The fabulous return of Nadine Hughes

Rain on 4th Show Director and Drag Queen Nadine Hughes will perform at Leander Pride on May 14th.

Nadine Hughes has always been fabulous. “I was always me,” says the drag queen and Texas All American Goddess, Miss Texas USofA at-large, and formerly the youngest drag queen ever to win Texas Entertainer of the Year, at age 22. 

Hughes, who goes by his birth name, William Cass, when he’s not performing, was born in New York. “My parents divorced when I was younger, and my mom got remarried and moved us across the country to Leander, Texas – Block House Creek, specifically.”

“I started third grade, and the first day, I was asked, ‘are you a boy or a girl?’” I had never experienced that in New York before,” said Cass. “I was always flamboyant and happy. I loved the Wizard of Oz, I Love Lucy, Broadway, Disney – I was just that kid.”  

Cass came from a very supportive family. “My mom and I have always been a team. For a long time, it was just me and her. She’s my biggest cheerleader. From day one, it was ok to be who I was.” 

My mom and I have always been a team. She’s my biggest cheerleader.

But, the rest of the environment changed in his new city. “It wasn’t until a few years later that things got really ridiculous. In high school, you’re coming into yourself. I loved theater, was flamboyantly fabulous and people didn’t understand that.”

Cass began freshman year at Leander High School in 1997. Students entering the theater department at that time could audition into the Advanced Production class, skipping Theater 1 and 2. Cass did so along with 2 others, joining a group of upperclassmen and the educator who would have the greatest impact on his life. “That led me to Linda Major, the most incredible woman. Linda helped save my life at Leander High School.”

“People I met in theater my freshman year are some of the most amazing people I’ll ever meet.  My friend Rachel is two years older than me and has also changed my life. Since my friends were all older, they were going out to clubs sooner, and I went along. I actually performed for the first time in drag at sixteen, and I haven’t stopped doing it since!” 

The drag community became a second family to Cass, and a welcome respite from some disapproving classmates at school. “When you’re called a ‘fag’ and everything in the book, it’s so draining, and when I was able to put on a dress and a wig and lip-sync a song I love, and have people clapping for me, why would I give that up? I felt so at home on 4th street, in that chosen family I was accepted in, that I didn’t want to leave.” 

Still, challenges at school continued. “All my friends who were cool to be around graduated in 2000. Being successful at performing downtown made me extra fabulous junior and senior years of high school. Knowing that I was doing drag performances and coming to school during the day, people were just brutal. I had different bad things happen to me. And to my car. I was an obviously-flamboyant person, and people were not nice. Things started really sucking then.”

Another student reported to Cass’s mother that their teacher, who happened to be a leader in a local religious group, had begun to antagonize him in conversations within the group. “It turns out he was using me, by name, as an example of a gay person who he believed would burn in Hell.” The comments continued even after Cass’s mother alerted school administrators, and the teacher was later let go. 

During Cass’s senior year, the September 11th attacks happened in New York and DC, and authorities were on high alert about an anthrax scare. One morning, as Cass stopped in the bathroom while running late to school, another student entered and poured an unknown substance over Cass’s head. He went to the office and reported the incident, asking administrators for a pass to go wash off, but instead was sent directly to the gym. 

“It led to this huge situation where the school was locked down, I was quarantined, and health authorities had to come. They assumed it was anthrax. Then, on the last day of school, my tires were slashed. I hated it so much and could not wait to get out of there. My mom and my amazing step-dad, best friends, teacher, and my love of performing got me through.” 

“I was told specifically I couldn’t dress a certain way at graduation if I wanted to walk. I had to be very toned down and respectful. So, I graduated, got my diploma, and basically told Leander to fuck off.”

“The saving grace was Linda Major and that theater room where I ate my lunch for those 2 years, because otherwise, I would have had things thrown at me. If I didn’t have her, my mom, or my friends and family, I wouldn’t be here. They were all fighting for me to make it through all this. And I just never wanted to look back. Ever. That was my Leander experience.”

Cass has since made a successful career as a drag performer, earning scores of titles, and rising to Show Director at Austin’s Rain on 4th. Returning to Leander to perform at Leander Pride draws a welcome contrast to his years growing up in town. 

“Things like Leander Pride didn’t exist back then. It’s amazing. This may not affect everybody, but the quantity isn’t important. It’s the quality of the effectiveness. That could change somebody’s life – or save it.” 

“It’s just so cool and I will probably get emotional that day because it’s surreal compared to my Leander experience. And my mom is just as excited as I am. She already has her Leander Pride t-shirt!” 

People are trying, and that – right there – is everything in the world.

“I’ve been in awe of all these people reaching out and doing local Pride events. From Leander, Round Rock, Taylor, and Pflugerville to Dripping Springs. You may not get hundreds of thousands of people like we do at Austin Pride, but people are trying, and that – right there – is everything in the world.” 

This June will mark 22 years of performing for Cass. For students or anyone struggling today, he says, “I don’t want to use a cliché that ‘it gets better.’ It’s not about that. You have the ability to leave or choose a family of your own. Do what you need to do, graduate, and go do what makes you happy.”

“At the end of the day, you wake up and you’re happy, and that’s all that matters.”

Don’t miss Cass’s performance as the award-winning drag queen Nadine Hughes, accompanied by other kings and queens from the legendary Rain on 4th drag club on Saturday, May 14th, 2022 at Leander Pride.

City proclaims May 14th Leander Pride Day

Leander Pride Proclamation
Mayor Christine DeLisle, Council Member Esme Mattke-Longoria, and Council Member Becky Ross join volunteers and supporters to celebrate during the May 5th City Council Meeting

During its May 5th meeting, the City of Leander issued a proclamation recognizing Leander Pride Day on May 14th in honor of our upcoming “Rainbow to Remember” event. The proclamation reads:

  • Whereas, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and there exists a certain community of people of different sexual orientations and gender identities in Leander, Texas, who have had immeasurable impact to the cultural, civic, and economic success of our community and country; and
  • Whereas, Leander Pride is a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit organization with a stated mission of making Leander, Texas, a more inclusive place for LGBTQIA+ residents and community members; and
  • Whereas, Pride Month, which is federally recognized in June, is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity; and
  • Whereas, the “Rainbow to Remember” event hosted by Leander Pride on May 14, 2022, will include a variety of activities with an intent to establish a more inclusive community place.
  • Now, Therefore, I, Christine DeLisle, Mayor of Leander, Texas, do hereby proclaim Saturday, May 14, 2022, to be: Leander Pride Day
  • And I urge the people of Leander to come together despite our differences so that all residents feel seen, heard, represented, welcome, and proud to belong to this city we know and love.

Williamson County Pride groups show their support

Volunteers and supporters of Leander Pride were joined by leaders from across Williamson County who showed up to speak and show their support, including Round Rock Pride, Taylor Pride, and Cedar Park Pride. Pastor Ryan from Open Cathedral, who hosted the first Pride Family Storytime in 2019 after it was originally canceled by the city, was also present and offered the invocation at the meeting.

Round Rock Pride Founder Richard Parson, Leander Pride President Kate LeClair, Open Cathedral Pastor Ryan Hart, Cedar Park Pride founder Sara Groff, and Taylor Pride President Denise Rodgers

Thank you for your support

The Leander Pride family is thankful to everyone who attended and continues to support us in making Leander more welcoming for all residents. We hope you’ll join us at upcoming events and we look forward to seeing you then!

Leander Pride Officers celebrate city proclamation


Open call for artists

In partnership with our amazing local educators, Leander Pride just added the “Connection & Belonging” art show to our event lineup, featuring work by local artists.

This show will be open to submissions from artists ages 3-100+ in all media, including 2D, 3D, mixed media, digital and photography. aligned to the theme of “Connection & Belonging.”

Artwork and images will be shared and displayed at the Leander PRIDE event on May 14th, 2022. By entering the Connection & Belonging Art Show, you consent to having your artwork and images shared at the event, and on our Leander Pride social media platforms as well.

Artists that reside within Leander ISD boundaries will have priority.

Submissions due by April 30th, 2022.

Leander PRIDE will notify selected artists on or before May 4th, 2022.


  • 2-D work must be mounted or matted for display, 16″x20″ max total size.
  • 3-D work must be able to stand or include a stand, max total size 24″ circumference, 36″ height.
  • Digital work must be uploaded using the form below.
  • Mixed media work or other work of a size not listed, please verify with: [email protected] before submitting.

Prizes will be awarded in 6 age categories.

If you’d like to submit a work of art to be featured in the event, please complete our entry form:

Tickets now on sale

We’re pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale for our Leander Pride event on May 14, 2022.

See our favorite local performers, including a drag show with Queens & Kings from one of the area’s famous venues. Get a drag makeup tutorial, and check out community partner and sponsor booths. Then, party the night away with DJs and dancing.

Get tickets now at eventbrite.