Gay/LGBT Chicago entertainment news and lifestyle guide featuring dining and nightlife directories, local voices, travel, businesses, free personals, vip event access and photos

Pridefest to Celebrate 'Flags Across Key West'

Key West, FL — Internationally recognized as a top gay and lesbian vacation destination, Key West will honor its diversity with PrideFest Key West, scheduled for Saturday, June 3, though Sunday, June 11. The festival offers visitors and residents a chance to celebrate the freedom and openness inherent in Key West's lifestyle. 

Presented by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, PrideFest is to incorporate activities honoring gay and lesbian achievements, promoting tolerance and understanding, and providing a chance for fun and frolic in Key West's relaxed tropical atmosphere. The event schedule includes a performance by renowned lesbian comedian Vickie Shaw, tours of unique island homes, contests to select a Mr., Ms. and Miss PrideFest; dances and parties, a street fair, a gala Rainbow Tea Dance and a grand parade down Key West's famed Duval Street. 

PrideFest will begin with the Pride Follies, a gala talent performance that typically features glittering entertainment, elaborate sets and a variety of surprises. The show is to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at a location yet to be announced. 

Home tours are to follow on Sunday from 1-5 p.m., providing an insider's look at some of the most appealing houses and grounds in Key West. Tropical chic, island style and d├ęcor, and lushly landscaped gardens await tour participants - as does a warm welcome from community members. 

At 6 p.m. Monday, June 5, the Celebrating Achievements in Pride awards are to honor people who have expended special effort to enhance the community over the past year. Winners are determined by nominations from the general public and votes by a committee whose members represent gay-friendly local organizations. 

As well as an enjoyable party, the awards presentation offers PrideFest guests a chance to meet local achievers in equality. The event is to take place at the Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St. 

Mr. PrideFest, the gay man's answer to Mr. Universe, is to be chosen Tuesday evening at the Bourbon Street Pub, 724 Duval St. 

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, the Key West Business Guild, the United States' oldest gay and lesbian business organization, plans to hold a PrideFest mixer to welcome resident and visiting revelers. The gala is to take place at Island House, 1129 Fleming St. 

At 8 p.m. Wednesday, it's the ladies' turn to compete for a coveted crown. The Ms. PrideFest competition, billed as the lesbian answer to Miss America, is to take place at Aqua, 711 Duval St. 

The following night, the Miss PrideFest Contest, known as the southernmost drag beauty pageant, is scheduled to select the drag queen to reign over the festival. Miss PrideFest is to be chosen from a flock of lively lovelies Thursday, June 8, at Bobby's Monkey Bar, 900 Simonton St. The spectacle is virtually guaranteed to include high heels, teased tresses and delicious diva-wear. 

Crowds are to flock to Key West's legendary Duval Street Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, during the PrideFest Street Fair. Scheduled to take place in the 700 and 800 blocks, the street fair runs from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Attractions traditionally include live entertainment, arts, crafts, food and displays from local organizations. 

Friday also brings a fast-paced performance by comedian Vickie Shaw, whose laugh-a-minute shows address the trials and triumphs of being a woman, a mother and a lesbian in the contemporary world. Shaw has performed in nearly every state in America, earned repeated kudos for her La-la-pa-Lesbo Tour and her Sick & Wrong Tour, and headlined at a number of women's festivals and other venues. Sponsored by the Key West Business Guild, her performance is to begin at 7 p.m. at the Waterfront Playhouse adjacent to Mallory Square. 

Following Shaw's comedic high-jinks, bad boys and girls are to strut their stuff at a pair of rowdy revels set to begin at 8 p.m. The Bad Girls Party is set for Pearl's Rainbow, 525 United St., while the Bad Boys Party is to take place at Island House. 

The culmination of Key West's PrideFest 2006 is to be the Southernmost Pride Parade down Duval Street, scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 10. Everyone is invited to join the march - whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or transgendered - to celebrate Key West's exuberant diversity and longstanding atmosphere of acceptance. 

A Pride Ball is to take place immediately after the parade at Aqua. 

PrideFest revelers are to wind down - or rev it up one last time - at Sunday's Rainbow Tea Dance. Set for 4-7 p.m., the dance party is to take place at the island city's legendary La Te Da, 1125 Duval St. 

Key West's PrideFest serves as a fundraiser for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.pridefestkeywest.com or call the Gay and Lesbian Community Center at (305) 292-3223. 

For information about accommodations in Key West, visit www.gaykeywestfl.com or www.fla-keys.com