Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News
Fort Collins is a place full of rich history and one important aspect of that history that often goes overlooked is the contributions of LGBTQIA+ people. Despite legal discrimination and acts of violence throughout much of that history, Fort Collins has always had LGBTQIA+ members deep within the community, helping the town grow and thrive into what it is today. In a 2019 UCLA study, the state of Colorado was ranked 13th in the Country for the largest LGBTQIA+ self-identifying population, which spans every racial, ethnic, religious, political, and cultural background, as well as any and all gender expression and identity. While nothing is perfect, Colorado has made much effort to establish itself as a place of peace and acceptance within the LGBTQIA+ community, and nowhere is that perhaps more apparent than at the various Pride events that take place every year all throughout the state.
One such event that’s worked hard at sending that very message is Northern Colorado’s Pride Festival, organized by Northern Colorado Equality. Much like with most things, COVID has caused a setback in recent years in terms of in-person gatherings and the limitations within them, that’s why this year they were more thrilled than ever to host Northern Colorado Pride 2022: One Community, Many Faces. The NoCo Pride Festival took place on Saturday, July 16 at Civic Center Park in Fort Collins. Secretary of the board of directors for Northern Colorado Equality, Rose Grose said one of the ideas they wanted to emphasize for this year’s festival was that it wasn’t just limited to one town, but rather shared all throughout Northern Colorado and offered something for everyone.
“One of the things we were really excited about for this year is how broad of a reach our performers have, so this isn’t just Denver acts, we have folks from Fort Collins, Greeley, Arvada, Loveland, Denver, Lakewood, Boulder, so it’s a pretty wide stretch in terms of where the artists are coming from,” Rose said. “We really want to make it clear that it’s not just a Fort Collins Pride, but rather a Northern Colorado Pride festival.”
Northern Colorado Equality is a volunteer-run non-profit and has been at the heart of the Northern Colorado LGBTQIA+ community, hosting NoCo Pride since 2015. Its mission is to empower the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies through activities, programs, services, and education. They chose the “One Community, Many Faces” theme this year because honoring, promoting, and celebrating the community’s diversity is what they consider to be the central organizing principle.
Rose stated that one of the biggest draws to this year’s event was the 51 different resource booths, some of which consisted of vendors, but primarily that number was made up of local organizations that were there to show support for the LGBTQIA+ community and offer access to resources.
“We were really surprised and excited, as we were planning this, we really weren’t sure with COVID still happening, we weren’t really sure what kind of interest there would be since it has been two years since we’ve done this at the same site and at this scale, so we were pretty blown away how many people came out and were excited to be involved. We actually had to shut down our vendor booth application early because we filled all the possible spaces. There were even more people that wanted to be involved,” Rose said.
Much was featured throughout the weekend, such as the annual Pride March by NoCo Safe Space, a Silent Disco dance party at New Belgium Brewery, a Pride Run following the Pride History Tour with the Fort Collins Running Club, an all-ages Drag Brunch at the R Bar and Lounge, and the PFLAG Family Pride Picnic in the Park at The Lake Pavilion at Fossil Creek Park, as well as entertainment by local artists, several food trucks, over 50 vendors, a Kid’s Corner with activities, and a New Belgium Brewery-sponsored beer garden fundraiser, along with 70 different volunteers that all came together to help spread the message that Colorado is a place of acceptance.
“Just speaking personally, sure, there’s room for improvement, but I think there is a lot of support in Fort Collins and in Northern Colorado and in Colorado in general for the LGBTQIA+ communities, from the top down, from Governor Jared Polis all the way down,” Rose said. “I moved here in 2018, so to me it feels very inclusive, but we also acknowledge that’s not true for every single person within the queer community, so that’s why one of the things we’ve really been emphasizing for this year has been diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Northern Colorado Equality operates year-round and partners with local organizations for a wide spectrum of events, from drag shows to film screenings, bike rides, and community building. They hope to present more events in the fall and winter with the goal in mind of making sure Pride isn’t simply celebrated once a year, but rather all year round. For more information about NoCo Pride, or to become a member of Northern Colorado Equality, please visit the website at nocoequality.org or the Facebook page at facebook.com/NoCoEquality.