When the first Orcas Island Pride event debuted on the Village Green in 2019, it was a day for all ages to dance, dream and delight in the potency of self-expression.
After a two-year hiatus, it’s returning in a tornado of glittery glory.
“For us, Pride is alchemy. It’s power, taking back your power, empowering, it’s social action, mutual aid, community organizing,” said Laura Kussman, a founding member of the group, which calls itself a decentralized, non-hierarchical collective. “It’s a cultural exchange, it’s a protest. It’s the centering and safe-keeping of personal expression. Pride is queer, and to us, queerness is, among its infinite nature, a tool for questioning consensus. It’s a moment where you get to say, does that feel right for me? Is that my truth? If not, what is? Pride is the power in practicing this together.”
Orcas Pride is an organization launched in 2019 after a conversation between friends about creating an official gathering in June, which is LGBTQ+ Pride month. Seventeen days after that first spark of an idea, Orcas celebrated its first pride community event on June 23. There were booths from organizations, live performances, face painting, dress-up and resources for queer education by the Orcas Island High School Gender and Sexuality Alliance.
“It has been the intention of the Orcas Pride collective to strengthen these relationships and foster opportunities for connection and celebration between cultures and generations. After June 2019, a handful of us continued planning monthly queer events at the Barnacle, with the support of the LGBTQ+ fund and our friends from Out on Orcas,” according to the group’s website, https://www.orcasislandpride.com/. “We brought drag performers to the island, hosted trivia and poetry nights, had large community conversations, conducted surveys and hosted themed parties until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our last monthly event was a virtual poetry reading in April of 2020. This event remains a favorite to date. In 2021, as the rate of infection declined, and the rate of vaccinations and knowledge of community safety increased, we gathered once again. The Cowboy Discotheque in October of 2021 was our first ticketed community event and was an incredible success, indicating once again that safe spaces for queer expression are needed and welcomed on our island.”
Line-up of 2022 Pride Weekend events
Gay/Queer/LGBTQIA+ Field Day: Friday, June 17 from 2-6 p.m. in The Village Green. This is a free, family-friendly event and all identities are welcome. Enjoy performances by award-winning slam poet Ebo Barton and surprise musical guests. Interactive areas and field day games include tug-o-war and four-square. And, of course, there will be plenty of dancing. And if you need a break from all the stimulus, take a moment in the lounge and art gallery where islanders of all ages are welcome to hang their works of fine art for viewing pleasure.
A Drag & Dyke Double Feature at Seaview Theater: Friday, June 17, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Enjoy a special film showing of “Esther Newton Made Me Gay” (2022) and “Paris is Burning” (1990). Tickets are $9 for individuals and $15 for a group and are available at https://www.ticketsource.us/orcas-pride/t-eakvrql.
“We’re really excited to bring film into this year’s Pride Weekend,” said organizer Jared Lovejoy. “We’re showing two very powerful films that explore different aspects of gay culture. ‘Paris is Burning’ shows us the history of ‘Vogueing,’ the dance craze that Madonna took to the mainstream back in the ’90s. ‘Esther Newton Made Me Gay” is a fascinating story of a true maverick and lesbian elder and her work helping to create the field of gender studies that we take for granted today. These films appeal to queers ad allies alike.”
Wet Hot Island Summer Revue: Saturday, June 18, doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are on a sliding scale of $10-$100 at https://www.ticketsource.us/orcas-pride/t-xmvrynr.
Dress in your most extravagant summer camp looks (or whatever “wet hot summer” means to you). Prepare yourself for a saucy night of drag, burlesque and debauchery, featuring Lily Verlaine, Jasper McCann, Eucalypstick, Rowan Ruthless, Shiksa Mess, Gemini Aerials and the Orcas Dance Collective. Costumes are highly encouraged.
Pride Afterparty: Saturday, June 18, 10 p.m. (after the revue) at The Barnacle. Sip on drinks and dance the night away with guest DJ and Diva Rowan Ruthless. The Barnacle is offering specialty cocktails for this event by bar lead Courtney Fletcher.
“Orcas Island, this is your warning to secure your wigs and your vessels because the Wet Hot Island Summer Revue is about to blow you out of the water,” said Orcas Pride co-founder Maddie Olson. “Since our first Pride in 2019, the Orcas community has proved that we are here to party. The commitment and vibrancy that our community brought to the Cowboy Discotheque in October made us want to pull off something bigger, gayer and more over the top. I feel with absolute certainty that you will be blown away by what we put together for the Wet Hot Island Summer Revue.