The Official Unicorn Booty Guide To SXSW!

The Official Unicorn Booty Guide To SXSW!

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It’s SXSW time again! South By Southwest is the yearly arts and culture festival that turns Austin into the cultural capital of the world for a whole week. Even Obama knows what’s up — he’s blowing off the funeral of the dreaded lady Reagan to go. (Sadly, Michelle’s got to go to the funeral. Hopefully Obama’ll take lots of good videos for her.)

Of course, with hundreds of events scheduled, it’s hard to know which ones to go to, which ones just to say you went to, and which ones to pass by entirely; that’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to let you know the must—see stuff. Load this article up on your phone and you’ll be covered.

And, of course, be sure to stop by the official Unicorn Booty party at The Iron Bear on Sunday, March 13, from 2PM to 6PM! Also, pro tip: you can pretty much eat and drink for free all week by following @SouthByFreeNoms and @OpenBarATX and finding the gratuitous grub and liberal libations.


Standing for Equal Rights: In and Out of the Kitchen — Three chefs discuss how they’ve used food and meals to “facilitate peaceful, respectful dialogue about basic civil and human rights nationwide,” amid the June 2014 Mississippi Religious Freedom Act, a law giving business (and restaurants) the right to turn away LGBT customers on the basis of “religious beliefs”. (Sunday, March 13, 5PM, The Driskill)

Listen Up: The Future LGBTQ+ Tech Workforce — If you’re in the tech industry, check out this panel featuring representatives from Pandora, Disqus and Pinterest about empowering queer youth to be interested in technology and the current challenges facing those in the industry now. (Friday, March 11, 3:30PM, JW Marriott, Salon 7)

Queer Style: Visual Activism and Fashion’s Frontier

Queer Style: Visual Activism and Fashion’s Frontier — We were going say you’ve got to go to this panel anyway, but then it turns out three of the four panelists are on our 5 Contemporary Queers Revolutionizing Fashion list! (And Qwear’s Sonny Oram’s no slouch, either!) (Friday, March 11, 3:30PM, Westin Austin Downtown, Continental 1-2)

America’s LGBT Spies: Secret Agents (of Change) — We would make some sort of “information on this panel is classified” joke, but if we did that, you wouldn’t go, and that’d be a tragedy, as this sounds incredible. Listen to representatives from the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence experts talk about what it’s like for queer spies. Seriously, doesn’t this sound totally amazing??? (Monday, March 14, 12:30PM, JW Marriott, Salon 3-4)

Tech and Social Good: A New Model for Collaboration — Technology and progressivism don’t always go hand in hand, but Connect 4 Life is an organization improving the lives of homeless queer youth by providing mobile technology. Awesome! (Saturday, March 12, 3:30PM, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon J)

Trans Athletes: The New Frontier Of Sports — Sports are for everybody; anyone can watch and anyone can play, but for some reason, trans and queer athletes can have an uphill battle fighting for acceptance in the sports world. This panel is all about how to change that and make sports as inclusive as it should be. (Saturday, March 12, 12:30PM, Four Seasons, Ballroom CD)

Generation Z and Gender: Beyond Binaries?

Generation Z and Gender: Beyond Binaries? — Generation Z, post-millenials, those damn kids who won’t get off my lawn… whatever you want to call them, they’re teenagers, and they’re in a world that’s progressed way farther than most of us olds ever expected to see. In a much more inclusive world where gender no longer defines a person as much as it once did, what does fashion and branding look like? Also, Arabelle Sicardi and Tyler Ford, from our Revolutionizing Fashion article are scheduled to speak! Neato! (Friday, March 11, 3:30PM, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon J)

Policing Protest from Stonewall to Ferguson — Public protest works, that’s why people do it. We can look to the Stonewall Riots  or #BlackLivesMatter for proof. This panel looks at protest and the reaction from the media and politicians. (Monday, March 14, 9:30AM, JW Marriott, Salon C)

Sports Media’s Role In Shaping Social Justice — Sports media is often silent when it comes to queer issues. That’s not necessarily out of malice, as sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to present social issues to their readers. Find out how to make things better at this panel! (Saturday, March 12, 2PM, Four Seasons, Ballroom CD)

How Far Should We Go To Protect Hate Speech Online? —  SXSW learned its lesson from late last year about harassment panels, and this is one of the new panels to help solve the problem. This panel looks at what hate speech is, how it ties in with the First Amendment and online harassment. (Saturday, March 12, 11AM, Hyatt Regency Austin, Zilker Ballroom 2)

Uh, that stands for “Freedom To Marry Win”. Yeah, we know.

What Winning Looks Like — While 2015 was a rough year for a lot of people, we did get at least one mindblowingly awesome thing when #LoveWon. But how can we turn that win into more wins? This panel’s got the answer… even if their preferred hashtag of #FTMWin is a little odd, since it implies a panel on trans rights. Oops. (Saturday, March 12, 9:30AM, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon J)

Online Harassment: A Geopolitical Perspective — Another of the post-GamerGate Controversy panels, this panel talks with representatives around the world about online harassment, including the executive director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees. (Saturday, March 12, 5PM, Hyatt Regency Austin, Zilker Ballroom 1)


These Cocksucking Tears — A 15-minute documentary short on Pat Haggerty, a 70-year-old country western singer who now sings ‘old songs to old folks’ at senior living facilities, but who released 1,000 copies of the first gay-themed country music album in 1973. The film recaps his biography and the album’s brief rise to notoriety before it all but disappeared. Haggerty will also be playing a live music set late Saturday night; bring your Wranglers and boots, y’all. (Three showtimes: Saturday, March 12, 11AM, Rollins Theatre at the Long Center; Monday, March 14, 1:45PM, Topfer Theatre at ZACH; Thursday, March 17, 2:45PM, Alamo Lamar B)

Becoming Blair — This 13-minute short doc looks at the transitioning of a Texas teen through his mother’s eyes. The short is sure to be moving, and an important look at what it means to be trans. (Three showtimes: Friday, March 11, 10:15PM, Vimeo Theater; Monday, March 14, 2PM, Rollins Theatre at the Long Center;Thursday, March 17, 2PM, Topfer Theatre at ZACH)


Lavender Country — Patrick Haggerty is the singer, songwriter and frontman of Lavender Country (not to be confused with the swagger-riffic Texas lesbian rock band Butch County) sings comic, sexy, and incisive songs that queer country music with titles like “Cryin’ These Cocksuckin’ Tears.” His upbringing on a tenant dairy farm, dismissal from the Peace Corps over his sexuality, and struggle as a gay man in the post—Stonewall Pacific Northwest give his songs a veracity that’s vulnerable yet powerful. And don’t forget to check out the short film on Haggery also playing at SX entitled “These Cocksucking Tears”(Saturday, March 19, 12AM, The Hideout)

Tacocat — This Seattle indie-rock band is absolutely amazing. How amazing? We already told you to like ’em on our list of bands you MUST like or you are WRONG. And if that weren’t enough, guess what band just got tapped to do the new Powerpuff Girls theme song? That’s right, fucking Tacocat. Look, just go to this show, okay? You’ll thank us later. (Thursday, March 17, 10:15PM, Cheer Up Charlie’s)

SISTERS — Witness a veritable magic show of “funk, dance-pop, folk, and indie ballads” as Emily Westman and Andrew Vait multi-task a variety of musical instruments onstage, much to your eardrums’ delight. (Friday, March 18, 1AM, The Velveeta Room)

Pleasure Escape

Pleasure Escape — Everything goes later at SXSW, and if you’re still ready to dance in the middle of the night, get to the Iron Bear for the DJ collective that spotlights female and queer talent! (Saturday, March 19, 1AM, The Iron Bear)

Silvana Imam — Silvana Imam is a Swedish lesbian, feminist, anti-racist rapper, and her lyrics are highly political. She’s got lyrics like “go kiss your fucking swastika” or “gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original” — and her booty-shaking beats make political and gender theory as much fun as some of the best American rappers. (Saturday, March 19, 1AM, Tap Room at The Market)

Yo! Majesty — Tampa’s Yo! Majesty is an awesome lesbian, Christian rap duo, but before you get worried that it might be preachy, let’s just say that they toured with Peaches… so you’re safe. Be sure to check them out where they’ll be rapping with Dirkish DJ and bringing the house down! (Saturday, March 19, 10:10PM, The North Door)

Young M.A — Um, did you turn down a role on Empire? Young M.A did — and we bet you weren’t even offered a role on Empire. The Brooklyn MC with supporters like Lee Daniels and Swizz Beatz plays SXSW this year, and is sure to be a hot ticket. Make sure you get there early — she’s so hot, we don’t even know where she’s playing yet! (Date/Location TBA)

Ariel Zetina

Ariel Zetina — The Chicago DJ and producer is all about using the club setting as a way to explore the trans* experience and ask questions about intimacy. Her set should definitely be something to check out for club music that makes you think. (Saturday, March 19, 12AM, The Iron Bear)

The Spook School — From bis to Belle & Sebastian, Scotland’s got the best bands. The Spook School, a queer/trans pop-punk band from Edinburgh, is no exception. They’ve been in a documentary with Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! and their pop chops are clear throughout the punky, angular sounds and rhythms, sort of like a Scottish Dead Milkmen minus the comedy. (Saturday, March 19, 9PM, Tap Room at The Market)

Big Dipper — Chicago’s Big Dipper has been called the “raunchy big boy bear of rap”, but not just that — Details called him one of Hip Hop’s Queer Pioneers. He’s playing two shows on March 19th, so be sure to catch him! (Saturday, March 19th, 8PM and 1:30AM, The North Door)

PWR BTTM — This Brooklyn queer punk band has been getting a lot of buzz, and you can be sure to see what all the talk is about. (Wednesday, March 16, 12:05AM, ScratcHouse)


Friends With Benefits: A Queer Vodka + Music SXSW Mixer — Only squares will miss out on this — the official Unicorn Booty SXSW party! Shit, yo, it’s gonna be the best party ever! Be there or be sad that you missed it! (And you don’t wanna be sad at SXSW, come on!)  The party is open to everyone, and will feature free drinks and drink specials from Frot vodka and performances by DJ Divorcee and the Spook School, and a presentation called “Friends With Benefits: How Companies and Allies Are Transforming LGBTQ Rights”! Guests will include Michael Crawford, former director of digital and creative at Freedom to Marry, Rich Mintz, executive vice president of Blue State Digital, Daniel Villarreal, editor-in-chief of Unicorn Booty and Sean Howell, CEO of Hornet! (Sunday, March 13, 2PM, The Iron Bear)

L&B + Lesbians Who Tech Officially Unofficial SXSW Interactive Kick-Off Party  — While the official Lesbians Who Tech meetup is the next day, on Friday, they’re having an all-night party! Tickets are free, but be sure to get them! (Friday, March 11, 9PM, Highland Lounge)

Meet Ups

Meet Up for LGBTQ Filmmakers — Are you LGBTQ? And do you make films? If that’s you — check out the LGBTQ Filmmaker meet—up and meet the programmers of OutFest! (Saturday, March 12, 5PM, JW Marriott, Room 210)

LGBT Meet Up — This is the place to go if you need to network. Many LGBTQ professionals from different industries will be there, waiting to hear your questions, introductions or great ideas. (Friday, March 11, 5PM, JW Marriott, Room 211-212)

Lesbians Who Tech (and Friends) Meet Up — If you’re not all partied out from last night, meet and network. And with 25 chapters and over ten thousand members around the world you know you’ll meet some great folks. (Saturday, March 12, 3:30PM, JW Marriott, Room 207)

(Daniel Villarreal contributed to this report.)

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