PrideFest, organized by the non-profit Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado, is a weekend-long cruise of the gay community; it leaves no question that plenty of folks here are proud to be queer. But it's not all about faux tits and tiaras.
Organizers for the center, which was founded in 1976 and now claims to be the sixth largest of its kind in the country, have picked "Get Some...Celebration, Inspiration, and Community" as the theme for this year's gathering.
"It's a celebration of our culture and of where we've been," says Greg Lovell, the center's events manager. "But it's also a call to action. We are not fighting the battles we were thirty years ago, but we must continue to work for constitutional rights and equality for our community."
Still, there is time for fun. The weekend ignites at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 20, with Extreme Pride, a $10-per-head center benefit at La Rumba's Club Oxygen, 99 West Ninth Avenue, with DJ Joe King. The energy continues at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 21, as the starting gun fires for a 5K sprint at the 6th Annual Rainbow Run (www.teamcolorado.us) in City Park. Hearty sorts can also dart over to Cheesman Park for the 7th Annual Volleypalooza (www.cgva.org), an outdoor volleyball competition for teams of four, which bounces along from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those looking for more can go to the Stage Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex to catch the 3 or 8 p.m. seating of "Pride and Joy: The 2003 Pride Concert," which features the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, the Denver Women's Chorus, and Harmony: a Colorado Chorale. Proceeds from the $20 tickets also go to the GLBT center.
The main attraction, PrideFest, takes place on Sunday, June 22. At 9:30 a.m., the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club will kick-start the parade, which starts at Cheesman Park and rolls up Franklin Street to Colfax, then heads west to Broadway and the Civic Center. Wayne Jakino will announce the spectacle (for his fifth "straight" year) from stands in front of Charlie's, 900 East Colfax Avenue. Dykes on Bikes will weave, the (pink) Denver Guerillas will grind, and the Cycle Sluts (with the always-anticipated mustachioed belle of the ball, NuClia Waste) will scoot through a parade full of color, diversity and wild fun.
"PrideFest is a celebration of the color that gay and lesbian people add to the tapestry of life," says Waste.
The grand marshal, former Denver city councilwoman and equal-rights advocate Cathy Reynolds, will be on hand to bless this fest amid elaborately designed floats and unabashed celebs armed with water guns and condoms. Organizers predict that as many as 200,000 people will turn out for the show.
And that's where the festival really springs into action, with artists booths, a family area and lots of good eats (think the People's Fair with flamboyant flair). PrideFest also includes performances by exotic dancers, live bands and a whole gaggle of female impersonators throughout the day, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the main stage.
Say it loud.