Buffalo Pride Kicks Off This Week Featuring Latrice Royale

Latrice Royale Drag Race Image by Jeffrey James Keyes

Latrice Royale and Neon Hitch will headline this year’s Buffalo Pride Festival, kicking off with a Flag Raising Ceremony in Niagra Square in front of Buffalo‘s City Hall.  Mayor Byron Brown and the Pride Center of Western New York welcome visitors and locals alike to participate in the ceremonious beginning of Buffalo Pride. We weren’t surprised when Buffalo won the vote for “Best Up and Coming City” in our Best of GayCities 2011.  Located just a stone’s throw from Niagara Falls, Buffalo has a surprisingly booming artistic and LGBTQ community.  We headed up for last year’s Buffalo Pride Festival for a closer look.

If you’re going this year, pamper yourself and book a room at the Mansion on Delaware Avenue, the premier luxury accommodation.  We immediately felt at ease when we saw the honor bar and Brazilian mahogany billiard table in the extended and sprawling lobby of the hotel.  The Mansion had been a private residence, restaurant, wine cellar and a brothel from 1869 until it’s present incarnation.  Make a reservation fast, though —  there are only 28 guest rooms and suites at the Mansion.

Buffalo Pride by JJ Keyes9

Sporty boys are picking out their skimpy running shorts for this year’s Gay 5K, followed by a post-race celebration featuring DJ Lil Joe and a drag show at Soho Burger Bar.  On Friday night, 464 Gallery will present an art exhibition curated and compromised of local LGBTQ artists throughout Western New York.  This exhibition, Chroma, will be on display from May 31-June 5 featuring work by Brian Dickenson, Mickey Harmon, Tommy Nguyensmith, Alexandra Spaulding, CJ Szatkowski, Adam Weekley, and Marcus L. Wise.

We met gallery owner Marcus L. Wise at last year’s pride installment of “First Fridays” over in Allentown where the local “who’s who” of the queer community flocks to the Allentown art galleries, restaurants, and businesses to sip wine, catch up with friends, and take in the local artwork. Wise curates and selects Buffalo’s local and emerging artists to show and sell their work.  The gallery houses regular and rotating art exhibitions and all kinds of events and programs.  Make Friday your culture day with a cultural exploration at the historic Albright-Knox Art Gallery, dedicated to “enhancing the understanding and appreciation of contemporary and modern art.”

Marcus Wise by JJ Keyes

Marcus L. Wise

After the Albright-Knox Gallery, check out the Martin House Complex, built for Darwin D. Martin and his family between 1903-1905. Culture-hounds and novices alike will gasp at the house, which consists of five interconnected buildings including an unusual conservatory, carriage house, and fun gift shop.   A tour is well worth the opportunity to see the famous “Tree of Life” window.  Later that night, Mimi Imfurst will be headlining a culture club of her own at Club Marcella with performances at 11:30 pm and 2 am.

Slap a lesbian a high five on Saturday at The Dyke March.  If you plan on marching, line-up begins at 4 pm at Kleinhans Music Hall, with a 5 pm step off.  The March, one of the most fun events of the Pride Weekend, brings together all kinds of ladies and their gal pals and leads them to the annual Allen Street Festival.  Back in its fourth year, this festival will bring thousands of men and women to the street where Julia Weldon, Gental Touch, DJ Charles Masters, DJ Yama, and MC Allie Hartwick will rile the crowd up.

Buffalo Pride by JJ Keyes

Q bar is a great neighborhood spot to pregame before the big parade on Sunday.  Be sure to get a good spot on Elmwood and follow the crowds to the 22nd annual Buffalo & WNY Pride FestivalRuPaul’s Drag Race favorite — Miss Congeniality herself — Latrice Royale will serve her creativity, uniqueness, nerve and talent, and there will be plenty of eye candy along the canal.

If you feel like calling in sick on Monday, June 3, the party will continue as the gays take over Woodlawn beach in Hamburg, NY for the Pride Beach Day.  There’s never been a better time to paint the sandy coastline of Lake Erie pink.  We’ll see you in Buffalo!

Visit our Buffalo Guide on GayCities here.

Photography by Jeffrey James Keyes

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