By Tamara Juarez, October 2018 Issue.
This year, celebrations of both Hispanic Heritage Month (observed Sept. 15-Oct. 15) and LGBT History Month (October) will converge in Phoenix at the first-ever Latino Pride Festival.
The event, which will take place Oct. 13 at Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds, was created to inspire, educate and commemorate one of the most diverse minority communities in the Valley.
Presented by the Latino Pride Alliance (LPA), a volunteer-led nonprofit organization that works to address the critical need to educate and engage the Latinx LGBTQ community, with a focus on Spanish language families.
“The event is definitely tailored to families,” said Steve Gallardo, event organizer and the District 5 representative on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “We want families to come out and enjoy the rodeo, see the arts, listen to live vocal performances and enjoy different types of food.”
Hispanic artists – both locally based and from as far away as Latin America – will showcase their talents on the Festival Main Stage and the Freedom Stage throughout the daylong event. The event’s entertainment line up will include by A.B. Quintanilla III and Kumbia All Starz, Nina Sky, Carlito Olivero, Esencia, 7 Norteño, La Mala and RuPaul’s Latin Invasion Show featuring Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Jessica Wild, Kalorie Karbdashian and Alexis Mateo.
According to event organizers, Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds was the perfect spot for the celebration, which will also include a Western Rodeo/Mexican Charreada. The festival will also host a large Dance Tent, featuring the sounds of a dozen Valley DJs.
In addition to the entertainment and the community resources, the festival will also bring together culture, art and flavors from around the world, highlighting Latin American artists in the Art and Expression Tent and cuisine via participating food vendors.
“We’re going to have a variety of vendor booths; however there is a focus on what will be inside each vendor booth,” said Gallardo. “We’re hoping that most of the services and foods are occupied by nonprofits and local organizations from the county and Phoenix.”
When planning the event, leaders from the Latino Pride Alliance aimed to ensure all community members felt accepted and welcome to attend the festival.
“We want to invite everyone,” Gallardo said. “This pride will be no different than if they were to go to Phoenix Pride or other pride events in another city. We want this event to be available to engage all people, particularly LGBT[Q] Latino youth and Spanish-speaking individuals who can benefit from connecting with services.”
Phoenix’s first-ever Latino Pride Festival will also serve to provide attendees with the opportunity to network with local community leaders and organizations that help address prevalent issues faced by LGBTQ Latinos, such as family acceptance, xenophobia, homophobia, family separation, bullying, homelessness, high-risk health behaviors and HIV/AIDs.
“We have really been trying to identify the services that may be needed by the LGBTQ+ community,” Gallardo said. “That’s why we are reaching out to local high schools, Arizona State University and University of Arizona. We want to bring in education … If someone is needing help, they will be able to get engaged with those services, which will range from healthcare, to immigration, to domestic violence.”
According to Gallardo, Latino LGBTQ youth face special obstacles that can impact their emotional and mental well-being, such as machismo or xenophobia. However, there are numerous resources and tools available to them that they may simply not be familiar with.
“We want this event to unite families and the community alike,” he said. “We want people to come and celebrate their heritage and also embrace people of all backgrounds, regardless of their sexuality, ethnicity, religion or race … we really want people to come together and have a positive experience.”
For more information on Phoenix’s first-ever Latino Pride Festival or Latino Pride Alliance, visit latinopridealliance.org or call 602-262-2877.
Latino Pride Festival
11 a.m.- midnight Oct. 13
Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds
7611 S. 29th Ave., Laveen, Ariz.