Celebration of gay pride set this weekend _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- The Pride Parade presented by Boomtown Casino and Hotel starts at 7 p.m. Saturday on Elysian Fields at Washington Square Park. Marchers are shown in the French Quarter in 2014.

Three days and nights of revelry with a reason are planned this weekend in New Orleans as the city’s gay community celebrates Pride 2015 with a parade, a festival and plenty of fun.

Pride celebrations have been yearly events in the United States and worldwide since the first one was organized in New York City in 1970. It all started with a protest.

On June 28, 1969, in the wee hours of the morning, patrons of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village fought back after police raided the bar, beating and arresting men in drag. The uprising lasted for several days and eventually led to Pride, an organized effort to bring gay culture out of the closet and into the public eye.

On the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, New York City was home to the first Pride march. According to GayPrideNewOrleans.com, the first local Pride celebration took place in February 1971 in City Park and was organized by the Gay Liberation Front of New Orleans.

The first Pride Parade in the city was in 1980; in 1981, comedian Ellen DeGeneres served as announcer for the celebration in Armstrong Park. Since then, Pride festivities have continued in one form or another. A full schedule of events is planned this time around.

8 p.m. Friday

At the Official Pride Weekend Kick-Off Party in the Harrah’s Hotel Ballroom, 228 Poydras St., the emphasis is on the transgender community. The party features appearances by local leaders within the community as well as a keynote presentation by Ryan Sallans, a national transgender advocate and author who began transitioning from female to male in 2005. There will be music, food and a meet-and-greet with Pride Parade celebrity grand marshals Reed Kelly and Josh Canfield, Broadway stars and 2014 contestants on CBS’ “Survivor” reality series. Admission, $22.

10 p.m. Friday

Queer Com Pride Variety Show and Pride Ladies’ Party are scheduled at Allways Lounge, 2240 St. Claude Ave. The dance party is geared toward the lesbian community, but all are welcome. Admission, $10.

10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 20

New Orleans Pride’s Festival Day in Washington Square Park will feature more than 50 vendors offering food, drinks and arts and crafts. The day begins with an interdenominational church service. Musical entertainment includes performances by Eclipse and Cardinal Sons, and activities include a beard and mustache contest. The festival is free and open to the public.

7 p.m. Saturday

The 2015 Pride Parade presented by Boomtown Casino and Hotel starts on Elysian Fields by Washington Square Park, travels up Royal Street to Frenchmen, right on Decatur and all the way to Canal Street. From Canal, the parade travels down Bourbon Street before disbanding at the intersection with Esplanade Avenue. Local grand marshals are Mr. Big Easy Leather 2014 Adikus Sulpizi and entertainer Persana Shoulders. Jon and Derek Penton-Robicheaux, a local couple fighting for marriage rights, are honorary grand marshals, and Canfield and Kelly are celebrity grand marshals. The parade features floats, marching groups, cars and carriages, and riders will throw special New Orleans Pride beads.

The celebration continues Saturday night and through Sunday with various events at the city’s gay bars.

For a full listing of events and to buy tickets, visit www.prideneworleans.com.