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(Editor’s note: We are told that there were pride celebrations and parades before the 2013 event, but this story focuses on the first organized pride celebration that continues to this day).
While the pride celebration is relatively young, it has grown to encompass a week or so of events, including a parade, a block party and a drag derby.
The first pride celebration was held in Puerto Vallarta in 2013, with organizers – mainly local business leaders – determined to make it happen. The planning group included Bill Hevener, representing then BuenFlex Clothing; Oscar Moran, with Villa Mercedes Petit Hotel; Daniel Gomez, from Mijo Brands; Tim Wilson, with GAYPV Magazine; Roger Dubois, Tropicasa Realty; Armando Sanchez, Palmera Vacations; Gaby Escandon, Komunikas; George Dows, from what was Stonewall Bar; Paul Crist from Hotel Mercurio, Don Pickens from Casa Cupula and Ed Thomas of SETAC.
According to an article from GayPV Magazine (GayPV Pride Guide 2015) “ACT LGBT A.C. was formed by a group of concerned business owners looking for new ways to promote Puerto Vallarta worldwide. Although first working under a different name, the group was founded by Laura Gelezunas of Media Diva International, Tim Wilson of GAYPV Magazine, Daniel Gomez of Mijo! Brands, Oscar Moran of RHOM Design and Bill Hevener of BuenFlex Clothing. At a second meeting, the committee added Christian Serrano of Gay Vallarta Bar-Hopping. From those initial meetings two ideas were born: The need to create a gay business association and to sponsor a Gay Pride event in Puerto Vallarta. The group recognized that the business community at large would not take the LGBT business community seriously until there was an organized legal association. Since the community had been unable to come together without conflict in the past, the group decided to hold monthly meetings on what was happening in and around the business development community in Puerto Vallarta. This Group was called GEGPV.
The first meeting was held at Almar Resort Luxury All Suites & Spa on March 4th, 2013. At that meeting volunteers were solicited to form the first Vallarta Pride Committee. Concerned about possible conflict within the community, the Pride Committee was separated from the business association to fundion under the name of DFEC (Diversity Fests Events Committee) although the steering committees had shared members. After the second meeting, luncheon and networking components were added. It was realized that there was a need and intrinsic value in just are-ating time to talk to one another. This time ultimately proved to be deemed highly valuable and very useful to the members. The committee continued to listen to feedback to continue improving on what it could provide to the community.
The first committee meeting for Pride occurred on March 28th, 2013 at the SETAC offices. After a tremendous amount of work by the Pride Steering Committee, the first pride weekend was held in Puerto Vallarta from May 24th to 26th, 2013. Subsequently, ACT LGBT A.C. has been continuing its monthly luncheons and continues in its goal of providing a solid and permanent LGBT Business Association.”
The group was assisted by Blaire Osborne, Alfonso Davalos, Edgar Sanchez, Alain Chalut, Carlos de Niz (Karla Fifi) and Tom Luis from Bar Frida.
The first Puerto Vallarta Pride celebration was held May 24-26, 2013.
Tim Wilson, owner of Gay PV Magazine, said the organizing committee selected the month of May for several reasons.
“We wanted to extend the busy travel season in Puerto Vallarta – which for many years began to end after Semana Santa in April,” he explained “May was the group’s decision because the weather is still great and the summer rains have not started”
He also said that the committee recognized that Vallarta did not need to compete with the pride events in June – namely Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Casa Cupula hosted the first event for Vallarta Pride in 2013 that featured local drag star Diva Divine and a show by Broadway Bares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Other events included a Saturday same-sex commitment ceremony at Sapphire Beach Club and fashion show at Blue Chairs followed by a pride parade and block party in Lazaro Cardenas park.
The recent 2023 Pride celebration was perhaps one of the largest ever, with the theme of “Be Proud of your Nature” it included the first ever Miss Vallarta Pride pageant; a 5 K Race, a Queer Ball, the annual Block Party, Pride Parade and the Drag Derby. It also included a special Benito Santos & Mosma Moda Fashion Show which was held on the iconic pier.