2nd annual Pride Marfa to take place this weekend 

A Pride flag signals the welcoming of LGBTQ+ community at the Wrong Store ahead of Pride Marfa 2023, the second annual celebration taking place this weekend. Many local businesses hung flags to show their support for the event. Photo by Mary Cantrell.

MARFA — After a successful inaugural Pride Marfa celebration last year, the LGBTQ+ focused event will take place again this coming weekend, with dance parties, drag performances and community-focused day activities. 

All events are free to the public and are 18 and up with the exception of the family-focused day festival taking place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at El Cosmico. 

Pride Marfa organizer Lawrence Johnson, the co-owner of Pure For Men — lead sponsor for the event — who splits his time between Marfa and Houston, said this year’s event will be similar to last year’s festivities, where what was originally conceived as a simple, one-day event quickly turned into a three-day affair. 

“It grew with our imagination and people started throwing in their support and joining the committee and next thing you know, we had three days back to back [of what] we call love, laughter and pride,” said Johnson. 

Johnson said he and his fellow organizers, many of which are new to the planning committee this year, wanted to make sure to bring back Pride Marfa this year so it didn’t turn into a one-off event, and given the country’s current political climate, it was important to celebrate LGBTQ+ identities, even in small towns such as Marfa. 

“Our theme this year is like a carryover from last year, which was moving Marfa from a town that tolerates pride and diversity to one that truly celebrates it,” said Johnson. 

Pride Marfa 2023 will kick off with a welcome mixer and “The Best Drag Show Ever” at El Cosmico on Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. City Council members Raul Lara and Travis Acreman will greet the crowd before performances by a number of drag queens, including Austin-based drag queen Ritzy Bitz and El-Paso based drag queen Minerva Valmont, followed by post-punk disco band Choux Choux and DJ Adriana Trillo. Bad Larry’s will have burgers for sale.

Saturday’s day festival at El Cosmico from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will showcase local vendors and more musical performers including El Paso-based psych folk band Doom Well and DJ Lurkmoth. Food by Easy Wind and Bordo will be available. 

“We’re going to have everything from face painting to bingo to field games to moon bounces,” said Johnson. 

A happy hour will follow the El Cosmico day party on Saturday, taking place from 4 to 6 p.m. at Cochineal — a nod to informal drag performances hosted a few years ago at the restaurant by two of last year’s Pride Marfa organizers Chris Gonzales and Paul Chavarria, which helped inspire the idea to host a pride celebration in Marfa. Saturday will cap off with a dance party at The Sentinel from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. featuring a number of DJs including local act Dr. Melt. A music-fueled pool party at the Saint George from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday will conclude the three-day Pride extravaganza. 

Pride Marfa T-Shirts will be for sale throughout the weekend, and donations to support both the event and Equality Texas will be accepted. Adjacent, nonofficial Pride Marfa goings on will also be shared on the organization’s Instagram page, @pridemarfa.

While rainbow flags can be seen waving from local businesses as Pride kicks off, organizer Abby Boyd took to social media to share that electric transmission company American Electric Power (AEP) Texas would not permit the hanging of flags from their utility poles — a decision she told Marfa Public Radio was “disappointing,” and that the company had chalked it up to some negative feedback.

An AEP representative told MPR the company had not been aware of the flags last year, and that it was simply the company’s policy to prohibit hanging flags from its poles, other than American flags on national holidays. “Us saying no has nothing to do with who they are, it has to do with the use of our poles for something other than what they’re designed for,” AEP Texas External Affairs Manager Blake Burchard told MPR.

Johnson, for his part, told The Sentinel he didn’t want to focus on AEP’s decision, but instead focus on the positive. “I would hate for some young person to see that and think oh, wait a minute, maybe things are going backwards, maybe it’s not safe to be who we are,” he said.

Johnson said considering recent political attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals, drag performers, and trans healthcare happening at the national and state level, it was important for queer individuals and allies to continue to fight for equality and show support of one another at the local Pride celebration.

“We got to celebrate Pride,” said Johnson. “I think there are a lot of forces counter to what pride stands for [at work]. We [cannot] let people get away without continuing to value our self worth, value diversity, and just celebrate who we are and who each other are whether that’s gay, straight, lesbian, trans, intersectional. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the community.” 

For more information, visit pridemarfa.org/ or follow @pridemarfa on Instagram