Las Vegas is going to be really, really gay in October. It’s hard to recall a month loaded with as many events celebrating the LGBT community as the one that begins this weekend. For starters, on October 8, the Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada holds its 22nd annual Honorarium awards and fundraising night, which lands this year at the Chelsea inside the Cosmopolitan. What makes this edition unique is what follows the affair: a full performance by comedian Margaret Cho, the Center’s Qmmunity Advocate of the Year. (Those just wanting to see Cho’s concert can purchase separate tickets.)
The fabulous fun actually begins 24 hours earlier at the kickoff for Come Out Vegas weekend—essentially a two-day version of National Coming Out Day—which will take place Downtown at First Friday (also celebrating its 14th birthday) and include free performances by former Pussycat Dolls lead singer Kaya Jones and current Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn, who recently came out as gay and against the Mormon church in which he was raised. On Saturday, the traditional National Coming Out Day street festival will take place on Naples Drive east of Paradise Road inside the Fruit Loop gay nightlife district. A Cyndi Lauper concert at the nearby Joint is also included in Saturday’s schedule.
John Lawrence, publisher of Gay Vegas magazine and owner of GayVegas.com (which presents and organizes Come Out Vegas), says the First Friday component was added for community building, partly based on his own personal history. “I see First Friday as the ‘ally’ element in LGBTQIA—sometimes we just need a little help from our friends. When I was a kid, First Friday was one of the only places where I could be under 21, have real fun and feel like I was in a safe, loving and accepting environment.”
Besides expanding the celebration for National Coming Out Day—officially October 11 but typically commemorated in Vegas on the nearest weekend—Lawrence is proud to have talked every Fruit Loop business into participating in Saturday’s street festival, which he says hasn’t happened in a very long time. “When everyone works together towards a common goal, that is when the real magic happens in the Loop area.”
The next marathon of gayness begins on October 20 with the World Gay Rodeo Finals, taking place through October 23 at South Point. On October 21, Pride weekend begins with the annual nighttime parade down Fourth Street in Downtown. The revelry will continue that night with several LGBT-related concerts, including an official post-parade performance by Charli XCX at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, Pet Shop Boys (whose singer, Neil Tennant, is openly gay) at the Chelsea, Against Me! (whose leader, Laura Jane Grace, is transgender) opening for Bad Religion at the Foundry, and former The Voice contestant/occasional Pride performer Melanie Martinez at the Joint.
The usual Saturday Pride festival is now the Pride Family Festival, spread over Saturday and Sunday and back at Sunset Park, the host site of several Las Vegas Pride events since 1984. Pride-related parties and events will round out that weekend. And we haven’t even addressed Halloween weekend yet.