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Colors shine through at Rainbows Festival, the annual downtown Phoenix LGBTQ+ celebration

Pride was not just on display at the annual Rainbows Festival, it was celebrated. 

The Heritage Square Park festival featured more than 150 vendors, hundreds of attendees and two performance stages for entertainers and drag queens, according to host Phoenix Pride’s website.

The event was full of colors, literally. People donned rainbow clothing and accessories as they waved rainbow flags and sported festive jewelry. There was artisan food and drinks like street tacos and funnel cake, drag performances and vendors selling pride memorabilia like Arizona Legacy Pride Hockey Association. Loud music filled the air and everyone from children to seniors joined in the celebration.

Drag performances were vibrant and full of energy, as performers showed off their talent, synchronizing their movements with popular songs. On the main stage, there were well-known acts such as Lady Bunny and Luciana. Some performers delivered melodic and emotional performances while others surged with energy. 

This Rainbows Festival was the 21st edition of its history. The first Rainbows Festival event occurred in 2002 in downtown’s Heritage Square Park. It is the second biggest pride event in Arizona behind the Phoenix Pride Parade. Rainbows Festival was taken over by Phoenix Pride in 2012 during the festival’s tenth anniversary.

Vendors sold pride merch and others attended to support the LGBTQ+ community. One of the vendors, Community Bridges, is “Arizona’s largest fully integrated behavioral agency,” according to Micheal Specker, who organized the booth. 

Specker’s favorite thing about the festival was that over the years he has made numerous friends and built strong relationships with other vendors. 

“I get to share what we do with my community and let them know that anybody can come seek help with us,” Specker said. “I get to hear about what the community has to offer.” 

Another vendor at Rainbows Festival was the Human Rights Campaign tent. Workers like Kevin Sullivan offered tote bags and stickers to support the campaign's efforts. 

His organization was there to fight for trans rights, fitting for a vendor at a pride celebration. “Basically, we are for pro-equality bills and we fight against anti-equality legislation,” Sullivan said. “This year, especially, there's a lot of anti-trans legislation in a lot of states like Florida.”

One of Sullivan’s favorite things about the event is that when he is not working behind the booth, he watches colorful drag performances.

“Pride is just so good to get out and be supportive,” Sullivan said. “Show people, ‘Hey, we’re queer, we're here and we're gonna stay.’”

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