Despite bad weather on opening night, a total of 26,112 people attended PrideFest Milwaukee 2011, held June 10-12. Although the number was shy of last year’s record tally of 30,829, organizers were happy with their 24th event.
“You know, it’s hard to be upset, when you see so many people having such a great time. Rain or shine, we are grateful to a community that comes out in support of diversity and celebration,” said PrideFest president Scott Gunkel.
The weekend got off to a rousing, if rainy, start with an announcement by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele that he would work with the County Board to extend employment benefits to the partners of county workers.
The opening evening’s headliner was Academy Award-winning entertainer Mo’Nique, who gave an inspirational performance during which she talked about buying dresses for one of her 5-year-old twin sons who requested “something pretty to wear.”
Rap act Salt-N-Pepa headlined Saturday night, and Sunday night featured the festival’s first-ever country music headliners. Chely Wright, the first country music entertainer to come out publicly as a lesbian, opened for LeAnn Rimes.
Rimes told the crowd she was honored that PrideFest Milwaukee had chosen her for its first country outing. Expressing love and gratitude to the crowd, she said, “We all have hearts. We should be able to love who we want to love.”
Rounding out the weekend, the Milwaukee Pride Parade traveled a route along 2nd Street Sunday afternoon. More than 50 floats participated.
– L.W., Photos: Dawn Bloomfield and Kate Sherry