By: Jodie Darrell, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Jyllian Roach, Managing Editor
PrideFest celebration to offer past faves and new raves
The 2012 Albuquerque PrideFest will be the biggest in the 36 years of the celebration’s existence, said Albuquerque Pride President of Operations Neil Macernie.
The week-long event, which commemorates National Gay Pride Month, will be held June 24 – 30 at many locations throughout the city including Sidewinders Bar, Effex Nightclub, The SOCH, New Mexico Expo Center, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Lotus Nightclub and Morningside Park, said Macernie.
“It’s going to be marvelous,” said Vice President of Operations J.R. LaBerge-Esparza.
The June 30 Pride Parade’s co-Grand Marshals, members of American Veterans for Equal Rights, will be making history as being the first openly gay veterans in the parade since the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, said Albuquerque Pride Director of Marketing and Media Anneke Blair.
“We are excited this year, we can finally have open veterans participate in the march.” said Blair.
The parade will also feature AIDS and animal rights activist Linda Blair as the Grand Marshal, said Vice President of Public Relations Miranda Haynes.
The parade will begin at Central Avenue. and Girard Boulevard. and continue to the Pridefest at the NM Expo Center on Central Avenue at San Pedro Drive.
The newest additions at Pridefest start with the expansion of the event, said Haynes.
There will be two stages this year. The main stage will feature award winning artist JoJo, the runner-up of the third season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Manila Luzon and local R&B/pop vocalist JVigil. The second stage is reserved for local bands and drag shows.
Pridefest is working with the Animal Humane Society to provide water stations and pet pools. There will also be a pet-sitting service available. Pets and owners can also participate in Dog Drag and Pet look-alike contests.
This year’s fest will also introduce “Unleash,” the new sex safety and awareness portion of Pridefest, said Macernie. The program will showcase demonstrations, sex toys and safe practices, said Macernie.
“It’s a sexual education and experimentation center,” said Macernie.
St. Paul Lutheran church will bring together seven different religious groups for the Annual Interfaith Worship Service on June 24, said Macernie. The service celebrates diversity within the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender community, said Macernie.
“It’s about everybody coming together and sharing a spiritual moment,” said Macernie.
On June 28, the Seventh Annual Candlelight Vigil, held at Morningside Park, is an event unique to the Albuquerque PrideFest, said Macernie.
“There is no other event like it,” said Macernie. “It is an opportunity to share your coming out story. This year’s theme for the vigil is ‘Remembrance of our past and a celebration of our diversity; creating a future in unity and love.’”
Pridefest also features a kids’ park, a classic car show, an art show, a poetry slam and same-gender weddings. Tickets are $15 per a person. Children 10 and under get in for free. For more information, check out abqpride.com.