Photos: 50 years of Pride at Denver’s PrideFest

From June 15 to June 16, Denver saw thousands gather in Civic Center Park for the 44th annual PrideFest celebration. Denver PrideFest is the biggest Pride celebration in Colorado, drawing 425,000 attendees and 415 volunteers in 2018.

A screen displaying "Denver Pride" next to the center stage at Denver PrideFest.
A screen displaying “Denver Pride” next to the center stage at Denver PrideFest. June 15, 2019. (CU Independent/Anna Haynes)

This year’s event was estimated to have over 500,000 people in attendance, with a record 240 float entries. 

Attendees gather in front of the Denver City Hall and County Building to celebrate Denver PrideFest.
Attendees gather in front of the Denver City Hall and County Building to celebrate Denver PrideFest. June 15, 2019. (CU Independent/Anna Haynes)

The center stage performances began Saturday at noon with Wheelchair Sports Camp, an eclectic hip hop group led by Denver mayoral candidate Kalyn Rose Heffernan, whose platform includes a pledge to “make more art.”

Kalyn Rose Heffernan, queer and disabled Denver Mayoral candidate, performing with Wheelchair Sports Camp.
Kalyn Rose Heffernan, queer and disabled Denver Mayoral candidate, performing with Wheelchair Sports Camp. June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)

Also taking center stage Saturday was Denver-based drag queen Jessica L’Whor with her show “$ex Sells.” L’Whor has performed at the University of Colorado Boulder numerous times, hosting Drag Bingo and CU’s annual drag show.

Drag queen Jessica L'Whor on the center stage at Denver PrideFest.
Drag queen Jessica L’Whor on the center stage at Denver PrideFest. June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)

The festival featured an art installation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment for the LGBTQ+ community in the United States. The installation by Lonnie Hanzon entitled “Stonewall 50: Progress and Reflection” remembered the 1969 events which shook the LGBTQ+ community.

Sign commemorating the first same-sex marriage license in the United States, signed in Boulder by Clela Rorex.
A sign commemorating the first same-sex marriage license in the United States which was signed in Boulder by Clela Rorex. June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)

During the celebration, a Pride flag was displayed in front of the Colorado Capitol for the first time thanks to Gov. Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in the U.S.

The Colorado State Capitol Building displaying a Pride flag.
The Colorado State Capitol displaying a Pride flag. June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)

Just like every year, Denver PrideFest gave hundreds of thousands of attendees a temporary retreat from the struggles of being LGBTQ+ and acted as an unconditional celebration of love.

A Denver PrideFest attendee covered in rainbow paint.
A Denver PrideFest attendee covered in rainbow paint. Many attendees passing by received rainbow handprints on their bodies. June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)
An attendee offering "dad hugs."
An attendee offering “dad hugs.” It has become a common trend in recent years to provide parental hugs to LGBTQ+ youth who have faced familial discrimination. June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)
A display with various LGBTQ pride flags alongside the words "Love is love. Proud to be we."
A display with various LGBTQ+ flags alongside the words “Love is love. Proud to be we.” June 15, 2019. (Anna Haynes/CU Independent)

Contact CU Independent Senior News Editor Anna Haynes at anna.haynes@colorado.edu.

Anna Haynes

Senior News Editor

Anna Haynes is a sophomore journalism and political science major at CU Boulder. She is interested in LGBTQ issues as well as diversity on campus and in Boulder.

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