Helena Isis, Kitty Sangria and more, along with musical performances by soul-funk performer Dezman
Lehman and Tuesday Night Tease DJ DQ.
The political nature of Queerbomb is attractive to Fort Worth’s Joel Flores.
“Queerbomb’s overtly politcal and anti-corporate stance is what attracts me over the Pride celebrations,” he wrote.
The sentiment isn’t confined to Texas. Nationally, writers like Sarah Schulman have offered similar critiques. In her 2014 book, The Gentrification of the Mind, Schulman lashes out not only at the whitewashing — or gentrification — of the radical activism during the AIDS crisis but its link to the rapid development of Manhattan’s once-queer hotspot, the Lower East Side.
Locally, Queerbomb’s timing couldn’t be better: The event as planned could come on the same day as an historic Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, and all at the end of national Pride Month, no less.
The marriage equality ruling will be handed down on either Friday, June 26, or Monday, June 29.
Despite the excitement surrounding the expected ruling, Villarreal said he worries LGBT activism may wither if the court affirms marriage equality.
“I’m worried after the marriage decision a chunk of LGBT rights movement will splinter,” he said. “There’s still a lot to be done.”
One of Queerbomb’s overarching goals — to contribute to LGBT liberation — means they do not just honor one perspective of the past but also look to the future. In a way, Queerbomb also serves as a test for the LGBT community.
“Queerbomb has become for many in Austin a gathering that addresses the current social climate of our people, and our community. It tackles issues every year that are relevant to our past, present and future,” Soileau wrote.
Villareal added, “This just isn’t about celebrating or partying; it can be more and about why we can exist.”
2015 Event Political Rally, Performances and After Party
Open-mic speaker’s corner and rally starting at 7 p.m. in Lake Cliff Park (corner of Colorado and Zang) followed by a community procession at 9 p.m. After-party (18 and up) at 10 p.m.
at Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. Free and open to the public.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 26, 2015.