This coming weekend marks the third annual celebration of Queer Pride on Whidbey Island will events Aug. 12-14. What started out as a parade in 2014 has grown into an entire weekend of free, celebratory events hosted in Langley.
The 2016 festivities start with an all-ages open mic and poetry slam held 7 p.m. Friday the Whidbey Children’s Theater Blackbox space. This performance is youth-driven and youth-organized, hosted by Whidbey Youth Support and Empowerment and South Whidbey High School Equality Club.
The weekend continues with the Queer Open Space Unconference, noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Langley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Participants will experience an open format conference, where they can talk about a specific topic or participate in organic conversations and stories.
“People want a venue to have conversations about the queer community and lifestyle,” said event co-founder and coordinator Kathryn Lynn Morgen. “Instead of deciding what folks would want to hear or talk about, it makes more sense to open it up.”
New this year is the Saturday Night Soirée, featuring drag, burlesque and cabaret performances for mature audiences. Morgen will curate this event, held at 7 p.m. on the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts Mainstage. Audiences will enjoy performances by Ricki Sparxx, ChrisGina Touché and other performers as well as show-host Patrovna, a drag queen from Coupeville and winner of the 2016 Skagit Valley College Rainbow Alliance Drag Show.
The signature event of the weekend is the Queer Pride Parade, which starts at 2 p.m. Sunday in downtown Langley. Over the past two years, hundreds of community members have marched in the parade, which has drawn almost a thousand attendees. A new component for the parade is the booth fair, featuring work by local arts and educational organizations, artists and food vendors.
The weekend will wrap up with a volunteer appreciation potluck at 4 p.m. Sunday after the parade, held PM at Langley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. This event is also open to the public.
“I support and take action through Queer Pride on Whidbey, because I love that gorgeous melty feeling of belonging to a part of something bigger than myself and my own experience with queerness,” said co-organizer Ann Johnson. “I get to share queer culture in all its glory with my growing, discovering, strong daughters, my patient and loving husband, and found family members new and old in the community that I have adopted as my own.”
For more information about registering for the parade, participating in and volunteering for the event, please visit www.queerparade.com.