A Celebration of Pride

By Laura Latzko, April 2016 Issue.

Members of the LGBTQ community celebrate their pride in multitude of different ways – that’s part of what makes us so diverse.

As part of the Phoenix Pride festival, which will take place April 2-3, community members are invited to celebrate their pride with a weekend of art, live music, drag, fashion, dancing, erotic demonstrations, burlesque shows and inter-generational family time.

According to Dani Logan, Phoenix Pride program manager, the two-day festival highlights what makes the greater Phoenix LGBTQ community special and multifaceted.

“Our community is diversity. It encompasses so many different people, and all of those people have different things that they like,” Logan said. “We want everybody who comes to Pride to find something that they love.”

While the festival has a celebratory atmosphere, Justin Owen, Phoenix Pride executive director, said there is also greater meaning behind it.

According to Owen, the festival continues to bring LGBTQ people together to remember their history, commemorate important victories in the fight for equal rights and look to toward future goals.

“We still have the struggles for workforce equality, for non-discrimination,” he said. “We still have a lot of those things moving forward, but we are taking steps.”

What started as a march on the Capitol in 1981, Phoenix Pride has grown into a large-scale event attracting 35,000 people each year.

Last year, the Phoenix Pride Festival celebrated its 35th anniversary with the launch of the History Project, an effort to preserve Arizona’s LGBTQ history. This year, project organizers will take the next step by reaching out to people interested in sharing their stories about Arizona’s LGBTQ rights movement at the Phoenix Pride booth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor 2016, Dance Pavilion DJs will spin music in a custom-built booth located on top of Heathen, a colorful art vehicle with light and fire effects. Photo by Fernando Hernández.

Let’s Get Festive

Much like years past, returning attendees can expect this year’s festival to feature the Main, Community and Bistro stages, Dance Pavilion, Arts Expo, Erotic World, KidSpace, exhibitor and food vendor areas. But this year, there will be a change to the overall layout.

Most noticeably, the Community and Bistro stage will switch spaces. Bringing the community stage to the front of the festival, Logan said, will ensure the pride experience starts right inside the entrance.

“It’s a wonderful introduction to the festival,” Logan said. “Instead of going off to the side and seeing the back of the food vendors, you’ll run right into the community stage and the food vendors.”

The Bistro stage will move to the more serene lakeside area, which will also bring the Arts Expo closer to the exhibitor area.

New this year, Dance Pavilion DJs will spin music in a custom-built booth located on top of Heathen, a colorful art vehicle with light and fire effects.

The popularity of the last year’s VIP Experience – an air-conditioned tent, with exclusive entertainment, a shaded patio, private bar and restrooms, and front-row view of the Main Stage – resulted Phoenix Pride doubling the size of the space.

Setting the Stages

Following last year’s performance by headliner Wilson Phillips, event organizers aimed to feature more well-known entertainers. This year, The B-52’s, a punk and new wave band known for the hit song “Love Shack” will headline the festival’s Main Stage at 8 p.m. April 2.

According to Logan, 3,000 addition people came out to last year’s festival to to see the Latin pop artist Ana Barbara. Following that enthusiastic response, Phoenix Pride announced another Latin headliner for 2016: Los Horsocopos De Durango will take the Main Stage from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 2.

Other Main Stage headliners include former closeted boy band star Ricky Rebel and his Pop, Rock, Synth band from 6 to 6:45 p.m. April 3 and Daya, the 17-year-old songstress behind the current hit “Hide Away,” from 8 to 9 p.m. April 3.

“What’s great about Phoenix Pride being in April is that our community gets to see these acts first,” Logan said. “[The groups] have this fantastic experience in Phoenix, and they go on to do other pride festivals.”

The Bistro and Community stages will feature a mix of local and touring bands and artists, including progressive/art rock group PIPELiGHTS and hip hop/electronica/ funk group Snailmate, who will both be making their Phoenix Pride debut.

Among the returning favorites are performances by local drag performers, as well as male and femme entertainers, from the Phoenix Pride, USofA and EOY systems.

Ana Bárbara performs on the Main Stage at the 2015 Phoenix Pride festival. Photo by leakedglass.com.

The Center of the Community

According to event organizers, this 2016 festival theme, “Community Strong,” ties back to the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center and its mission.

“A lot of it has to do with our community coming together,” Owen said. “The center is the heart of our community, and it’s only made possible by the festival.”

Proceeds from the festival support programming offered at the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center, located at 801 N. Second Ave.

Through the festival, Phoenix Pride also offers local nonprofit organizations the opportunity to participate in its volunteer and beverage grant programs in exchange for charitable donations from Phoenix Pride.

“By coming to Pride, [attendees] are support[ing] their community,” Logan said. “They are helping community members go back to school. They are helping nonprofit organizations, like Joshua Tree, fulfill their missions.”

The 2015 Phoenix Pride festival marked the city's 35th annual pride celebration/observation. Photo by leakedglass.com.

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