On August 26, the Austin PRIDE Parade will sweep through Congress Avenue for its 28th annual march from the Texas State Capitol. The parade––which will feature approximately 150 groups, floats, and performances––is the culmination of a week of festivities and events across the city in celebration of LGBTQ pride. The theme of this year’s event is VIVA!, which organizers at the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation (AGLPF) hope will highlight the diversity of our city’s queer community.
The colorful weekend kicks off on Thursday, August 24 with the fifth annual WERK Fashion Show in ACL Live Moody Theater. Attendees of this event will enjoy entertainment by RuPaul Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio and the famed and comical Coco Peru. This year’s show will feature designs by nine Project Runway contestants, as well as performances by Raja, Shangela, Raven, and Eden XO. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Proceeds of the show will go to benefit the Austin LGBTQ Community Center. Tickets and info can be found online at www.werkfashionshow.com.
PRIDE Festival will take place at Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach on Saturday, August 26. Doors to this family-friendly event will open at 11 a.m. and festivities will continue until 6:30 p.m. The event will feature games and carnival rides, a family area, drinks, food, and over 150 booths of local non-profits organizations and businesses. The PRIDE Festival is the largest annual LGBTQ fundraising event in Central Texas, with dozens of participating non-profit organizations and social clubs informing and interacting with festival attendees. Austin PRIDE Festival is also proud to be the setting for Central Texas’s largest HIV testing day of the year, where several local services can reach those populations most at-risk for HIV.
The Festival will boast two entertainment areas: the Main Stage and the East Stage, each showcasing an impressive lineup of musical artists and pop culture icons. Attendees can look forward to performances by Lisa Lisa, Betty Who, Cupcakke and AB Soto. Tickets to the festival can be found online at www.austinpride.org/tickets. Additionally, those who would like to get involved in the festival may register to volunteer on the official website. General admission for this event is $17 and is free for volunteers. Registration for volunteer spots will end two weeks prior to the Festival and Parade.
Make sure you head over directly from the Festival to stake out the best viewing area for the PRIDE Parade. Free to the public, the parade is Austin PRIDE week’s largest and most celebrated event. Last year’s PRIDE Parade drew over 350,000 attendees and Director Alejandro Victoria looks forward to “having this year be even bigger and better than years past.” Given recent events – like the introduction of transgender-discriminating bathroom legislation and the election of a President who threatens to reverse social gains – the Austin queer community has an urgent cause to take to the streets and march in the name of pride. Though queer Austinites are fortunate to live in a city with a supportive mayor, city council, and a new LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission, the fight for equality is not yet over. This year, it will be especially important for the city to celebrate the strides that the queer community has overcome, while also acknowledging the work still to be done.
There is nonetheless plenty to celebrate and Parade is the perfect opportunity for spectators and participants to do just that! The Parade, which kicks off at 8 p.m., will feature two emcee stages––one on Congress Ave. at the Paramount Theatre, and one on the rooftop of Rain on 4th. This year, Chris Saldana of CBS Austin and Holly Marie Combs will be among the masters of ceremonies. The Parade route will start at the Capitol grounds, where over 150 floats and groups will march down Congress, through the Warehouse District on 4th street, and end at Republic Square. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend, so parking will be limited. Public transportation, ride sharing, and carpooling are strongly encouraged for all PRIDE Weekend events. Organizers have also confirmed that much of the Parade route will be handicap accessible.
Those to whom one weekend of PRIDE is not enough are in luck! There are plenty of other official PRIDE events, leading up to big weekend. These include Bobby and Topher’s Big Gay Brunch, the PRIDE SPLASH pool party at Barton Springs, and the Official Women’s Party to name a few. For tickets, dates, and more detailed information, check out the events section at www.facebook.com/austinpride.
As always, attendees can feel at ease purchasing tickets from and donating to PRIDE Austin. The Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation is the non-profit organization that organizes and executes the annual PRIDE Celebration and Stonewall Rally. AGLPF formed the Austin PRIDE Cares program in 2011 to further its mission to educate, resource, and connect the LGBTQ community in Central Texas. A component of the program includes a board evaluation of annual financials, and, when in surplus, a donation of proceeds back into the community.
Since its inception, the Austin PRIDE Cares program has donated over $125,000 to several non-profit organizations and causes.
A final tip to attendees from Alejandro Victoria: “Dress lightly, wear plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!” We at TODO Austin are pumped about the festival, and we hope you will be too!