When California’s high court legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, the ruling became a catalyst for the first Pride Festival in Riverside since 1999. “It just seemed like a perfect fit,” explained Peggy Roa, president of the Jeffrey Owens Community Center and event organizer. The primary goals are to raise awareness and much needed funding for the downtown Riverside center, where various outreach programs are available to the local gay community.
“Be proud, Be bold, Be you” is the festival motto. Roa said, “especially this year, it is important to . . . stand up for your rights as a human being.” Live entertainment, an art gallery, teen zone and dance tents, merchandise and food vendors are all part of the festivities. A portable wedding chapel and ministers will be at the enclosed White Park site. According to Roa, several people have signed up to get married there. If the festival is a success and draws upwards of 5,000 people as expected, it will become an annual shindig, complete with parade.
Vibrant drag singer/TV host/actress extraordinaire RuPaul—best known for such ’90s dance club smashes like “Supermodel (You Better Work)” and “Back to My Roots”—is sure to have booties shaking on the main stage. Recently, the entertainer starred in the indie flick Starbooty, was a guest judge on Project Runway and hosted a new reality series set to air in January on the LOGO network.
Also featured is noted session vocalist Niki Haris, whose resume includes background work (Enrique Iglesias, Ani DiFranco, Queen Latifah, Rodney Crowell), touring (Madonna) soundtracks (“Coyote Ugly”) and TV (Dark Angel). Comedian ANT will provide the yuks. You might recognize him from NBC’s Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club or as the spokesman for NutriSystem. Party down! (George A. Paul)
Riverside Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival, White Park, 3936 Chestnut St. at Market, (951) 683-2032, www.myspace.com/riversidepride08. Saturday, September 13, 10AM–9PM, $10 advance, $15 at the gate.