Pride in the Pines 2017

By Tamara Juarez, July 2017 Issue.

Each year, as the country kicks off national LGBT Pride Month observations and celebrations, Arizonans turn their attention to the cooler temperatures of Northern Arizona for Flagstaff’s annual Pride in the Pines festival.

Now in its 21st year, the Northern Arizona Pride Association (NAPA) event will be bigger and more inclusive than ever before, with two days of events and entertainment for the entire family.

Once again, the celebration will take place at Thorpe Park, located just a few blocks away from the city’s historic downtown district, and feature a mix of locally and nationally recognized performers, including ’80s Latin/hip-hop icon Lisa Lisa, the fabulous Raven from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and Arizona’s own queercore rock band The Pübes.

In support of its mission to promote and support diversity and human rights by creating a safe environment where people can come together and celebrate various cultures and sexual identities, NAPA president Kathryn Jim promised that there’s sure to be something for everyone at this year’s event.

“We want to make Flagstaff Pride inclusive not just for LGBT[Q], but also for allies,” she said, adding that “about 28 percent who do attend are allies.”

Families are also encouraged to attend and visit the new children’s area, which will include face painting, a balloon specialist and arts and crafts. This latest addition to Flagstaff Pride will be sponsored by the Living Christ Church, an open and affirming church, and managed by 24 members of its congregation.

“The range is just amazing,” Jim said. “We have 8-year-olds all the way up to 65-year-olds attending with their families ... If you ever attend Flagstaff Pride, you would be shocked by how many parents bring their children and it’s absolutely amazing.”

This will be the fourth year the festival is held at Thorpe Park, which has allowed the event to grow since its move from Wheeler Park in downtown Flagstaff. Jim is expecting more than 6,000 people from across Arizona, as well as surrounding states, to attend this year’s celebration.

The festival will also feature 40 to 60 vendors, ranging from arts and crafts and food offerings for purchase to nonprofits and local business that are looking to connect with attendees.

According to Jim, the annual event is for the whole community “especially those who have supported us through all that we have accomplished, when we passed ordinances protecting the LGBT[Q] community, and also now when we’re focusing on implementing, that we protect ... those who identify as transgender ...”

Bringing in Lisa Lisa to headline this year’s event played right in the objective of inclusivity.

As a self-described straight ally, the queen of Latin hip-hop offered, “Just to celebrate gay pride is wonderful … Anything I can do to help the community, I’m so very proud to be a part of it!”

Lisa Lisa, who has been playing the pride circuit for the past three years, added that she has more than a few LGBTQ-identified relatives.

“I have a lot of family that is in the LGBT[Q] community, and my little niece just came out, so I’m just so happy to be able to celebrate with her,” she said. “Anything that has to do with me being on a stage and performing for the people, I love dearly, but I have to say, [Pride attendees] treat me so very good. They are so sweet and appreciative of [my] music.”

Flagstaff pride attendees can expect all the Lisa Lisa classics mixed with a sample of her newer music, too.

“We’re going to give them a good show,” she said. “They’ll feel like they’re on that stage with me – back in the ’80s.”

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Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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