“There are no spectators this year. It’s a movement: everybody’s a participant from the beginning of the week to the end of the week,” said Drew Phoenix, Co-Chair of Identity Inc., and one of the four Pride Planning Committee chairs. The other chairs include: Phyllis Rhodes, Anne Marie Moylan, and Gayle Schuh.
This year’s celebration in Alaska is a continuation of the community support for the One Anchorage ballot initiative campaign. After the spring 2012 election, PrideFest planners and community leaders rallied to keep the movement together. This surge of new energy required a new model of leadership. Emerging leaders are being paired with veteran planners to assure that the next generation of LGBTQ folks have the skills and confidence to carry the movement forward.
With the introduction of four co-chairs (affectionately named the Quad Chairs), Anne Marie says this new model of shared responsibility for planning and execution has given the PrideFest “four times the opportunity to grow something, and four times the opportunity to take things in a new direction. We don’t have to be cautious and just do one new thing; we’ve done three new things this year.”
First of the new features is the march, which the Quad Chairs urge you not to think of as a parade, but more of a moving street dance, or conga line.
“Think Mardi Gras,” says Drew. If anyone is still lining the streets watching, they will be “encouraged, nudged, prodded, and pulled into the march.”
Second of the new features is a first for Anchorage: a two-hour, family-friendly, PrideFest kick-off in Town Square. This will give Anchorage-ites a chance to preview the festivities for the upcoming week, with fun music and food.
Pride Foundation is proud to be a long-time sponsor of the Alaska PrideFest. For the first time, nearly every day of the festival features one of our past or current grantees. Notably, POWER Teen Center, with sponsorship from Pride Foundation, is hosting a two-hour karaoke-style event, “Teens Who Sing with PRIDE!”
While there have been week-long Pride celebrations in Anchorage before, this is the first time that on each day there is something for youth, families, and adults. Events are being suggested long after the guides were printed. There will soon be enough events to fill a month’s worth of festivities. “We’re busting at the seams” said each of the Quad Chairs.
The third new addition to this year’s festivities is the mutual embrace of the business community and local LGBTQ movement.
There are nearly 40 vendors exhibiting at PrideFestival, including, for the first time, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The National Park Service will be celebrating their second Alaska Pride.
Thanks to the recent strides of the national LGBTQ movement, the Quad Chairs are also proud of new national sponsors including: Alaska Airlines, Absolut Vodka, and Wells Fargo.
“Part of the vision is making [PrideFest] as diverse a gathering as possible,” says Drew. “Widening the tent.”
“There’s a lot of community-wide bands and dancers and people who are not necessarily part of the queer community that are anxious to be on our main stage and march,” says Phyllis.
Alaska PrideFest organizers are hopeful that this year’s celebration is worthy of its theme: “Our State of Pride”. “We’ve reached out to Juneau and Fairbanks to see if they can also have a gathering […] that they can build on in the future,” says Gayle. “We want people to have ownership of Pride.”
Pride Foundation also wants you to have ownership of Alaska Pride 2013. Please contact Josh (email@example.com) to volunteer at Pride Foundation’s vendor booth.
Josh is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Alaska. Email Josh.