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June Is for Liberation: How to Celebrate Juneteenth and Pride in Denver

Dancing in the streets at the 2016 Juneteenth Music Festival.EXPAND
Dancing in the streets at the 2016 Juneteenth Music Festival.
Kenneth Hamblin III
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June is a month for celebrating liberation.

Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday marking the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas learned that they were free, draws crowds every year to celebrate black culture in the United States. Pride commemorates the Stonewall Riots in late June and early July 1969, the most significant queer uprisings against police violence in United States history, during which drag queens, transgender people and gay men fought off the police after a raid on a New York City gay bar.

But as with most things 2020, this year’s festivities are going to be different.

First, this June will go down in history because of the national movement against police violence and for black liberation — bringing a decidedly revolutionary spirit to both holidays. And second, well, the global pandemic has forced organizers to push most Pride and Juneteenth celebrations online.

For those wanting to mark the occasions virtually, though, there's plenty going on. The 2020 Juneteenth Music Festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 18, will be a celebration of African-American history and a call to make Juneteenth a national holiday. This online event will include the DREAM BIG Awards, which celebrate people making a positive impact in the black community. There will be musical performances by artists including the Reminders, podcasting, a virtual cypher and dance competition, standup comedy, workshops on financial literacy, and more. On Friday, June 19, there will also be a Freedom March. Details on all activities are available at iamjuneteenth.org.

For an in-person celebration, head to New Cottage Arts music school at 655 South Federal Boulevard, where from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 19, the school will mark both Pride and Juneteenth with a free, family-friendly gathering.

Denver PrideFest, the annual party in Civic Center Park, has migrated entirely online, with events through the weekend, including a virtual Dyke March from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 20. The main parade will be Sunday, June 21, starting at 9 a.m. For more information on these and a host of Drag Queen Story Times and other fun events, go to PrideFest's Facebook page.

As social distancing guidelines relax, gay bars are also beginning to open. As a result, you can have a drink and dance — at a distance — at Tracks, Trade, Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor, and X Bar during Pride weekend.

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