Every June in the U.S.—and in many countries worldwide—Pride recognizes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/two-spirit, questioning, intersex, asexual/ally community to celebrate and continue the fight towards equality. The liberation takes roots in Greenwich Village, NYC at Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, wherein the gay community protested against unwarranted police raids.
While Wilmington’s Port City Pride hosted an event last week at KGB to kick off Pride month, their official local celebration will get under way Labor Day weekend, August 30-September 2. Port City Pride host an annual block party along Castle Street, a downtown bar crawl and a Youth Pride Prom, among other events.
“We really like that the majority of college students are in town at that time and our hope, especially for LGBTQ students who are new to town, is that it helps them feel welcome here in Wilmington,” says Aleeze Arthur, Port City Pride board member, who serves alongside Joey Hall, Jake Naylor, Lauren Mintz, John Bonomo, and Bobby Hilburn.
“[Labor Day weekend] is a rainbow of community-building with amazing music, drag queens, food trucks, vendors, faith-based organizations and nonprofits represented,” Arthur tells. “On Sunday we will hold the Fantail FunDay Dance Party on the USS North Carolina Battleship with the pride flags flying high on the ship again.”
Still, June will be rife with events to show support in homage to Pride month. Every Monday at the Second Base Lounge, DJ Teon will spin tunes all night for ages 18 and up. Drag Me To Ibiza will take place every Friday evening, featuring local drag queen Tara Nicole Brooks and friends opening two shows at 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Ibiza also hosts Karaoke Wine Wednesdays, 8 p.m. So much more is slated outside of those weekly events, too; here’s the rundown.
June 15, 3 p.m. • Movie admission
Regal Cinemas Mayfaire
900 Town Center Dr.
Elton John’s latest musical fantasy biopic will come to life on the big screen as part of a special AARP presentation. Local LGBTQIA community members are welcome to join in a special screening at 3 p.m. on June 15 at Mayfaire’s cinemas.
June 16, 4 p.m. • Free
Ormond Building, 1624 Princess St.
As part of the Frank Harr Foundation’s monthly potluck, held the third Sunday every month, they welcome all ages to the Pride event on June 14. Folks are encouraged to bring a dish to share, as well as beer or wine, water or soda. The meetup takes place at 1624 Princess Street.
The Frank Harr Foundation focuses on providing safe spaces, events and outreach to youth, elders and everyone in between. They educate allies on inclusive language and create safe spaces.
“We now have rented office space in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church the Ormond Center and we are constantly increasing our programming and out reach to the community,” says Shelly O’Rourke, community outreach director for the Frank Harr Foundation (frankharrfoundation.org). “Those things cost money so we needed a financial shot in the arm to keep up with the needs of the community.”
Thus the foundation is hosting many events taking place this month. Monies raised will help them expand into new opportunities, such as with community partners. In December they will join up with Seeds of Healing to hold a two-week event that brings the Aids Quilt to 20 blocks in Wilmington, on display at various places of worship, Cameron Art Museum, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, UNCW and other venues. “[We hope to] bring awareness and education to HIV/Aids, and its continuing effect on the community at large,” O’Rourke notes.
June 16, noon – 2 p.m. • Free
Kenan Lawn (next to Kenan Auditorium), UNCW campus
As part of Mouths of Babes theater company’s latest production, “Out, NC” (see review here), along with Frank Harr Foundation and St. Judes MCC, a Pride Picnic will take place on UNCW’s Kenan lawn, next to the auditorium. Pack your favorite foods and beverages, plus your favorite friends, to enjoy an afternoon of fellowship.
After the show—which starts at 2:30 p.m.—local organizations and LGBTQIA groups will have tables set up to provide information and community support.
Randy Jones from The Village People
June 23, 4 – 11 p.m. • $10/person
Bottega, 723 N 4th St.
When Addie Wuensch began filling slots for live entertainment at Bottega in June, Pride was one of the first celebrations to take center stage. The former cowboy of The Village People, originally from Raleigh, NC, Randy Jones popped to mind. The cowboy has made appearances across town over many years.
“I love The Village People, and they were pioneers on the LGBT front as one of the first openly gay music groups,” Wuensch says. “I am honored to have Randy perform and to give back to the LGBT community.”
Though doors open at 4 p.m. at Bottega for folks to mix and mingle, Jones will perform from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wuensch assures he will be doing the “YMCA,” too.
“I will always support Pride and the LGBT community,” the bar owner promises (Bottega was a runner-up for Best Gay Bar on encore’s readers’ choice poll).
Cape Fear Pride Night
June 28, 7 p.m. • $35/person
Painting With a Twist
5732 Oleander Drive
Painting With a Twist owner Samantha Stumbaugh hosts a Pride event every June at her shop, which marries creativity with socializing. They hosted a date-night event on June 1, wherein LGBTQIA community members and vocal allies came together to paint.
“It’s important to me as a business owner to support my artists and give members of the community a safe and comfortable environment to have date nights in Wilmington,” Stumbaugh says.
With the help of one of Stumbaugh’s employees, Sara, they landed on a Pride theme for their bookend event of the month. Folks who participate in the June 28 event will paint the Cape Fear Bridge with a rainbow flag, a.k.a. “Cape Queer Bridge.” Attendees can bring their own tasty (adult) beverages and snacks. Painting With a Twist provides supplies.
“Our local artists walk our painters through each painting step-by-step from beginning to end, with breaks for games and fun in between,” Stumbaugh explains. “This painting has a great date night option, where guests can paint the entire image across two canvases, working together with their partner to complete the full painting.”
They’ll be able to choose from two options as the background: the original rainbow flag or something a little more abstract, with rainbow or specific colors the painter chooses. “This gives couples an additional option to have two separate and different paintings,” Stumbaugh notes.
The event is part of their “Painting With a Purpose” nights, which they host once a quarter. By doing so they’ve given back around $12,000 to various local nonprofits. A portion of proceeds from the class benefits the organization, and as part of Pride month, they’ll give to the Frank Harr Foundation.
“I love that they focus on all ages within the LGBTQ+ community, from teens to elders, as well as on educating the community at large,” Stumbaugh explains.
Only 38 seats are available to Cape Queer Bridge night. Reservations can be made up to an hour before class starts.
June 29, 2 – 10 p.m.
$50/person • 100 tickets available
Figure 8 Island, 313 Beach Rd. N.
Time to enjoy fun in the sun! An all-day beach celebration will take place at a private Figure Eight home. Folks will be able to enjoy kayaks, paddle boards, volley and bocce ball, plus lunch from Might As Well and beverages from Palate Bottle Shop.
“One of our volunteers offered her family home when we were looking for a place to have a beach fundraiser,” O’Rourke says. “The home is on the sound but we will have beach access across the street. Having a non-crowded and private beach adds to the feeling of safety for our community. Some of our Trans community don’t feel comfortable at the beach, so this is an opportunity for folks to feel safe also.”
As the sun sets along the beautiful island, the fun will continue from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a cocktail party, including music, two signature cocktails and tapas. Guests who need to change out of their swimsuits into evening attire will be welcomed to use showers and changing rooms. A trolly service will take registered guests to the island from Ogden, and tickets benefit the Frank Harr Foundation.
“It was very clear to me [Frank Harr Foundation] is a nonprofit that actually understands where aid is needed, and gets it done,” volunteer Em Wilson says. Wilson’s family is lending their home for the occasion. “The LGBTQ community deserves all the rights, respects, and accommodations that years of misunderstanding and fear has denied them. If we have a house that can be used as a gathering space for people and resources devoted to aiding and uplifting the community then we’re absolutely delighted to open it up for the foundation.”
Fundraiser tickets are available at eventbrite.com and will help continue expanding needs into the community. This includes reaching out to help LGBTQIA community members at every age.
“The youth-steering committee (which meets twice a month) helps our youth become leaders in the community,” O’Rourke says. Monies also infuse SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast. “SAGE provides events and programs to help our elders connect with one another and others in the LGBTQ community to help end the isolation of ageing,” O’Rourke explains.
LGBTQIA Gayme Night
July 7, 5 p.m.
Another monthly event hosted by the Frank Harr Foundation is for young adults to enjoy games aplenty. The next one will take place July 7 at 5 p.m., again at the Ormond building at 1624 Princess Street. Please bring snacks and beverages, and your own Catan board!
A full list of support groups and other activities hosted by the Frank Harr Foundation can be found at frankharrfoundation.org/events.