As we begin our journey into June, we also foray into Pride Month. And what could be better in the heat of summer than a seaside Pride celebration just a short drive down to Galveston?
(GALVESTON) – With all the excitement in the news surrounding The Woodlands’ inaugural Pride festival and the vamped-up bustle of Pride Houston’s 40th Anniversary, it’s good to remember that all across the state of Texas, Pride festivals are prepping for action. Galveston, Texas, the island town known for its rich history and exuberant attractions, is no stranger to the LGBTQIA community. With queer bars staggered across the island and a large population of LGBTQIA people, its no wonder why Pride Galveston is hustling into its sophomore year with a three-day celebration that is certain to … well … make waves.
And though this is only the second annual Pride Galveston, its certain to be a big year with events spanning from Friday, June 8th until Sunday, June 10th. Friday brings about the annual Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston Pageant at local gay bar, 23rd St. Station at 10 PM. Saturday will consist of the annual Beach Bash at East Beach from 10 AM to 5 PM, immediately followed by the Pride Galveston Block Party (also at 23rd St. Station) from 5 PM until 10 PM. The block party will be headlined by Mykul J. Valentine and Tiffany Hunter, who will be performing along with DJ Chris Luera featuring Athenz. Once again at 23rd, Sunday will wrap up the weekend with T-Dance.
But, again, this is only Pride Galveston’s second year (and its first as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit). Before 2017, the Pride celebrations in Galveston were sparse and existed under different names, which was noted by married couple and Pride Galveston founders Jamie and Terry Fuller-Waymire, who took over for last year’s Pride. Jamie, a local DJ and promoter, and his husband Terry, who is more famously known in drag as Kiki Dion Van Wales, have put all their eggs into the proverbial basket with Pride Galveston, and the city has been there to back them up. Walgreens, Antiques Amour, Galveston.com + Co., and many more have become sponsors of Pride Galveston 2018. And because About Magazine is also an official sponsor of Pride Galveston, we got to chat with the aforementioned dynamic duo behind the big event.
About Magazine: Can you give me a brief history of Pride Galveston before you two took over?
Currently, the event is officially called Pride Galveston. Before we took over the last time it [a Pride celebration] was held was in 2013, and was under the banner of Galveston Pride. From 2009 until 2012 it was called Pride Fest. So, there was a 4-year gap when there was no official Pride celebration in Galveston. There were some informal beach events that a now-defunct local bar called Third Coast organized. The current home bar for Pride Galveston is 23rd St. Station.
What led to you taking on the challenge of taking this task on?
We wanted to revive Pride in Galveston; and it all started last year as just a beach bash and it just took off within a few months time. That is when we decided to add the block party to accommodate everyone. Some folks wanted just the beach, others wanted a block party, and many wanted both. Then the idea of a Mr. & Miss Pride Pageant was presented to us and, with our previous pageant promotion experience, this was an obvious event we needed to add. This year, of course, Pride is a 3-day event with the addition of the T-Dance on Sunday with a host of male and female dancers.
Last year was the first year the two of you ran Pride Galveston (correct me if I’m wrong). What do you think you learned from that event and what do you think you’re going to change this year?
Correct. Last year was our first go at Pride Galveston, and we learned a lot last year as I am sure we will learn a lot this year. For instance, last year the event exploded so fast that we learned to take on volunteers as often as we could. It can be a bit overwhelming organizing the pageant, the beach bash, the block party, and the T-Dance. There are so many variables involved, like DJ setup for the beach (a free event, save for parking), food organizing (which was free last year and [is] again this year), setting up the vendors and sponsors at the block party (another free event), setting up the stage, setting up the effects lighting, bringing in Porta Potties, extra trash bins, coordinating with the city on road closure and police allocation. Next year we are looking to put the block party and beach bash on different days so it’s not so overwhelming.
Since last year we have developed our websites, which both provide a wealth of information about the upcoming events on June 8, 9, & 10, 2018. The websites also allow for vendor sign-up, sponsor sign-up, pageant sign-up, and there is also a handy contact link if more information is needed.
“The greatest reward is seeing all the smiling faces of folks who are happy to see Pride back on the island.”
There are lots of events going on that are PG-related. Tell us about some of those?
Pride Galveston 2018 gets underway on Friday June 8th, 2018 with the Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston Pageant which starts at promptly at 9 PM at 23rd St. Station. The winners will reign as Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston for one year. The prize package includes a big crown for each winner, a brilliant Pride sash, category awards, future bookings with Island Diva Promotions as the reigning Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston 2018, and a cash prize as well!
Saturday June 9th, 2018, is a big day with the Beach Bash getting underway at 9 AM and running until 5 PM (an all ages event). The Beach Bash will have (from Numbers fame) DJ Houseman spinning live on the beach under the Pride Galveston canopies. We will also be serving free hotdogs under the Pride Galveston canopies and you can meet your hosts: Jamie Waymire (DJ Jamie) & Terry Fuller (Kiki Dion Van Wales). Some of our entertainers will also be present on the beach. Immediately following the Beach Bash, the Block Party gets underway at 5 PM (a free event for all ages) with live DJs Chris Luera & Athenz. We will also have some street performers present, as well as many vendors who will be selling Pride-related items, food, miscellaneous items, and services. The big show outside at the Block Party will get under way at 8 PM with our headliners, Tiffany Hunter and Mykul Valentine, both of who have won national pageant titles — royalty in the flesh! The Block Party ends at 10 PM and everything shifts inside to 23rd St. Station, which is 21 and up to get in with no cover. The back patio will have live DJs battling for the crowd, and there will be numerous roaming dancers both male and female to delight the crowd. The party at 23rd St. Station continues until 2 AM. On Sunday, June 10th, the T-Dance takes place at 23 St. Station with no cover starting at noon with free food, roaming dancers both inside and on the patio in the back. Pride concludes Sunday evening.
What is the significance of Galveston having its own Pride celebration?
We felt like the city needed its own Pride Celebration again so that our residents and tourists have a tool of empowerment which increases visibility. Our incarnation of Pride Galveston celebrates our community as a whole, not just gay, lesbian, trans, bi, queer, but our straight allies as well. We want it to be an all-inclusive celebration and feel like it is time to unite as one, rather than be divided into categories. We feel like the mission and meaning of Pride needs to evolve for the future and not be left in the past as a relic of days gone by.
How do people who want to help out volunteer to be a part of Pride Galveston?
Anyone who wishes to volunteer for Pride Galveston can go here and we will be sure to respond ASAP. We can use all the help we can get. We learned last year that it’s very hard to do without help.
What’s the biggest challenge in throwing a Pride celebration together? What are the greatest rewards?
The biggest challenge to putting together a Pride celebration is coordination with all the people, venues, and variable involved to make it work. We work closely with the city of Galveston to make this event a success and have the support needed to complete our mission. The greatest reward is seeing all the smiling faces of folks who are happy to see Pride back on the island. We made sure all of our events were free to attend so that even those with limited income could join us. This is why sponsors are so vital! They make these events possible and free!
Safety is always a big issue and something that everyone wants to ensure. What safety measures are being taken to protect those coming to the festival?
Glad this question was asked and we have this concern covered! The Galveston Police Department will be at both entry points to the block party and will ensure a peaceful event. We also will have up fencing this year and access to the event will be strictly controlled. No firearms are allowed, and no food or beverage will be allowed in or out of the event. We will also have many volunteers help keep watch over the event.
What are you most excited about for Pride?
We are most excited to see the growth and all the smiling faces that will occur due to the event. For instance, last year we had a make-shift stage that I (Jamie) built with minimal lighting and sound. This year is much different as we have a full-on stage thanks to our friends at Stagedrop.com, a mobile dressing room complete with an AC unit for the outdoor entertainers, and full-range lighting and sound systems!
What are some ways that the community can do to help support Pride Galveston and make it a huge success?
Getting the word out the primary way to support Pride Galveston and make it an even bigger success than its first year! Volunteers, sponsors, and vendors all help to promote the event, but word of mouth in the community is key! Of course, directing those who wish to participate in some form can be directed to our Facebook Event Page or at the previously mentioned websites.
Are there any details I’m missing that you’d like to let me everyone know?
The big change over last year is that we are now officially a non-profit entity. Last years success prompted the application with the State and subsequent approval. We are so excited about this year’s events and look forward to growing in the years to come. We even added a board member, Mr. Jon Vance, who is a local pageant promoter as well with the Continental pageant system. We have him to thank for bringing in Tiffany Hunter and Mykul Valentine. He is also a sponsor, along with his husband Dean Weir under their JD Productions banner. We hope to see everyone come out and have a blast this year!