DENVER — Denver PrideFest 2022 is now just one day away, and organizers are expecting a large turnout for the first fully in-person event since 2019. That presents a lot of excitement, but also some challenges.

Safety will be top of mind, particularly after more than 30 members of a far-right group — including three men from Colorado — were arrested near a Pride event in Idaho earlier this month. Police said the group had planned to riot during the event.

Organizers of Denver PrideFest say the incident, and those like it, in no way deter them from their plans. On the contrary, they highlight why Pride is as important as ever.

“People can try to deter us from having a Pride celebration by using scare tactics and fear, but they’re not going to work,” said Joe Foster, vice president of development and communication for The Center on Colfax LGBTQ+ Resource Center. “Did it give us some pause and make us reflect? Sure. We looked at our plans to make sure everything was in place, best practices. But nothing’s changed out of the ordinary. We’ll just be a little more vigilant than we usually are.”

Foster says PrideFest organizers have been coordinating with Denver police “day in and day out” to assess any potential threats.

More than 2,400 people are signed up to race in the Denver Pride 5K Saturday, and more than 100,000 people are expected to come out for the parade Sunday. Making every single one of them feel safe both physically and emotionally, Foster says, is key.

“Pride means a lot for some people, because they can’t be themselves at home or at school or at work,” he said. “This is their opportunity to do just that — come to PrideFest and be who they are.”

Pride events have been happening in Denver for decades, and over those decades, incredible progress has been made in the fight for equality. That’s something advocates don’t want to lose sight of, even as the fight for acceptance and equal rights continues.

“I think the very harsh reaction of some political groups against the community itself is telling of how much progress we’ve made,” said Sandra Zapata, director of youth services at The Center on Colfax. “We’ve made so much progress that they really are trying to drag us back into that space where we cannot be ourselves… and we’re just trying to make sure that we exist in a safe space like everybody.”

Denver7 is a proud sponsor of PrideFest. If you’d like to learn more about the events planned, you can visit Denver Pride’s website.

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