Denver Pride 2023 Was a Time for Celebration and Remembrance

Jun 28, 2023

As the mercury started to rise to ever higher temperatures, so did the excitement for Denver Pride 2023, hosted in Denver, Colorado! Denver Pride is a fabulous and vibrant celebration centered in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. The lineup of events was full of fabulous drag shows, dance parties, street fairs, community events, and the main attractions, the Denver Pride Parade and Denver PrideFest! 

People in colorful outfits march in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade in Denver, Colorado.

The event was held from June 24-25, 2023, in Denver, Colorado. People from across Colorado and the US came to attend the festive Pride events and to show their support for Denver’s LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms – especially within the current political climate in the United States, this year’s Denver Pride was about taking a stand. 

A large crowd of people attend the 2023 Denver PrideFest in Denver, Colorado.

Denver Pride was a magical, fabulous weekend filled with plenty of laughter, tears of remembrance, a celebration of how far we have come, re-connecting with old friends, and creating new friendships, and last memories.

A drag performer on stage at the 2023 Denver PrideFest in Denver, Colorado.

Denver PrideFest

Denver Pride is a vibrant and exciting Pride weekend in Denver, Colorado, in the United States. People came to celebrate Pride in the Rocky Mountains that is legendary for its laid-back style and its open and accepting atmosphere. People came to experience the magic of the democratic state.  

A person holds a Colorado Pride circuit fan at the 2023 Colorado PrideFest.

For 2023, Denver Pride focused on inclusive activities and events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, and activism for the drag and trans community. Throughout the weekend of events, there were drag shows, drag brunches, pool parties, community events, Pride festival, and the annual Denver Pride parade.

A drag queen in a white and rainbow sequin outfit on stage at DenverPride Fest 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

Here are the highlights of just some of the many events from Denver Pride 2023.

History of the Denver PrideFest

PrideFest in Denver has been an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ pride and a platform for advocating for rights and recognition. From its early days marked by the fear of AIDS and societal stigma to the growing acceptance and political activism of the 1990s to the evolving landscape of the new millennium, PrideFest has played a crucial role in fostering unity and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community.

The 1980s – Navigating Challenges and Finding Normalcy

During the 1980s, the LGBTQ+ community faced the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic, leading to fear and discrimination. The initial PrideFest parades were marred by tension between police and marchers. 

However, as the decade progressed, PrideFest began to regain a sense of normalcy, with festivities including floats, cars, performers, and the emergence of pre-festival warehouse parties. Despite the challenges, the LGBTQ+ community aimed to celebrate unity and promote acceptance.

The 1990s – Heightened Political Activism

The 1990s witnessed increased political activism within PrideFest. The community faced setbacks, such as the passage of Amendment 2, an anti-gay amendment in Colorado. This prompted significant protests and rallies, with PrideFest becoming a platform to fight for equal rights and protection from discrimination. Despite these obstacles, PrideFest attendance continued to rise, demonstrating the resilience and determination of the LGBTQ+ community.

The New Millennium – Widening Acceptance and Inclusivity 

With the onset of the new millennium came a shifting societal landscape and wider acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals. PrideFest adapted to these changes by incorporating a designated family area to accommodate couples with children, fostering a more inclusive environment. Attendance surged, reaching record numbers by 2001. PrideFest also became more mainstream, attracting corporate sponsors and government officials who openly supported the LGBTQ+ community.

The Fight for Rights and Victories

Throughout the years, PrideFest continued to be a platform for highlighting political issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Civil unions emerged as a significant topic, with PrideFest raising awareness and advocating for comprehensive relationship recognition. In 2013, Colorado celebrated the signing of the Colorado Civil Union Act, granting legal recognition to same-sex couples. PrideFest played a crucial role in these victories, reflecting the evolving landscape of LGBTQ+ rights.

PrideFest in Denver has evolved from its early years of adversity to become a vibrant celebration of unity and a catalyst for social change. The event has mirrored the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community, showcasing resilience and determination in the face of discrimination. 

PrideFest continues to serve as a vital platform for promoting acceptance, visibility, and equal rights for all. Through the years, it has played a pivotal role in fostering unity within the community and educating the broader society about LGBTQ+ issues and experiences.

Denver PrideFest 2023

On both Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25, Denver PrideFest attendees were treated to a vibrant and diverse array of vendors offering a wide range of products and services. From food and refreshing beverages to unique arts and crafts, Pride merchandise, and community organizations, there was something for everyone to enjoy. The event was designed to be bright, fun, and family-friendly, welcoming people of all backgrounds and identities.

A large crowd gathered in front of the main stage at the 2023 Denver PrideFest in Denver, Colorado.

Denver PrideFest is a highly anticipated two-day festival that attracts visitors not only from across Colorado but also from the wider Rocky Mountain region and even North America. In fact, the estimated attendance in 2023 exceeded a staggering 535,000 people, a testament to the event’s growing popularity and significance.

A crowd of people walking through Denver PrideFest 2023.

The weekend festivities began with the energetic Pride 5K on Saturday, June 24, which set the tone for the exciting events that followed. The highlight of the celebration was the two-day Denver PrideFest held at Civic Center Park. The festival featured an impressive lineup of over 250 exhibitors and 30 food and beverage vendors, ensuring that attendees had an abundance of choices to indulge their appetites and explore various interests. 

A drag queen wearing a rainbow wig and dress on stage at Denver PrideFest 2023.

Throughout the weekend, live performances took center stage on two captivating stages, featuring notable local headliners such as Jessica L’Whor ad Shirley Delta Blow. Additionally, a host of talented artists, including the likes of Marcia Marcia Marcia, Salina EsTitties, and Big Freedia, graced the stages, creating an atmosphere of entertainment and celebration for all to enjoy.

Big Freedia performing on stage at the 2023 Denver PrideFest in Denver, Colorado.

Denver PrideFest provided an incredible platform for food vendors and exhibitors, allowing them to connect with a vast audience of over 525,000 guests who eagerly immersed themselves in the lively entertainment and community spirit. The event not only offered a chance for businesses to showcase their offerings but also facilitated the forging of connections within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

An aerial view of Denver PrideFest 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

Denver Pride Parade 

On Sunday, June 25, 2023, the vibrant and spirited Denver Pride parade took to the streets, transforming the downtown core into a dazzling display of rainbows, glitter, and pure excitement. The anticipation was palpable as the parade procession commenced at 9:30 am, captivating the city with its captivating energy. 

A group of marchers carrying colorful flags march in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

A staggering crowd of over 100,000 enthusiastic spectators lined the 14 blocks of Colfax Avenue, extending from Cheesman Park to Civic Center, creating an electric atmosphere of celebration and unity.’

A group of people holding rainbow balloons in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

As the day unfolded, the sun radiated its warmth, casting a brilliant blue sky above the crowd. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, enhancing the joy and exuberance that permeated the air. Thousands of people filled the streets, eagerly awaiting the parade that was about to unfold. 

A giant Pride flag being carried in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

For approximately three hours, the city was treated to a magnificent spectacle, featuring a mesmerizing array of colorful costumes and elaborately decorated floats. Community groups, local businesses, sponsors, and marching bands all took part, showcasing their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

A large float with a rainbow and contingent of marchers in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade in Denver, Colorado.

The parade was a true representation of unity and inclusivity, as a diverse array of participants made their way through the city streets. Political parties, rights activists, first responders, corporate partners, local organizations, not-for-profit groups, and sports teams all joined forces to honor and celebrate Pride, standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. The procession also included a remarkable entourage of local drag queens, LGBTQ+ advocates, and prominent members of the Denver LGBTQ community, who added an extra layer of vibrancy and visibility to the event.

A large community group marching in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

Throughout the parade route, Pride flags fluttered proudly in the hands of onlookers, while the streets echoed with the jubilant cries of “Happy Pride!” The entire city came alive, enveloped in an electric atmosphere of exhilaration and acceptance. 

A group of people holding a rainbow PRIDE sign in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

Smiles adorned the faces of participants and spectators alike, as they reveled in the profound joy and sense of belonging that Pride evokes. Denver opened its arms to all, fostering an environment where everyone could freely express their identities and join in the celebration of love and diversity.

A group of people holding a large rainbow balloon arch in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

In this momentous display of solidarity and support, Denver Pride parade exemplified the spirit of Pride, serving as a testament to the progress made in promoting equality and acceptance. The event united people from all walks of life, forging bonds of understanding and celebrating the rich tapestry of the LGBTQ+ community. Denver stood as a shining example of inclusivity and embraced the opportunity to honor and uplift the voices and experiences of its LGBTQ+ residents and allies.

A large group of people carrying Pride flags in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade in Denver, Colorado.

Community Programming  

Community involvement plays a crucial role in the larger concept of acceptance that Pride embodies. During Denver Pride, the impact of local businesses and their active participation cannot be overstated. As the city united to celebrate and embrace diversity, many local establishments went above and beyond to showcase their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride flags hanging over Larimer Square during Denver Pride 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

Eye-catching displays served as a visual testament to the welcoming and accepting atmosphere that Denver Pride fosters. By visibly showcasing their support, these businesses sent a powerful message to residents and visitors alike: that love, diversity, and acceptance are values deeply ingrained in the fabric of the community.

Rainbow flags handing from a railing in Denver, Colorado.

In addition to window decorations, many local businesses organized their own Pride-themed events, recognizing the importance of celebrating this significant occasion. These events provided platforms for dialogue, education, and celebration, allowing people from all walks of life to come together and learn from one another. They created spaces where individuals could share their experiences, foster connections, and deepen their understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Male dancers perform on an outdoor stage at Charlies Bar during Denver Pride 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

By hosting these events, local businesses demonstrated their commitment to creating an environment that celebrates diversity and promotes dialogue around LGBTQ+ issues.

Denver Pride reflects the understanding that acceptance and celebration of diversity extend beyond individual identities. It highlights the importance of community-wide engagement in fostering an inclusive and supportive environment. The active participation of these businesses sends a powerful message to residents, visitors, and even other businesses, emphasizing the significance of creating spaces where all individuals feel valued and celebrated.

Political Impact of Denver Pride 2023

It’s no secret that the current political climate in the United States is less than stellar. With a barrage of anti-gay and anti-trans bills, multiple jurisdictions in the United States have become a huge topic of discussion and concern. 

Denver Pride has given the LGBTQ+ community a place of refuge where everyone can be out of the closet, proud of who they are, donned in drag, and find the bliss of queer joy and self-acceptance. 

Pride is not just a celebration; it is a powerful statement of solidarity, resilience, and self-affirmation. It serves as a platform for the LGBTQ+ community to proudly embrace their queerness, sexualities, and diverse identities. It is a vibrant expression of individuality and a collective demonstration of strength in the face of adversity.

A lady holding up a sign at the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

At its core, Pride represents the ongoing fight for equality, acceptance, and the recognition of the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. It is a reminder of the progress that has been made and the work that still lies ahead. Pride serves as a rallying point where the community comes together, not only to celebrate their identities, but also to amplify their voices, advocate for change, and stand up against discrimination.

A large crowd of people walking through Denver PrideFest 2023.

Pride is a beacon of hope and empowerment. It is a time when LGBTQ+ individuals can authentically express themselves without fear or shame. It fosters a sense of belonging and acceptance, providing a space where people can connect, share their stories, and find support within a community that understands and accepts them.

A drag queen reads to youth at Drag Story Time at Denver PrideFest 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

Beyond the vibrant parades, colorful costumes, and joyous celebrations, Pride is a profound symbol of resilience. It is a testament to the strength and determination of the LGBTQ+ community to overcome challenges and fight for their rights. Throughout history, the community has faced immense adversity, from societal prejudice and legal discrimination to the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

However, Pride stands as a reminder that despite these struggles, the community remains united, strong, and unwavering in its pursuit of equality.

A tragic incident in Colorado

tragic incident unfolded at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, as a gunman opened fire, killing five people and injuring 18 others. The shooting occurred on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, leading to heightened concerns about the motives behind the attack. Although the investigation is ongoing, the mayor of Colorado Springs expressed that the shooting “has all the appearances of being a hate crime.”

The club targeted in the attack, Club Q, holds significant importance for the LGBTQ+ community in the area. It is considered one of the few safe spaces where queer individuals can gather and freely express themselves. The loss of this venue has deeply impacted the community, leaving many questioning how to move forward.

Support from allies and the broader community is crucial during such difficult times. The tragedy underscores the need for solidarity, compassion, and a collective effort to combat hatred. By standing together, communities can send a clear message that acts of violence and discrimination will not be tolerated.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the continued struggle for equality and acceptance. It is a call to action to challenge prejudice, promote understanding, and create safe spaces where LGBTQ+ individuals can thrive. Pride will remain an essential part of this fight, providing a platform for visibility, empowerment, and advocacy.

In the aftermath of this heartbreaking event, it is important for individuals to come together to support the victims’ families and the LGBTQ+ community. This tragedy should not deter the progress that has been made but rather strengthen the resolve to create a more inclusive and accepting society.

Incidents such as this are why Pride is necessary and will continue to exist for years to come. 

Plan to Attend Denver Pride 2024

Fun, laughter, diversity and inclusion, visibility, trans rights, and expressions of love and togetherness are all feelings and emotions that can be felt at Denver Pride. It’s time to put Denver Pride on your bucket list of Pride events to attend in 2024! In addition to being a fabulous event, it’s also one more reason to plan a trip to the beautiful Colorado State.  

A group of marchers waiving Pride flags in the 2023 Denver Pride Parade.

Visit Denver

Denver’s laid-back, welcoming nature of the locals and a vibrant nightlife makes Denver the true queer center of the West, with many hotels and restaurants catering to LGBTQ+ visitors. As the largest city in a 600-mile radius, Denver attracts members of the gay community from all over the West and the world, resulting in a well-established LGBTQ+ nightlife, welcoming queer neighborhoods, queer-friendly hotels, and numerous annual events that draw huge crowds, such as Denver’s PrideFest!

The view of downtown Denver from Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The city has a long and proud LGBTQ+ history, with the first Pride celebration in Cheesman Park in 1974. In 1990, Denver became one of the first municipalities in the nation to adopt an anti-discrimination policy, including gay and lesbians, and in 2014, Colorado legalized same-sex marriage, honoring love across all communities. Learn about the city’s LGBTQ+ history on the Visit Denver website.

A gay man stands in front of a mural in downtown Denver, Colorado.

Get started on planning your trip today to Visit Denver.

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb


Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award. An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content. Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

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