Published on July 11th, 2012 | by Rebecca Solverson


Tacoma Shows its Pride July 13 – 21st

Tacoma celebrates its second annual city-sanctioned Pride Festival this July.

In 2011, the City made an official proclamation of support for the rights of citizens who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning, hung pride banners throughout downtown, and raised pride flags over the downtown Municipal building and the Tacoma Dome.

A Very Abbreviated History of Pride in America

Pride is an international festival, usually celebrated over several days in June or July, when cities around the world celebrate the LGBTQ community and lifestyle. The first Pride parade was held on June 28, 1970 in Manhattan to commemorate the Stonewall riots of the previous year (parades were held in Chicago and Los Angeles that year, too).

As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, America maintained a deeply problematic and paranoid relationship toward gay people. Along with anarchists, communists, and others deemed “subversive” and “un-American,” homosexuals were highlighted in the McCarthy senate hearings, and considered a security risk. Due to extensive and inflammatory misinformation, fear, and prejudice, gay people regularly and violently experienced discrimination.

During this time, very few establishments welcomed openly gay people and those that did often extorted the most marginalized and poorest of this already fringe population, specifically drag queens and the transgender community. Gay, lesbian, and transgender people were regularly arrested during raids in New York City.

On June 28, 1969, a routine raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village exploded into protest. The spontaneous demonstration against these routine arrests lasted for three days and was a turning point for gay rights. It prompted the organization of many activist groups around the country and world and represents a turning point of the gay rights movement.

An image from the first Gay Pride Parade in 1970. Photo: Fred McDarrah/Getty

I’ve barely scratched the surface here – to learn more, I recommend this excellent documentary, Stonewall Uprising, available online.

Equal rights for the LGBTQ community have come fast and far since the first Stonewall-inspired Pride Parade in 1970. It is incredible that a celebratory parade was held with little opposition in the same location only a year after the riots, and speaks to the strength of the movement.

2012 has truly been a monumental year for LGBTQ equality. Nationally, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was finally repealed. On the state level, we legalized gay marriage. Locally, the Tacoma Art Museum mounted the excellent Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, which will be followed by Art, AIDS, America in 2014 (co-curated by Hide/Seek curator Jonathon Katz and our very own Rock Hushka).

And, of course, 2011 saw the inaugural Tacoma 10-day Pride festival hosted by the Rainbow Center and other partners. Pretty historic, on all levels.

From local blogger, Michael Fitzgerald who recently posted about 2012 Tacoma Pride:

I’m really excited that City Hall will be such a big part of the event, thanks to City Council member Ryan Mello. The raising of the rainbow flag on the Municipal Building is kind of a big deal. One better than the Space Needle! The gathering happening at B2 Fine Arts Gallery afterwards should be a hoot. Hopefully this will get the word out about Referendum 74 and WA can be the first state to establish marriage equality with a popular vote.

This year, Pride holds significant poignancy, as many local and state-wide groups work to approve Referendum 74. But lets put the fight for civil rights and equality just slightly off to the side for now and consider that one of the things Pride does really, really well is party.

The Tacoma Pride Festival is a celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Allied Community (LGBTQA) and includes nine days of events.

Whether you are L, B, G, T, Q, or a proud A for Ally, the newest addition to the acronym, come out this year to celebrate Pride:

Tacoma Pride Events

This is the second year of the collaboratively produced, multi-day Tacoma Pride Festival and is an expansion of Tacoma’s long running Out in the Park Festival, which has been a celebration of LGBTQA pride for more than 20 years. Some of the highlights of the Tacoma Pride Festival include:

  • Rainbow flag raising over Tacoma City Hall
  • Rainbow Center’s Out in the Park Pride Celebration on Broadway
  • Three days of films at the Grand Cinema
  • Stage reading of 5th of July at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts
  • Oasis Youth Center’s PROUD OUTLOUD event … and much more!

For more information, visit the Tacoma Pride site here.

Tacoma Pride 2011 Flag Raising, photo by Henry Waymack

Friday, July 13

4 pm, free: Flag Raising
Tacoma Municipal Building, below flagpole on St. Helens Ave
Community event to watch the Rainbow Flag being raised over City Hall.

4:30 – 6:30, free: Kickoff!
B2 Arts Gallery, 711 Saint Helens Ave
Kickoff Pride festivities! Pride Foundation will present Rainbow Awards to leaders in Pierce County working for equality. Refreshments provided, come one come all! Hosted by Pride Foundation, Washington United for Marriage, and B2 Arts Gallery. Featuring the Rainbow,

7 pm, free: Piano and Vocal Concert with Xade Wash
First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Ave S
Will include popular favorites, ballads, and spiritual pieces.

Saturday, July 14

10 am, free: Brunch and “Out with God” Worship Service
First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Ave S
Christians gathering to eat and celebrate God’s love and the joy of safe congregations.


12 – 5 pm, free: Out in the Park: The Rainbow Center’s annual LGBTQA Pride Celebration
Broadway between 9th and 11th
The Rainbow Center’s annual LGBTQA Pride Celebration. Booths, Entertainment, Food, Fun, and Community. Family friendly, alcohol,

12 – 10 pm, 5$: 2012 Pride Street Party
Club Silverstone, 739 1/2 St Helens St.
DJs Eric, Freddy, and Mike spinning all day; Icon Pop and Derrick Berry as Britney Spears and Lady Gaga

3 – 7 pm, free: Hide//Seek//Difference//Desires//Northwest
The Space, 729 Court C
Hide//Seek//Difference//Desire//Northwest is a local response to, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, which recently closed at the Tacoma Art Museum. The exhibit features 19 Northwest Artists exploring themes such as same sex desire, community and portraiture. Featuring work by Lauren Faulkner, Zephyr Elise, Rebecca Maxim, Adrien Levitt, Steffen Minner, Abby Lazerow, Ron Hall, Ric Schmitt, Leigh Riibe, Cody Blomberg, Sharon Styer, Amy Ryken, T-town Transgender Neighbors, Holly Senn, Erin Oly, Rafael Soldi, Clyde Petersen, Julia Barbee, Sabina Sun ,and Janet Marcavage’s UPS printmaking class.

5 – 10 pm, $10 cover: The Mix’s 4th Annual Pride Block Party
The Mix, 635 St. Helen’s Ave
“The Mix- 2nd Annual PRIDE Block Party” Tacoma’s Pride Party Event Featuring: Kim Archer; Divas from Ru Paul’s Drag Race; Local Bands, Singers, and Entertainers. 10pm to close DJ and Dancing inside.

5 pm – midnight: The Deltan Club Presents: Tacoma Pride Night, an event fundraiser for Washington United for Marriage
All Womens Dance, 5:00PM – 9:00PM, $10
Deltan Follies, 7:00PM, 9:00PM, $20 – $50
After Party, 10:00PM, $10
Join the Deltan Follies and Friends for a night to remember. Performances by Aleksa Manila, Lily Armani, Mystique, Mama Tits, Taylor Couture, Heather Hysteria, Aphelia Bottoms, and Shangela from Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Proceeds from ticket sales go to Washington United for Marriage to approve Referendum 74.,

6 pm – midnight, free: Oasis Youth Center BBQ
Open to LGBTQ youth 14-24. For location call 253-671-2838 or e-mail
Join Oasis Youth Center, after Out in the Park, for a free BBQ and fun games. Open to LGBTQ youth ages 14-24. Drug and alcohol free.

Sunday, July 15

Sunday am, free: Faith Messages of Equity & Equality Across Tacoma
Faith Communities Across Tacoma
A city-wide message encouraging faith communities in Pierce County to focus their worship services on equality and equity in an act of solidarity with the Tacoma Pride Festival.

1:30 pm, free: Inter-Faith Panel Discussion and Faith Fair
Urban Grace Church, 902 Market St
The 2nd annual faith dialogue will feature persons currently active in faith and equality work in Tacoma and will focus on how persons of faith can better advocate for a more just world. A faith fair will proceed the dialogue.

2 pm – 2 am: Therapy Sunday at the Mix
The Mix, 635 St. Helens Ave
Meet with friends, new and old.

Monday, July 16

7 pm, free: “Put this on the Map”
Tacoma Public Library, 1102 Tacoma Ave S
LGBTQ Documentary made by Queer youth, with a panel discussion featuring the director, Sid Peterson.

2 pm & 6:45 pm, $9/ticket: “Question One”
Grand Cinema, 606 S Fawcett Ave
A documentary film on the Battle for Same-Sex Marriage in America.

Tuesday, July 17

2 pm & 6:45 pm, $9/ticket: “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same”
Grand Cinema, 606 S Fawcett Ave
A hilarious date movie for couples of all orientations. Tough firmly in cheek, this lesbian sci-fi comedy lovingly spoofs the black-and-white B-movies of yesteryear.

Wednesday, July 18

2 pm & 6:45 pm, $9/ticket: “Cloudburst”
Grand Cinema, 606 S Fawcett Ave
A lesbian couple escape from their nursing home and head up to Canada to get married. Starring Olympia Dukakis.

6 pm, free: Celebrate Labor with Pride @ Work
IBEW 76 Hall, 3049 South 36th St, Suite 101
The Pierce County LGBT community is welcome to join us for a reception in the main lobby of the IBEW 76 Hall. Labor leaders, union members, and elected officials from throughout Washington State will join us in honoring LGBT leaders within the union movement.

Thursday, July 19

7 pm, free: Queering your Bookshelf!
King’s Books, 218 St. Helens Ave
Join sweet pea from King’s Books and Matt Lemanski from the GLBT Book Club as they discuss their favorite queer reads. From fiction to memoir, picture book to young adult, graphic novel to nonfiction, we’ll talk about our favorite book recommendations, both classic and contemporary.

7 pm, $14/ticket: Staged Reading of Lanford Wilson’s “Fifth of July” directed By David Fischer
Broadway Center for the Performing Arts: Studio 3, 901 Broadway
Terrific local cast including original music by Goldfinch frontman & Broadway Center Programming Associate Aaron Stevens. Post show discussion “After Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: Creating a More Inclusive Military”.

Friday, July 20
7 pm, $14/ticket: Staged Reading of Lanford Wilson’s “Fifth of July” directed By David Fischer
Broadway Center for the Performing Arts: Studio 3, 901 Broadway

9 pm: Mpowerment Tacoma Social
The Mix
635 St. Helens Ave
Come and Socialize with Mpowerment Tacoma and the Sisters for Perpetual Indulgence: The Abbey of St. Joan. There will be prizes, a sexy raffle drawing, and performances.

Saturday, July 21

7 – 9 pm, $25 for dessert, dinner, $50-125 Oasis PROUD Outloud
All proceeds benefit Oasis Youth Center
Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway
An evening of dinner, dessert and performance celebrating LGBTQ Youth.

Be PROUD, Tacoma!

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