A LOOK AT DENVER LGBTQ HISTORY
Denver has long been a gathering place for people of all cultures. First were the high plains Native Americans who followed the buffalo herds and lived throughout the Front Range. When prospectors discovered gold in 1858, thousands of men (and a few women) crossed the Great Plains and settled in and around Denver. More than a third of the cowboys riding the cattle drives of this era were African-Americans, many of them freed slaves who migrated West after the Civil War. By the 1980s, Denver had been dubbed the gay oasis of the west. Gay men and women in the previous decade had organized and established themselves as a smart, cultured and politically active community.
Here are some moments of notice in LGBTQ history in Denver:
1973: Gay Coalition of Denver works with Denver's City Council to abolish anti-gay laws.
1974: Denver's first Pride celebration, a picnic in Cheesman Park.
1975: Denver's first official Pride Parade.
1982: The Colorado Gay Rodeo Association is formed. Soon after, Denver hosted its first rodeo.
1983: Denver's gay and lesbian community mobilizes to elect Federico Peña, Denver's first Latino mayor and executive ally to the community.
1990: Denver becomes one of the first municipalities in the nation to adopt an anti-discrimination policy including gay and lesbians.
1991: Denver voters supported the anti-discrimination policy despite opponents trying to overturn it at the ballot.
1994: Denver businessman Tim Gill creates the Gill Foundation, an organization to advance LGBT rights through charity and education.
2010: The GLBT Community Center of Colorado, the producer of PrideFest, adds a second day of festivities.
2012: Denver's PrideFest ranks third largest in the nation.
2013: Colorado adopts the Colorado Civil Union Act establishing relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
2014: Colorado legalizes same-sex marriage on October 7, 2014.
Audio Walking Tour of Denver LGBTQ History by AARP
Take a self-guided audio tour right on your smartphone to learn about Denver's LGBTQ history. Developed by AARP Colorado, and the GLBT Community Center, the GPS-led app will guide you through Denver’s LGBT landmarks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and along Colfax Avenue. The 10 point- tour includes Cheesman Park; Charlie’s, home of the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association; and Smiley’s Laundromat, a community landmark which generated intense debate about historic preservation and community identity. To access the tour, download the free Geotourist app on the Apple iTunes and Google Play app stores.