Across the United States, the month of June is officially LGBT Pride Month: time dedicated to celebrating gender and sexual diversity, promoting equal rights for LGBTQ Americans, increasing exposure of the LGBTQ community, and speaking out against violence and discrimination directed toward the LGBTQ community. June 28th commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which were a historic turning point for the LGBTQ community. In 1969, a group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, rioted against the police who had raided the bar.
On this, the 50th year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, cities across the U.S. are having special events to honor those protestors who paved the way for the rest of LGBTQ+ Americans and to celebrate all of the progress the community has made in the decades since. Denver, CO is no exception, hosting its 47th annual Denver PrideFest.
Denver has long been a refuge of safety for LGBTQ people in the United States, and citizens there have long worked to fight for gay rights, promote exposure of the LGBTQ community, and celebrates societal contributions by LGBTQ Coloradans. Denver’s annual PrideFest is one of the oldest and biggest Pride celebrations in the entire country, and it regularly serves as a gathering spot that brings together LGBTQ Americans and their allies across the West.
The History of LGBTQ Rights in Colorado
A bastion of acceptance in the West, Denver has long been one of the most progressive, LGTBQ-friendly cities in the entire country, while the rest of Colorado has also worked to offer a safe haven for people of all sexualities. The state has many important milestones marking the advancements of LGBTQ rights since Stonewall, including:
- 1971: Colorado decriminalized sodomy in non-commercial, private acts between consenting adults.
- 1974: the Colorado Supreme Court strikes down a statute banning public displays of affection between same-sex couples.
- 1975: In Boulder, the county clerk issues marriage licenses to some same-sex couples.
- 2001: Colorado’s hate crime law is expanded to protect people based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
- 2009: Colorado enacts the Designated Beneficiaries law, allowing same-sex partners to be the beneficiary of insurance, inheritance, hospital visits, and more.
- 2013: The state legislature passes legislation to allow civil unions between same-sex couples.
- 2014: Same sex marriage becomes legal in Colorado
- 2018: Jared Polis elected the first openly gay governor of Colorado, the second openly gay governor to hold office in the United States.
- 2019: Denver bans conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors, and the state declares it’s no longer legally required to have gender reassignment surgery to change your sex or gender on your birth certificate.
In 1970, on the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, people in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles decided to hold a parade to honor the event. These parades caught the attention of people across the nation, and other cities began to adopt the tradition. Three years later, the Denver community decided they would hold a Gay Pride parade, and PrideFest was born.
Denver PrideFest now happens annually in June, and it is organized by the local LGBTQ community center, The Center on Colfax. Since the first year of the fest, the event has grown, and now, it is a two-day long festival with multiple parts: a 5K, a parade along Colfax Ave., and a festival with music, food, dance, and art. Denver PrideFest is the third biggest Pride festival in the United States.
Photos courtesy of the Colorado LGBT Chamber of Commerce