Faces of Summer: Rainbow Scene

Published on: June 20th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine this: you’ve met the love of your life. Congrats on that. You’re elated to tie the knot and can’t wait to celebrate your nuptials with friends and family over a fancy multi-tiered Swarovski and rhinestone crystal chandelier separated wedding cake. Pretty standard stuff. Together, you and your loved one will plunge a knife into the luscious layers to feed each other sweet morsels. You might even playfully smash a piece into his or her face. The wedding photographer will capture the smashed-cake-face moment and you will relive it until you’re wrinkly and jowly.

As you’re meeting with the cake designer, describing your vision for the wedding cake — pink champagne topped with raspberry mousse and vanilla buttercream — he gets stoned-faced and uncomfortably quiet. At first you think, is our cake idea that terrible? And you second-guess your cake design skills. But then the cake designer shakes his head and says he can’t make you a cake because he doesn’t approve of your union.

Say what?

No one asked for his opinion of your spouse-to-be. Spousal approval duty is reserved for no one but you, and you love your choice. The cake maker/self appointed marriage approver explains that your union clashes with his or her religious beliefs. In other words, your money is no good at the store because it’s tainted by your offensive love. Never in your wildest dreams did you imagine that your choice of a partner would be under scrutiny by a cake maker. You wonder with your partner if such a refusal is even legal. You leave the shop stunned, offended, hurt.

 

What do a wedding cake, Denver’s PrideFest, and the Supreme Court have in common? The Grand Marshals for the 2018 Denver PrideFest Parade are David Mullins and Charlie Craig, a gay couple who were humiliated when they were denied a custom wedding cake by Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. The couple, disgraced by Mr. Phillips’s refusal to serve them, filed a complaint with Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission. Colorado state courts ruled in the couple’s favor. Phillips then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the state law violated his First Amendment rights by forcing him to express a view that clashed with his religious beliefs. The owner maintains that because making cakes involves creativity, he should be allowed to determine who can receive his services. The Court failed to determine if religious beliefs are legitimate reasons to discriminate against a member of the public or deny service at a business open to the public, instead pivoting on the issue of hostility to religion at the commission level.

But…and this is the important part: This is about so much more than cake. This is about destroying the existing legal protections against discrimination in places of public accommodation. The Supreme Court decision in favor of the bakery undermines equal protection for all Americans by failing to enshrine those protections in its ruling. Those hoping to establish a constitutional right to discriminate will use the decision to undermine nondiscrimination protections in other states, meaning more cases will need to head to the Supreme Court to codify equal protections. As it is now, the court ruling will open the door to mistreatment and discrimination against a broad array of Americans (remember Whites only water fountains?). Some say this ruling sets America back 50 years. As if we need any more setbacks. Some shop owners may feel emboldened to turn away LGBTQ customers. In fact, according to reporting by The Hill, a Tennessee hardware store owner, Jeff Amyx, owner of Amyx Hardware & Roofing Supplies, is celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling by placing a “No Gays Allowed” sign in front of his store.

 

It’s no wonder David and Charlie were chosen to be this year’s Grand Marshals for Denver PrideFest. Grand marshals are typically members of the community being recognized for making significant contributions to the LGBTQ community and to society at large. Rex Fuller, VP of Communications for The GLBT Community Center of Colorado (the Center), says that before this case, Charlie and David were not well-known to the LGBTQ community outside their circle of friends. They truly were a couple who wanted to get married and celebrate with a beautiful cake. But when they saw an injustice and realized that others were experiencing the same thing, they stood up and spoke out. Since taking on the burden of this case, they have been very active in the community at large. They have served as national spokespeople, doing interviews with media outlets across the globe. They have helped educate the community about why this case is about fair and equal access — not just about cake. They have worked to highlight other cases of discrimination and they continue to speak out. Fuller says, “I think they bring to PrideFest a great example of two strong men who are speaking up for their own rights and the rights of the community and we’re thrilled to honor them.”

Denver PrideFest is brought to you by the Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enrich, engage, empower and advance the LGBTQ community of Colorado. PrideFest raises funds for the Center that serves 47,000 people annually including LGBTQ families, youth, seniors and the transgender community. According to Fuller, “The goals of Denver PrideFest are to create visibility for our community in all its wonderful diversity. We want everyone to have the chance to be seen and heard and to have access to their own expression — especially community members who may not be able to have that free expression year-round. We want the world to see that the LGBTQ community is made up of people from all walks of life. However people choose to celebrate, we applaud them for being out and proud and for being themselves.”

Denver’s first PrideFest celebration kicked off 44 years ago in June of 1974. The event’s evolution in Denver has mirrored the trends affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community over time. During PrideFest, the LGBTQ community has the chance to connect, demonstrate gay pride, and show support for gay rights; it also marks a turning point in gay rights history — the Stonewall Riots.

In the 1950s and 1960s, gay Americans had very few places to go in which they could be openly gay. The Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar owned by the mafia, was frequented by members of the LGBTQ community. On June 28, 1969, in the early hours of the morning, the police performed a routine raid that erupted into days of protests, spearheaded by Marsha P. Johnson, an outspoken African American trans rights/gay rights/AIDS activist, sex worker, and drag queen, and Sylvia Rivera, a Venezuelan and Puerto Rican American who worked as a trans rights/gay rights activist and drag queen. The protests were the impetus for Village residents forming activist groups to establish venues where gays and lesbians could openly express their sexual orientation. PrideFest celebrations are typically held at the end of June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots.

Two themes have characterized PrideFest in Denver: unity and visibility. Each year during PrideFest, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans can feel accepted and be out and proud; often, Pride is used as a political moment and not simply a celebration. PrideFest demonstrates the LGBTQ community’s reach and shows how it can impact the lives of its members. For people still struggling — or perhaps rightfully afraid — to express their sexual preferences, PrideFest allows them to blend in with kindred spirits and perhaps gives them courage to come out to their friends, family, and the community.

This year’s theme is Say It Loud, Say It Proud, a call to activism for a new generation. This theme encourages all community members to make their voices heard and encourages everyone in the community to be themselves and be proud of their achievements.

Denver PrideFest is offering free admission and took place on June 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and June 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the historic Civic Center Park at the intersection of Colfax and Broadway. The event featured0 live entertainment on three stages, more than 250 vendors, food and beverage, the Coors Light PrideFest Parade near Cheeseman Park on Sunday morning at 9:30, and activities throughout the community. Denver PrideFest is the largest celebration of LGBTQ pride in the Rocky Mountain region. It honors the active and vibrant lives and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; particularly those in Colorado and the bordering states. For more information, check out
denverpride.org.

Denver PrideFest 2018, like PrideFest 2017, was wildly successful. Attendance at the two-day festival was estimated to be 385,000. The Coors Light PrideFest Parade on Sunday morning was the largest in the organization’s history, with nearly 200 entrants and over 100,000 spectators. A record 37 corporate sponsors participated in the 2017 festival. Don’t just attend, volunteer to be a part of Denver PrideFest 2018. Volunteer applications are available on the website.

If you’re looking for Pride celebrations in other parts of Colorado, there are plenty!

Longmont Pride Week

Out Boulder County’s annual Longmont Pride Week is planned for June 18th to June 23rd. On June 18th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at 630 Main, a panel of transgender community members will share their stories and talk about their varied experiences. This is a great chance to learn about diverse gender identities, life stories, and cultivate compassion and understanding in the community. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about transgender people, this is a great opportunity to ask questions, interact, and be inspired by their journeys to lead authentic lives.

The Longmont Pride Festival is Saturday, June 23rd from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on 4th Street between Main and Emery Street in Longmont. The event organizers invite all to come early and stay all day! The day will be jam-packed with activities, amazing community partners sharing information, Pride merchandise galore from Out Boulder County and other wonderful vendors. Jewelry from talented artists, flash-mobs, photo booths, a dunk-tank, and lots of activities will be available throughout the day. If you’re interested in sponsoring Longmont Pride, contact Juan Moreno at 303-499-5777 or jmoreno@outboulder.org.  

Boulder Pride Fest

Later this summer, on September 11, Out Boulder County will host Boulder Pridefest at Central Park. This event will continue a long history of being  a full day of entertainment and awesome activities for community and allies alike. This is Boulder’s biggest LGBTQ event of the year, featuring vendor booths, musical guests, youth services, food trucks, and more. The Big Gay 5K is back, so strap on your rainbow socks and running shoes.

Vendor sign-ups and sponsorship opportunities are still open for Boulder Pridefest 2018! Spots are limited. Go to outboulder.org and click on the appropriate links. Contact Juan Moreno to discuss sponsoring Pridefest or one of the Pride Week events.

Grand Junction

Colorado West Pride, the largest pride organization on the Western Slope, is producing and hosting Pride Week in Grand Junction in mid-June. Sergio Antillon, the Interim Vice President, helps coordinate volunteers and organize the parties and entertainment. Ten years ago, he was the President of a Bear group, which included fundraising, hosting parties, and attending other Bear events. Bear groups, once small clusters of buddies, playmates, and guys, have become a new expression of gay identity. Antillon has attended and donated to several local Pride events. His friend, Jesse Daniels, the Events Coordinator for 15 years, encouraged Antillon to get involved. For the past two years, he has donated to Western Slope Pride.

Colorado West Pride events will run from June 16th to June 24th. The festival will be held on Saturday, June 23rd from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 24th, 2018, noon to 8:00 p.m. on the 500 block of Colorado Avenue. Antillon says, “This year’s Colorado West Pride has activities planned for almost every day, including a movie night with a rooftop party, a rainbow party, and Monarch’s White party. The festival is taking shape very nicely with lots of booths and entertainers for our two-day festival.” For more information or to buy tickets, go to coloradowestpride.org.

When asked about the significance of Pride, Antillon explains, “Pride is about community, pride in who we are and celebration, so we work hard to do that for our local community. The goal for us as an organization is to continue to build community, celebrate who we are, and promote an atmosphere of acceptance. We want to continue with bigger events, more fundraising, and build our organization.”

LGBTQ Spaces

To revel in the spirit of PrideFest year-round, head to Denver clubs like X Bar, L’il Devil’s Lounge, and Triangle Denver—all offering fabulous entertainment. If you’re into drag shows, Denver Cycle Sluts is a must-see. The troupe raises funds for charities including women’s shelters, crisis funds, and AIDS-related outreach programs. If rough-riding cowboys and calf roping are your thing, check out the Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo in July, hosted by the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association. And Denver is proud to have one of the oldest queer publications in the country, Out Front Magazine, founded in 1976.

Community

Denver tops Expedia’s list for LGBTQ-friendly cities — towns that go the extra mile toward inclusiveness. The city also boasts a Municipal Equality Index score of 100/100 from the Human Rights Campaign. Denver is home to several gayborhoods, and its LGBTQ population is thriving. A recent Gallup poll estimates that almost five percent of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood population identifies as part of the rainbow community. The Colorado House of Representatives just voted to safeguard young people from conversion therapy, countering the popular right-wing opinion that there’s a way to stamp out the gay. Republicans in the Senate are focused on defeating the measure, but the fight continues.

Final Thoughts

Hoping to find a more welcoming community, Charlie Craig moved to Denver from a small town in Wyoming. Being denied services by baker Phillips took Craig back to life in Wyoming where he was bullied for being gay. He attended the University of Wyoming during the time Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured, and left to die because of his sexual orientation. The day Craig entered the Denver-based cake shop with his partner and mother, excited to share designs for his dream wedding cake, he took the risk of enjoying the liberties heterosexual couples routinely presume. And he was met with the cold, punishing hand of discrimination. The couple has been embroiled in a six-year legal battle since.

Many Americans take their civil liberties for granted, never having to hide their love or life in order to receive equal treatment in the public and private sphere. The fact that Mullins and Craig and millions of LGBTQ Americans feel compelled to hide who they are for fear of being denied services means America still has not achieved liberty and justice for all. It is true that only select Americans enjoy equal protections under the law. And despite the monumental setback in the Supreme Court decision for Masterpiece Cakeshop, towns across Colorado will celebrate their richly diverse communities during Pride week. Let everyone eat cake, no matter who they choose to love.

 

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