Pride Week festivities to include film festival, dance party, community picnic, more
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
The annual celebration of LGBTQ Pride in Amarillo kicks off today and continues for a week, with activities including a community picnic, a film festival and more.
"Pride, when defined a positive stance against discrimination, is important specifically in this area because there are still occurrences of discrimination that exist in our world," said Jake Mitchell, vice-president of Panhandle Pride, the nonprofit organization coordinating events this year. "It is a blessing however, that the spirit of the people in the Texas Panhandle and surrounding areas is so welcoming and respectful of others. Pride is an opportunity to celebrate how far we've come, learn about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community as a culture, and recognize that there is still work to be done."
Traditionally, Pride festivities occur in late June in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, generally seen as the launch of the modern gay rights movement.
Amarillo activities include:
- Pride Paint Night: Spirited Expressions, 2600 Paramount Blvd., will host a painting party (with BYOB drinks allowed). Stacy Lavon from Clover 33 will create a Pride-themed piece and lead the group in recreating it. Cost is $25, which includes all painting materials. Call 806-382-3404.
- Panhandle Pride Film Festival: This year's festival will feature two acclaimed films and, in the interest of full disclosure, I helped organize the screenings. Both are free, and donations are accepted.
- In an Indie Lens Pop Up, the documentary Real Boy will screen at 7 p.m. Friday at Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4901 Cornell St. The film, a coming-of-age story about a trans teenage boy who wants to become a music star, debuted Monday on Independent Lens and can be viewed online, as well. Following the screening, Jenny Gunn, a leader of the Amarillo Area Transgender Support Group; Sandra Dunn, a leader within the transgender community; and Bekki McQuay, LPC, who works with people in transition; will discuss the issues in the documentary.
- Amarillo native and Chicago/New York actor Patrick Andrews will headline a screening of the indie gay drama Henry Gamble's Birthday Party at 7 p.m. Monday at the Amarillo College Downtown Campus, 1314 S. Polk St. The 2015 drama by writer/director Stephen Cone depicts a preacher's teen son's struggle to navigate sexual identity. The film won the Silver Q Hugo Award at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival and two awards at the 2015 Sidewalk Film Festival. Andrews will speak during a Q&A session following the film, and Cone is expected to participate via Skype.
- PrideNightDanceParty: DJ Juicy will spin for a dance party at 10 p.m. Saturday at City Studios, Spaces 25 and 29 in The Galleries at Sunset Center, 3701 Plains Blvd. Glow dancers will perform as well. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
- Panhandle Pride Festival: An afternoon of food, festivities, music, children's activities and more runs from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Park, 2400 S. Washington St. Entertainment includes a drag show, an excerpt from RR Bar's upcoming performance of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (to be staged July 16 to 22) and musicians Mike Fuller and Dear Marsha. Admission is free, and no glass bottles are allowed.
- Miss Gay Top of Texas US of A At Large 2017: This gothic-themed drag show and pageant will crown a successor to Symphony McKnight Capri, and Rita Andrews, the current Miss US of A At Large, also will perform. The show will kick off at 10:30 p.m. Sunday at 212 Club, 212 S.W. Sixth Ave., and there's a cover charge.
Will Dooley, president of Panhandle Pride, said he expects more than 6,000 people — gay, straight or in between alike — to take part in some or all of the week's activities.
"I think it's great that we can come together, show ourselves as a gay community in Amarillo and have a lot of support," Dooley said. "It's really overwhelming to see that a lot of people know us as part of the community and accept us as part of the community."