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The Official Queer Guide To SXSW

By Daniel Villarreal

Every year, the South By Southwest festival turns the capitol of Texas into a cultural feeding frenzy with the best in new media technology, music, and film.

This year, Daniel Villarreal is covering the madness. Here's what he'll be checking out:


On Saturday March 9 at 3:30pm Andrew Watterson and Keith Kurson will give a discussion entitled "LGBTech: Equality in Tech & Where We're Going" about the future of queer interactive technology and how it can better include under-represented LGBT people.

You can meet all the SXSW queers Saturday at 5pm at the LGBTQ MeetUp in the Red River room of the Hilton Garden Inn. Drinks and mischief will be had. And then later that night, join the organizers of the GaymerX LGBT gaming convention for the SXSW Super Gaymer Party at The Basement bar.

Smart-talking lesbian political analyst Rachel Maddow will be discussing her new book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power Sunday at 12:30pm. Then, Sunday at 3:30pm, gay stats wizard Nate Silver (aka "the guy who called every state in the last election") will be discussing his book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don't.

On Monday, March 11 at 11am, Scott Zumwalt from the It Gets Better Project will appear in a panel discussion on how social media both contributes to and reduces bullying.

Then at 12:30pm the same day, Randall — the sassy narrator from the viral "Honey Badger" video — will discuss why his YouTube clip became such a hit, and what it teaches us about effective viral videos.

Nick Vivion and Kevin Farrell of Unicorn Booty will discuss how they turned their LGBT blog into a successful New Orleans bar. You can see them Tuesday, March 12 at 11am.

On Monday March 11 at 12:30pm, Slate political contributor Emily Bazelon will be on a panel discussion about growing up in the Facebook age before hosting a book signing for her work Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.

There are also a lot of other panels about sex, women in media, representation, and technology. Check out the SXSW Interactive site for a full listing.


SXSW has a surprising amount of queer and queer-related film in the festival, if you know where to look.

One of those places will be at the gay bar Oil Can Harry's March 9 at 3pm. During that time the OUTLander Project and One More Lesbian will host a film festival of LGBT web series including the very funny Unicorn Plan-It and others like Kiss Her I'm Famous, The Throwaways, and Lez Find Love. The event is open to everyone.

Below are a list of the other LGBT-related films in the fest (click on the links for times):

Much Ado About Nothing - Shot in only 12 days, Joss Whedon's film is a contemporary view of Shakespeare's classic comedy. Though the film is about straight romance, it features several gay actors such as Tom Lenk (Buffy's Andrew). And c'mon… it's Shakesqueer. The bard has always been pretty fruity. 

GBFF - Made by high school students, GBFF tells the story of Reese. Wanting a gay bestie more than anything else in the world, she embarks on a journey only to encounter obstacles along the way. 

Mr. Angel - This chronicles the life of trans male porn pioneer Buck Angel. Born female but raised male until puberty, Buck transitioned with a double mastectomy. This film explores Buck's personal journey as he overcomes addiction and challenges what it means to be male. 

I Am Divine - This film is a definitive biographical portrait of Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead), exploring his high status as both international drag icon and cinematic muse to legendary film maker John Waters. 

Before You Know It - Gay director PJ Raval follows five gay seniors as they navigate the uncertain waters of their golden years — an especially important topic considering the coming wave of LGBT seniors in our community. 

Unhung Hero - Does size matter? That's the question that plagues Patrick Moote after his girlfriend rejects a marriage proposal via jumbotron because of his penis size. What follows is an international expedition to Papua New Guinea, Korea, and other locales as he struggles to answer the question for himself. 

Sequin Raze - Goldberg works on a hit reality show as a producer who pokes and prods female contestants into on-camera meltdowns, but she may have met her match when she encounters a spurned beauty queen. 

The Punk Singer - This doc takes viewers on a journey into the life of former LeTigre member and outspoken feminist punk icon Kathleen Hanna. 

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer - After performing a 40 second "punk prayer" inside the main Russian cathedral, Nadia, Masha, and Katia were arrested and charged with religious hatred. As members of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot, this film explores the complex relationship between politics, religion, and art, and how Russian society has been irrevocably changed in its attempt to make an example out of three young artists. 

Pit Stop - A realist look at small town gay life covers the heartache of disentangling from former relationships, and pausing to catch one's breath before continuing along in another. The parallel stories of Gabe and Ernesto converge in a typically gay way (read: a hook-up), but despite any melodrama they seem to find love in a hopeless place. 

Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton - Influencing the Beat Generation with his mantra of "follow your own weird," this film explores the diverse life of James Broughton, a pansexual poet, filmmaker, and spiritual guru whose voice helped define the sexual revolution. 

The Other Shore - A film which chronicles the legendary swimmer Diane Nyad's fourth attempt at doing something no one has ever done: swimming from Cuba to Florida… without a shark cage… in waters infested with both sharks and poisonous jellyfish… for 60 hours. Amazeballs. 


It can be hard telling which bands are LGBT because they typically care more about their music than their queer-cred. Nevertheless, there are two non-official queer music events happening during the festival that are open to everyone.

The east side bar Cheer-Up Charlie's will host Y'All or Nothing: "A Queer as Shit Showcase" Saturday, March 16 at 7pm. It has a slew of queer-identified bands including Fist-ting, Double Duchess, Total Unicorn, Mom Jeans, Guacamole Wristwatch, Dangerous Ponies, and even "conceptual aerobics with Erica Nix."

Ending the festival all day on Sunday, March 17 is GayBiGayGay, a rapturous queer music festival that has to be seen to be believed. Really. If you're in town, stop by. Costumes, hot folks, great music, food prepared on site, and more friendly queers that you can shake a stick at.

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