pride

A festival goer twirls a hula hoop at the Loud and Proud Pride Festival, Saturday, June 25, 2022 at Red Bus Food Park.

The Red Bus Food Park is usually a pleasantly busy space, but last month it was crowded with people of all ages when live music and delicious smells wafted through the air and the colorful atmosphere drew visitors in to celebrate the second annual Loud and Proud Pride Festival.

A San Marcos hot spot for local food trucks, vendors and community events, the food park was established by Diana and Philip Martinez in 2021 and is nestled on Chestnut Street, just off of North LBJ Drive. The food park is a vibrant and busy lot that offers a variety of food, live music and fundraising events to benefit the San Marcos community.

“We’re looking to reach the community," Diana Martinez said. "We want to make it a really fun atmosphere. That's really our goal. We want everybody to just come here and have a good time.”

Martinez said she and the park vendors strive to create an inclusive and safe space for people of all backgrounds to enjoy what San Marcos has to offer, which is why she said yes when event organizers reached out to make it the site of a Pride event.

AVA ProductionsDose of Dance and San Martian Productions reached out to Martinez to reserve the space on June 25 to create a festival-like environment.

Manda Miller, the founder of Dose of Dance, and Maddie Ava, the founder of AVA Productions, noticed a lack of Pride events in San Marcos during June. Although local businesses had sales and small Pride events, there was a lack of festival-like celebrations that one would expect during Pride month.

They reached out to Martian Sound Productions and with their combined knowledge of planning, coordinating and promoting events, San Marcos was set ablaze with joy and celebration.

"Our official pride stuff doesn't happen until September, which I understand why they do that," Miller said. "They want the whole student population to be in town. But it's June. Where’s the Pride stuff? [Ava] was saying the same thing, so we both got together, and we're like, 'let's make this a really big one.'”

Central Texas-based bands Our Last Daze, Maddie & The Deadnames, Transy Warhol, One Time and Cedars & The Genders got attendees dancing with their varying queer alternative or post-punk sounds at the Red Bus Food Park. After dark, the party moved to The Marc to host DJs Juan40 and Aminal and Legasii, as well as runway drag performers Bunny Boom Boom, Eileen Dover and Mehgan Iman Dlux.

The event was organized to include things to do from sun up to sun down so that it was easily accessible to anyone who wanted to celebrate Pride.

"We're hoping to make it bigger and bigger each year," Ava said. "We wanted to make sure like the whole spectrum of all the diverse people in the community had a time they could come and have a style of event that they can come to that works for them."

Drag performer Eileen Dover said that the importance of community and allyship was especially palpable in Pride events this year.

"I think even now, with all these bills, and all these things coming forward, things that shouldn't be happening, it's making people feel more sympathetic and more confident than ever to prove that they are supportive as an ally," Dover said. "You're all supporting drag, even when it's kind of uncomfortable to be right now. It was like these people were saying, 'I'm gonna prove that this doesn't matter to me.'"

In the future, Ava and Miller are hoping to collaborate with SMTX Pride for the Loud and Proud Pride Festival as well as the SMTX Pride music, art and parade held in September.

Contributions from the event were donated to Out Youth, Thrive Youth Center, Translifeline and the Trevor Project to benefit young LGBTQ+ people and mental health in the community. Posters with QR codes to the GoFundMe for the event were shared at both locations.

The philanthropic efforts of the festival and community spaces created by events like the Loud and Proud Pride Festival help San Marcos celebrate the diversity of identities and provide the LGBTQ+ community a space to express themselves.

"My main prerogative is to provide space for the community for art and music and everything," Ava said. "I like my gays. I really am partial to providing a queer space... We're doing things and I think it's a little intimidating, maybe, but we really just want to collaborate with everyone and make the community stronger."

For more information on future Pride events, visit www.visitsanmarcos.com/event/loud-and-proud-pride-fest/3263/.

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