Denver Pride celebrates growing LGBTQ community

Ashley Potts

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  • Thousands of people marched down Colfax Avenue during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17, 2018. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Collegian file photo)

  • People participating in Denver PrideFest dance in front of the main stage Saturday, June 16, 2018. Throughout the weekend, there is music playing so that everyone participating can come enjoy themselves and the company around them and truly celebrate pride. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Gov. John Hickenlooper marches down Colfax Avenue during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Members of Moms Demand Action march down Colfax Ave. during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • CSU student Vada Smith represents the CSU Pride Resource Center tent at Denver PrideFest Saturday, June 16, 2018. “[The Pride Resource Center] is amazing. I’ve never had anything in my life like this before,” Smith said. “I didn’t really realize how much I could change in one year until I started going and meeting people who have the same view as me. Everyone can show up there and feel accepted.” (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Member of the PrideFest parade march down Colfax Avenue in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Members of the PrideFest parade march down Colfax Avenue in Denver on June 17. The Parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Participants in Denver PrideFest lounge in the park in front of the Denver Capitol Building Saturday, June 16, 2018. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A participant in Denver PrideFest waves a rainbow flag in front of the main stage Saturday, June 16, 2018. The rainbow flag historically symbolizes the LGBTQ community, and it is common for participants in pride to wave flags or wear rainbow patterns to show their support for the LGBTQ community. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Members of the PrideFest parade march down Colfax Avenue in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Members of the PrideFest Parade march down Colfax Avenue in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Denver Pride was celebrated with events throughout the week of June 11, 2018, ending with the annual PrideFest parade on Sunday, June 17, 2018, pride is held annually across the globe in the month of June to celebrate those who identify with the LGBTQ community. The rainbow is meant to symbolize the entire community, but each orientation has its own symbolic colors that are often portrayed on flags. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A member of the PrideFest parade march down Colfax Avenue in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • A group of flag twirlers march down Colfax Ave. during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • A rainbow CSU flag hangs from the Pride Resource Center tent at Denver PrideFest Saturday, June 16, 2016. The Pride Resource Center aims to provide an inclusive space for CSU students who identify with the LGBTQ community. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Denver Mayor Michael Hancock marches down Colfax Avenue during the PrideFest Parade in Denver on June 17. The Parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • A dog wearing a pride sign walks down Colfax Avenue during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17. The Parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • A float of pride super heros makes its way down Colfax Avenue during the PrideFest Parade in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Members of the Aurora Police Force march down Colfax Avenue with their partners during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • People participating in Denver PrideFest dance to Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A dog wearing a rainbow tutu walks with its owner during the PrideFest parade in Denver on June 17. The parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

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LGBTQ pride was felt heavily in the Rocky Mountains this past weekend. 

Not only was Comic Con in town, but PrideFest threw a party at the same time making downtown Denver the best place to spend a summer weekend. Denver PrideFest is one of the largest pride celebrations in the country, attracting around 400,000 people to Civic Center Park and the Downtown area.

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The weekend-long event is part of LGBT Pride Month, a celebration started in 1969 to celebrate the Stonewall riots that led to the gay liberation movement and LGBTQ rights. PrideFest held events such as the Pride 5k and the Coors Light PrideFest Parade to celebrate Pride Month. The event also featured health and wellness booths, art pieces, entertainment on three stages and retail booths selling pride-themed products. 

PrideFest was put on by the GLBT Center of Colorado, an organization that aims to “engage, empower, enrich, and advance the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community of Colorado,” according to their website. 

Thousands of people marched down Colfax Ave. during the PrideFest Parade in Denver on June 17. The Parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend-long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

“I think pride is important because it is a place where people gather to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community in one concentrated area,” said Sarah Kurtz, a CSU alumna who attended PrideFest. “It is a place where people can be their true authentic selves, and it is a beautiful thing to see. Pride is a space to feel empowerment within yourself and within others around you.”

Kurtz’s girlfriend, Annalise Placek, echoed similar thoughts. “I identify as a lesbian and I love to show how proud I am to be a part of a great community,” said Kurtz’s girlfriend Annalise Placek. “I think pride is very important for individuals to have a chance to celebrate who they are at a judgment-free festival.”

Allies and non-members of the LGBTQ community were also present to show their support. “I want to continuously express my support for the LGBTQ community not just through my words, but through my actions,” said Madison Wood, a friend of Kurtz and a straight ally. “For me, I want to always be a person that my LGBTQ loved ones can count on to provide an environment full of love and compassion as well as act as a judgment-free support system.”

The parade is a favorite attraction at PrideFest. This year the parade grand marshals were Charlie Craig and David Mullens, the couple who was denied service at Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2012. The case, which generated national attention was finally ruled on by the Supreme Court just two weeks earlier. The ruling wasn’t exactly pride positive, but that didn’t stop the couple from kicking off a true party of a parade.

“The parade was great to see the different local and national companies that openly support the LGBTQ+ community, like Target and Comcast,” Kurtz said. “There wouldn’t be another time of the year or time or place for large corporations to safely express their support … It was incredible to see the amount of support coming from a wide variety of places I wouldn’t think of.”

Wood was also pleased with the accessibility of the event. “I liked the parade because it was a moment for anyone and everyone involved to have a moment of unabashed authenticity, pride and love for their true self and show that off to the public.”

A dog wearing a Pride sign walks down Colfax Ave. during the PrideFest Parade in Denver on June 17. The Parade was part of Denver PrideFest, a weekend-long event to celebrate the LGBTQ community. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Regardless of any court ruling undertones, PrideFest was a blast for all who attended. From drag queens to dogs to average American dads, everyone was included in the fun.

“The thing I took away from the event is the importance of my role as a straight ally in contributing to conversations and actions that combat the continuation of hateful sentiment that rampantly continues,” said Wood. 

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Pride is an amazing event that allows everyone to be themselves and have a great time doing it,” said Placek. “I loved how included I felt and I hope everyone walked away with that same feeling.”

Ashley Potts can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @ashleypotts09.