By Laura Latzko, June 2015 Issue.

For locals and visitors alike, Bisbee Pride offers a chance to celebrate LGBT pride in a slightly different way than most cities.

While most Pride events pair a festival feel with a park or other venue large enough to accommodate the masses, Bisbee Pride attendees descend on a downtown area that’s defined by its arts scene and history.

Bisbee, a former mining town in the Mule Mountains, is home to more than 5,300 people. Each year, Pride weekend attracts anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 people and many of the town’s allied residents, artists and local businesses get involved with the pride event, making the festive weekend as much about the town as the LGBT community.

Photos courtesy of Angie Wingerd and Gretchen Baer.

Kathy Sowden, Bisbee Pride organizer, said during Pride weekend, out-of-towners get a glimpse what makes Bisbee special.

“It’s a great little town. It’s lots of fun. It’s colorful. The architecture is neat,” Sowden said. “[Pride] gives us a chance to show off.”

This year, the 11th annual Bisbee Pride, will take place from June 19 to 21 and will offer both visitors and locals a wide variety of ways to celebrate Pride in Arizona’s mile-high city.

With the tagline “Pride is Divine,” this year’s event brings a heavenly list of talent to various stages throughout town.

Known for her roles in such John Waters films as Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Polyester, Cry Baby, Desperate Living, Serial Mom and Female Trouble, actress Mink Stole will perform Friday night in City Park. As part of the show, which will include cabaret and dancing, Stole will reunite with Dallas Arizona, a male entertainer from Phoenix who also appeared in Hairspray and Crybaby.

Drag queen Pandora de Strange (aka Scott Pierce) will not only take the stage as lead vocalist of The Flaming Queens, but also as the host of the Pride Is Divine show, with Youtube parody sensation and headliner Sherry Vine, at 8 p.m. June 20.

According to de Strange, it’s the open and accepting atmosphere of Bisbee that draws performers back year after year. In addition to de Strange, Vine, Phoenix band Sister Lip and Minnesota-based singer Venus DeMars are among the names who will return to the Bisbee Pride line-up this year.

Photos courtesy of Angie Wingerd and Gretchen Baer.

“The whole town really honors diversity and when they do something like pride, the entire town throws on a tutu and celebrates,” de Strange said. “It’s beautiful to see. I didn’t know I would have to journey to the high desert to find diversity like that in Arizona.”

In addition to The Flaming Queens, Bisbee Pride will host a collection of up-and-coming Arizona-based bands. Out of Phoenix, Sister Lip and Treasurefruit will perform multiple shows throughout the weekend. Additionally, rock quartet Fairy Bones and gypsy funk band Jerusafunk will take their signature Phoenix-based sounds to Bisbee for Pride performances, and The Mission Creeps, a cinematic horror and garage band, will represent Tucson.

This year, the weekend of festivities kicks off with an art installation at Central School Project. DeMars worked with children to develop art projects and a performance art piece for the show.

The annual Pride parade will feature a different look this year to mark its move to Saturday night. The parade will kick off at 7 p.m. June 20 at Cochise County Super Court, 100 Quality Hill Road, and will conclude at City Park (off Taylor Avenue).

To raise money, Bisbee Pride will hold a raffle with artwork, getaways, sports equipment and other items donated by local artists and businesses. Tickets, $5, will be on sale throughout the day at the Grassy Park information booth. Drawings will take place at 4:30 p.m. June 20 (need not be present to win), and raffle prizes can be claimed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Finders Keepers Antiques, 81 Main St.

“There’s something especially queer about Bisbee Pride,” de Strange said. “Everybody’s freak flag flies proudly. It’s OK to be whatever you want to be, and people are supportive of it.”

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