Colorado Springs’ gay pride festival is all grown up and ready to party.
This weekend’s 20th annual PrideFest will take over Acacia Park and downtown Colorado Springs with a parade, music and an event called “Colorado’s Pride Weddings.” The event will be a mass commitment ceremony at which individuals of any sex can pledge commitment to each other; gay marriage is still illegal in Colorado and most other states.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come, to remind us of our battles that we fought,” said Eric Attard, executive director of the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center. “There’s still a long way to go — and I think that’s another thing PrideFest represents — a reminder that it’s the one day a year people feel comfortable walking down the street holding hands.”
Attard said he expects three or four protesters around PrideFest, but the number has decreased over the past two decades. He expects at least 15,000 people to show up for the festival itself, which, he said, would make Colorado Springs’ PrideFest the second-largest such event in the state, behind Denver’s 300,000-person festival.
The festival will feature a parade at noon Sunday. The parade has grown from a half-dozen people marching down Tejon Street 20 years ago to a 30-float parade this year, Attard said.
Other festivities include a children’s day from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Colorado College, with food vendors and a bounce house. More than 100 vendors will be peddling wares, and musicians will perform on three stages in Acacia Park throughout the day.
One of this year’s performers is Camilla Rose Waters, a transsexual who recently transitioned from male to female. She was born male and performed previously as Steve Kern, a John Denver impersonator. Waters will perform this weekend as a clown at Saturday’s family event and on stage Sunday.
Waters plays folk-style guitar music, which she described as “relaxing.” She said her friends have been supportive of her transition, but it was a tough choice and many transsexuals lose most of their relationships as they transition between sexes.
“It took me 52 years to come to this decision in my life,” she said. “It’s not like I woke up one morning and said, ‘I’m bored with life, I want to make it extremely difficult, I want to change everything — my sex, my name, everything.’ ”
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When: 10 a.m. Sunday, parade at noon
Where: Acacia Park, downtown
More: PrideFest Family Fun Day is set for noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Worner Quad, Colorado College