Last year, as the fifth annual Latino Gay Pride Festival was winding down in Hyde Park, the event’s founder and organizer, Mario Canedo, stepped on the stage, took the microphone and made an emotional speech.
He recalls: “I was crying at this point and said, ‘It’s time for me to say goodbye. I can’t do another festival. It’s too much hard work to produce this thing, to build it up every year.’ I was angry, exhausted — done.”
Canedo, who has always mounted the festival without a committee or many volunteers, was angry that five local drag performers had canceled at the last minute, leaving him with few acts to fill the one-day event’s rented stage. Canedo played recorded music instead, and other performers added encores to their sets. The show went on. And Canedo soon changed his mind.
“Everyone was having such a good time, and so many people asked me not to quit,” he tells me. “So I agreed to keep doing it.”
He also increased the festival’s scale. For the first time since Canedo started the event, in 2009 — 25 people showed up that first year, and 600 came last year — the festival is a two-day party. Friday night marks an adults-only street fair in Westport, with alcohol for sale and a national headliner, Jujubee, the Laotian-born veteran of RuPaul’s Drag Race