Hampton Roads Pride welcomes the LGBT community, its supporters and all of Hampton Roads and beyond to the 2016 PrideFest June 18 in downtown Norfolk.
The popular festival, with its “Love Unites” theme, will host two international headliners, pop sensation Betty Who and country singer Billy Gilman. Military music, family fun and LGBTQ history activities, the nation’s only Pride Boat Parade and other events will fill the day in Norfolk’s Town Point Park.
“PrideFest 2016 is shaping up to be the largest and most impactful LGBT community event Hampton Roads has ever seen,” said Michael Berlucchi, president of Hampton Roads Pride. “The festival and surrounding events are meant to raise visibility around our region’s LGBT and allied communities. It also gives us a chance to celebrate what makes us special and unique.”
Pride Week begins June 11 with a week of related activities (see schedule below) that includes a glass-blowing demonstration, gallery talk, interfaith service, and two social networking events. The weekend kicks off with the huge Fifth Annual Pride Block Party June 17 in Norfolk Scope Arena.
Now in its 28th year, PrideFest joins other LGBT festivals taking place during June, which is Pride Month, and is Norfolk’s largest one-day festival. Popular club performer Mercedes Douglas is this year’s Grand Marshal, and the Pride Stage emcees will be headed up by WTKR News Anchor Blaine Stewart. Among the honorary guests attending will be state senators and representatives, Hampton Roads mayors and council members.
Joining the flotilla of flag-draped boats in the Pride Boat Parade that begins the day will be the American Rover and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel. The festival will feature appearances and performances by the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard, U.S. Army TRADOC Band’s “Shore Groove” rock band, Hampton Roads Pride Mass Choir, Teens with a Purpose, Miss Models Inc., Virginia Opera and Todd Rosenlieb Dance. Club Stage will showcase local DJs and club performers throughout the day.
A family fun area will offer acrobats, face-painting and the Silent Disco, where listeners can tap into three different music tracks on multiple headsets. Pieces of the AIDS quilt will be on display, and the Hampton Roads Pride area will offer a local history tour. American Sign Language interpreters will be on hand for Pride Stage events.
This year, PrideFest will award three student scholarships, one named in honor of slain Bangladeshi activist Xulhaz Mannan (below).
“Across the country, LGBT people are experiencing unprecedented social and political successes,” said Berlucchi. “Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made, we also know that we have a long way to go before we achieve full equality. PrideFest organizes our community in an effort to advance that goal.”
2016 PrideFest principal sponsors include Decorum Furniture, Newport News Shipbuilding and WHRO with additional main support from Distinctive Event Rentals, Visit Norfolk and others.
Betty Who’s high-energy dance style and poignant lyrics have made the Australian-born singer a favorite among the LGBT community. She’ll perform “Somebody Loves You” and other songs from her RCA Records release, “Take Me When You Go.”
Billy Gilman had a million-selling album at age 12, making him the youngest singer to have a Top 40 hit on the country music charts. Now in his late 20s, Gilman made headlines two years ago when he announced he was gay in an emotional YouTube video.
Pride Week schedule
Saturday, June 11
Fired Up! For PrideFest. Noon. Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, 745 Duke St., Norfolk. Pride-themed glass-blowing demonstration. Free.
Special Gallery Talk: LGBT. 2 p.m. Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, Norfolk. Join Chief Curator Emeritus Jeff Harrison for a tour of LGBT-themed art in the museum collection. Free.
Tuesday, June 14
Interfaith Celebration. 7 p.m. Temple Ohef Sholom, 530 Raleigh Ave., Norfolk. Sponsored by the LGBTQSI Inter-Faith Group. Free.
Wednesday, June 15
Party on the Peninsula. 5 to 7 p.m. Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel, 700 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton. This rain or shine event features a live band. Free.
Thursday, June 16
The Dandy Shandy. 6 p.m. O’Connor Brewing Co., 211 W. 24th St., Norfolk. Sponsored with the Hampton Roads Business OUTReach networking group, the evening will feature a signature Pride brew, 8 p.m. drag show, food trucks and more. Free.
Friday, June 17
Pride Block Party. 7 p.m. to midnight. Norfolk Scope Arena. 201 E. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk. Featuring DJ Tezrah, craft cocktails and more. Open to all (age 21 and up to drink). $10 donation at the door.
Saturday, June 18
PrideFest. Noon to 7 p.m. Town Point Park, downtown Norfolk. Featuring musical performances by Betty Who, Billy Gilman and others. Plus Pride Boat Parade, Club Stage with local DJs and club performers, Family Fun area, and Hampton Roads’ LGBT History Exhibit. Free.
Sunday, June 19
“Drag Yourself to the Beach.” 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. 620 19th St., Virginia Beach. Sunday Drag Brunch. Reservations needed, 757-428-5444 or online at www.dragyourselftobrunch.com.
More information is available online here.