Arizona's mile-high town preps for Pride

By Megan Wadding, June 2018 Web Exclusive.

Each spring, Arizonans from Cochise, Pima, Greenlee, Graham, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Gila, Santa Cruz and Maricopa counties descend on a small town nestled in the Mule Mountains for one of the state’s most unique and inclusive Pride celebrations.

Located 95 miles southeast of Tucson, and only 12 miles north of the Mexican border (specifically the Naco, Mexico, point of entry), Bisbee is a small town with a huge amount of Pride.

“We are a very progressive, liberal community where everyone can be themselves all year long,” said Nancy Parana, Bisbee Pride president.

According to the organization’s website, Bisbee Pride began in 2004 by a small group of LGBT friends. Since then, Parana added, it has grown in size and attendance each year, with anywhere from 2,300 to 2,500 people attending the annual three-day celebration.

This year mark’s the mile-high town’s 14th annual Pride celebration, which will take place June 15-17 at various locations throughout downtown. The festivities tale place on the same weekend every year and, according to Parana, event organizers are once again expecting to celebrate this year with attendees to come from all over Arizona.

“We do get people from New Mexico and California, but the majority come from Tucson and Phoenix,” Parana said.

The theme this year is Transcendence, which Parana said was in line with today’s political climate.

“[There has been an] outward assault and efforts to diminish the progress that the LGBTQ community has made, “ she said. “We want to showcase Bisbee’s commitment to tolerance, acceptance and diversity.”

One thing that makes Bisbee’s celebration unique, according to Parana, is that the entire town participates in their own way – whether it’s artisan vendors at the Pride Village or proud locals displaying their art cars and go-karts in the parade. Pubs, restaurants, galleries and retailers also greet weekend visitors with rainbow flags, extended hours and/or specials (in some cases).

The jam-packed weekend itinerary, consistently recognized as one of the best “rural Prides” in the country, will include a lingerie contest, a pub crawl through town, staged entertainment, two dances, a pool party and a chance to meet/shop/network with a variety of vendors.

The festivities kick off on June 15 with The Copper Queen Dance in the street.

“Howell Avenue [will be] blocked off and the party starts at 8 p.m. right after the lingerie contest in Grassy Park,” Parana said.

This year, the Parade will start at 10 a.m. June 16 at the Iron Man Statue at the Cochise County Courthouse and will proceed down Tombstone Canyon and end at City Park in the infamous Brewery Gulch.

Later that day the entertainment heats up the Main Stage and DJ Cue, of Tucson, will also be spinning for the crowds. That evening, the Bisbee Pride TranscenDance will take place at the Bisbee Royale Theater.

Entertainment on the stages will feature Namoli Brennet, Melissa Reaves, Venus de Mars, Anthony Desamito and more. Stay tuned to Bisbee Pride’s Facebook page for additional details, including stage schedules. Formoreinformation, visit bisbeepride.com.

Bisbee Welcomes Pride 2018 Headliners

Namoli Brennet

Listed “Among the best folk-rock artists in the country” by the Tucson Weekly, Namoli Brennet has been touring with her own brand of moody and inspiring folk since 2002. A recent Iowa transplant, Brennet was based out of Tucson, AZ for a decade and her music still carries some of the stark, persistent beauty of the desert. She’s a breathtaking and moving performer, and her sweet, road-weary voice is as quick to deliver her wit and humor as it is a turn of phrase. Among her influences she names Patty Griffin and Eliza Gilkyson, but she manages to carve out a vocal niche of her own using her sweet, edgy alto. Zocalo magazine calls her music “Gorgeous and introspective”, and we’re tempted to agree.

She’s a top-notch songwriter who’s known for her insightful lyrics and poetic language, but it’s her live performances that set her apart from the conventional label of singer/songwriter. On stage she reveals deft acoustic guitar chops, often incorporating foot percussion, loops, vocoder and Kaki-King style tapping to create a broad, layered soundscape. Namoli’s 2012 Release, “Live” was recorded over the course of 6 months and 10,000 miles. It shines an intimate spotlight on a performer who is at once arresting and vulnerable, someone who, in the words of Keith Jarret, is willing to “Go deep into the cave to come up with the light.”

A 4-time Outmusic award nominee who was recently named in the inaugural Trans 100 list, Namoli was also the recipient of the Tucson Folk Festival Songwriting Award and a finalist in the ISC songwriting competition. Her 2010 release ‘Black Crow’ garnered critical acclaim and was named one of KXCI FM’s top albums of the year. Her music has been featured on NPR, PBS and in films including the Emmy-award winning documentary “Out in the Silence”, which details the struggle of a gay teen growing up in rural Pennsylvania. She spends 5 to six months a year on the road touring both the US and Europe and is currently at work on a new album with a release date in 2017.


Melissa Reaves

Melissa Reaves is known to audiences throughout the US and Europe for her avant-garde, fire driven’, deconstructionist approach to rock-n-roll. Reaves has amassed a word-of-mouth following most notably for her experimental guitar work but also for her propensity towards spontaneity and seamless improvisation during live performance. She deconstructs the blues, pushes jazz to the outer limits and burns through rock-n-roll like the love child of Jerry Lee Lewis and the MC5. The real deal! Melissa’s, “New Rock Song” was placed on the 55th GRAMMY Awards nomination ballot for Best Rock Performance.

Performing over 200 shows per year, Melissa spends most of her time touring with her eclectic solo show as well as her band. In January 2000, Melissa was chosen to participate in a “Women of the Millennium” showcase at the MIDEM conference in Cannes, France and toured in both England and France which included opening for Robert Plant of Led Zepplin.


Venus DeMars

Venus DeMars, front-person for the Minneapolis Trans-glam, Dark-Glam band All The Pretty Horses. A pioneer, courageously exploring a brave new world of gender identity, free of categorization DeMars has nearly done it all – from touring with Laura Jane Grace’s band Against Me! to writing a memoir spanning from 1998 to 2006, titled Trouble.


Anthony Desamito

Originally from Arizona, and now based in Los Angeles, Anthony Desamito is a stand-up comedian, actor and writer who has been performing on stages across the country for eight years.

His appearances include FOX’s “Laughs” and “The Doug Stanhope Podcast.” He’s hosted “Ya Feel?!” a comedy show at the world-famous Hollywood Improv and co-hosted “Thank You for Being a Podcast: The Golden Girls Podcast” on NPR, popsugar.com and Phoenix new Times.

He was a finalist in both the 2016 Scriptapalooza TV Sitcom Writing Competition and Arizona’s Funniest Comedian. He’s also the winner of the first-ever Arizona’s Funniest Persona with a Day job award.


DJ Cue

Bisbee pride welcomes back DJ Cue for our TranscenDance on Saturday night at The Bisbee Royale!

Born in San Diego, Calif., DJ Cue (aka Luz SantaCruz ) grew up traveling the West Coast and has been in the desert since 2003. Because she traveled a lot growing up, she spend most of her spare time collecting music and making mix tapes and CDs. Today, she continues to enjoy sharing music with others and being able to bring out those hidden dance moves we all do when no one is watching.

DJ Cue’s first opportunity as a DJ was for Bisbee Pride in the summer of 2014. Since then, some of her work has been traveling Arizona for social and private events, parties and weddings. Her style in music ranges from hip-hip, electronic/dance, Latino, Chicano, Reggae, R&B, soul, and some throwbacks from ’50s through the ’90s. She’s driven by music, lyrics, beats and all opportunities to make a crowd dance. 

Courtesy of facebook.com/bisbeepride.