But if you've never been to the parade, you still owe it to yourself to go
Columbus Pride has grown into a behemoth of a weekend. Last year, the official attendance count hit 750,000 people. (Wikipedia has it listed at a cool 1,000,000, but I may have made that edit to win a drunken argument.) If you're going to make the most of this cherished queer holiday, which runs Friday to Sunday, June 15-17, these are the places to be.
Union Cafe and Axis
Sis, these folks know how to do Pride. You can literally spend the entire weekend in the Union/Axis universe, and from what you remember, you'll have had a blast. Check out the Kiss My Biscuits Pride Drag Brunch. Spend some time at Rally in the Alley. Then get in line for the fun at Axis, which includes plenty of drag and dancing. columbusnightlife.com
Columbus Community Pride 2018: Back to Our Roots Festival
This is a new celebration that was born from the events at Pride last year. It's billed as “a day-long festival centering on QTIPOC and those at the intersections of oppression. Our pride is taking no corporate sponsorships, and police are not invited.” columbuscommunitypride.org
The Downtown bar's Pride Patio Ball is a fantastic time, complete with pizza, booze, Jell-O shots and a bunch of lesbians. What's not to love? slammerspizza.com
AWOL and the Barracks at AWOL
On Friday, June 15, AWOL hosts “Mary Ann Brandt's Songs Gays Like.” The event, described perfectly by its title, is both fiercely fantastic and a traditional favorite. The AWOL crowd is typically gay-male focused, but Friday should attract a diverse group. awolbar.com
Boscoe's will host the after party for Friday's amateur drag show. Throughout the week and weekend, the South Side bar will host an assortment of male entertainers (wink, wink). facebook.com/boscoes.bar
The annual end-of-Pride-weekend event is a softball game, which might seem strange. It's hosted by Nina and Virginia West, and the teams compete in drag. It's hilarious, fabulous, and fun. columbuspride.org/events/bat-n-rouge
O'Connors Club 20
The Old North bar's Sunday Funday Pride, which takes place after Bat-n-Rouge, should not be missed. Expect drag and dancers (including burlesque). oconnorsclub20.com
Traxx Columbus bills itself as “the only official African-American LGBTQ club in the Midwest.” The club has a very solid Pride weekend lineup, including Tiffany Pollard, aka New York from the reality series “I Love New York,” on Saturday. Traxx averages more than 1,000 attendees for its Pride weekend events. traxxcolumbus.com
More to see
There are 14 LGBTQ bars in Columbus (and even more that are awesome but not totally LGBTQ-focused), so don't forget to check out those not fully mentioned. I've been drunk at all of them, and can assure you the drinks are solid, the entertainment amazing and the people good. All of the following are conveniently located on the South Side: Cavan Irish Pub, Club Diversity, Southbend Tavern, The Highball Tavern, Toolbox and Tremont Lounge.
Pride is a marathon of fun, so don't forget to hydrate and wear sunscreen. You'll need to be able to last Friday through Sunday. And, look, if you haven't been to the Pride Parade, you owe it to yourself to go. Pride changes lives.