With events scheduled from Wet N Wild in the West to a PRIDE Night with the Chihuahuas to a downtown parade and party, El Paso Sun City Pride‘s annual PRIDEFest is truly an community event.
Carlos Salais, EPSCP’s Parade Director says the blossoming of the event year to year, shows the city’s progress.
“El Paso has come a long way, there is more acceptance to the LGBTQI community but there is still more to do,” Salais says, “we are lucky to have the support of our elected officials and city as a whole.”
For their 10th anniversary El Paso Sun City Pride, and their Pride Partners the EP Chihuahuas, will have Chico as this year’s Grand Marshal for the annual Sun City Pride Parade. The Parade is set for Saturday, June 3 and starts at 10am, with the route starting at Houston Park and ending in downtown. (see map below)
Joining Chico will be Texas State Senator Jose Rodriguez, an ally in the Texas Legislature, and a defender of LGBTQI Rights.
According to their website, the El Paso Sun City Pride (EPSCP) Organization was established in 2007 to serve as the Social Directors of the El Paso LGBT community and to bring the great City of El Paso a PRIDE Celebration it rightfully deserves. Since that day ten years ago, the organization has overseen celebrations that have grown, both in attendance and popularity.
One of the main goals of EPSCP and the PRIDEFest events is to help raise awareness to the on-going struggle for civil rights within the LGBT community and help fellow residents discover the thriving community in El Paso.
As for the next 10 years, Salais sees big things.
“It will be Amazing!!! This year we have built great partnerships….we just finished our first major event of PRIDE 2017 at the El Paso Zoo…we had over 700 guest, and it was amazing seeing families come to our event. We are now also partners with Walgreens, so the next 10 years will just be bigger and better.”
In addition to the PRIDE Week events, EPSCP helps the community by “providing scholarship opportunities to increase the education in our community and increase the diversity, visibility & unity, in and between, the LGBT & Straight communities of El Paso and the surrounding areas.”
Of their overall mission, and the goal of PRIDE Week, Salais simply says, “It’s simply about the love and acceptance of one another.”
For a complete schedule of events, and to purchase tickets, visit El Paso Sun City Pride’s website.
It’s interesting for me to walk down the 500 block of North Stanton in downtown El Paso on a hot Texas day, the sun beating down on my head.
As I look at the bars in the area, I can’t help but think how this block may look like any other block to any El Pasoan passing by. To me though, this block changed my life.
This block isn’t just any other block, this block is Pride Square.
These establishments are more than just bars to get drunk at – though I can admit that I’ve had my share of crazy experiences here – these establishments represent my finding of acceptance in a world that’s scared of what’s different.
These establishments, some of which have stood in this exact spot for over ten years, represent a community that dances together, a community that laughs together, and a community that can feel heartache together.
Furthest north, and around the corner, there’s Chiquita’s, then down the line we have Epic, then The Briar Patch, the Toolbox, 8 1/2, and underneath that, the newest addition to the square, The Speak Easy.
During the day, these establishments sleep, awaiting the moon that brings life and energy through their doors.
The importance of these establishments goes far past that of giving bored LGBTQ youth something to do on Friday and Saturday nights. Some of these establishments allowed people to find refuge in their walls from a world that only ten years ago didn’t know how to react to things deemed different from heteronormative ideals.
Of course, the idea of gay bars being safe spaces for queer people to come together is not one founded in El Paso, but can be traced back to the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The cultural significance of these spaces not only speaks volumes on the spaces themselves, but also on the acceptance and diversity that El Paso itself represents.
La frontera, our Borderland, El Paso, – the place I’m proud to call home – is home to a variety of cultures and people from all walks of life. Our city is rich with Mexican heritage and culture that leaks into the gay culture of Pride Square on Sunday nights when you can catch local drag performers paying homage to late legends like Selena Quintanilla and Jenni Rivera.
Of course, these places are not exclusive to those who identify as LGBTQ, but inclusive to anyone who wants to celebrate being themselves.
Pride Square is part of El Paso history. It’s made its mark, and shaped a generation of El Pasoans by granting them the reassurance that they too are not just created equal, but created beautifully.
That not only should they take pride in being who they are, but also celebrate it while screaming along to “Como La Flor” under the flashing lights of the dance floor.
It’s no wonder why Pride Square has stood proudly with its rainbow flags hanging high for so long. It not only represents the pride of the LGBTQ community, but also the pride of El Paso and its acceptance of all people, not just the straight ones.
Guest Contributor: Chandelier Kahlo