By Tamara Juarez, June 2017 Issue.
For the past 12 years, Bisbee has observed LGBT Pride Month with a city-wide celebration that’s open to everyone. And, heading into its 13th annual Pride weekend, the tightly knit and quite eccentric southern Arizona community is prepping for what could easily be its most impressive weekend of festivities to date.
From June 16 to 18, vendors, supporters, sponsors, entertainers and allies will converge, quite literally, in the streets of one of Arizona’s most historic towns, making it an ideal opportunity to see new sights and visit new venues.
“It’s sort of our way to introduce people to Bisbee as a gay-friendly place,” said Kathy Sowden, owner of Finders Keepers antique shop in Bisbee and festival organizer since 2009. “We like to show them the best of Bisbee so they’ll come back, and if we had the festival in a single location, they wouldn’t get to see the town. We have really cool architecture and have lots of fun in the bars and venues, so it’s a very unique experience.”
Throughout the year, “America’s Best Historic Small Town” attracts more than 1,500 visitors from throughout Arizona and beyond – about a quarter of its original population. Throughout the past decade, Bisbee has become widely known for its vibrant art and music scene, as well as its beautifully preserved architecture, which showcases the very best of the Eclectic Movement of the early 1900s.
According to Sowden, 10 to 15 businesses will participate in celebration weekend by offering special deals for Pridegoers. Additionally, Pride entertainers will take the stage at various locations all weekend long. Comedienne Dana Goldberg, named one of the funniest lesbians in the country by advocate.com and Curve Magazine, to headline the event.
As an avid LGBTQ advocate, Goldberg has shared a stage with some of the world’s most iconic figures, including former president Barack Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Sir Elton John, Mariah Carey and many more.
When asked about what she’s most looking forward to at Bisbee Pride, Goldberg did not pass the opportunity to crack a joke.
“That the show is inside,” she said with a laugh. “I’m sort of kidding, but I am happy that I’ll be in an air-conditioned room in Arizona, in the middle of June.
This will be Goldberg’s first pride event for the season, and she said it’s an honor to perform for the Bisbee audience.
“I have not been to Bisbee or attended Bisbee Pride, so I’m really excited to get down there,” she said “… I think it’s beautiful when smaller towns that don’t really get celebrities or big shows or prides [attract so much attention, because] they appreciate it more. They get to go out and be gay.”
Goldberg will perform alongside comedian Sampson McCormick and Phoenix-based queercore comedic rock band The Pübes during the “LOL – Laugh Out Loud” feature event at 7:30 p.m. June 17.
The weekends schedule of events also includes a wine tasting and live theater show at the Bisbee Royale, the annual Miners and Madames Street Dance at the Copper Queen Saloon and the Twisted Sister Bingo fundraiser for Chiricahua Community Clinic’s Domestic Violence & Advocacy Program.
New this year, Bisbee Pride released a limited quantity of VIP passes, which include access to all featured events. Tickets, for $75, are available at bisbeepride.com/tickets.
Bisbee Pride has only grown since 2004, and Sowden said it has to do with the festival as much as the town and its residents.
“People feel really accepted here,” she said. “They feel the sense of community. That’s what we hear every year. People just feel like Bisbee is a safe place to be.”
Bisbee is a dominantly liberal community and was the first town in the state to pass a Civil Union Ordinance before marriage equality became nationally recognized. Proceeds from Pride events, Sowden said, help promote educational, cultural and recreational events for the LGBTQ community and fund other nonprofits.
Bisbee Pride Event Schedule
Pride Village in Grassy Park | 3-10 p.m.
Bisbee Pride welcomes visitors at its Pride Village, located in Grassy Park by the Mining Museum. Pick up an accessory for the dance or have a featured cocktail to start the weekend off right. Cost: free.
Lingerie Pub Crawl | 6 p.m.
Check out Bisbee’s cool saloons in your finest lingerie! Start with cocktails at the Screaming Banshee or Contessa’s Cantina.
The Lascivious Lingerie Pageant | 7:45 p.m.
Meet up at Pride Village and compete for the most Lascivious Lingerie. The winner gets a prize and will ride in the Bisbee Pride Parade. Cost: free.
Midnight Miners & Madame’s Street Dance | 8 p.m.
Dress like a miner or a madame and dance your booty off in front of the Copper Queen Hotel and Saloon. Cost: $10.
Pride Village, Street Fair | 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Stop by Pride Village in Grassy Park for a cocktail and browse the wears of many artisans. Cost: free.
Day Stage | 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Drop into the Blue Mule Cafe in the Bisbee Royale for live music, comedy and drag shows all day long. Cost: free.
Wine Tasting and Live Theater | 1-3 p.m.
Join winemaker James Callahan of RUNE Wines for a wine pairing and tasting in the Bisbee Royale Theater. Get your limited edition Bisbee Pride 2017 wine glass and enjoy a live performance of “Are You Married?” with Robin Taylor. Cost: $30.
Bisbee Pride Parade – Celebrating Diversity | 5-6 p.m.
Register in advance and meet at 4:30 p.m. in the Courthouse parking lot. Cost: free.
“LOL – Laugh Out Loud” | 7:30 p.m.
Live comedy show hosted by Dana Goldberg with Sampson McCormick and The Pübes at the Bisbee Royale Theater. Cost: $30
Decadent Diva Dance Party with Live Bands | 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
Hosted by Aimee V. Justice with DJ Cue and a live band every hour, including Rockus, Rawjam and The Pübes, at the Bisbee Royale Theater. Cost: $10.
Twisted Sister Bingo | 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
A fundraiser for Chiricahua Community Clinic’s Domestic Violence& Advocacy Program at the Bisbee Royale Theater (lunch and cocktails available). Cost: bingo cards are $1 each.
The 14th Annual Bisbee Pride
Various locations through Bisbee