By Chris Lane
By Olivia Flores Alvarez
By Angelica Leicht
By Jef Rouner
By Jef With One F
By Jef With One F
By Marco Torres
Quijano has had the idea for a dance party for several years. "We always had the name 'Wonderland' in mind," he says. "We just were waiting for the right time to use it." The "right time" would wind up being the perfect mix of solid partnerships and creativity.
Quijano found a partner in Live Nation, which has been promoting the event using its vast resources. Wonderland will encompass the entirety of Bayou Music Center (formerly Verizon Wireless Theater) on June 22 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. The word is really getting around, he says, and the buzz is that people really love the theme and are glad that Houston is getting back into the circuit-party business.
For a circuit party to take off, creativity is king, and the "Alice in Wonderland" theme allows for some wild ideas to come to fruition. Wonderland will be a nonstop entertainment ride with go-go dancers, drag performances by Jenna Ray and others, and select areas to get lost in such as the Queen's Throne, Madhatter's Tea, the Caterpillar's Lair and the Cheshire's Retreat. Pride has also commissioned an exclusive performance by Cirque du Soleil aerialists François Gravel and Michael Lanphear, who are designing a unique performance specifically for the event. They'll also be donning Tweedledee and Tweedledum costumes. Speaking of costumes, dressing up is highly encouraged but not required.
Of course, in addition to the mayhem, expect some serious dancing, since Wonderland is, after all, a dance party. Managing the beats for the event will be DJ Michael Tank, who's no stranger to the circuit-party business and has DJ'ed at many high-profile parties including White Party Week and the Winter Party Festival, both in Miami. He's spun a few times in Houston at clubs like Rich's and South Beach.
In addition to raising funds for Pride, Wonderland is donating a portion of the proceeds to Bunnies on the Bayou, a local organization that distributes funds for a variety of educational and cultural LGBT charities in Houston.
If all goes well, Wonderland or a similar such circuit party will become a staple of Pride week celebrations. This year's Pride theme is "Live Out Proud," and Quijano believes a party like this is a perfect fit. "It's about having fun and being yourself," he tells us. "We are an evolving community and we should be proud of who we are and who we can become."
Wonderland will take place from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, June 22, at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. For more information, visit wonderlandhouston.com.
One for the History Books
The Gulf Coast Archive & Museum preserves the story of the Houston LGBT community.
In 1999, members of the Houston LGBT community got together to discuss a very important topic: their history and how to preserve it. The group concluded that Houston was in need of an archival museum that would chronicle the people, places and events that have affected the city's LGBT movement. Additionally, the museum would be used as a place for education and outreach. Houston's gay community has an important story to tell, and someone needed to remember it.
The result of these efforts is the Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Inc., or GCAM. For more than a decade, this little institution has been keeping records, past and present, of all that goes on within the LGBT community. It's had its hands full.
Judy Reeves, the museum's curator, has been with the project since day one. "We saw a need for it," she says. Reeves is an animated woman who speaks about the museum's history with a quick Southern drawl and an immense passion. It's her baby. Reeves and the museum's founders wanted not just an archive and educational center, but also a repository for people to bring the belongings of those who were taken by AIDS. Rather than trashing the personal heirlooms of their lost loved ones, people can bring them to GCAM. This has become a part of GCAM's purpose.
GCAM was at one point housed in a warehouse near Reeves' home, but the expense was too much, and she did not see the overwhelming demand for an open visiting space that kept regular business hours. Currently GCAM rents 4,000 feet of wall space at the LGBT Cultural Center inside the Montrose Counseling Center at 401 Branard. The wall space serves as a display area for much of GCAM's art and artifacts. New exhibitions go up throughout the year.
Currently GCAM has a T-shirt exhibition on display, which features hundreds of politically and/or provocatively charged gay and lesbian-themed shirts.
"T-shirts have always been a place for us to advertise our opinions," says Reeves. "They are historical markers of where we have been." The display changes every few weeks because of the sheer volume of shirts the museum has accumulated. "We have a T-shirt from every Pride event that created a T-shirt," Reeves boasts.
Other organizations have caught wind of GCAM's T-shirt exposition and have begun donating to the cause. If an organization has LGBT-themed shirts in its repertoire, Reeves encourages them to send them her way.
Unfortunate that we have to resort to the lowest base level of gay culture, the circuit party, which promotes drug use and sexual promiscuity, as a way to show "pride". The reality is, like everything Pride Houston does, this is all about the bottom line and making itself money. Sad.