Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Latino Pride Festival is a tribute to queer culture in Phoenix

Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix attracted hundreds of people looking to be part of a community during the third annual Latino Gay Pride Festival.

Luz Urrutia, 30, of Phoenix, and Sherry Sarabia, 26, of Tolleson, were at celebrations honoring September 16th (Mexican Independence Day) and Queer Pride.

As Latinos, “we’re not always celebrated for our sexual orientation … especially not in our family,” said Urrutia, wearing his green Arizona Diamondbacks cap as loud music played in the background. “It’s a perfect exit.”

A returning festival patron, Johnny Sanchez, 34, of the Phoenix area, echoed Urrutia’s sentiments. Sanchez, dressed in a ruffled black skirt, noted, “It’s a great opportunity for our community to show itself in a different light.”

In addition to human warmth, participants also experienced temperatures around 32 degrees Celsius after sunset.

“Despite the heat, it’s a lot of fun,” said Griffin McDowell, 36, a Valley resident.

Offer help

In addition to some beverage and food vendors, the festival also featured nonprofit organizations that highlighted the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Turning the Tide, part of Arizona-based Terros Health, was among the stands on the park’s lawn. The program provides free testing for HIV (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections, mental health assistance, and support for transgender and people who identify as non-binary.

“We work with everyone,” noted Oliver DeRonde.

Another organization with a space at the festival was Chicanos Por La Causa De Colores, which provides services for victims of domestic violence.

“This community has accepted me”: Participants enjoy musical performances

Attendees stood or swayed to the sounds coming from the festival stage, where laser lights illuminated a prism of colors. A young man’s shoulders and back were covered by a Mexican flag, its vertical green and red stripes replaced with gay pride colors. Another man waved the Puerto Rican flag.

Wearing a white cowboy hat over a long blonde wig with a pink sequin top, shorts and matching boots, Mexican drag artist Lolita Banana sang Selena’s song “Como La Flor” as the audience sang. Lolita wore a sequined leotard and knee-high yellow boots as she was led off the stage and into the crowd during a parody of Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.”

The “Drag Race México” co-host thanked “Fénix” as she left.

Former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Adore Delano, a transgender performer who competed as Daniel Anthony Noriega on “American Idol,” glided across the stage during her musical performance in a black bodysuit and a flowing raven wig.

Between Lolita Banana and Delano was singer Robin S., who sang her 1993 hit “Show Me Love” and concluded by telling her enthusiastic audience: “When I started, the record companies didn’t know where to put me, but this community accepted me .” .” .

“Create Your Own Platform”: Event returns after difficulties due to COVID and community response

Organized by the Latino Pride Alliance, it is the first Latino Pride festival in four years.

Maricopa County 5th District Supervisor Steve Gallardo founded the volunteer organization after members of the group Trans Queer Pueblo blocked the Phoenix Pride Parade in 2017 to protest what they said were harmful practices toward LGBTQ immigrants at the event.

“My suggestion is not to fight. Build your own. Create your own platform,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo, 54, who came out as gay in the state Senate in 2014 at age 40, said he has compassion for others growing up Latino and LGBTQ+.

“To any Latino youth or adult struggling with who they are… our message is, ‘You are not alone.’ “We are here,” he explained.

Gallardo remembers the festival held at Corona Ranch in south Phoenix in 2018 and how it attracted a 14-year-old boy and his grandmother to their first Pride event.

The following year the festival was held at the same location, but COVID halted event planning in 2020 and 2021.

Gallardo said he envisions the festival taking shape on historic Grand Avenue in 2022, but has faced stiff opposition from some business owners. This is the reason for the third consecutive postponement of the event, he said.

He expressed satisfaction with the festival’s new central setting and said the park would return for two days in 2024. He added that he would eventually like to expand the celebration to the Tucson area.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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