In June 1975, a few hundred people marched down Colfax Avenue, sans permit, to mark Denver’s very first gay and lesbian pride event. The group walked to the Capitol to demand equal rights for the LGBT community; it was one of several events around the country commemorating the Stonewall riots in New York City six years earlier. Now, four decades later, Denver’s PrideFest has grown to draw an estimated 365,000 attendees, who will return to Civic Center Park this Saturday and Sunday for a weekend of community, performances and the celebration of hard-won freedoms.
“It’s going to be a super-fun event, that’s for sure,” promises Rex Fuller, spokesman for the Center, which puts on the event. “But additionally, it’s meaningful for the community to learn about each other and experience freedom in a way that they don’t every day.” That celebration will extend beyond the scope of the PrideFest event and includes dozens of parties all over town to make this one weekend to never forget that the queer community's ability to live so openly and equally now came through the hard work of thousands before us, so pay respect, raise a glass and pick from this curated and chronological list of places where you can exclaim, "I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it!" 10) Bearracuda
Friday, June 19 City Hall, 1144 Broadway
21+, 9 p.m. - $10, bearracuda.com/denver
This year, the hirsute and hunky only have a few scant options to get their party on, but if you want to put all of your eggs in one Yogi Bear-ready basket, then get your tickets now for Bearracuda which will be taking over City Hall with throbbing beats by DJ Wayne G, who just flew over from the UK. The bear-, cub- and otter-rich event promises a live laser show, go-go “guys” and 1,500-plus men. With that amount of beard oil in the room, things are bound to get a little slippery. 9) Drag Nation and Pangea Women's Party
Friday, June 19 Tracks/ Exdo, 3500 Walnut Street
21+, Pangea Women's Party at 7 p.m./ Drag Nation doors at 9 p.m., tickets at tracksdenver.com
There is a possibility that this edition of Denver’s biggest monthly drag show is going to explode under the weight of the talent involved in turning it out on Exdo’s runway, but that just means it’s going to be the best time. Joining the already supernova cast of Drag Nation, with Diva Dozen powerhouses Nina Flowers, Janessa Befierce and Bootzy Edwards Collins – will be RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty Sharon Needles and Raja Gemini. And making sure that party stays fierce as a stiletto will be Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Lisa Vanderpump, who will be one well-manicured master of ceremonies. Around the corner at Tracks, you can catch perhaps the biggest gathering of Sapphic sisters, as Babes Around Denver hosts their big lesbian event in the club's newly renovated space. DJs will be spinning, hair will be flipping and the ladies will be out. 8) Way Gay Sing Along
Friday, June 19 Alamo Drafthouse, 7301 South Santa Fe Drive
18+, 10 p.m., $13 tickets at drafthouse.com
If you’ve never been to an Action Pack Sing-Along at the Alamo Drafthouse then what's wrong with you? These little parties turn the big screen at this Littleton movie house into your own dance party complete with ample room to move and steady booze from a nimble and super sweet staff. Tonight’s Pride-ready program is filled with two hours worth of classic music videos from the last four decades that promise to be “the same songs that you secretly choreographed dance moves and created outfits for when you were five years-old,” Alamo says. From Madonna to Queen, Lady Gaga to George Michael, Cher and beyond, there won’t be a closed closet door in sight once the show starts. Every ticket includes props, glowsticks and confetti and Denver’s Best Party Starting Film Host Megan Miles will be on hand to make sure you’re sporting a smile on your “P-P-P-P-P-P-P-Poker Face.” 7) Corky’s 8th Annual Pride Pool Party
Saturday, June 20 Wrangler Parking Lot, 1700 Logan Street
18+, 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., tickets start at $30, corkycaresfoundation.org
Corky Blankenship is one of the Colorado gay community’s most shining stars, and the funds raised by his annual extravaganza of pool party fun help his Corky Cares Foundation spread some help to dozens of organizations in town. This latest soiree is taking place in the parking lot of the Wrangler where six DJs, a pool, foam, go-go boys and everyone in their summer finest will mix with food, drinks and a celebration of Corky’s decades long devotion to Denver pride and gay rights. Don’t forget the sunscreen! 6) World’s Largest Drag Number
Saturday, June 20
Greek Amphitheatre at Civic Center Park
Ages 13 to 99, 3:30 p.m., $5 entry fee, register at glbtcolorado.org
Denver’s drag scene is truly one of the largest in the country, if not the world, and during Saturday’s events at PrideFest in Civic Center Park, an attempt will be made to show everyone what we have when the LGBT Center Of Colorado (which produces PrideFest) will attempt to break a world record with the most people in drag doing a lip-sync number live on stage. If you want to join in the fun, it’s easy: (50 percent of the $5 entry fee goes to The Center), then learn the moves and lyrics to a six minute thirty second routine then show up on time ready to go – boys as girls and girls as boys – and with any luck Denver will make history. 5) Drag-Stravaganza
Saturday, June 20 Hamburger Mary’s Club M, 700 East 17th Avenue
21+, 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. , $10 tickets at the door, hamburgermarys.com Diva Dozen member Daniella DeCoteau doesn’t get to perform as often as she should, so when she does get a chance to spend time in the kitchen cooking up a savory show, you better be listening for the dinner bell. Joining DeCoteau will be a fine coterie of players, including drag daughter Daphne DeCoteau, fellow Diva Dozen-er Victoria Sexton, Zoe O., Sasha Andrews and Volta Charge. And there are two different shows to choose from (or see both), a normally outrageous show at 8 p.m. and a hold-on-to-your-butts naughtier show at 11 p.m. “Drag-Stravaganza features the best variety of Denver’s drag scene in a true cabaret format. The "naughty show’s definitely not to be missed. Funny AND sexy,” says DeCoteau. Better send grandma home in a Lyft so you can get your titillation on proper. 4) Lisa Lampanelli
Saturday, June 20 Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place
18+, 8 p.m., tickets are $40-plus, altitudetickets.com
If the definition of reading someone is to tell the truth about someone else in witty, insult form than comedy legend Lisa Lampanelli doesn’t just read people, she throws the whole damn book at them. The “loveable queen of mean” is in town to do what she does best and as the official “comedy night” event of PrideFest this year she’ll be lighting the stage of the Paramount on fire with her cutting remarks and vitriol. Get your tickets now and bring your reading glasses because the library is open. 3) Broadway’s Absolut Outrageous Pride Party with TS Madison
Saturday, June 20 Broadway’s, 1027 Broadway
21+, 10 p.m., $10 ($15 day of show), Broadways.com
When your party has “outrageous” in the title you better bring something over-the-top. So kudos to Broadway’s for getting Internet sensation and gay self-esteem preacher TS Madison to host a night of scorching drag performances and hot menzz. But you better get ready now for the event or, in the words of Ms. Madison, “Be yourself, bitch! Step your pussy up! Get a job! Own a business! Suck a dick!” Get on it Denver. 2) PrideFest
Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21 Civic Center Park, Broadway & 13th Avenue
All ages, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., glbtcolorado.org
Last year’s PrideFest event brought over 350,000 visitors to Civic Center Park, making it officially one the largest pride events in the country, and for good reason – Denver’s two-day event literally has something for everyone under the rainbow, including straight folks. And it will all get you moving, from the Big Gay 5K run to the roar of the Denver Dyke March to Sunday’s Pride Parade, which takes over Colfax Avenue, leading revelers to the park, where there will be vendors galore, three music stages, and the unveiling of Lonnie Hanzon's "Equality Cake" sculpture. Special guest Mya will also be there to entertain. It's the very best people watching that you’ll see all year. Have a gay old time, Denver! 1) Denver’s Divas with Alaska 5000
Sunday, June 21 Charlie’s Denver, 900 East Colfax
21+ show at 9 p.m., free Denver’s Best Long Running Drag Show already packs them in every Sunday on Charlie’s country-fried hardwoods, but those floors are going to shake this Sunday when RuPaul’s Drag Race super-oddity Alaska 5000 will be appearing alongside the already scorching Divas hot steppers to close out all of the Pride activities right. Expect some comedy hijinks and a ton of enjoyably head scratching moments when Ms. Alaska performs her new single “Hieeeee” for Denver’s Drag Race loving crowd. Added bonus: Charlie’s has their doors wide open for After Hours Friday through Sunday night until 4 a.m. so, get your call-in to work Monday excuse ready now.
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Keith Garcia is a filmmaker, writer and secret agent looking for love and the perfect slice of pizza. If he looks familiar, it's probably because he introduced a film you watched in Denver sometime between 1996 and 2014.