By Laura Latzko, April 9, 2015.
Pride holds different meanings for everyone and, no matter what your definition involves, you’re invited to show it, share it, rock, it, flaunt it and celebrate it at Arizona’s biggest LGBT celebration.
This year’s Phoenix Pride festival, which marks the 35th anniversary of Pride events in Phoenix, is expecting 35,000 attendees, 300 exhibitors and nearly 500 volunteers to descend on Steele Indian School Park April 11-12.
“Every year is someone’s first pride festival,” said Justin Owen, the organization’s executive director. “I’ve seen it in all ages, I’ve seen it in all demographics – from older members of our community, who were so afraid to be themselves because of how they were brought up or their history … to teenagers who come in from a rural part of Arizona – they come through that gate and realize they can be themselves, they can truly experience who they are.”
To accommodate festivalgoers of all ages and interests, the 2015 festival boasts three stages of entertainment, a dance pavilion, an Arts Expo, the Erotic World (18 and over), a Wedding Chapel, an LGBT History Exhibit, a KidSpace for families, a VIP Experience (for details, see page 42) and a variety of food and beverage options.
According to Owen, all the festival participants – from the local and national talent to the community-based vendors – combine for a more diverse experience than in past years.
“Pride is so much bigger than one person, than one organization,” said Dani Logan, Phoenix Pride program manager. “There’s so much love that goes into the festival.”
However, it was the proceeds from last year’s festival Pride Pageant that allowed the organization to acquire the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center, formerly the 1 Voice Community Center. The center, located at 801 N. Second Ave., in Phoenix, is now part of organization’s greater mission.
“I get to come to work daily and serve our community,” Logan said. “That’s what Phoenix Pride does with the center, with the festival, with the events and with the scholarships.”
According to Owen, in his 2015 Phoenix Pride welcome letter, the festival will continue to help the organization fund more than $100,000 in grants this year and continue to sustain the center.
“This is only possible because of you … the phenomenal community members that come out and support our events,” Owen wrote. “A portion of every dollar you spend with Phoenix Pride goes back into the community …”
The festival, Owen added, is the culmination of an entire year of planning as well as the organization’s biggest effort – one he, Logan and the Phoenix Pride board of directors are proud to present.
Hosted by Barbra Seville, the Main Stage will feature a mix of local and national acts, including:
Wilson Phillips: Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips topped the pop charts in the early ‘90s with “Hold On,” “Release Me” and “You’re in Love” and went on to win the 1990 Billboard Music Award for Hot 100 Single of the Year. Read Echo’s interview with Wilson Phillips on page 32.
Ana Bárbara: With international acclaim as La Reina Grupera (the queen of grupera music) and a 2005 Latin Grammy for Best Grupero Album for Loca de Amar, Bárbara will be Pride’s first-ever Latin headliner. Read Echo’s interview with Bárbara on page 34.
Betty Who: Australian singer-songwriter Betty Who released her debut album Take Me When You Go in October 2014. Her song “Somebody Loves You” became widely known after a video of Spencer Stout proposing to his boyfriend Dustin Reeser in a Home Depot flash mob dance went viral.
British pop singer Katy Tiz, best known for her cover of Rock Mafia’s “The Big Bang”; Katja Glieson, an Australian pop/dance/hip-hop artist known for her song “Look At Us” and her portrayal of Elsa in the Snow White vs. Elsa Princess Rap Battle; Betty, a three-piece band out of New York, started in 1986 and is most known for “The L Word” theme song, will also take the main stage.
As for local acts, The Random Gingers, four-piece acoustic cover band and Madeleine Miller and Bret Bender, who make up the indie rock band Bogan Via are set to perform.
TISH TANNER COMMUNITY STAGE
Home to local flavor, including performers from such neighboring cities as Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the Tish Tanner Community Stage hosts hour-long sets by a mix of veteran and newcomer entertainers.
From drag stars and dance crews to singers and comedians, the entertainment here is guaranteed to be a diverse reflection of our community.
ARTS EXPO & BISTRO STAGE
Organized by artist and interior designer Dawn Bowman for the past 11 years, the Arts Expo and Bistro Stage showcases independent visual artists from throughout the Valley.
This year, 13 artists booths will feature the work of photography, painting, drawings, jewelry, wood designs, glass art and, for the first time, a henna artist.
Exhibiting artists have also donated pieces for hourly raffles, proceeds of which benefit the Phoenix Pride Scholarship Program. Raffle tickets will be available for $5.
Festival attendees are invited to make their mark on a 20-foot chalk mural, which Bowman said, “adds an urban art walk quality to the space.”
On the other side of the tent, the Bistro Stage will feature a different performer every hour.
A space for attendees 18 and older, Erotic World offers a wide variety of mature material throughout both days of the festival.
Here, attendees are invited to learn about and explore different fetishes and practices through demonstrations, including flogging, role-play and whips, and such talks as “BDSM and the Law.”
Back by popular demand, Romantasy Cabaret will perform its brand of burlesque on both days of the festival and for the first time, Nadine Sabulsky, author of Living the Naked Life: 10 Ways to Expose Your Unlimited Creation Abilities, will give a class on mediation.
Year after year, Phoenix Pride festival exhibitors continue to grow both in number and in diversity. And, according to Logan, attendees will see many newcomers this year, including an increased number of allied business owners, which she summarizes as a reflection of the changing needs of the community.
Since same-sex marriage became legally recognized in Arizona, Logan explained, more businesses and organizations in the allied community have realized our buying power and reached out.
Local retailer Green Gurl will make its Pride debut this year, and, according to owner Laura Allred-Roossin, the store, located at 3122 W. Indian School Road, regularly attracts a diverse client base, including LGBT community members and drag performers.
“I think it has to do with our openness and the people who work here,” Allred-Roossin said. “I think word has just gotten out that we’re a safe space.”
In the past, Allred-Roosin said, Green Gurl has donated to the Phoenix Shanti Group and one n ten, and bringing her business to be part of the festival finally worked out.
Parents and children (ages 12 and younger) are invited to celebrate pride as a family in with face painting, bounce houses, arts and crafts and a photo booth
For the first time, new sponsor Microsoft will bring Xbox consoles and Surface Pro tablets to KidSpace.
In lieu of a YouthZone, six community organizations, including Terros, one n ten and Safe Out, will be set up inside a shaded alcohol- and tobacco-free area near the community stage.
BE A PART PHOENIX’S LGBT HISTORY
The 35th anniversary of Phoenix Pride also marks the launch of Celebrating LGBT History! Arizona: 1969-2014, an ongoing collaboration – brought to you by Phoenix Pride, the Hip Historian Marshall Shore and ASU Libraries – to chronicle and preserve Arizona’s LGBT history for future generations.
The first phase this effort, informally referred to at the history project, will be unveiled at the Phoenix Pride festival. Attendees are invited to visit the 20-by-20-foot tent to view periodicals, pictures and scrapbooks dedicated to LGBT history in the Valley.
Over the next five years, Owen said, partnering organizations will continue to expand on the project into what will eventually be a museum-quality traveling exhibit.
For information on contributing to or volunteering as part of this effort, visit the Celebrating LGBT History! Arizona: 1969-2014 booth at the Phoenix Pride festival.
Phoenix Pride Festival
Noon-9 p.m. April 11 and 12
Steele Indian School Park
Enter on Indian School Road, between Central Avenue and Seventh Street
Single-day pre-sale, $15; single-day express entry, $20; Two-day express-entry, $30; children 12 and under, free; VIP, $75.
Meet and greet with Wilson Phillips, Ana Barbara or Betty Who, $75