Boise & Garden City

Boise Pridefest lights Capitol, celebrates Idaho LGBT residents

Here's what it's like to walk in a Boise Pride Parade

Take a walk underneath the rainbow flag during the Boise Pridefest Pride Parade 2015.
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Take a walk underneath the rainbow flag during the Boise Pridefest Pride Parade 2015.

Boise Pride is at once poignant, defiant and celebratory.

It is still legal to fire someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Idaho. It is still legal to deny someone housing for being LGBT in Idaho. In Idaho, if you are abused, beaten, harassed or killed for being LGBT, state law has no provision to charge the aggressor with a hate crime. (Federal law is a bit different.)

Idaho’s LGBT community regularly demonstrates its identity proudly. After the killing of 49 people in a gay club in Orlando, Idaho groups came together in mourning. Earlier this year, Steven Nelson, a gay Idaho man, was beaten to death. He too was mourned at vigils and rallies across the state.

After such recent tragedies, the LGBT community is now taking time to celebrate.

The big events begin Friday night. Though Idaho Statehouse officials said they had technical difficulties making the Capitol bright with rainbow colors, Boise Pridefest officials managed to bring their own lights and make it work, said Rodney Busbee, Boise Pridefest director.

The Capitol will be lit Friday and Saturday in rainbow colors.

“We're so excited,” Busbee said.

Zions Bank, one of the sponsors of Pridefest, will also have rainbows lighting up part of its Boise building Friday and Saturday night.

Extra security

Plainclothes officers, uniformed police officers and additional security will be assisting at the Lucky Dog Tavern (where there will be multiple Pride parties), and at all Pridefest events, including the rally and parade Saturday, Busbee said. The events in Orlando prompted the Pridefest committee to amp up security, he said.

“We all protect each other when it comes time to do it,” Busbee said.

The amped up security also means the Boise Pridefest committee went way over budget, he said. Anyone who wants to donate or help can go to the organization’s website.

The main events

Busbee encouraged folks to start off the weekend Friday at the Pridefest Kickoff Party at the Lucky Dog Tavern, starting 9 p.m. with a $10 cover. Thea Austin and Neon Hitch will perform.

A rally on the Capitol steps will start the events Saturday at 11 a.m.

Then, of course, the parade.

The annual Boise Pridefest Parade will start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of 5th and Jefferson streets. Nearly 40 groups are participating in the parade, and Busbee said attendees should anticipate some fun surprises.

The Pride Festival will go from noon to about 4 p.m. at Capitol Park and feature several musicians.

“I can't wait to see the outpouring and to see the community come together,” Busbee said.

Busbee said that during the events, there will be calls for action from Idaho lawmakers.

“It’s time for the legislators to add the four words and show Idaho that they also are behind us,” he said about the push to include LGBT people in the state’s Human Rights Act.

Erin Fenner: 208-377-6207, @erinfenner