Pride for breaking boundaries

PrideFest is coming to Anchorage June 22-29, with the last day including a festival and parade.

PrideFest is the annual celebration for Alaska’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning, or LGBTQ+, communities. Anchorage Pride is a program for Identity Inc., an Alaskan LGBTQ+ community organization.

This year, the theme is “Breaking Boundaries,” in reference to this year being the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall riots. The first PrideFest in Anchorage was in 1977, eight years after the riots.

A rainbow flag waves outside Identity Inc on Anchorage’s Fifth Avenue. Photo by Jason Herr.

“The Stonewall riots, also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion, were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ+ community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan,” according to the Anchorage Pride website.

J.J. Harrier, a UAA alumnus who is helping to organize Anchorage PrideFest and, appreciates the welcoming way it is celebrated.

“Pride is not just for the LGBTQ+ community. Celebrating it as a city is critical. We are all inclusive, never exclusive,” Harrier said.

Daisy Grey, who is majoring in journalism and minoring in art at UAA, moved to Anchorage from Miami about five years ago and has enjoyed the LGBTQ+ community here in Alaska.

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“They call it ‘The Last Frontier,’ right? We’re out here and we are a growing community and I want it to grow in a way that is forward thinking,” Grey said.

Grey has enjoyed attending PrideFest in Alaska, as well as other states.

“I try to go every year and really live it up. I’m out there and being myself and unapologetically,” Grey said.

The festivities start on June 22, and the main event is scheduled for June 29. Some headliners at the main stage are Lardi B, who is a body-positive musical artist, DJ Hot Pants, a popular DJ and Thorgy Thor, a drag queen and musician most known for competing on the eighth season of “RuPaul’s: Drag Race” and for returning on the third season of “All Stars.”

The main parade will begin at 11 a.m. on June 29 and start between Ninth Avenue and E Street in downtown Anchorage. There will be around 50 floats and 500 people participating in the parade. The parade will make its way into the festival grounds, the Delaney Park Strip.

There will also be youth events at PrideFest. The Church of Love will host a Youth Art Show Mixer, or Y.A.S., for attendees ages 13-19. This event is a family-friendly dance. There will also be a Youth Parade on June 29. Youth have traditionally carried the flag before and after the main parade in Anchorage.

PrideFest in Alaska is also celebrated in the neighboring communities of Seward and Talkeetna.

Grey explained that even people who don’t support the idea of being LGBTQ+ might attend out of support for people pursuing happiness, and have fun in the process.

“The idea of Pride is Alaskan at its heart. I can’t think of anything more Alaskan than being exactly who you are and being loud about it,” Grey said.

For more information and a complete list of events, visit the Anchorage Pride website.