Denver PrideFest arrives just as people need community to both celebrate and find support

We talked to attendees about the implications of SCOTUS overturning Roe and where they’re finding strength.

James Pablo and Jonathon Torres kiss on the Civic Center Park lawn during Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

James Pablo and Jonathon Torres kiss on the Civic Center Park lawn during Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
KEVIN-lighter

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear that overturning Roe v. Wade was about more than abortion. In his opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson released Friday, he wrote that past rulings allowing same-sex marriage and access to contraception should also be reconsidered. While there’s not an imminent threat to marriage equality, Thomas was more or less inviting new cases for the high court to consider.

Since June is Pride month, the timing was auspicious. His words were on the minds of people hanging in the grass at Civic Center Park for Denver’s annual PrideFest. We talked to people about their thoughts on Friday’s decision, where they were finding solace and asked them to show us some love.

Tom Dearth and Luiz Quiroz walked hand in hand through Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Tom Dearth and Luiz Quiroz walked hand in hand through Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

“It’s very concerning,” Jonathon Torres said of Roe’s repeal as he sat with his husband, James Pablo. “We just got married. It’s been one year.”

“It’s been two,” Pablo interjected.

Both men were unsettled by the decision’s immediate impact on reproductive rights and they were aware of Justice Thomas’ opinion. While they took it as a threat, they also said they believe America’s political trajectory will change course, though it will take work.

“It’s scary, because the realization is they can go after things like that,” Pablo said. “I don’t believe it’s hopeless. I don’t believe it’s a lost cause.”

Morgan Lewis dances at Denver PrideFest's rave tent. June 25, 2022.

Morgan Lewis dances at Denver PrideFest's rave tent. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Jaris Thomas and Rowdy Greene kiss at Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Jaris Thomas and Rowdy Greene kiss at Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Jaris Thomas, who was walking through the park hand-in-hand with Rowdy Greene, said he was more upset than afraid.

“It disgusts me to know we are going to turn back the hands of time,” he said.

But he and Greene said they’ve found solace in each other and a much broader group of people resistant to Roe’s rollback.

“We’ll stand in support of women and their right to choose, we’ll feel confident that they’ll stand for us,” Greene said. “We’ll fight for each other and with each other. It is a scary time, but you have to have a positive outlook.”

Aleah Esqueda and McKenzie Vaishville kiss during Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Aleah Esqueda and McKenzie Vaishville kiss during Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Dez Baldonado and Briggs, her former West High School student, embrace at Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Dez Baldonado and Briggs, her former West High School student, embrace at Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Briggs, a former West High School student, visited PrideFest with her former teacher and “adopted mom,” Dez Baldonado. While Briggs said they were enraged by the high court’s decision — they yelled “My life supposedly begins at conception and ends at the end of an AR-15” — they also said they’ve found immense support from people in their life. The “plutonic love” they share with Baldonado, they told us, is huge in a moment like this.

“Queer youth, especially, need people who will respect them and take care of them and love them,” they said. “We need to work together and we need to fight.”

Jamari Mosley and Dre Tripp kiss at Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Jamari Mosley and Dre Tripp kiss at Denver PrideFest. June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

This turned out to be a bigger theme on Saturday.

“The last few years have been womp womp,” longtime PrideFest Emcee DeMarcio Slaughter said to a crowd gathered at the Greek Amphitheatre. “Today is all about love.”

Artist Lonnie Hanzon's Denver PrideFest installation, "Gather Together in Pride." June 25, 2022.

Artist Lonnie Hanzon's Denver PrideFest installation, "Gather Together in Pride." June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Artist Lonnie Hanzon takes a meditative pose when asked to show love at Denver PrideFest, in front of his installation, "Gather Together in Pride." June 25, 2022.

Artist Lonnie Hanzon takes a meditative pose when asked to show love at Denver PrideFest, in front of his installation, "Gather Together in Pride." June 25, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Lonnie Hanzon, an artist who’s created several installation pieces for PrideFest, told us he’s finding a lot of hope in things much larger than himself.

The original plan for his 2022 piece, “Gather Together in Pride,” was to portray “a world on fire.” But he said he realized the idea didn’t quite fit his outlook on this moment. Instead, he turned the globe into an orb of painted flowers, drawing inspiration from a Buddhist principle to “participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.”

When we asked him to show us love, he pressed his hands together in prayer, then said: “They cant bring us back.”

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Denverite members have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.