/ Modified jun 17, 2023 2:48 p.m.

Pride celebrates in Bisbee

Bisbee Pride kicks off Friday and will run through Sunday

Bisbee Pride 1 Attendees of Bisbee Pride cross the street along the rainbow-chalk crosswalk. June 16, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News.

This story has been updated to reflect Gov. Hobbs' vetos of SB 1028 and SB 1030.

Pride month events kicked off in Cochise County Friday with the 19th annual Bisbee Pride. The event spans Friday-Sunday and features a parade, a market with vendors, drag shows, and events for kids.

Waves of rainbows were sprinkled throughout Old Bisbee: the crosswalks displayed chalk rainbows, pride flags hung from several of the shops and restaurants down Tombstone Canyon Road and attendees were adorned with rainbow attire, makeup, and merchandise.

Ramon Garcia, who’s been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bisbee Pride Inc. for seven years, said the event had nearly 6,000 attendees last year and he expects a similar number this year.

“Bisbee’s Pride Event is a community event. Everybody benefits from it,” said Garcia. “It’s a shot in the arm for an economy during what tends to be a very slow time in tourism … If it wasn’t for Bisbee Pride, some of these businesses — I’m not sure how they would sustain themselves throughout the summer.”

Garcia said that during his time as the president and CEO of Bisbee Pride, he has not received any hostility for hosting the event.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have never experienced outright hostility when it comes to Bisbee Pride,” said Garcia. “We have had protesters. But most of the protesters that we’ve had in Bisbee tend to be very civil and respectful of others around them.”

For Garcia, as a Bisbee native, giving back to the community is his main motivator in hosting pride.

“It is — to me — a community that’s always been accepting, tolerant of everybody,” Garcia said. “So kind of on a personal level, it’s kinda giving back to the community where I was able to be me, at all points in my life, and accepted and serve in leadership in the community. But more importantly, it gives people a safe space to gather, to celebrate their individuality. ”

But Arizona has become a hotspot for debates on LGBTQ rights. On May 22, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed Senate Bill 1001, which says that public and charter school teachers and school staff shall not address students under the age of 18 by any other name or pronoun other than the ones assigned to them at birth unless they have written consent from the student’s parents.

Since then, the Legislature passed two bills, Senate Bill 1028 and Senate Bill 1030, that limit where and when drag performances can happen. Both bills were sponsored by Republican Senator Anthony Kern. The initial version of SB 1028, said that a person shall not engage in an “adult cabaret performance” on public property or in a location where the performance could be viewed by a minor.

That version of the bill defines adult cabaret performances as one that features “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, drag performers, drag shows, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest or other similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not the performance is for consideration.”

SB 1028 has since been amended, to which the word “drag show” has been struck from the bill and replaced with "who provide entertainment in a sexually explicit manner."

SB 1030, asks the county board of supervisors to adopt zoning ordinances for the “regulation and use” of business licenses, including ones for establishments that host adult entertainment — which includes ones who host drag shows and performers.

Under this bill, the counties, “shall include regulation of the age and conduct of erotic entertainers in a manner at least as restrictive as rules adopted under title 4.”

Hobbs vetoed both bills on Friday afternoon.

Garcia said if these bills are signed into law, they’d have a profound effect on future pride events.

“We have a day stage, where it’s a free and open to the public stage where we have different types of entertainment — including drag entertainment,” Garcia said. “Which is actually, our most popular event, where we get the most attendees. And, It would just change the character of how we put on pride in Bisbee …”

“I think that some of these bills that are being put through at the legislative level are unnecessary,” Garcia continued. “They’re fear-based bills with no basis in fact.”

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