For Pride veterans and newcomers alike, this guide is designed to help you navigate the events that make Pride Week one of the most popular festivals in the city, no matter your orientation. For some context, read about the growth of the LGBT community in Buffalo.
Gay 5K, 6:30 p.m. June 1 at Chippewa Street and Delaware Avenue
In attendance, the Gay 5K is one of Buffalo's more modest road races. But in style? It ranks with the best.
On the subtler end of the spectrum, you'll see plenty of rainbow tube socks and skimpy pride-themed booty shorts. On the other end, it wouldn't be unusual to find yourself trotting beside a 6-foot-tall guy in full drag -- with heels swapped out for Nikes.
It's all part of the laissez-faire spirit of this decidedly non-competitive running event, which kicks off next to SPoT Coffee before heading down to the lighthouse on Buffalo's inner harbor and back up Franklin Street. An after-party is slated for just after the race at about 7.
If you're on the fence about participating, the organizers remind you, "You don’t have to be gay to 5K."
But it doesn't hurt.
"Chroma," 6 p.m. June 2 at Pine Apple Company (224 Allen St.)
"Contemporary Queer," 5:30 p.m. June 2 at Sugar City (1239 Niagara St.)
What says Pride Week better than rainbows and unicorns?
Gay clichés though they may be, the theme is woven expertly through year's iteration of "Chroma," the annual Pride Week art exhibition designed to highlight visual artists from the LGBT community.
The official "Chroma" exhibition, contained entirely on a rainbow-painted wall at Pine Apple Company and curated by Pine Apple co-founder Mickey Harmon, coincides with the Allentown First Fridays Gallery Walk.
The compact show, which is thematically tied to an adventurous drag performance slated for later in the evening, features unicorn-themed art from Buffalo artists of varying skill levels.
Highlights include an adorable plush sculpture of two connected unicorns created by Pine Apple co-owner Esther Niesen, a bizarre unicorn-potato-hula-skirt hybrid by Adam Hayes and a cliché-riddled rainbow wall painted by Pine Apple Company collaborators Harmon, Niesen and Tom Holt.
Across town at Sugar City (1239 Niagara St.), an exhibition featuring work from the collection of Gerald Mead opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The show, called "Contemporary Queer," includes photographs by Alice O'Malley, drawings by Adam Weekley, ink-on-paper work by Dana McKnight and photography by Christian F. Lopes.
"Unicorn fantaSHE," 9 p.m. June 2 at Pine Apple Company
For Max Darling and Vidalia May, the drag duo whose buzzworthy party series "She Lives" has drawn huge attention in Buffalo's gay community, it's time to dispense with old-fashioned notions about drag.
On a recent weeknight, the duo showed up to Pine Apple Company for a photo shoot to promote their Pride Week performance "Unicorn fantaSHE" to shouts of "dude looks like a lady" from drunk patrons at Mulligan's Brick Bar.
In Vidalia's case, at least, that was true: She was covered head-to-toe in blue, including neck and face paint, looking like a very early concept sketch from "The Little Mermaid." Max, on the other hand, was dressed as a kind of highly sexualized tiger, like what might happen if Siegfried and Roy somehow merged their DNA with the cast of "CATS."
Their vision of drag, they said, is more influenced by reality TV shows like "America's Next Top Model" and "Ru Paul's Drag Race" than the more austere takes on drag popular in past decades.
"I don't necessarily always worry about looking pretty, in traditional terms," Vidalia said, describing her look as "kind of like a trash queen meets a glamasaurus rex."
"It's like, I don't try to be pretty," Vidalia said. "I just am sometimes."
Max, for her part, doesn't even identify as a drag queen.
"I'm a drag artist. I do drag, but I'm not always trying to be a woman," she said. "Like right now, I'm literally a tiger. I'm just trying to be the most beautiful tiger. And in my mind, a beautiful tiger has blue eyeshadow and red lipstick."
In addition to Max and Vidalia's exquisitely turned looks, the performance of "Unicorn fantaSHE" will feature live music, dance and plenty of unexpected and spontaneous elements designed to involve the crowd.
"Flex," 10 p.m. June 2 at the Waiting Room, 334 Delaware Ave.
This annual Pride dance party celebrates the urban gay community, featuring two performances from drag queen Jiggy Caliente of "Ru Paul's Drag Race" fame. Local performer Bebe Bvulgari hosting the affair and a DJ with an unprintable name will spin hip-hop, bounce and electro beats.
The Pride Center describes the event as "an after-dark dance party that celebrates hip-hop queer culture and urban life in Buffalo."
Dyke March and rally, 5 p.m. June 3 at Potomac and Grant streets to Bidwell Park
The Dyke March has long served as the political backbone of Pride Week, a reminder that the gains the lesbian community has achieved have been won at great cost and through great courage. This year, the march organizers (who will join participants at 4 p.m. June 3 at Potomac and Grant streets) are reaffirming their commitment to the fight to preserve and expand those rights in a newly challenging political environment.
To that end, the event will culminate in a rally designed to bring together the entire community in much the same manner as a recent spate of rallies for trans rights, gay rights, immigrant rights and many other issues in Niagara Square.
"As we experience a newly emboldened far-right attack on our LGBTQIA community," a statement reads, including the acronyms for queer, intersex and allies of the movement, "we know that the only path to survival and resistance is for oppressed peoples to reach out to one another, to collaborate together, and to publicly express solidarity with each other at every possible turn."
• On June 3 at 10 p.m., Niagara Falls will be illuminated in pride colors.
Pride Parade, 1 p.m. June 4
The main event of Pride Week, this year's Pride Parade will step off at noon from Elmwood and Forest avenues, head down Elmwood and end at Elmwood Avenue and Allen Street. More than 130 groups have signed up to participate, making this parade by all indications the largest in the history of the event, according to Pride Center officials.
There are no bad vantage points, though prime spots include the wide sidewalks and grassy areas at Elmwood and Lafayette or, for early birds, a spot on the patio at SPoT Coffee at Elmwood and Cleveland.
Pride Festival, 2:45 p.m. June 4 at Canalside
Slated to kick off after the parade, the Canalside fest will be emceed by Buffalo comedian Maggie Cassella and feature performances from Buffalo musician Alison Pipitone and Australian pop singer Betty Who. Local performer Dudney Joseph is slated to perform the national anthem.
The event, which costs $10 and is free for those younger than 15, is expected to draw about 15,000 people. Fifty dollars gets you a VIP ticket, which comes with three drinks, finger foods, access to private bathrooms and an up-front viewing spot for the performances.
The bar scene
If you want to soak up the spirit of Pride but can't make it to the events -- or can't stand the crowds -- Buffalo's gay bars will be hopping all weekend. They're centered on the east side of Allentown, colloquially known as the city's gayborhood, with a couple of outliers farther south. A list:
• Fugazi, 503 Franklin St.
• Q, 44 Allen St.
• Funky Monkey Nite Club, 20 Allen St.
• Cathode Ray, 26 Allen St.
• Preservation Pub, 948 Main St.
• Underground Niteclub, 274 Delaware Ave.
• Club Marcella, 439 Pearl St.