Denver’s historic PrideFest pleases

Sunday’s PrideFest marked the 33rd anniversary of Denver’s annual gay pride festival, one of the top 10 celebrations of its sort in the country. Civic Center Park was decked out in the usual rainbow flags, as thousands of visitors wandered the adjacent blocks, which were lined with political and vendor booths. Attendees could sign up for the Colorado Gay Rodeo, show support for Colorado’s only gay congressional candidate, Jared Polis, receive a free HIV test, enter a "color your vagina" coloring book contest, or join the Log Cabin Republicans, the Stonewall Democrats, or the Outright Libertarians, all gay political groups that passed out literature during the event.

For all its characteristic glee and glory, this year’s PrideFest was buoyed by the fact that last week, gay marriage was legalized in California. A Supreme Court ruling overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage last month, and it went into effect June 16. Thousands of couples are expected to wed in the state of California in the coming weeks, joining the hundreds that have already tied the knot.

But this year’s PrideFest was also besmirched by a recent local episode, one that reminded attendees that Colorado has a long way to go. On June 13 a lesbian in Boulder reported to police that her car had been vandalized with pictures of male genitalia and offensive phrases about female body parts. She said that several other lesbians in the area had experienced similar abuse and all but one of them had the "Equality" bumper sticker on their cars. The report has led Boulder police to launch an investigation in what appears to be a pattern of vandalism.

In spite of the anti-gay episode, PrideFest went forward with its unmistakable pageantry. Drag queens milled through the crowd, as gay, straight, trans, and in between festival-goers jammed to live music in the park. As a publisher’s letter in Denver’s Gayzette noted, a "fun filled smutty pride holiday" was had by all.

Photo slideshow by Bob Spencer.