By ALEC CLAYTON for OLY ARTS

Singer, actor and all-around funny lady Lauren O’Neill is half of the team hosting Capital City Pride this year. This is her second Pride as master of ceremonies for the parade, and she says she’s thrilled to share the honor with Elizabeth Lord and friends on the mainstage. O’Neill has entertained at many past Prides. She’s appeared both on stage and in the parade with Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque, where she has hosted and performed since 2009 under the name Ms. Hattie Hotpants.

O’Neill attended her first Pride in Seattle in 1994. “I was lucky to be able to explore my sexuality as a teenager at this time,” she says. “It always felt pretty safe, bombastic, bold and very fun. Pride events are so important to keep hope alive and maintain our visibility.”

She hosted Tacoma Pride 2015 and many local fundraisers since, including SideWalk and YWCA. She was master of ceremonies for the Washington State Governor’s Arts and Heritage Awards and will host again this year. Many will also recognize her as Dr. Lauren, therapist, cosmetologist and entertainer, who lovingly dispenses eclectic advice and “life-enhancing witticisms.” (It should be noted that “Dr. Lauren” is a stage name; she is not a licensed therapist.)

“Announcing the Pride parade is such a blast,” O’Neill exclaims. “I think it’s a mishmash of things. The event organizers provide me with background information from the participants and I have a bit of time to review it and work out pronunciation and flow in advance. Come parade day, I am so blessed by a fantastic crew, especially Chad Carpenter and Vanessa Postil, who help me shuffle and move the order of appearance, take updates and deal with the inevitable and strange occurrences you just come to expect from live events like this. Their help keeps me organized so I can keep rolling and banter as much as possible while still getting out all that important information about our community. It’s certainly the best time I’ve had in the back of a rental truck.”

“I’m super queer,” she adds. “Pride is important to me as a celebration of the joy of loving, a tribute to the flavor and the flair of the community, a time of visibility and reflection, a fantastic party and, most importantly, a remembrance of the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the responsibility of all people to resist oppression, discrimination, violence and hate — and of those lost to HIV/AIDS, violence and invisibility.”

WHAT

Capital City Pride

WHERE

Heritage Park, Fifth Ave. SW, Olympia

WHEN

Sunday, June 10

HOW MUCH

Free

LEARN MORE

OlyArts.com/Pride

CapitalCityPride.net

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