Correction: Grand marshal for the PrideFest parade in Colorado Springs is 5th Congressional District candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding. An earlier version of this story had gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis as the grand marshal, according to parade officials.
LGBTQ community members and allies observe Pride Month each June to celebrate solidarity and resistance to discrimination.
Colorado Springs celebrates its 28th annual PrideFest this weekend, a schedule that allowed locals to attend the Denver GLBT PrideFest on June 16-17.
PrideFests are held in many U.S. cities to commemorate the notorious Stonewall riots, which started in New York City early June 28, 1969, when police from the “Public Morals Division” raided the bar. Patrons rioted, prompting officers to take cover in the Stonewall Inn, now considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement.
In Colorado Springs, PrideFest has grown since its beginnings in Acacia Park, requiring a move to America the Beautiful Park.
“The numbers keep growing,” said Nic Grzecka, president of Colorado Springs PrideFest. “The city itself and the straight community has just completely embraced the festival. Social norms, as they’ve changed, it’s become a lot more socially acceptable to accept your gay neighbor and your gay friends, brothers and sisters. We’re seeing a lot more people come out in support of their LGBT friends and family.”
PrideFest celebrates Family Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in America the Beautiful Park, with family-friendly entertainment by local drag performers, lawn games, a photo booth, rainbow souvenirs and vendors.
The Pride Parade starts at 11 a.m. Sunday at Cimarron and Tejon streets, north to Colorado Avenue, then west to America the Beautiful Park.
Fifth Congressional District candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding will be the grand marshal for this year's PrideFest.
At 3 p.m., entertainment will be by Ada Vox, from this season’s American Idol, and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Naysha Lopez.
Club Q will hold a family-friendly after-party with free barbecue and beer, plus a meet-and-greet with the headlining performers.
Full weekend access to the PrideFest events costs $5. Any profits will be donated to Inside/Out Youth Services Inc., a local nonprofit that supports LGBTQ youths in Colorado Springs.
While the gay rights movement has come a long way in the U.S., the battle continues, especially for transgender people, Grzecka said.
He said he’s excited to see diverse community members attend the event in solidarity.
“We encourage people of any walk of life to come and show your support,” Grzecka said. “Everybody knows somebody who is gay, lesbian, bi, trans or queer. Everybody does.
“Every year, I’m still in shock that people I know from the community, who I would never expect to show up, come and support us. To see them there is very eye-opening and supportive.”