The annual Tacoma Pride festival will showcase lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture with six days of music, movies, comedy and other festivities beginning July 12 at Broadway Center; and organizers are finding lots more to celebrate this year following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington last November and the United States Supreme Court's recent ruling, that parts of the Defense of Marriage Act – which allowed other states to refuse to recognize such unions - are unconstitutional.
“We'll definitely be acknowledging what happened here in Washington State and the way Washington has led the nation on this,” said Michelle Douglas, executive direct of local LGBT advocacy group, the Rainbow Center, one of several groups that organizes Tacoma Pride.
“Of course, we'll also be celebrating the overturn of that section (Section 3) of the Defense of Marriage Act,” she said. “We don't know exactly how DOMA is going to translate. But what we know is we have a tremendous amount of people who have be living in limbo, and we're very fortunate to be in one of 13 states where that limbo is much more defined now.”
Organizers expect about 8,000 revelers to turn out for Tacoma Pride this year.
“The visibility component can't be underestimated,” Douglas said. “It is so much easier to discriminate and institutionalize inequality when we feel like we don't know those people. But, you know what? The LGBTQA community here, it's your coworkers, it's your friends, it's your family; and I think every bit of visibility helps reinforce that message.”
Here are events scheduled for this year's festival, with more details available online at www.tacomapride.org.
Kickoff flag raising and Pride Foundation Rainbow Awards (4:30 p.m. July 12, Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway): The City of Tacoma will raise the rainbow flag for the third year in a row, and the five-state Pride Foundation will give out awards for outstanding youth leader, allied leader and lifetime achievement.
Paula Poundstone (7:30 p.m. July 12, Pantages Theater): The popular comedian is known for her witty, improvisational stand-up and frequent appearances on NPR's “Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me.” Tickets are $28 to $69 and can be purchased through Broadway Center's site.
Out with God worship service (10 a.m. July 13, Tacoma First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Ave. S.): Tacoma First UMC will host prayer services and breakfast before Out in the Park.
Out in the Park (Broadway, between Ninth and 11th streets): Rainbow Center's free, family friendly and alcohol-free block party is expected to draw 6,000 revelers. There will be two stages this year featuring Seven's Revenge, Fab 5, drag performers and more, lots of food and dozens of booths representing small businesses, schools, non-profits and other groups.
The Mix's 5th annual Pride Block Party (2 p.m. July 13, 635 St. Helens Ave., performances start at 5 p.m.): Downtown Tacoma's popular, gay-friendly karaoke bar, the Mix, will again take over the 600 block with a lineup that includes local hip-hop act, the Breaklites, Cazwell, L.A. Kendall and host Aleksa Manila. You must be 21 or older to attend, and admission is $10; www.themixtacoma.com.
Proud Out Loud (7 p.m. July 14, Pantages Theater): An evening of mouth-watering desserts and performances celebrating LGBTQ youth. Tickets are $25 with proceeds benefitting Oasis Youth Center; www.oasisyouthcenter.org.
Grand Cinema Pride Film Series (Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave.): Tickets to the following films are $4.50 to $6.50 for Grand Cinema members, $7 to $9 for non-members.
“Kiss Me” (6:45 July 15): A young woman engaged to be married finds herself in an affair with her stepmother's daughter creating turmoil and heartbreak in this Swedish film, written and directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining.
“Melting Away” (2 and 6:45 p.m. July 16): This heartfelt, Israeli drama follows a family in crisis after the parents discover their child, Assaf, is secretly cross-dressing. Years later, Assaf returns to reconcile with his dying father, only now he's known as transgender singer, Anna.
“Interior. Leather Bar” (6:45 p.m. July 17): Filmmakers James Franco and Travis Mathews use the lost 40 minutes that director William Friedkin deleted from 1980 thriller “Cruising” as a starting point to a broader exploration of sexual and creative freedom. There will also be a sexy outfit contest, sponsored by Mpowerment Tacoma.