KEMPNER — When Copperas Cove High School graduate Stephan Gaeth returned to central Texas after attending Denton University and working in San Antonio for a time, he saw the lack of opportunities for members of the local gay community to get to know each other.
So he started looking for ways to help more “gay people” in the area meet and socialize.
“I came back here (two years ago) because of COVID, and I had no more money, so I became a waiter,” said Gaeth, a personal trainer, dance instructor and yoga instructor from 31 year old who was once a member. of the Cove High Copperettes dance team. “I had never been a server before, and noticed that I served a lot of queer people – LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex and asexual people) – and we don’t really don’t have a way to connect.
“No one was doing (social) events here, and I was surprised because there are actually quite a few of us here. So I started a Facebook group, which is called Queer Central Texas, and it’s just a place where people can post articles, stories…a lot of drag artists post their flyers there, it’s more to make a connection and start discussions online.
“Then when June came around last year, I said, ‘Well, it’s Pride Month. Why don’t we all physically try to get together and do something? »
Pride Month is recognized each year as a national tribute to those who participated in the Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 28, 1969. Members of the gay community rioted after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village became violent. The riots are considered a crossroads event that transformed the gay liberation movement and the struggle for gay rights.
That first reunion of 2021 that started as a small movie night was a somewhat surprising success, Gaeth said, and on Saturday he and members of the Central Texas Pride Community Center are celebrating again by hosting The Greatest Little Pride in Texas at their Wild Meadows Arts Collective at 3034 FM 2313 in Kempner.
“I feel really good about everything,” Gaeth said. “We’re sort of new, so we’re still building the foundation of the organization. We are currently on private property – my family’s land. My mom had a 10-year-old barn that was filled with junk. So we gutted it, and it’s now my dance studio.
“I think next year we’re going to have to move to a city park. And that scares us a bit because we’re one of the only prides that aren’t associated with a city council or a chamber of commerce or some sort of more formal municipal organization.
“If we have to move it (the Pride celebration) next year, we have to try to get permission from Copperas Cove or Lampasas, or even try to go to Killeen, but I don’t know which of those three cities would be the most accepting. Might be a challenge.
“But we are determined. Temple is doing their first Pride very soon, so we’re going to help them with that. We are trying to establish a whole network of Pride community centers in small towns.
Along with planning Saturday’s event, Gaeth has been busy choreographing and directing the “Newsies” show at the Central Texas Theater in Killeen, formerly known as Vive Les Arts. This is his third show to choreograph this season, and he also teaches dance and improvisation workshops there, as well as private lessons at his Kempner studio.
The Saturday celebration is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Festivities will include a parade, cabaret show, drag performers, poets, singers, belly dancers, food vendors, and more. Admission is by donation.
For more information, visit the Wild Meadows Arts Collective page on Facebook.