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Denver PrideFest, one of the nation’s premier LGBTQ+ events, will celebrate its 50th anniversary June 22-23, 2024. The two-day festival unites communities from across Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region as the parade, run and festival attracted an estimated 550,000 people to downtown Denver in 2023.

Since its inception, Denver PrideFest has been a celebration of unity, inclusion and progress among the LGBTQ+ community and allies. The first LGBTQ+ pride celebration in Denver was held in 1974 as a small gathering in Cheesman Park organized by members of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire. Excitement from that first parade led to the founding of The Center on Colfax in 1975, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides year-round programs and services for the LGBTQ+ community. The Center began producing the parade and added a festival in 1990. Since then, Denver PrideFest has grown into the largest celebration of LGBTQ + pride in the Rocky Mountain region. Denver PrideFest continuously evolves while staying true to its core mission of promoting acceptance, diversity and love.

This year’s 50th anniversary festival kicks off with the Pride 5K presented by Smartwool on Saturday, June 22, followed by the two-day Denver PrideFest event at Civic Center Park boasting 250+ exhibitors, 30 food vendors and captivating live performances. Sunday’s Coors Light Pride Parade, starting at 9:30 a.m., will flaunt colorful floats, marchers, music and more, drawing spectators along 14 blocks of Colfax Avenue up to Civic Center Park. New this year, Denver PrideFest is partnering with The Rainbow Market Denver to create the inaugural Gayborhood Market, a space dedicated to supporting local LGBTQ+ small businesses, entrepreneurs, craft-makers and artisans by lowering the cost barrier to access PrideFest participation. The Market will be located in Lincoln Veterans Memorial Park.

The 2024 celebration will include recollections from some of the key figures in the history of Denver PrideFest, including:

Christopher Sloan (he/him), also known as the legendary Christi Layne, holds a revered position in both LGBTQ+ activism and entertainment circles. Christi held the position as Empress VI of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, and secured the first permit for the Denver Pride Parade & Festival.

Phil Nash (he/him), a Denver resident since 1976, has left an indelible mark on the city’s LGBTQ+ community. He served as the first director of The Center on Colfax and was the first president of the Board of Directors of the Colorado AIDS Project in 1984. Now returning to his roots in freelance writing, he is set to release LGBTQ Denver through Arcadia Publishing in 2024, offering an informed perspective on Denver’s vibrant LGBTQ+ history.

Rex Fuller (he/him) is the Chief Executive Officer at The Center on Colfax, where he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fostering inclusivity and support within the LGBTQ+ community. Prior to his current role, he served as the Vice President of Communications and Corporate Giving for six years. Through his leadership, Fuller continues to empower and uplift LGBTQ+ individuals across Colorado and beyond.

Phil Wade (he/him) played a pivotal role in the historic Denver Gay Revolt at City Council on October 23, 1973. As an out Denver Public School teacher at a time when LGBTQ+ individuals faced discrimination and legal constraints, Wade’s presence symbolized a courageous stand for equality and liberation.

Jameson Johnson (he/they), renowned for their drag persona, Ophelia Peaches, is a dynamic force in the LGBTQ+ community. As a public speaker, drag performer and queer activist advocate, Johnson empowers others through creativity and self-expression. Notably, Johnson is the vibrant face behind Denver’s Dragutante and has been featured on the reality TV series, Generation Drag.

DeMarcio Slaughter (he/him) is a cornerstone of Denver Pride, serving as its emcee and co-organizer for 20 years. As PrideFest’s entertainment coordinator of Center Stage, Slaughter’s dedication to curating vibrant performances has elevated Pride celebrations, fostering a sense of unity and celebration within the LGBTQ+ community.

Anthony Aragon (he/him), Director of Community Engagement & Government Affairs at the National Western Center Authority, is deeply committed to serving Denver’s diverse communities. With over 30 years of dedicated involvement in Denver’s LGBTQ+ community, including organizing the Denver Pride parade for 19 years, Anthony has been a tireless advocate for equality and inclusion. Aragon’s extensive civic engagement, including serving as a Commissioner on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, President of the Board of Directors for Equal Rights Colorado and a founding board member of One Colorado, reflects his passion for building a more equitable and vibrant city for all.

Denver Pride will feature performers on three different stages, Center Stage, Absolut Dance World Stage and the Latin Stage brought to you by US Bank. The Center Stage line-up will feature:

Alyssa Edwards presented by Nissan (she/her) Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson, widely known as Alyssa Edwards, is an American entertainer, choreographer, drag performer and television personality. His breakthrough came on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2012, where his candid testimonials, iconic tongue-pops and distinctive personality made him a fan favorite. He later returned for Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars in 2016, finishing as the fourth runner-up. In addition to his international appearances, Johnson owns and operates the award-winning dance studio Beyond Belief Dance Company in Mesquite, Texas. The studio and Johnson are featured in the Netflix Original docuseries Dancing Queen, produced by RuPaul and World of Wonder.

Shea Couleé (she/they) is a non-binary, internationally-renowned drag superstar, recording artist, model and actor, known for their fashion-forward editorial looks, expanding their artistry and brand into many different spaces, and their consistent use of the art of drag and costuming as a medium for larger storytelling, having been applauded by Vogue for doing so. Couleé is the Season 5 winner (2020) of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars and finished a finalist on Season 7 (2022), the special all-winners edition.

Pattie Gonia (they/she/he) is a critically acclaimed drag queen, artist and environmentalist. Their work exists to diversify the outdoor/environmental movements and Make Nature Gay Again. Pattie has been named Outside Magazine’s Person of the Year, National Geographic Traveler of the Year and most recently, Time Magazine named Pattie a Next Gen Leader 2023.

Mirage, (she/her) hailed the “Legs of Las Vegas,” Mirage steals the show wherever she goes, captivating audiences worldwide with her electrifying performances and signature heel clacking.

As the largest city in a 600-mile radius, Denver attracts members of the LGBTQ+ community from all over the West and the world for PrideFest and throughout the year, resulting in a well-established gay nightlife, welcoming neighborhoods, LGBTQ+-friendly hotels and numerous annual events that draw huge crowds.

Denver is praised as a welcoming and inclusive city for all. In fact, Colorado was recognized in the top 5 States for LGBTQ+ Equality in the 2023 State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index released by Out Leadership, the premier global LGBTQ+ organization harnessing the power of business to drive equality. LawnStarter ranked Denver No. 4 in their list of 2023’s Most LGBTQ-Friendly Cities, noting Denver’s scores related to equality, community support, affordability, health care access and Pride-Readiness for the LGBTQ+ community. Denver’s RiNo (River North) Art District was selected as one of the Top 5 Emerging Gay Neighborhoods in America by Passport Magazine. Denver is also proud to be one of ten finalists to host the Gay Games XIII 2030 and only US city to make the final cut.