Below you will find a brief history of PRIDE in Las Vegas and how the Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. came to be. You will also find our mission statement and organization operations guidelines.
Clark County Government Center
In celebration of its 26th year, the Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. enjoyed a record-setting Las Vegas PRIDE Celebration. For the first time in its history the Annual PRIDE Night Parade was broadcast LIVE and in its entirety on cable television by Cox Communications. An expanded festival grounds offered more than 10,000 attendees additional exhibitors to browse, a new Community Stage filled with local entertainers, an expanded food court, dance tents, an art show and a LGBT history exhibit. Also a hit with LGBT families with small children, the Children’s Activity Center offered climate-controlled arts, crafts, face-painting, storytime, and balloon arts. Martha Wash, Justin Lanning and Guy B headlined the Cox Main Stage line-up and local and national celebrities converged at the Cox Communications Celebrity Meet & Greet booth.
Clark County Government Center
In 2008, the Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. hosted its most successful PRIDE Festival to date. Held at the beautiful Clark County Government Center, attendees were able to browse more than 200 vendor booths. CeCe Peniston, Georgie Porgie, Jennifer C, and Terisa Griffin headlined the festival entertainment line-up. This year also saw the exciting addition of Las Vegas PRIDE’s first Gay Travel Expo with information for LGBT-friendly travel destinations from across the world. Traditionally held in May, Las Vegas PRIDE’s festival beats the heat of summer. Each year the proceeds from the festival are used to help fund local non-profit organizations and programs. More than $40,000.00 was raised and donated back to the community during the 2008 PRIDE Event Line-up.
Clark County Government Center
No entry exists for this year.
Clark County Government Center
In 2006, the Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. made several changes and new events were implemented to make the celebration more inclusive and responsive to the LGBT community. We celebrated the grand re-opening of The Center with a fantastic art show on May 6th. The inaugural women’s picnic the following day was co-hosted with Betty’s Outrageous Adventures to provide a replacement event for women and families after the closure of Wet N Wild. Another new event was Las Vegas PRIDE Idol on May 8th, a karaoke competition with the winners appearing on the main stage of the PRIDE Festival. We moved the extremely successful PRIDE Family Bingo on May 9th to a larger venue at the Plaza Hotel & Casino ballroom. With our fabulous hostess, Kitty Litter, we had a record turnout and provided more than $3,000 in prizes to our community. We celebrated the opening of the beautiful 8 ½ and Piranha with the change of venue of PRIDE’s Girls Party on May 10th and Boys Party on May 11th. Lastly, the Annual PRIDE Festival on May 13th was moved from the Sports Center on Sunset Road to the outdoor venue of the amphitheater at the Clark County Government Center. This move was in response to requests from attendees, almost unlimited parking and the positive results of an analysis of potential additional revenue from food and alcohol sales. As a result in the change of venue, our attendance increased dramatically and SNAPI was able to return $30,000 back to the non-profits supporting the LGBT Las Vegas community and established a scholarship fund with an initial $10,000.
In 2005, the Las Vegas PRIDE Celebration was themed “Centennial Celebration,” and it lived up to that theme. Parties and events spanned more than a week- starting off with an art show and PRIDE Royalty Pageant on May 20th and ending with a closing party at KRAVE titled “Last Chance” on May 29th. The Las Vegas PRIDE Night Parade was on May 27th with Mayor Goodman as the Grand Marshal. The PRIDE Festival was held on May 28th at the Las Vegas Sports Center with headliners Jody Watley and Jose Esteban Estrada. The festival also boasted a dance pavilion with lights and music by Studio 54, sand volleyball courts, indoor and outdoor booths with more than 110 vendors, and live entertainment all day. Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. continued to be a potent fundraising source for local charities and nonprofits including The Gay and Lesbian Community Center, the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Caring is Sharing toy and food drive for local women’s and children’s charities.
“Winds of Change” turned out to be just the success that SNAPI needed it to be. Held again at Las Vegas Event Center (formerly The Sport Center Las Vegas), over 6,000 people attended, as well as over 90 vendors. The week was kicked off with the Royalty Pageant on May 8 in the banquet hall of St Tropez/Hamburger Mary’s. Then, a string of events followed leading up to the festival. On May 9, SNAPI participated in the MCC Miracle Sunday. On May 11, Colors of Pride Bingo proved to be the most successful up to that point. On May 12, the Girlz Party at Gipsy was attended by 400, while the Boy’s Party the next night, also at Gipsy was attended by 600- surpassing the record from the year before. On Friday night, May 14, the traditional night-time parade marched down 4th Street. The day after the festival, Sunday May 16, SNAPI held a T Dance at Blue Moon Resort to close out the week. The superb planning and dedication of the 2003-2004 Board of Directors, and support of the community, led to an instant payment of all outstanding debts for both 2003 and 2004!
“Inside the Oasis” was the theme of PRIDE ‘03,and the year’s series of parties and pageants marked a return to the week-long Pride celebrations the Las Vegas LGBT community originally observed. It also marked a significant change in venue: the PRIDE Festival itself was held mainly inside the The Sport Center Las Vegas. PRIDE ‘03 opened May 6 with a Girlz Party at SRO, followed on May 7 by a Men’s Circuit Party. On May 8 a formal banquet in the Staten Island Ballroom of New York-New York noted the 25th anniversary of [Out] Las Vegas Bugle, the 20th anniversary of Las Vegas PRIDE, and the 10th anniversary of the Center. The community’s celebrations ended on May 10 with the PRIDE Festival in the All American Sport Park.!
XFL Fields at Sam Boyd Stadium
The theme of PRIDE ‘02 was “Rainbow in the Desert,” and admission was bumped to $12. The May 10 parade followed the same route it had in 2001 and was led by actress and activist Alexandra Paul. This year’s festival was notable for the array of talent brought in by entertainment director Sasha Scarlett, which included Susan Anton, Clint Holmes, and Paige O’Hara. PRIDE Weekend was also celebrated with a variety of parties scattered around Las Vegas. The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay sponsored an after-PRIDE party on May 11 with part of the proceeds donated to AFAN; the Center, Cobalt, CoolCat Café, and XY Magazine sponsored the Kurfew dance party in Commercial Center after the parade; and the brand new Wet Bar and Café hosted a Suds Party to celebrate PRIDE and its own grand opening on May 10.
XFL Fields at Sam Boyd Stadium
2001 was a turning point in the history of Las Vegas PRIDE celebrations. This year SNAPI became LVAPI–Las Vegas Association of Pride, Inc.–and the theme of the celebration was “Stepping Out With Pride.” As promised the year before, the parade produced for PRIDE ‘01 was light years ahead of past PRIDE parades. To begin with, it was held at night–only two other cities in the world had night-time PRIDE parades. Through the efforts of Mayor Oscar Goodman Fourth Street in downtown Las Vegas was emptied for more than 10 blocks to accommodate the parade and Goodman himself served as Grand Marshall. The May 11 parade was a dazzle of lights and flamboyant floats with more than 50 entries. Closing downtown streets for the Gay PRIDE Parade and Mayor Goodman serving as Grand Marshall were powerful affirmations–at a time when the Las Vegas LGBT community was fighting its losing battle against Question 2. The PRIDE Festival on May 12 was equally successful, featuring entertainers CeCe Peniston and Jeff Krassner, the First Annual PRIDE Festival Health Expo, and three dance tents. Admission was still $10 and the turnout was astonishing: more than 10,000 people watched the parade and 5,500 people attended the festival. Even more astonishing: the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority electronic billboard on Paradise Road flashed news of the Gay PRIDE Parade and Festival for several days before the events.
Still scaling back a little bit, PRIDE 2000 skipped its parade, promising something larger and more extravagant in 2001. For the first time, SNAPI advertised the event as the “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered PRIDE Festival” in an effort to be more inclusive of the burgeoning Las Vegas community. Admission this year was again $10, there were more than 100 vendors, and the entertainment included local band Nurse Ratchet, blues and jazz duo After Hours, acoustic musicians White Light, and Sasha Scarlett. PRIDE 2000 drew about 5,000 people and was produced within its $70,000 budget. The most notable thing about this year’s PRIDE, however, was the political figures who showed up: U. S. Congressman Shelley Berkley; U. S. Senate Candidate Ed Bernstein; Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman; and Clark County Commissioners Mary Kincaid and Myrna Williams. PRIDE 2000 also marked the debut of Tom Carns’ short-lived publication, the Las Vegas Breeze, which died after only three issues
The theme of PRIDE ‘99 was “Community … Pride … Our Vision.,” and this was reflected in the joint venture agreement signed by SNAPI, the Center, and MCC to co-produce the 1999 event. SNAPI had no seed money for PRIDE ‘99 due to the failure of PRIDE ‘98, so if 1999 were going to have a PRIDE event it would have to be a community effort. Blue Neon Productions sponsored the PRIDE Jam at Gipsy on May 7, while on May 8 a more modest parade and festival were held at Sunset Park. This scaled-back PRIDE event succeeded not only financially, but it brought back to PRIDE a sense of true community support many till then had complained was lacking. Admission was $10 and about 5,000 people attended.
Inferno, Sunset Park, West Las Vegas Library
PRIDE ‘98, whose theme that year was “Unity Through Diversity,” started off on a positive note on April 24 with a PRIDE Jam at Kevin Kelly’s Inferno nightclub on Highland Drive hosted by Kenny Kerr. And the weekend ended at the West Las Vegas Library on April 26 with a screening of Over the Rainbow, a documentary on the history of the gay equality movement. But in between, PRIDE ‘98 was a disaster. On Saturday, April 25, SNAPI sponsored its first [Las Vegas’ second] Gay PRIDE parade which included participants from gay communities throughout the Southwest. But that day a freak storm front blew through Las Vegas bringing rain, winds over 50 mph, and snow flurries. Even though the skies cleared in the afternoon and Thelma Houston entertained that evening, the weather killed the PRIDE Celebration. For the first time Las Vegas’ Gay PRIDE event lost money and was unable to provide the financial support to the LGBT community it always had. Admission was $10, and attendance was less than 5,000.
Riviera Hotel and Sunset Park
The Riviera Hotel opened PRIDE weekend on May 9 with its Gay PRIDE Jam for $16.95. Entertainers included Lea DeLaria, White Light, and the Midnight Cowboys. The PRIDE rally in Sunset Park on May 10–$10 admission this year–showcased nearly 50 vendors, and included entertainers Jeff Krassner, Men Out Loud, Michelle Malone, and a very pregnant Cyndi Lauper. Unfortunately, the event drew only 4,500 people. This year’s celebration was also marred by controversy. The Las Vegas Bugle sponsored a Gay PRIDE parade which included 44 participants from community organizations and bars. The parade wound across Las Vegas from Flex nightclub to Sunset Park. Because SNAPI did not sponsor the parade, yet felt wrongly associated with it as sponsor of the PRIDE event, it sparked an acrimonious rupture between the PRIDE organization and the Bugle that took a long time to heal. In following years when SNAPI did sponsor a parade, it refused to recognize the Bugle’s parade, referring to it as a “motorcade.” Semantic arguments aside, credit for sponsoring the first Gay PRIDE parade in Las Vegas belongs to Rob Schlegel and the Las Vegas Bugle.
Riviera Hotel and Sunset Park
For the first time a major Strip hotel became involved in the Las Vegas Gay PRIDE celebration. On May 3 the Riviera Hotel sponsored a Gay PRIDE Jam in the Mardi Gras Plaza Outdoor Pavilion. Tickets were $14.95 and the entertainers included acoustic duo the Belle Curves; Frank Marino; Romanovsky and Phillips; and comedian Scott Silverman. The Gay PRIDE rally, whose theme this year was “PRIDE Without Borders,” took place in Sunset Park on May 4–the earliest Gay PRIDE celebration in the Southwest. SNAPI chose this date in order to give attendees a break from the Las Vegas heat, and to boost attendance from out of state. Disco star Martha Wash and Kenny Kerr both entertained at the Pride festival, while workshops that day included “Sexuality and Spirituality;” “Gay Parenting;” and Knowing Your Civil Rights.” Admission was $8 and drew nearly 6,000.
The Las Vegas Lesbian and Gay PRIDE Association this year changed its name to the Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. [SNAPI], announcing that it had changed from a “town hall organization to a corporation.” The theme of PRIDE ‘95 was “From Silence to Celebration,” and the event drew more than 4,000 into Sunset Park. The $8 admission bought entertainment from Kenny Kerr, dance diva Kristine W., singer Randy Riggs, and comic Lynda Montgomery. Events included a Lambda Business Expo, volleyball tournament, workshops, and seminars.
PRIDE ‘94 was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York. Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones, a candidate for Nevada governor and always a strong supporter of the LGBT community, addressed the crowds, while Kenny Kerr and his crew from Boylesque entertained the 2,700 people who attended. The event drew more than 40 exhibitors and admission was $5.
Winchester Park and Community Center
By 1993 Las Vegas PRIDE had become a truly professional annual event. The theme this year was “A Decade of PRIDE,” and the celebration at Winchester Park included 28 exhibitors, workshops and video presentations, and more than two dozen local entertainers including Strutt Hurley, Debi St. John, Michelle Holiday, the Neon Squares, and the Men’s Chorus. Entry was $10 and the PRIDE Committee provided a day care center for the first time for those who brought children. Attendance dropped to about 2,000 people. The June 13 celebration was presided over by the community’s first Gay PRIDE Royalty, chosen at the First Vegas PRIDE Pageant on June 5 at the Gipsy. Crowned were Joel Jaralillo [Miss Vegas PRIDE]; Rod Tyrell [Mr. Vegas PRIDE]; Marina Kness [Ms’tr Vegas PRIDE]; and Anne Mulford [Ms. Vegas PRIDE]. It’s from being crowned Ms. Vegas PRIDE that Mulford earned her nom d’celebrité, Princess Anne.
Flush with success from 1991 the informal group of people who sponsored PRIDE formalized as the Las Vegas Lesbian and Gay PRIDE Association [LVLGPA] with its own bank account and legal identity. LVLGPA sponsored PRIDE in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The 1992 theme was “Invisible No More,” entrance was $10 and included free beer and soft drinks, and booth space went for $10 to $120. Women United of Nevada and the Las Vegas Men’s Club together provided food services, and for the first time the event drew out-of-town vendors, including Lesbian News and Olivia Records and Tours. Clark County Commissioner Thalia Dondero opened the celebration with a welcome speech; Ron Lawrence of Community Counseling Center led a candlelight Ceremony of Unity; pop/gospel singer Marsha Stevens entertained; and the celebration was covered by all three local television news stations. On PRIDE Day the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a front-page feature on the Las Vegas LGBT community. PRIDE ‘92 drew about 2,400 people as well as a letter to the editor from homophobic attorney Joel Hansen in which he pointed out that, “It is a sad spectacle to see [Thalia Dondero] pandering so pusillanimously to such a degenerate and decadent interest group in the name of ‘tolerance.’ Dondero has forgotten to uphold the laws of Nevada. NRS 201.190 makes the vile sexual acts habitually committed by these homosexuals felonies. … The invasion of our county by these proud purveyors of pestilence can only hurt our tourism and give Clark County a black eye.”
This was the year Las Vegas PRIDE was going to sink or swim. Las Vegas Bugle publisher Rob Schlegel and Will Collins pooled their resources and began planning the PRIDE event early in 1991. They advertised and promoted it tirelessly, committed their own money, Bugle money, and used Chuck Melfi’s credit from the Gipsy. The rally was timed to coincide with the last day of the Desert and Mountain States Lesbian and Gay Conference when several hundred gay people from throughout the West would be in Las Vegas. Schlegel and Collins persuaded the community to get more involved: Sue Melfi of Lace and her lover, Vanessa, agreed to provide food services; Susan Carratelli and Lee Plotkin donated their talents; Michael Gentille and the boys from Delta Lambda Phi created and hand-delivered thousands of fliers throughout the community; and many others whose names are lost in time worked together to produce a PRIDE event more successful than any Las Vegas had celebrated. Unable to afford fencing, the Lambda Pride Association marked off the PRIDE area in Sunset Park with a pink ribbon. There were two shows: at 5 pm the Community Leadership Awards were presented with live music, Murphy, the Badlands Line Dancers, and Will Collins doing “Liberace Coming Out of the Closet.” At 8:15 Tim Henson hosted A Tribute to the Stonewall Drag Queens. Admission was only $5 and included free beer donated by Nevada Beverage, while booth space was $15. Where Schlegel and Collins hoped for 300 people to at least surpass 1990, more than 1,300 showed up. PRIDE ‘91 was a smashing success and set the barre for the next decade.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Sunset Park
“Look to the Future” was the 1990 theme of Gay PRIDE, although that future still wasn’t looking too bright in Las Vegas. The Nevada Association of PRIDE [NAP] sponsored this year’s Gay PRIDE weekend. On Saturday evening, June 2, Will Collins emceed an awards ceremony with hors ‘oeuvres and speakers including Ken Tomoroy, Judy Corbisiero, Ron Lawrence, and Youth Council President Christine Robinson. Pianist Jay Varga entertained, Brian Allen recited selections from Phantom of the Opera, and Murphy sang Patsy Cline numbers. Following a PRIDE service at MCC on Sunday morning, June 3, there was a rally at Sunset Park decorated with lavender ribbons. Music was provided by the Neon Café, and a handful of community businesses and organizations set up tables: Bright Pink Literature, Las Vegas’s first commercial gay bookstore and gift shop, owned by Rob Schlegel; Rick Grumbach and Joe Howard of Festive Tours; Terry Wilsey from Celebrity World Travel; and bartenders from Steppin’ Out and Gipsy. Both the awards ceremony and the rally–where temperatures exceeded 109 degrees–attracted less than 300 people.
This year’s Gay PRIDE celebration was hosted by Will Collins and the Lambda PRIDE Festival Committee, and was the first PRIDE celebration in several years to include many of the community’s organizations and notable activists. This outdoor celebration began at 6 pm and included a Western barbecue, tennis, volleyball, and a dance. Speakers included Terry Wilsey, who described the history of Stonewall; Judy Corbisiero, who detailed the history of women’s organizations in Nevada; Ken Tomoroy, representing the Desert and Mountain States Lesbian and Gay Conference; and Rob Schlegel, who spoke about the Human Rights Campaign fund. At sunset, Collins led a lavender balloon release.
Four Queens Hotel Royal Pavilion and MCC
Romanovsky and Phillips opened Las Vegas’s Gay PRIDE weekend on June 18 with a concert attended by 285 people at the Four Queens Hotel. On June 19, MCC sponsored a Gay Freedom service. Once again, Rev. Ralph Conrad noted Las Vegas’s apparent lack of interest in celebrating Gay Pride: “It is like pulling teeth to get this community to put together any kind of celebration of our lifestyle. … I think that it is time we started thinking seriously about what we are doing here in Las Vegas. … It is time to stop fighting amongst ourselves: men against women, cross dressers against non-cross dressers, Levi-leather against preppy, monogamous against non-monogamous, bar owner against bar owner … . It is time to pull together and let the world know that gay Las Vegas is ready to come out of the closet.”
The organization which sponsored this year’s PRIDE events was the Silver State Lambda Coalition. Events opened on Sunday, May 31 with a Gay PRIDE service at MCC and a softball game between Women United of Nevada and the Las Vegas Professional Men’s Club [the men won]. That evening Romanovsky and Phillips entertained at MCC. Throughout the week Vegas bars hosted parties and drink specials, while on Thursday, June 4, MCC Rev. Ralph Conrad spoke at the Newsroom coffee house [where Café Espresso Roma stands today]. The topic of Conrad’s lecture was, “God Says It’s OK to Be Gay.”
There was no Gay PRIDE celebration in Las Vegas this year, although MCC offered a special Pride service on June 8. Commenting on Las Vegas’s lack of Pride in 1986, MCC Rev. Ralph Conrad wrote, “For the first time in three years Las Vegas will have no organized pride events. What happened? It seems that not enough people cared and the Lambda Pride Coalition died for lack of interest. … Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas will be having a special service on June 8 … to celebrate the pride that we all should have in ourselves.”
University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Sunset Park
Las Vegas’s third PRIDE Celebration, sponsored by the Lambda Pride Coalition, was not very well attended. The energy evident in the community during the early 1980s had begun dissipating as the AIDS epidemic swept Las Vegas. The 1985 theme of the celebration was :”Alive With PRIDE in ‘85.” MCC opened Gay PRIDE on June 2 with two special services. On June 4, the gay gift shop R & R Assordid Sundries held its Camp Awards, while on June 7 the Rev. Troy Perry addressed the PRIDE Awards Banquet in the Grand Ballroom of the UNLV student union. Gay singers Romanovsky and Phillips entertained that night, and tickets for the dinner and banquet cost $15. The banquet was notable for the award given activist Christie Young: it was the first time a straight person was recognized for her work in the gay community. There was a PRIDE rally June 8 in Sunset Park, and on June 9 MCC closed the week with another special service. Less than 100 people attended the awards banquet, and about that number came to the Sunset Park rally.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Sunset Park
The theme for Las Vegas’s second Gay PRIDE Celebration was “Unity and More in ‘84.” The community’s Gay PRIDE Celebration events in June were preceded by a second Human Rights Seminar on the UNLV campus on May 4-5. PRIDE this year was sponsored by the Lambda Pride Coalition, and the main events included Las Vegas’s first outdoor PRIDE rally on June 2 at Sunset Park where more than 200 people braved wind gusts past 40 mph; production of the original gay-themed play, The Lost Balloon, at Reed Whipple Center on June 6 [written by Kent Anderson, the first openly gay student body president at UNLV]; and the PRIDE Awards Banquet on June 9 in the UNLV student union Grand Ballroom where tickets cost $12.50. Speakers this year included gay Laguna beach city councilman Bob Gentry; feminist Valerie Kirkgaard; and noted statistician Peter Berke. The week was also filled with special bar events sponsored by Maxie’s, Gelo’s, Buffalo, Gipsy, Fantasy, and Snick’s. The cost for producing Gay PRIDE in 1984 was borne almost entirely by Will Collins, who contributed money he intended putting down on a house, hoping he would recoup his outlay–which he did, barely.
May 6-14 and June 18, 1983
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Las Vegas’s first Gay PRIDE Celebration was a week-long series of events jointly sponsored by the Gay Academic Union, the Metropolitan Community Church, and Nevadans for Human Rights. On May 6 a Human Rights Seminar in the Moyer Student Union included speakers David Goodstein, publisher of the Advocate; Kevin Kelly; Terry Wilsey; Dr. Walt Herron; and Gudrun Fonfa. The First Annual Gay PRIDE Banquet and Awards Ceremony was held on May 7 in the student union’s Grand Ballroom. The Gay Academic Union sponsored a party at Lake Mead on May 8, Loretta Holloway and Kenny Kerr starred in a special PRIDE show at the Gipsy on May 9, while on May 10 Maxie’s bar on Nellis Boulevard threw an all-you-can-eat chicken barbecue. There was a PRIDE show at the Garage nightclub on May 11, a Snakebite Party at the Backdoor on May 12, and on May 13 the Buffalo sponsored a PRIDE beer bust. On May 14 Nevadans for Human Rights held its monthly potluck meeting, then retired to Snick’s Place for drink specials. Finally, on June 18 Nevadans for Human Rights and the Gay Academic Union sponsored the first Gay PRIDE Dance in the Grand Ballroom of UNLV’s Moyer Student Union where more than 200 people were entertained by the band, Faces of Eve and comedian/magician Berry.