Riverside shows its PRIDE

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By Stephanie Holland / Editor-in-Chief

By Stephanie Holland / Editor-in-Chief

There were many ideas on display at Riverside Pride 2009; however, chief among them was freedom.

Freedom to marry, freedom to worship, freedom to be equal, but most importantly, freedom to be yourself.

The festival, held Oct. 10 at White Park in Downtown Riverside was presented by the Jeffrey Owens Community Center and featured performances by disco legend Thelma Houston, 80s star Tiffany and dance diva Kristine W.

There were also booths on hand from organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality California, among others.

Chris Goodman from the Human Rights Campaign, grew up in Riverside and said that the conservative nature of the area never really provided an outlet for the gay community.

“There’s never really been a lot for our community to do out here,” Goodman said. “It’s really great that they’ve gotten together with the community to produce such an event that gives people a place to go and hang out and let people know that it’s ok.”

The Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Their presence at the festival gave attendees a chance to learn more about the gay rights movement.

“It’s important for us to reach out to Riverside, to the community and let them know that we’re out here to support equal rights for the GBLT community,” Goodman said.

With the proximity of the event to Riverside City College and UC Riverside, a lot of young people came out to show their support and enjoy the festivities.

The Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance is a support group for LGBT young people based in San Bernardino. They were busy trying to get the word out about their many services including a leadership summit for Inland Empire high school students called Q*Camp.

Volunteer Dani Smith stressed the importance of the group’s presence at an event like Riverside Pride.

“There aren’t enough places for us to get together and see what we have to offer…I think it’s really important just to raise awareness and to get a more positive image of us out to the rest of the community, maybe they aren’t looking for the services of the booth, but maybe they just need to know that we exist,” Smith said.

As the day went on, the focus shifted from informing to entertaining when the first of the evening’s hosts took the stage.

Morgan McMichaels got the crowd immediately fired up with her energetic performance to “Bad Influence” and “So What” by Pink.

For the evening’s headlining entertainers, legendary Palm Springs drag queen Tommie Rose took over and wowed the crowd with her rendition of “Get the Party Started.” She then launched into a short comedy routine that had the crowd in stitches.

The first of the nighttime entertainers was Pepper MaShay, who got the crowd moving with her hit “Does Your Mamma Know.” She was followed by former Madonna backup singer Niki Haris, who drove the crowd wild with her signature songs “This Time Baby” and “Bad, Bad Boy.”

The moment everyone had been waiting for came when 80s pop princess Tiffany took the stage. She started with a couple of new dance songs, before she segued into the classics “Could’ve Been,” “I Saw Him Standing There” and “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

All three songs excited the crowd and had them singing along with every word.

The event was closed out with Houston thrilling the audience by singing the disco classic “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

With booths ranging from the First Congregational Church to a dance tent sponsored by PNN radio, Riverside Pride had something for everyone, but it also  gave the LGBT community a place to come together and celebrate their freedom


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