Twenty eight years ago the Southern Nevada Association of PRIDE, Inc. (SNAPI) was established in Nevada. Their mission: “To educate the community by invoking, promoting, and celebrating lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender pride.” SNAPI has been hosting PRIDE events ever since.
Las Vegas’s first gay PRIDE event was held in May, 1983. The celebration kicked off with a human rights seminar followed by a week’s worth of entertainment including shows, barbeques, dances, a trip to Lake Mead and more. The following month, the first Gay Pride Dance was held in the ballroom of the UNLV Student Union building and brought out 200 attendees.
Fast forward to May, 2009. That year, the Las Vegas PRIDE celebration brought out more than 10,000 festival attendees and the annual PRIDE Night Parade was broadcast live in its entirety on cable television for the first time in its history.
Now fast forward to August, 2011. For the first time in Nevada history, Pahrump will be host to a PRIDE event at the Saddle West Hotel & Casino on August 19th and 20th. To say this is historic is an understatement. Pahrump, with its nearly 40,000 residents is still an unincorporated town, making it the largest settlement in the United States. It is known for its conservative values and its brothels, quiet small-town family life and steadfast grip on the last remaining vestiges of the old wild-wild west. In fact, the town’s motto is “Heart of the New Old West”.
In 2006, the Pahrump town board voted in favor of an ordinance declaring English the official language of all business. It required the American flag to be displayed above any other flag and forbid the flying of foreign flags. It also forbade the granting of any benefits to any and all undocumented workers. That law was repealed in early 2007. Currently, residents in Pahrump are attempting to recall the Nye County assessor for racist and inflammatory remarks she made in public – and then defended.
New residents have to earn the community’s trust before they’re accepted as one of them. Long-time residents wear guns on their hips at PTA events and meet strangers at their property lines with shotgun in hand. When Sharron Angle ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 (against incumbent and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid) Pahrump residents voted for her by a margin of 3:1.
Still, the number of, growing from 5,000 same-sex couple households in 2000 to more than 9,000 in 2010. U.S. studies suggest that one in ten individuals is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT). With nearly 40,000 residents it would seem that including Pahrump in PRIDE is an idea whose time has come. The LGBT community will undoubtedly support the event. But, will they come out for it?
Christine Grevich, Director of Marketing for Saddle West Hotel & Casino said, “We are excited and enthusiastic about Pahrump Pride and looking forward to hosting it.”
Pahrump PRIDE has an ambitious schedule planned. The event kicks off Friday August 19th with a dance party beginning at 8:00 p.m. Festivities begin the next day at 11:00 a.m. and conclude with a final dance starting at 9:00 p.m. All events are free except for PRIDE Bingo which is $15 per person.
Assuming statistics hold true, Pahrump would have approximately 4,000 gay people in its community. With PRIDE, Pahrump has the opportunity to show its expanding embrace of civil and human rights. Let’s hope they do us proud.5 comments