June 27, 1969: A dark day in history. Beloved songstress Judy Garland was found dead of an overdose in her London apartment. Across the pond in a dank little bar called the Stonewall Inn, at 53 Christopher Street in New York City, depressed drag queens and humorless homos drowned their sorrows. That’s when the NYC Police made one of the biggest mistakes of their lives. A pastime for the men in blue was raiding gay bars as it was still illegal to live on the pink side of life. These raids resulted in arrests and abuse. On June 27, we were not going to take it anymore. In fact it was a tranny who threw the first punch. Imagine (true story) drag queens ripping parking meters out of the ground, swinging them at cops; lesbians starting cars on fire; gays breaking every glass door and window throughout the West Village. The three-day Stonewall Riots ensued, during which participants sang, “God Save Us Nelly Queens!”
These fierce forefathers and mothers are responsible for Gay Freedom Day, or as we now call it “Pride Day,” a historic, now less tumultuous annual event. With such milestones as Salt Lake City’s Mutual Commitment Registry and the California Supreme Court’s overturning the state’s ban on marriage for gays and lesbians, we truly have something to celebrate this weekend.
On Thursday, June 5, DJ/DC presents Jer Ber Jones at the ultra-culturally mixed club night Dance Evolution (Trapp Door, 615 W. 100 South). Jones makes her first appearance in Salt Lake City as Jer Ber, though her alter-ego, Robbie Daniels Jr., is a Utah native. Daniels is a multimedia artist and musician who has been producing and performing his original works internationally for more than 15 years. At 17, Robbie, known then as Gumby, was both art director and star on The Palladium Dance Party, a weekly Salt Lake City-based performance art television dance show. Now Jer Ber, she will be performing excerpts from Fowl, her hit electro-musical currently sweeping the West Coast. Opening for Jer Ber is Salt Lake City’s own unpredictable firecracker Gorgeous Jared Gomez. There will be much more going on at the Trapp Door, including a surprise performance from an international electro pop diva that DJ/DC can’t disclose for security reasons. Doors at 9.
Friday, June 6, marks the official Grand Marshall reception at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center where Salt Lake City Council members and Mayor Ralph Becker will get their props. Becker says he’s proud to be celebrating all the community has accomplished in this last year to ensure equal rights. After the inspirational speeches, head to Club Gossip at 579 W. 200 South at Club Sound, for adult film stars, go-go dancers and a drag show hosted by the ever sharp-tongued Nova Starr.
If nightclubbing is not your bag then head to the Tower Theater (9th & 9th) for a midnight viewing of gay auteur John Waters’ Cry Baby. Starring Johnny Depp and Tracy Lords, there is eye candy for all.
On Saturday, June 7, festivities kick off at 4 p.m. with the Dyke March starting at City Creek Park (North Temple & State Street). Marching 700 strong for the sixth year, this motorcycle-heavy throng is just for ladies—sorry fellas. But you can still come cheer them on! The march ends at Pride’s official stomping grounds, Washington Square Park. Festival entertainment kicks off with Salt Lake City’s Rope or Bullets, followed by Cavedoll and recent winner of QSaltLake’s Most Faaabulous Local Band, Purr Bats. Pride headliner Meshell Ndegeocello will unleash a storm of rhythm funk world beats at 7:30 p.m., followed by local DJ Nick James—keeping your booty shaking all night long.
Try to get some rest to make the official Pride Parade’s 10 a.m. start Sunday. You don’t want to miss the Salt City Derby Girls, the bearded Cyber Sluts on scooters and the Gay Radical Cheerleading Squad, among other highlights. The parade ends at Washington Square (400 S. 200 East), where three stages worth of performers will provide the soundtrack to a fabulous afternoon. On the main stage, longtime favorites The Saliva Sisters join Mesa Drive, Mary Tebbs, Leraine, Salsa Brava and irreverent drag a cappella act The Kinsey Sicks. Pride stage action includes locals Jinga Boa, Kid Madusa, Bronwen Beecher, Cholula and All Star Band. My must-see pick is Kid Madusa. Watching her perform is like a circus show for the senses. On the interactive stage, local artists Brinton Jones and Chaz Prymek will warm—and possibly break—your heart with their honest sounds.
Rounding out the weekend is the Trapp Door’s Gay Day Street Fair, 600 West to 100 South, Sunday from 5 p.m. well into the night. Booths, food, performances and DJs hit the street bringing the club outside and extending the day for diehards.
Be it song, dance, film or good old-fashioned partying, there is something for everyone. Young and old, black and white, gay, lesbian, bi, trans and straight (but not narrow), I personally invite you to come together and raise a glass slipper to gayness!
UTAH PRIDE FESTIVAL @ Washington Square, 451 S. State, June 6-8. UtahPride.org