Celebrating 20 years, this weekend's PrideFest '99 has a performance, lecture or event for everyone. Like other pride festivals nationwide, PrideFest commemorates the struggles of the gay-and-lesbian-rights movement while trying to increase awareness of current issues and hope for the future. This weekend will be a bustling anthill of activity: The actual festival is Saturday and Sunday, June 26 and 27, in Tower Grove Park, but other events held in conjunction with the festival can be found around the city.
Wednesday, June 23, the opening reception for the Art of Pride exhibit is held at the Grandel Theatre. This collection of works by local lesbian and gay artists is open to the public through Sunday and may also be viewed before or after one of the Gateway Men's Chorus' Pride Concerts at the theater, June 25-27. Music for Michael Mouse: An Evening of Song and Selected Readings fromTales of the City the show being presented by the chorus is a specially commissioned piece that weaves live acting and songs with readings and commentary by Tales author Armistead Maupin. Maupin will also serve as the grand marshal of the PrideFest parade and as keynote speaker at the festival on Sunday.
The weekend lineup of concerts at the Tower Grove festivities features several local bands and dance-club artist Ce Ce Peniston, performing throughout the day on Saturday. National acts Dave Hall and the Corridors, Two Point Zero and Kathy Sledge (of Sister Sledge), among others, appear on Sunday. Comics Sandra Vallis and Suzanne Westenhoefer perform, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday evening.
Showing support for their constituencies, both St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon and state Sen. William "Lacy" Clay will address the crowd. Clay, joined by members of the Privacy Rights Education Project, will discuss recently passed hate-crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation.
For specific times for all PrideFest concerts and activities, call 772-8888, or log on to www.pridesaintlouis.com.
James A. DuffySuzanne