Latino Gay Pride is Ready for its 7th Annual Celebration

The seven-year itch is a familiar term to many, whether it refers to relationships, business, or the title of the 1955 Marilyn Monroe film classic.
For Mario Canedo, who has run Kansas City’s Latino Gay Pride since it began in 2009, this term may be appropriate because it looks like this seventh year of the event might be his last year running it. Not for lack of enthusiasm — it’s just grown beyond what one person can do. “I need at least five people around me. But it’s not there,” Canedo said. “It’s too big for me. I can’t handle this myself.”
His work on Latino Gay Pride, which is Sept. 11-12, takes at least nine months of the year, he said, time that he takes in addition to his two other jobs. With a low budget, Canedo has still managed to hold a successful community event that can even bring in entertainers from other cities, along with local entertainers.
“I love what I’m doing,” he said. “But it seems like no one else has the commitment to say ‘Mario, I’m with you.’ I know people work, but I work, too.”
The festival was originally a Saturday picnic. Then, in 2014, it grew into a Friday night street blast in addition to the Saturday picnic and festival. Once again this year, it will be a two-day festival. It will also be part of a great weekend in Kansas City’s LGBT community with the annual AIDS Bicycle Cruise following Latino Gay Pride on Sunday, Sept. 13.
This year’s Latino Gay Pride has more entertainers than ever before. In addition to the local performers listed on the Latino Gay Pride schedule (Latino Gay Pride), DJ Tatiana, based in Denver, will perform Friday night and Jessica Wild, a former cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race, on Saturday.
The momentum of each additional year adds to Latino Gay Pride’s success. Canedo said he’s proud of how the community has responded, but there can always be more.
“I want to see more people from my community,” he said. “I will keep doing things smaller, but not Latino Gay Pride.”
Even though the 2014 Friday night street blast had good attendance, Canedo estimated that the crowd was less than 20 percent Latino and questioned whether Kansas City can support an event outside of the June Pride festival.
Canedo said that the fact that gay people and straight people are mixing more in Latino bars these days has also lessened the need for a Latino Gay Pride event. In the Kansas City gay bar circuit, there are typically more Latino nights at Sidekicks with Latino drag queen performances or the U Nights at Industry Video bar that draw more of a male crowd.
Canedo credits his friendship with former Show Me Pride LLC owner Rick Bumgardner with helping in the earlier years of Latino Gay Pride.
“What I heard from him was good advice. That’s why my Pride was successful. He said, ‘Mario, you have to go here, go there.’ He gave me direction on sponsors and good people,” he said.
Canedo works hard and plays hard when he can. He works two to three jobs at one time, with his main job being that of Latino outreach at the Good Samaritan Project. He also runs his own house-cleaning business and recently gave up doing radio for a Spanish-speaking radio station.
He said his interests these days involve creating more LGBT events in Kansas City outside of the annual June Pride festival or Latino Gay Pride. He gave the example of Northalsted Market Days, a highly successful gay street festival in Chicago, or Bear events around the country.
Canedo said he’s seen where the demographic of Latino Gay Pride has been younger and also a mix of Latino and Black people, but it still isn’t hitting all age groups.
“We need to tell the older people, how we can bring people together. I know people ‘our age’ who don’t go out anymore. It’s OK if you go to theater, that’s OK, but we need to bring all kinds of ages to Latino Gay Pride,” he said.
Outside of Latino Gay Pride, Canedo is involved with his partner of nine years, Hugo (see both of them in our cover photo for this issue). They are fitness enthusiasts, except for the month or two before Latino Gay Pride, when, Canedo said, the work gets in the way.
“I stopped doing it,” Canedo said with a laugh. “He does four days a week.”
Latino Gay Pride relies on sponsorship from Kansas City’s Human Rights Commission, Good Samaritan Project and other community groups doing outreach to the Latino community. Canedo said that for that reason, the Saturday festival does not serve alcohol, because it is not allowed in that venue or as a part of their sponsor requirements. That is one more reason why they added the party atmosphere of the Friday night street blast.
Canedo said, “This year, I think it’s going to be very simple. I say, ‘I don’t feel bad.’ Last year I was getting really sad

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