It’s Pride Month, and the rainbow flags are popping up again. Austin is known for being especially queer-friendly, so in many ways, it’s just business as usual in the capital city.
But the extra-celebratory events are now in full-swing, as is the discourse around the sides of pride that really aren't that useful: selling products with a gay image and no real community support, leaving out parts of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and creating pressure to smile through the hard parts of embracing a marginalized identity.
The following events around Austin this June all drive revenue for queer artists, offer free wellness opportunities to community members, or gather donations for advocacy organizations. Not only are they fun — celebrating adds something tangential to LGBTQ life in Austin. Then, rest up in July and plan to get right back at it in August for Austin Pride.
Before June 24
Waterloo Greenway — "Pride in the Park"
Part of the fun of Pride Month is watching community spaces transform for the occasion, and Waterloo Greenway is a great example of how mainstream that can get. The park's summer programming plan, like a few others in the city, includes a block of Pride scheduling: fitness classes June 5-7, a conversation about intersectionality on June 8, a family-friendly event on June 10, and four hours of performances later that evening headlined by the House of Lepore.
Circle Brewing and Equality Texas — "Beer for All"
Equality Texas was very busy during the recent legislative session, fighting bills that target drag performers and gender-diversity. Circle Brewing, an Austin brewery known for its events, is helping to support the advocacy organization through donations — the new "Fanny Pack Kolsch" will be released on June 10, and each pack sold will send a $1 to Equality Texas. The release event will include live music, face painting, and a vendor market. Plus, guests can take home "Fanny Pack" in themed cans and Yeti can insulators for extra fundraising.
Electric Shuffle — "Shuffle with Pride"
Sundays throughout June
The new high-tech shuffleboard venue Electric Shuffle is partnering with Qwell, a community organization for better LGBTQIA+ health and wellbeing, for a weekly fundraising drag brunch series. Electric Shuffle will donate 10 percent of each brunch's sales to Qwell. Every Sunday in June starting at 12 PM, we’ll be hosting a fabulous Drag Brunch and donating 10 percent of those brunch sales to QWELL. For guests, that means well-known performers and a "Drag Race Royalty special guest," shuffleboard games, DJ sets, and an over-the-top menu with a bottle of sparkling wine for each guest. A new Prickly Pear Margarita, available through August, also generates a $1 donation for each sale.
Paramount Theatre — "Majestic Ball Week"
Reading may be fundamental, but so is watching LGBTQ films. Some of those are screening at the Paramount Theatre leading up to its Majestic Ball: sapphic thriller Bound; rock and roll trans identity film Hedwig and the Angry Inch; 2017 Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Moonlight; indie trans sex-work film Tangerine; and influential drag film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The ball on June 24 invites Austinites to attend a special ballroom competition hosted by Diamond Dior Davenport and the Legendary Mother Natalie Lepore, with a performance by Fat Bottom Cabaret. Tickets ($22-34) are available at austintheatre.org.
Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, KUTX, and local 4th Street businesses — "4th Street Block Party"
The LGBT Chamber of Commerce has ties with tons of businesses in Austin that don't just espouse positivity during Pride Month; They create meaning and revenue in the community year-round. This end-of-Pride block party on June 24 serves as the 4th Annual Pride in Local Music celebration with performances by Gina Chavez, Primo the Alien, Promqueen, and more. The Little Gay Shop will be there with its curated market, and so will local businesses like Rain on 4th, Oilcan Harry’s, Neon Grotto, and more, including the brand-new Estelle’s. Tickets (suggested donation of $10) are available at austinlgbtchamber.com.
Mutual Love — "Rest Fest"
Our asexual comrades don't see tons of representation during Pride, but they belong at these events all the same. One that is not specifically ace-allied still gives a respite from the louder, more mainstream events for a softer side of Pride: yoga, relaxation, and pizza. The trans-led event welcomes all ages, and opts out of alcohol. Activities include a mobile tattoo studio, tarot readings, massages, bounce houses, and a dunk tank fundraiser for trans healthcare, among other activations. RSVP for the free event on Eventbrite.
Communities for Recovery — "Peace, Love, Joy & Recovery: A Celebration of LGBTQIA+ Wellness"
LGBTQ people have a unique — and sometimes uniquely challenging — relationship with mental health, substance use, and self-care that can be deeply impacted by a sense of community or isolation. Communities for Recovery, at the Austin State Hospital, is partnering with The Phoenix Austin and Thrive: Neurodivergence and Mental Health Activities Group for a local artist showcase. They're looking for visual art and poetry, as well as collaborations with organizations working on similar goals, so they can connect visitors with the help they need. RSVP on Eventbrite.
After June 24
Sky Candy — Local Pride: Student Showcase
Few communities, if any, know more about celebrating our differences than circus artists, and one of Austin's most popular aerial studios is holding a special student showcase in honor of pride. The showcase sets choreography on silks, lyra, sling, trapeze, and cube to music by local queer musicians, and the studio will offer free rapid HIV testing and information on PrEP the day-of and after the show (June 30 and July 1). Tickets ($15-120) are available on Eventbrite.