In three weeks, PrideFest Milwaukee – the world's largest LGBTQ pride festival staffed entirely by volunteers – jump starts the summer festival season with a four-day weekend celebration of LGBTQ history and heritage with drinks, eats, burlesque, fire dancers, fashion and drag shows, local DJs, hip-hop, spoken word, stand-up comedy, magicians, mermaids, living statues, kids' events, Kiki balls, karaoke, adults-only merchants, workshops, film screenings, fitness activities and more.
High points of this year's lineup include Kim Petras, Greyson Chance, Dragapalooza! (featuring Trixie Mattel) and over 100 LGBTQ artists on eight stages.
The theme of this year's festival, "RISE!," honors the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, where LGBTQ liberation and pride began. The festival celebrates those who rose up against violence, discrimination and exclusion despite impossible odds. The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project, an education program of Milwaukee Pride, will showcase Stonewall's impact at the History Building.
"We recognize that today's pride movement was born from the resilience and resistance of yesterday's queer, trans and gender non-conforming people of color," says Michail Takach, vice president of communications. "PrideFest 2019 needs to be both a celebration of our past and a call to action for our future. Our national landscape is darkening. This is a time for local LGBTQ heroes to rise."
For nearly 20 years, guests and volunteers had to choose between attending the Milwaukee Pride Parade or attending PrideFest, so this year the festival will open at 4 p.m. on Sunday to allow the entire community to come together as one in Walker's Point for the parade.
"Our festival has evolved and grown the past few years," says Wes Shaver, president of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. "Although we successfully introduced Thursday programming last year, we've seen an ongoing decline in Sunday attendance. We chose to reduce Sunday hours to put our resources where they're most needed."
The 2nd Annual Ride with Pride, the nation's largest LGBTQ-themed motorcycle run, will take place on Saturday, June 8, featuring the first Bicycle Pride Ride & Rally.
PrideFest will host a free QTPOC Pride Social on Saturday, June 8, and memorial moments are scheduled throughout the weekend. To eliminate economic barriers for LGBTQ youth, the festival is donating 1,000 tickets to Wisconsin Gay-Straight Alliances. PrideFest has also introduced a Proud Pioneers discount for seniors aged 65 or older: admission is just $5 before 5 p.m. daily.
PrideFest's Plus One Campaign supports the UWM LGBT Resource Center. By adding $1 (or any dollar amount) to ticket purchases, festival visitors can support the next generation of local LGBTQ leadership. The award-winning Resource Center, producers of the Annual UWM Drag Show, provides comprehensive support to UWM students that drive inclusion, empowerment and community activism.
PrideFest Milwaukee 2019 is held at Henry W. Maier Festival Park. Tickets – including discounted 4-day passes and entertainment schedules – are available at pridefest.com.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.