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Tour/Brochure Companion: Pride History#

Hope will never be silent.” –Harvey Milk

You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all.” –James Baldwin

As long as gay people don’t have their rights all across America, there’s no reason for celebration.” –Marsha P. Johnson

We are powerful because we have survived.” –Audre Lorde

Start the Tour#

The locations on this suggested tour of LGBTQ+ history in Fort Collins are just a sampling of places that have been important to the community in the past as well as the present. The history of Fort Collins traditionally has been told without including the stories and contributions of LGBTQ+ people. But Fort Collins has always had LGBTQ+ community members who have lived, loved, and thrived here, raised families and built businesses and careers here, and also survived here despite widespread, legal discrimination and acts of violence for much of that history. Today, 4.6% of the population of Colorado self-identifies as LGBTQ+, ranking thirteenth among U.S. states. LGBTQ+ people are represented in every racial and ethnic category, religious, political, and cultural background, and across the full spectrum of gender identity. This short overview cannot do justice to those intersecting stories but sharing just a few of them using the lens of historic places and general historical trends helps to recognize a fuller continuum of people with diverse identities in Fort Collins.

Historic property types associated with LGBTQ+ history challenge and build upon the list of traditional categories of historic places such as residences of influential people and historic commercial districts. Cities around the nation are recognizing the historic significance of social halls and bars as places where queer people gathered to create community and identity, health and medical services, community organizing spaces, and sites where important but ephemeral activities such as marches, rallies, and celebrations occurred, even if they do not reflect that history in their physical space today. While a systematic review of historic LGBTQ+ places in Fort Collins is still in the future, these examples represent a preliminary list that begins to recognize that queer history is all around us.

1 - Library Park, Pride in the Park#

The first gay pride festival in Fort Collins, “Pride in the Park,” was held here in 2004. It was organized by the Lambda Community Center and approximately 400 people participated. The festival was later moved to Civic Center Park in 2007.

2 - Old Town Square - Freedom to Marry Rally#

In 2004, a crowd of 400 people gathered in Old Town Square for the Freedom to Marry Day Rally on February 28. The square has served as an important site for social justice gatherings and celebrations since it was converted to a pedestrian-only space in 1985.

3 - Choice City Shots, 124 Laporte Avenue#

This was the former site of a popular LGBTQ+ bar that was notable for its central Downtown location. It closed in 2013.

4 - Civic Center Park - Pride in the Park#

This is the current location of the annual “Pride in the Park” celebration, which has grown to an all-day event featuring food, local entertainment, games, and resource booths. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was canceled in 2020 and also will not be held in 2021.

5 - Larimer County Courthouse Offices, 200 W Oak St#

Following passage of the Colorado Civil Union Act in 2013, Larimer County issued the first civil union licenses here.

6 - Lambda Community Center, 149 W Oak St#

This former site of the Lambda Community Center was centrally located to provide accessible services for the LGBTQ+ community.

7 - Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St#

Thanks to the support of an ally on the City of Fort Collins staff, the LGBTQ+ community began holding community dances here in early 1980s. Rainbow Chorus concerts were held here starting in the 1990s.

8 - Lory Student Center & Pride, 1101 Center Ave#

Like many social justice initiatives in Fort Collins, formal community organizing and support services began through the efforts of the campus community. The first student organization, which had to meet in secret, formed in the early 1970s. The Pride Resource Group at CSU today (LSC Room 232) is an organization that provides a diverse array of programs and services to support the retention and thriving of LGBTQ+ students.

9 - R Bar, 107 E Laurel St#

Since it opened in 2015, this has been the only bar in Fort Collins that caters to the LGBTQ+ community.

10 - A Quiet Corner Bookstore, 803 E. Mulberry St.#

Bookstores have served as important places for the queer community to find resources, books, magazines, and information about community events that were not available elsewhere in the community. Pat Weisberg and Robin Leinwand made history when they opened Fort Collins’ first LGBTQ+ bookstore at this site in 1994.

11 - Northern Colorado Health Network, 400 Remington St.#

Formerly known as the Northern Colorado AIDS Project (NCAP), this community resource for people living with HIV has served the community since 1983.

Additional Sites#

These places are not on the tour circuit but are worthy of special mention, not only because of their special significance for LGBTQ+ history in Fort Collins but also because they are not widely understood as sites associated with the queer community.

  • Poudre Valley Hospital, 1024 S Lemay - Matthew Shepard died here on October 12, 1998. Matthew was an openly gay student attending the University of Wyoming in Laramie who was beaten by two men after being lured from an area bar. He was transported to Poudre Valley Hospital where he died on October 12. His death galvanized national support to end anti-gay hate crimes. If you choose to visit this site, work here, or travel past, we encourage you to pause and remember Mathew Shepard and all who have died as a result of anti-gay violence.

Bellvue Grange, 2015; photo courtesy of Meg Dunn.

  • Bellvue Grange, 2929 N County Road 23 - At the corner of County Road 23 and Rist Canyon Road in Bellvue, the Grange hosted some of the first LGBTQ+ community dances in Larimer County in the late 1970s. 

Places that matter and create a sense of belonging are developing every day in our community through the lived experiences of our residents. If you would like to mark places associated with your own stories about LGBTQ+ life in Northern Colorado, or anywhere else around the world, please share them at Queering the Map: