Phoenix Pride Festival

The big gay weekend in Phoenix always starts with the Saturday-morning parade, where everybody from local group "Dykes on Bikes" to parents carrying signs proclaiming pride for their gay kids marches through downtown from Third Street and Virginia. Once the festival gates open, the park plays host to a plethora of activities, with multiple stages and outdoor dance floors, karaoke booths, rows and rows of vendors, and an entertainment lineup that boasts some pretty good stuff: This year's fest included performances by comedian Judy Tenuta, pop diva Taylor Dayne, and R&B stars En Vogue, alongside an eclectic collection of Valley artists that included girl punk-pop group The Pübes, drag king troupe Sisterzz Twisted, drag queen Ineda Buffet, and, uh, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

For two days, nothing's taboo — and people do everything from donning nothing but neon green Speedos to participating in "spanking booths," where burly bear men whip them for the crowd. But it's not just a spectacle; it's a celebration and resource, too, with big-business sponsors and big-hearted nonprofits tempting the crowd.


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