Festival headliner Deborah Gibson (photo by Steve Gonzales)
This weekend more than 100,000 people gathered in Denver’s Civic Center Park for the annual Gay Pride festival. Drag queens, families, church ministers and smartly-groomed dogs alike were there to celebrate the contributions, achievements and culture of Colorado’s GLBT community.
While some of the celebration was decidedly light-hearted, including a performance by all-grown-up now pop star Deborah Gibson and a “Dogs in Drag” competition, there were more serious causes for celebration. A prominent campaign throughout the park reminded fairgoers of five laws now protecting GLBT individuals in the state that once passed the notorious Amendment 2, before the US Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.
As of this year the state of Colorado has laws protecting gays from discrimination in employment and housing, recognizing sexuality in bias-motivated crimes (“hate crimes,”) allowing legal co-parent status for same-sex partners of biological parents, and the recognition of same-sex partners in legal matters like insurance and hospital visitation. Still, the reminder of recent setbacks in legal matters nationwide was evident on T-shirts decrying California’s recently passed Proposition 8 or signs expressing disappointment in President Obama’s attention (or lack thereof) to gay rights issues at the national level.
Whatever legal tensions still exist for the gay community, for at least a couple of days Denver’s downtown park was transformed into a bright, colorful, open and affirming oasis under clear blue skies.