By Megan Wadding, June 2018 Web Exclusive.

Each spring, Arizonans from Cochise, Pima, Greenlee, Graham, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Gila, Santa Cruz and Maricopa counties descend on a small town nestled in the Mule Mountains for one of the state's most unique and inclusive Pride celebrations.

Located 95 miles southeast of Tucson, and only 12 miles north of the Mexican border (specifically the Naco, Mexico, point of entry), Bisbee is a small town with a huge amount of Pride.

“We are a very progressive, liberal community where everyone can be themselves all year long,” said Nancy Parana, Bisbee Pride president.

According to the organization's website, Bisbee Pride began in 2004 by a small group of LGBT friends. Since then, Parana added, it has grown in size and attendance each year, with anywhere from 2,300 to 2,500 people attending the annual three-day celebration.

This year mark's the mile-high town's 14th annual Pride celebration, which will take place June 15-17 at various locations throughout downtown. The festivities tale place on the same weekend every year and, according to Parana, event organizers are once again expecting to celebrate this year with attendees to come from all over Arizona.

“We do get people from New Mexico and California, but the majority come from Tucson and Phoenix,” Parana said.

The theme this year is Transcendence, which Parana said was in line with today's political climate.

“[There has been an] outward assault and efforts to diminish the progress that the LGBTQ community has made, “ she said. “We want to showcase Bisbee’s commitment to tolerance, acceptance and diversity.”

One thing that makes Bisbee's celebration unique, according to Parana, is that the entire town participates in their own way – whether it's artisan vendors at the Pride Village or proud locals displaying their art cars and go-karts in the parade. Pubs, restaurants, galleries and retailers also greet weekend visitors with rainbow flags, extended hours and/or specials (in some cases).

The jam-packed weekend itinerary, consistently recognized as one of the best “rural Prides” in the country, will include a lingerie contest, a pub crawl through town, staged entertainment, two dances, a pool party and a chance to meet/shop/network with a variety of vendors.

The festivities kick off on June 15 with The Copper Queen Dance in the street.

“Howell Avenue [will be] blocked off and the party starts at 8 p.m. right after the lingerie contest in Grassy Park,” Parana said.

This year, the Parade will start at 10 a.m. June 16 at the Iron Man Statue at the Cochise County Courthouse and will proceed down Tombstone Canyon and end at City Park in the infamous Brewery Gulch.

Later that day the entertainment heats up the Main Stage and DJ Cue, of Tucson, will also be spinning for the crowds. That evening, the Bisbee Pride TranscenDance will take place at the Bisbee Royale Theater.

Entertainment on the stages will feature Namoli Brennet, Melissa Reaves, Venus de Mars, Anthony Desamito and more. Stay tuned to Bisbee Pride's Facebook page for additional details, including stage schedules. Formoreinformation, visit

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Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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