“Last year, we brought more than three thousand people together for a single purpose,” Shawn Hare, committee chair, said. “That is a beautiful thing.”
The LGBTQIA Pride walk commences at 11:30 a.m., at 1393 Broadway. Participants will continue downtown to Crockett Street. The family-friendly Pride festival opens at noon. Admission is free with a one-time $7 cover for indoor venues, The Gig, Tequila Rok and The Red Room.
Tequila Rok will house live music.
“Beaumont’s live music enthusiasts are excited to revive one of our scene’s favorite stages,” Olivia Busceme, entertainment chair, said.
Pride will showcase local and out-of-town bands, she said.
“We have made sure there is something for everyone in this lineup, which ranges from electro-pop to country grunge, doo wop to funk,” Busceme said.
Pride will again play host to local artists.
“We are happy to be able to showcase local artists at Beaumont Pride. It sets our city’s Pride festival apart from others,” Busceme said. “Not only are we a proud LGBT community, we are proud of the creativity that our community at large has to offer. We are glad that everyone can come together for peace and love when it is needed most.”
The Gig stage is reserved for performance arts.
“It is exciting to have a specific space for the drag queens because they have always played a pivotal role in the development of the queer community,” Chance Henson, marketing chair, said. “These aren’t just performance artists. They are dedicated to the community and dedicated to creating change here — to serve as positive role models for at-risk, Southeast Texas LGBT people.”
Drag queens were on the front lines during the Stonewall Riots, which initiated the modern gay rights movement, he said.
Pride 2015 is themed “Preserving Our Past–Ensuring Our Future.”
“We want to celebrate the roots of our local LGBTQIA community and culture,” Hare said. “But we also want to set the stage for healthy growth in our area.”
Pride, traditionally held in June, originated with the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. The Riots were in response to police brutality and raids on gay establishments.
“We recognize that we must learn from our local and national history in order to meet our mission,” Hare said. “We must use education, participation and visibility to develop a strong, sustainable Southeast Texas queer community.”
Pride has initiated substantial change in the area, Henson said.
“We have seen positive changes with a reduction in high-risk behaviors in our community and greater involvement with community service organizations that are sponsored and supported by Pride,” Henson said.
Beaumont Pride is a non-profit organization, which raises funds for area services like the Southeast Texas Food Bank, Palm Center and Triangle Area Network.
“Pride fest 2014 received a number of awards and accolades, including best Southeast Texas Festival,” Hare said. “We’re working to live up to that standard by bringing in the best food, entertainment, arts, music and drag queens.”
Pride will feature more than a dozen food trucks and a play performed by Ad Hoc. Dozens of street performers will be milling about, with a fire show at dusk.
Suga’s Deep South Cuisine and Jazz Bar and Fame will provide entertainment during Pride.
The festival has grown larger than one block, Hare said.
“It is a thrilling experience when people from Houston to Manhattan tell us that they want to come to Beaumont Pride,” Hare said. “Beaumont is the center of an extremely rich culture and people from all over want to come here to experience it.
“We welcome everyone and their families to come help us celebrate this wonderful community.”
The event is all ages until 9 p.m. when patrons must be 18 to enter indoor venues.
For more information, visit Beaumont-Pride.org or their Facebook page.
By Jacqueline Hays