Free 2 B U

By Desi Rubio, Sept. 11, 2014.

Set against one of Arizona’s most iconic landscapes, Sedona/Verde Valley Pride beckons travelers from across the state for its annual celebration.

The festival will take place Sept. 25-28, and include a variety of events that will take place in both Sedona and Cottonwood, neighboring cities that sit 19 miles apart.

And, with the addition of new festivities — that range from entertainment, sightseeing, fundraising and history — this year’s festival is guaranteed to be bigger and better.

Myss Miranda, Sedona Pride president, described this year’s festival in three words: “Totally. Freakin’. Groovy.”

Miranda, known for her “go big or go home” philosophy, is excited to show attendees how much the event has changed in one year. This will be Miranda’s first year as Pride president and she explains how every year prior, she has learned something new — knowledge she plans to incorporate in this year’s festival.

“We have been told that we have the most charming Pride, it’s small but a big-hearted community,” Miranda said. “We like it to feel community-like and want kids and family to come have a good time.”

Drag peformners Mya McKenzie and DiVa.

The Pride festivities will kick off Thursday evening with a Mix & Mingle Soiree at Sedona’s Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Here, guests are invited to meet with festival coordinators, vendors and entertainers. Special guest Armen Ra, an Illuminate Film Festival favorite, will take the stage for a special engagement.

The following night, guests are invited to attend the first-ever Guilty Pleasures Fashion Show & Fundraiser at Relics in Sedona. The fashion show, one of the newly added events, will feature models dressed in their favorite “guilty pleasure” outfits and those in attendance can donate $1 per vote for their favorite model. Once all votes are tallied, a king and queen will be crowned and all donations will benefit sex education in Verde Valley and AIDS research.

The Pride festival will take place Saturday and Clayton McKee, returning as master of ceremonies, will kick-off the official #Free2BU Pride Festival & Equality Celebration. The Saturday entertainment line-up includes the Mingus Union High School Choir; Johnny Ziegler and Jill Wood of Mountain Standard Time; Sister Lip; The Sugar Thieves; Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special; and an hour of royalty, featuring DiVa, Mya McKenzie, China Collins and Desiree DeMornay.

The Pubes.

“We did this last year and greeted it with open arms,” said Johnny Ziegler, guitarist and singer of Verde Valley’s own Mountain Standard Time. “When they asked us to return we were more than honored to support the rights of human beings and hope our music will generate love.”

Mountain Standard Time will help kick off the festival with everything from classic Rat Pack sounds to modern Adele in an effort to reach multigenerational audiences.

As the Saturday sun sets, the festival will transform into the official #Free2BU After Party. For the second consecutive year, the screaming guitars, hard bass lines and thundering rhythms of The Pübes will rock the stage with their signature anthems, including “Oops, I Caught The Gay” and “Danger Muffin.” Drag performances by DiVa and the girls will precede DJ lil.EGO spinning the night away.

Another enhancement to this year’s event will be the addition of a LGBT timeline component. The Wall of History, designed by Miranda (who is also a web-graphics designer) and her husband will display a large 30-foot banner showcasing LGBT history from the early 1900s through today.

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Elle E’Phant and Navi Ho.

Miranda said she hopes this display will trigger a strong response for everyone who experiences it, especially LGBT teenagers.

“We want people to understand the triumphs of this community and are hoping that guests leave with more knowledge and pride,” Miranda said.

Information provided by The Wall of History will also tie into Sunday’s Salsa Brunch and LGBT Jeopardy game — with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — at Oaxaca in Uptown Sedona. So, Miranda encourages guests check it out, take notes and then test their knowledge.

Miranda hopes that LGBT community members from throughout the state, as well as families and allies, will be able to come celebrate diversity among one of the most unique landscapes in the Southwest.

“We just want people to come have a great time, make new friends and hang out with family,” she said.

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