STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Hundreds celebrated gay pride and gay rights Saturday with a colorful floating parade down the Animas River and events at Rotary Park as part of the annual 4 Corners Pride Festival, which started Wednesday.
The Float Parade launched at 32nd Street around 11 a.m. and ended at a festival at Rotary Park. It was part of the four-day festival sponsored by the Four Corners Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Diversity.
“The purpose really is to come together in celebration,” said Barbara Balaguer Blundell, chairwoman of the 4cGLAD board of directors.
Balaguer Blundell said this is the fourth year for the Pride Festival. About 300 people showed up for Saturday’s event, she said.
“This community is very accepting,” she said. “We really are just like everybody else.”
Durango Mayor Dick White addressed the crowd in a speech at the festival.
“I celebrate with you today your successes and your ongoing struggle,” White said.
White said he heard a conference speaker say that people need to expect acceptance and give acceptance.
“These are great starting points for human relationships,” he said.
Gays and lesbians worry about the same issues as the rest of the population, such as health care, jobs, childcare and, of course, marriage equality, Balaguer Blundell said.
She acknowledged that locally, like as in other areas, there have been some problems, from bullying to outright hate crimes that included violence.
Still, Balaguer Blundell said that people in the Four Corners have accepted its gay and lesbian residents.
“Yes, we are here. Yes, we contribute to the community,” she said.
Balaguer Blundell said a primary reason for the festival is for residents of the Four Corners to learn more about their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer neighbors.
She said the LGBTQ community’s concerns are civil-rights issues that affect us all.
About 40 people participated in Saturday morning’s Float Parade, in which some participants wore colorful costumes.
One floater wearing bunny ears was Durango resident Cindiman Pinneke, who earlier this year took advantage of Colorado’s new civil-union law to legally join with her long-time partner, Amy McClintock.
Participating in the event is way to “show our pride,” Pinneke said.
McClintock, a 4cGLAD board member-at-large, said the float is a “fun way for the (gay and lesbian) community to get together.”
Greg Weiss of Bayfield, 4cGLAD treasurer, wore a rainbow flag across his shoulders and back to symbolize diversity.
Tami Graham, of Mancos, wore a straw cowboy hat as a symbolic gesture to a town where cattle drives still pass through.
“My tagline for Mancos is, ‘steers, queers and everything in between,’” Graham said just before she launched Saturday morning.
Balaguer Blundell said about 80 people volunteer during the four-day event, which also receives a wide variety of support from businesses, organizations and straight allies.