Pride on the Water

This month, the Galveston Island Pride Festival debuts as a new community event with plans to become an annual tradition.
PFestivalBy Tim Brookover

For a city that for generations has welcomed so many queer folk, Galveston surprisingly lacks gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender public celebrations. Other than Houston Splash, the colorful African American Pride celebration that lands on East Beach on one Sunday in May, the city has few annual queer event traditions. (The ambiguously gay Dickens on the Strand and Mardi Gras don’t count, though the Mardi Gras-related Krewe of Banners party may be the closest event thus far to a GLBT happening on the Island.) Now Laura Villagrán, the publisher of the Gay Yellow Pages directory and the website GayIslander.com, plans to fill that gap with a GLBT Pride weekend, which debuts this month.

Josh Duffy performs at the Galveston Pride Fest

The October 26–28 Galveston Island Pride Festival is the first such occasion, at least in recent memory. (A few years ago, a small Pride parade popped up in June, but did not reappear the next year.) Villagrán and partner Angela Snell, who split time between Galveston and Houston, decided to plan the first-time festival in response to Islander requests, Snell says. “So many people in Galveston were saying that they wanted to have Pride. Laura took the initiative to plan something with the city, which has been all in from the beginning.”

The central event of the two-day festival is the Saturday street festival at Saengerfest Park in downtown Galveston. An array of musical acts will perform during the noon–9 p.m. event. The Island gay nightclubs are integral parts of the festival: The Pink Dolphin hosts the kickoff party on Friday, 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Undercurrent hosts “the biggest Halloween party in town,” says Snell, on Saturday night. On Sunday, Third Coast Beach Bar hosts a beach party with “special guest” Mr. Gay Texas Curtis Anthony along with a
drag show.

A portion of any profit from this first annual festival will support Galveston causes such as Ronald McDonald House, according to Snell. “We want to put money back into the city,” she says. “We may not be able to give back a lot this first year, but hopefully we can raise some good money in the future.” Harbor Metropolitan Community Church is nonprofit partner for the festival and will also receive some financial support from the event.

Villagrán has arranged for discounted room rates at Galveston host hotels and plans to provide some transportation around the Island during the festival weekend. Transportation from Houston may also be available. The website www.galvestongaypride.org will provide updates.

There is more news from Galveston. “We will have the GLBT Island Visitors Center opened in October prior to the Pride Festival.” The center will be located downtown (details: www.gayislander.com).

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