Jun 152010
Authors: Alexandra Sieh

In a parade of color and charisma, PrideFest is returning to the streets of Denver this weekend, celebrating its 35th year bringing the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community and its allies together for a celebration of local community and culture.

For two days, Saturday and Sunday, Civic Center Park in downtown Denver will host an expected 300,000 people joined together for one of the city’s biggest GLBT events, hosted by The GLBT Community Center of Colorado, or The Center.

A collection of vendor booths, food stations and stages, the festival will also feature performances by guest musicians and comedians, all meant to entertain the crowd in The Center’s largest PrideFest celebration to-date.

“It has evolved a lot over the years,” said Heather Draper, communications and marketing manager for The Center. “It started as just a few dozen GLBT people having a picnic in the park.”

Stemming from the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, PrideFest is just one of many gay pride celebrations across the nation that began in protest of improper police searches and anti-gay actions in the late 1960s.

“It used to be very political,” Draper said. “Eventually, they (the GLBT community) just said ‘Enough already.’ And it’s still political. Whenever there’s a group of oppressed people together, it tends to still be that way, to make a statement.”

But now, she said, PrideFest is more of a celebration, a time for Denver’s GLBT community and its allies to come together and recognize the community’s culture and heritage.

So, 35 years later, The Center has chosen to mark the date with a special honor, naming activists and supporters from the past four decades Grand Marshals for the event.

Those people will then participate in PrideFest’s largest event, the parade from Cheesman Park down Colfax Avenue to the Civic Center Park, each Grand Marshal an important figures from different eras in GLBT activism since the 1970s.

Even with the event’s significant growth over the years, Draper said she hopes to see it continue to improve in the future, attracting not just more people, but people of different ethnicities and backgrounds.

“We would love to have more diversity,” she said. “We’ve been reaching out to minority populations, more so every year. We’re always evolving and improving for the next year.”

Design Editor and Copy Chief Alexandra Sieh can be reached at design@collegian.com.

Attend Denver PrideFest
What: One of Denver’s biggest GLBT events that joins together the community and its allies together in celebration of heritage, family and culture
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Civic Center Park, downtown Denver
Features: A parade, rally, five stages of live entertainment, food and 200 vendor booths
Price: Free

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