Pride beyond parades: How the LGBTQ celebration is enjoyed around the US

(CNN) — In June, New York City will host WorldPride and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, known as the commencement of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

New York expects several million people to turn out for Pride this year, and cities all over the United States will hoist their rainbow flags.

As the LGBTQIA community has evolved over a half century, so has the spectrum of Pride offerings — well beyond parades and bar crawls.

“The trend of alternative events has grown with the growth of LGBTQ+ families over the last five to ten years,” says Amanda Hopping-Winn, chief program officer of Family Equality Council. “Our people are part of families at higher rates than ever before, and they want to celebrate not only who they are, but who their family is, publicly, safely and together.”

Whether or not you hit a parade this year, here’s a travel list of alternative Pride offerings for the season.

*Some event details may not be confirmed by publication time, so check organizations’ sites closer to Pride for exact dates and times.

‘Rise Up’ exhibit, Washington, DC

A sign used by protesters who supported the Supreme Court's repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 is part of the Newseum's "Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement" exhibition.

A sign used by protesters who supported the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 is part of the Newseum’s “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement” exhibition.


The interactive Newseum in the nation’s capital is currently exhibiting “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement,” examining the modern gay rights movement in America.

The exhibit explores the AIDS crisis, the assassination of Harvey Milk — one of the first openly gay elected officials, the history of “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation, the battle for marriage equality and more. The show will run through the end of December and then travel nationally.

Proud to Run, Chicago, June 29

Boasting one of the country’s biggest Pride months, Chicago hosts its 38th annual 5K, 10K and half marathon at the end of Pride month to benefit local LGBTQ charities. The runs, organized by Frontrunners Chicago, the city’s LGBTQ+ running and walking club, have raised more than $600,000 for local organizations over the years.

Queer family portrait exhibit, Oakland, California, May-June

“There’s definitely a pull for more family-focused activities leading up to Pride weekend” in the Bay Area, says Meghan Lewis, founder of the Oakland-based LGBTQ Perinatal Wellness Center.
So this year the wellness collaborative will have multiple events on the roster. From May through June, visitors can view a collection of family portraits shot by queer local photographers — and maybe find someone to capture their own families on film — at Natural Resources in San Francisco; the reception will open on International Family Equality Day in early May.
On June 21, the center partners with a Bay Area PFLAG chapter for a queer family craft-making event at the Oakland Museum of CA in conjunction with the museum’s exhibit “Queer California: Untold Stories,” on display till August 11. The center is also hosting a Bi Parents Potluck Brunch in June. Check the wellness center site closer to May for more details and event info.

LGBT Night with LA Dodgers, Los Angeles, May 31

This year will be the seventh for the Los Angeles Dodgers' annual LGBT night. A ticket to the event gets you into the game, plus you get a rainbow-themed duffle bag.

This year will be the seventh for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ annual LGBT night. A ticket to the event gets you into the game, plus you get a rainbow-themed duffle bag.

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers throw out the first pitch of Los Angeles Pride month at Dodger Stadium for their 7th annual LGBT Night. The event is a fundraiser for Christopher Street West, the non-profit organization that produces LA Pride events, and includes much more than a baseball game: fireworks, music by DJ Bowie Jane and rainbow-themed duffle bags are some of the other things attendees have to look forward to.

Pride at the Falls, Niagara Falls, New York, July 5

On July 5th, a day after special Independence Day fireworks, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate Pride with Pride at the Falls. The Grammy-award-winning orchestra will perform Broadway show tunes to the backdrop of a Pride-themed rainbow light show — and of course, the magnificent waterfalls. The event is free to the public.

Family Pride Zone, Dallas, June 1

There's a bevy of activity at this year's Family Pride Zone in Dallas, Texas.

There’s a bevy of activity at this year’s Family Pride Zone in Dallas, Texas.

Dallas Pride

Dallas Pride festivities, relocated to Fair Park this year, include the big Miller Lite Musical Festival on June 1 and the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on June 2. A corollary activity to the music fest, on the same fairgrounds, is the Family Pride Zone, a safe space offering kid-friendly games, bounce houses, face painting, a ventriloquist and more. Alcohol is not permitted in the area.

Pride Family Movie Night, New York City, June 21

Come early with a blanket and snacks to beautiful Pier 45 at Hudson River Park for the annual Pride Family Movie Night. The event is emceed by Miss Richfield 1981, a family-friendly drag queen, and you can reserve VIP seating in advance. Check the site closer to Pride for the movie selection.

Out Boulder County Garden Party, Boulder, Colorado, June 2

Boulder, Colorado's Garden Party honors community members who've made gains in the last year.

Boulder, Colorado’s Garden Party honors community members who’ve made gains in the last year.

Out Boulder County/Facebook

Nestled in the Rockies, Boulder is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the country, it’s also one of the queerest, having officially celebrated Pride since 1994. One of the most popular events around Pride is Out Boulder County’s annual Garden Party, honoring members of the community who have made gains in the last year.
Later in the month, the neighboring Longmont community holds its Pride festival, and in September, Boulder celebrates in kind with Boulder Pridefest, including a youth-friendly Rainbow Story Hour at a local library and numerous other events for families.

Pride Family Day, San Mateo County Fair, California, June 10

On the tails of the success last year of the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” tribute band Queen Nation will rock you (clap clap), rock you, and your families and friends, at Pride Family Day at the San Mateo County Fair. Children 12 and under will be admitted to the fair free this day.

Queer Art Walk, Seattle, June 13

The popular Capitol Hill Art Walk, a monthly rotating program displayed at different neighborhood businesses and community venues, teams up with Seattle’s PrideFest for a walk featuring art by local queer artists. The walk is free, and a downloadable map showing art sites is available a week before the event. RSVP on the event’s Facebook page.

Up North Pride Ride, Traverse City, Michigan, June 19

Pride Ride in Traverse City, Michigan, is an all-ages, all-levels bike tour organized by Up North Pride.

Pride Ride in Traverse City, Michigan, is an all-ages, all-levels bike tour organized by Up North Pride.

Traverse City UpNorthPride Ride

Michigan’s Up North Pride hitches itself to biking organization Norte for its annual Pride Ride, an all-ages, all-levels bike tour. Cyclists will ride through downtown Traverse City and end up at a brewpub for a family-friendly, Pride-sign-making party.

Pride-themed costumes and bike decorations are encouraged, and volunteers and local police support the event to ensure participants’ safety. This event falls right in the middle of Up North Pride Week, which also offers an LGBTQ film festival, live storytelling night and a pop-up art gallery, in addition to, of course, the parade.

Back Lot Bash Pride Kids & Family Fest, Chicago, June 23

Lesbian-focused Pride organization Back Lot Bash hosts a Saturday midday event for families, with live music and children’s karaoke, a petting zoo, arts and crafts and family portraits. This event, located in Andersonville, is a nice alternative to Chicago’s main PrideFest in the Boystown neighborhood.

Elizabeth Wallace is the coauthor of “The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life” (Viking, 2018). Wallace contributes to Architectural Digest and Domino and has been published in The Atlantic, Fast Company and Refinery29.

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