Saturday night was the 4th annual Queerbomb gay pride celebration, which created an inspired brew of glitter-infused queer soup that flooded the streets right outside of Pine Street Station in East Austin. A pinch of fairy wing, a teaspoon of teased-out wig and a dash of leather harness marched — and twerked — through Austin. Hundreds of lesbian, gay, transgendered, allies, marching bands, drag queens and all things queer made their way from Brushy Street down Sixth Street, crossing North at Brazos and making their way back to the starting point from Seventh Street.
Queerbomb was created in direct reaction to Austin Pride, the "official" Pride celebration in town. The statement on Queerbomb’s Indiegogo fundraising profile explains that this alternate endeavor is meant to be a, “radical celebration during the month of Pride to honor the courageousness of the Stonewall riots and to challenge the corporate heteronormative structures of Gay Pride celebrations within our community and around the globe.”
With business sponsorships funding the main Austin Pride festival, the typically celebrated free expression of Gay Pride was being suppressed in exchanged for a family-friendly event. This left many leaders in the Austin queer community feeling as if they were once again being labeled as the other.
Jesus Valles, a recent transplant to Austin, celebrated his first Queerbomb Saturday night and felt that the rhetoric behind the movement was important.
“A lot of it is a reaction to how straight-laced gay pride festivals can get because of corporate sponsorship and because of cultural norms as a whole… and who doesn’t love costumes? Throw some glitter on that hump. The fact that it’s Queerbomb as opposed to LGBT blah blah blah Pride — it’s about the unification of the community as opposed to separating interests,” said Valles.
The parade was an energized success, with shocked Sixth Street patrons standing agape on the sidewalks, taking pictures so they could prove to their friends that they did, in fact, see a topless woman wearing a full chicken headdress.
The rally that preceded the parade suffered the only minor set back of the evening. Paul Soileau, one of the Queerbomb organizers, explained that this was the first year that Queerbomb worked with the city to ensure police escorts and a secured parade route. This put the rally and the parade start time on a strict schedule, which was running behind. With six speakers from various inclusive Austin organizations on the docket, only Jordan Kimmell, a Round Rock Gay Straight Alliance queer youth member, was able to speak.
Kimmell’s two minutes did not go unnoticed. She thanked the previous generations of proud LGBTQIA people for paving the way for her and her peers to feel safe in being open about who they are.
With that, a sparkling, rainbow prism of like-minded people hit the streets with the message of acceptance. It was just another hot, queer, June night in Austin, Texas.