Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered residents and their allies will come together over the next few days to celebrate Tacoma Pride, with related events being held at Broadway Center, the Grand Cinema, Immanuel Presbyterian Church and other locations today through July 16. But between moments of revelry, there are dismal realities to be addressed this year, most notably the senseless slaughter of 49 people a month ago in Orlando.
The details are well known at this point: A deranged gunman entered that city’s Pulse nightclub, looking for victims during a popular LGBT Latin night. Some witnesses recognized the shooter as a club regular, suggesting he himself was gay and unable to reconcile his own sexual identity with his religious beliefs. The victims will be acknowledged on Saturday, July 9, during Tacoma Pride’s signature block party, Out in the Park, which will move to a two-block stretch of Pacific Avenue this year, between South Seventh and South Ninth streets.
Organizers will also address initiatives that have cropped up across the country restricting transgender access to bathrooms not designated for their gender at birth. The most extensively covered were passed in North Carolina and Mississippi, but Washington could have its own if backers of Initiative 1515 reach 246,000 signatures today, enough to get their measure on the ballot in November. Washington Safe Access for Everyone Alliance and Washington Won’t Discriminate will be on site at Out in the Park, arguing that I-1515 weakens Washington's non-discrimination protections.
“We're in a time of sadness, and being together is a balm for that,” said Michelle Douglas, executive director of Tacoma's Rainbow Center, the LGBT resource center that spearheads Tacoma Pride each year.
“It isn't that grief is suspended,” Douglas said, “but there is a strength in moving forward, and we're taking action as a community. This year, with the attack on our anti-discrimination law that we're seeing, there is no better time to be visible; and it is our visibility that moves hearts and minds. It is easier to deny people rights when they think of them as ‘other,’ but we're not other. We are your friends and your neighbors and your co-workers.”
Seattle singer-songwriter Camille Bloom echoed those sentiments. “In the wake of Orlando, it's important to come out and celebrate and support people in the LGBTQ community,” said Bloom, who will perform at Out in the Park for a second year in a row.
“I consider myself an artist first, but I am a queer artist,” she said. “I'm not afraid to come out and celebrate. I came from Spokane originally where it was a lot scarier to come out, and luckily we live in a different time now and also in bigger cities where it's safer. But there are a lot of towns where it's still terrifying to come out. So I think we can lead the way as an example of a community that supports all people.”
Of course, politics will only be a small part of this and next week's festivities. Tacoma Pride's lineup this year includes live music, drag performances, theater, storytelling, skate parties and more. Here is a list of affiliated events with further details available online at www.tacomapride.org.
Kick Off, Flag Raising and Pride Awards
4:30 p.m. Friday, July 8, Pantages Theatre, 901 Broadway
Festivities will kick off with the raising of the Pride Flag and a few words from Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, followed by the 10th annual Tacoma Pride Awards, which recognize local institutions and individuals that have been supportive of the LGBT community. This year’s recipients include Immanuel Presbyterian Church; Pierce County AIDS Foundation Deputy Director Lori Bundrock; My Purple Umbrella founder Lisa Keating and youth recipient Kaleb Rowley.
Broadway Center presents Todrick Hall
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 8, Pantages Theatre, 901 Broadway
Todrick Hall has a lot of slashes on his business card: Broadway actor, MTV star, “American Idol” finalist, viral video sensation. And he's in Tacoma putting his spin on L. Frank Baum's classic, “The Wonderful World of Oz,” complete with 20 original songs. Tickets are still available online at www.broadwaycenter.org, with prices ranging from $19 to $100.
Tacoma Pre-Pride Dance Party
8 p.m. Friday, July 8, Malarkey’s Pool & Brew, 455 Tacoma Ave., S.
Join hostess Roxy Renee Ross and AB Pure Entertainment for a night of music, pantomime and drag performance. There will be a cover charge of $10 to $12.
Queer Black Alliance of South Sound presents “Seen in Green” After Party
11:30 p.m. Friday, July 8, Rollin’ 253 Skate & Community Center, 2101 Mildred St. W., Fircrest1
Join the Queer Black Alliance of South Sound – Q BASS for short – for a fun-filled night of skating, food and libation. The event is open to all ages, and admission is $13 to $15.
Destiny City Queer Fem Con
Noon Saturday, July 9, Destiny City Comics, 218 St. Helens Ave.
Stadium District's premier comic shop will highlight gay and feminist-themed comics and graphic novels at this special event which includes appearances by Zan Christensen of Northwest Press; Mark Brill, illustrator of the anti-bullying comic, “The Power Within”; local author Madeleine Gasperi; cosplayers from Atomic Soap Works; and Sweetgyrl Designs. The event is free and open to all ages.
Rainbow Center’s Out in the Park
Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Pacific Ave., Between Ninth and Seventh streets
Around 9,000 people are expected to turn out for Tacoma Pride's biggest event, which has moved down the hill from its previous location, outside Broadway Center. “We're really, really excited about the lineup,” Douglas said. I think this year we have a really good mix of a lot of different kind of performers. It's a jam packed from 12 to 5.”
Headlining the main stage this year is popular Tacoma singer-songwriter and “The Voice” alumnus Vicci Martinez. Preceding her this year are Camille Bloom, AB Pure Entertainment, the Imperial Sovereign Court of Tacoma, Deveastatia Black Snow, Katrina Duall, Vivian Le Cher, Nasty Habits, Bobby Jo Valentine, Whitney Monge and Nena Kapone. This is free and open to all ages.
The Mix’s Pride Block Party
5 p.m. Saturday, July 9, The Mix, 635 St. Helens Ave.
The Mix follows the main event with a block party of its own, which will be hosted by Ms. Honey Bucket and feature appearances by Purple Crush Banjee Ball, Adra Boo, AB Pure Entertainment and tunes spun by DJs L.A. Kendall, Tony Burns and Skiddle. Tickets are $10 or $35 for VIP. You must be 21 or older to attend; www.themixtacoma.com.
Queer Trans People of Color 253 Pride Celebration
9 p.m. Saturday, July 9, Rollin’ 253 Skate & Community Center, 2101 Mildred St. W., Fircrest
Another fun-filled night of skating, food and drinks hosted by Q Bass; open to all ages, and admission is $15 to $20.
Crossing the Threshold ... Again: An Evening of Live Storytelling
7 p.m. Sunday, July 10, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 901 N. J St.
Members of the LGBT community share stories about experiences of faith, religion, and spirituality that transformed the way they live, love, and connect with the world. The event is free and open to all ages.
Tacoma Pride Film Series: “Viva”
1:45 and 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave.
VIVA stars Héctor Medina as Jesus, a young hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers, who dreams of being a performer himself. Adult tickets are $5.50 to $8 for the matinee, $5.50 to $10 for the late showing.
Tacoma Pride Film Series: “The First Girl I Loved”
1:45 and 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, The Grand Cinema. 606 S. Fawcett Ave.
Dylan Gelula stars as 17-year-old Anne who falls in love with the most popular girl in her LA public school, Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand). But when Anne tells her best friend Clifton - who has always harbored a secret crush - he does his best to get in the way. The late showing will be followed by the “Queer Filmmakers Meet-Up” at 8:15 p.m. Adult tickets are $5.50 to $8 for the matinee, $5.50 to $10 for the late showing.
Big Hat Brunch fundraiser for Oasis Youth Center
11 a.m. July 16, Oasis Youth Center, 2215 Pacific Ave.
Put on your biggest, floppiest hat and chow down to benefit Oasis Youth Center, Pierce County's only drop-in resource and support center dedicated to LGBT youth. Tickets $65. Learn more by calling (253) 671-2838 or visiting www.oasisyouthcenter.org.