Advocacy and support were twin themes at Boulder's annual Pridefest.

Out Boulder County's Pridefest kicked off Sunday with the fourth annual Big Gay 5K run, followed by a march on the Pearl Street Mall. Back at Central Park, highlights of the annual festival included a diverse lineup of music, booths and food trucks.

People decked out in unicorn horns, rainbow flags and tutus mingled with those who wore shirts with a more activist bent, such as "the future is queer" and "my pronouns haven't been invented yet."

Front and center were booths from other community organizations "under attack," including Boulder Valley Women's Health Center and the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition.

Samuel Ciserella and Anisha Sahali laugh at each other’s decorations Sunday during Out Boulder County’s annual Boulder Pridefest.
Samuel Ciserella and Anisha Sahali laugh at each other's decorations Sunday during Out Boulder County's annual Boulder Pridefest. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

"We're staying strong together," said Mardi Moore, Out Boulder County's executive director.

Along with booths from community organizations and queer-friendly businesses, Out Boulder County set up a booth advertising an LGBTQ community survey — the first one since 2010.

In the youth and family area, the aromatherapy booth was so popular it ran out of supplies. Hula hoops, flower crowns and bead crafts also drew crowds, with youth leaders running the booths.

One of the volunteers, Monarch High junior Marcos Trevino-Conroy, said he wanted to help give other students the same support he's received.


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"I thought it was important to be the change," he said. "Visibility is really important, and it's so nice to see everyone here being supportive. I love that there are a lot of non-profits, a lot of helping the community."

Festivalgoers said they love the event's community feel and freedom to express themselves.

"I'm constantly surrounded by straight people, and here I can breathe easier," said Boulder's Matt Raiti. "I'm surrounded by my community."

From left to right, Isabella Sandoval, Joshua Morgan and Geoffrey Gutierrez cheer on dancer Arial Staxxx on Sunday during Out Boulder County’s annual
From left to right, Isabella Sandoval, Joshua Morgan and Geoffrey Gutierrez cheer on dancer Arial Staxxx on Sunday during Out Boulder County's annual Boulder Pridefest. Arial's real name is Jonathan Torres. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

A volunteer at the Boulder County Aids Foundation booth, he said he also likes the advocacy part of Pridefest. He listed laws in other states that criminalize being gay or fail to offer workplace protections. Even in Boulder, he said, he's been called anti-gay slurs.

"A lot of times, people forget that Pride was started as a protest," he said. "The fight is not over just because we can get married."

Leading this year's march was Miranda Encina, a member of Out Boulder County's board and a member of a new LGBTQ People of Color leadership group — with a youth version of the group starting in October.

"I was born here in Boulder, and my family was a big part of the Chicano movement in the community," Encina said. "This is indigenous land that we're on, and Pride was started by queer women of color."

Leading the parade also included cleansing the space, she said, "to have people move forward in a way that's healing."

Jean Hodges, president of PFLAG, said she appreciates the festival's hometown feel, the opportunities to connect with the community and that "people have an excuse to dress extravagantly."

"It's a good vibe," she said.

Lafayette's Kate Varley, attending with her husband and two young children, added that the festival is always a good time.

"We like to show that we're allies and see people in the community," she said. "It's just a lot of fun and a good excuse to pull out the tutu."

Amy Bounds: 303-473-1341, boundsa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/boundsa