Сolorado may be one of the most diverse and accepting states within the country, but believe it or not, not every major town has a place for the LGBTQ community to gather and converse.
For example, Boulder.
OUT FRONT Magazine’s Director of Sales and Marketing Ben Young is involved with an event movement called Queer Pop that works to fill the empty gap.
“Queer Pop is an extension of an event called Prop Gay that was held a couple years ago,” Young said. “Prop Gay was kind of taking its influence from the Prop 8 movement when that was a thing. Basically, the concept is having a rotating gay bar in Boulder, because they don’t have a gay bar up there. A bunch of businesses have tried to be queer-centric, but for various reasons, they just never really gained traction. So, this is a way for the community to have a space that rotates around these businesses that are popular venues throughout Boulder, popular for college students, tech innovators, and all the people who come into town. There are a wide variety of spots to hang out in in Boulder.”
Prop Gay began when a few different college friend networks and folks who were active in the Denver LGBTQ community but lived in Boulder kept witnessing every single LGBTQ bar and venture in Boulder fail.
Young moved to Boulder in 2013 and attended some of the events.
“When Prop Gay took hold, it became popular,” he said. “It was really the only way to kind of get to know any of the community in town. I went to a few of them, and I loved them.”
Unfortunately, Prop Gay fell off a bit and then went on a two-year hiatus.
“I recognized, when it fell away, how different it was to be a gay in Boulder,” Young said.
When Young started working for OUT FRONT earlier this year, he was excited to be working in Denver, but he noticed that there was still a lack of community in Boulder. So, he helped restart Prop Gay, which is now known as Queer Pop.
“As we look to fill our mission statement, we need to be a resource for the LGBTQ community in all of Colorado, not just Denver,” Young said. “Boulder is a great place to focus on, and that is why we wanted to kind of bring back this rotating bar concept. It really does start the conversation, and we want to get something consistent for everybody.”
There have been three Queer Pop events so far, and according to Young, they have all been a success.
“They have been very-well attended,” he said. “We have seen a bunch of people pack the bar for a couple hours, so it’s busy, busy, busy, and we have seen a couple folks passing through kind of seeing what’s up.”
Young hopes to make the last Friday of every month a Queer Pop event. Because of Boulder Pride, the next event is TBA, but in the past, Young has had a lot of success working with local businesses on the event.
Not only does Young believe that Queer Pop has been a benefit to the community overall, but he believes it has been a benefit to restarting the conversation, because it was such a popular series back then.
“This was such a great solution for the Boulder community back when it started,” Young said. “It makes so much sense for it to continue to exist and thrive today when the community is larger than it’s ever been.”
However, if the Boulder LGBTQ community continues to grow, then why do LGBTQ bars continue to flop?
“It’s an interesting question,” Young said. “Boulder is very progressive, very open and accepting, but within that, I think they don’t necessarily feel the need to provide a space for any one particular group. I mean, there are tons of spaces for tons of groups, just not gay people. I think there’s this thought that gay people belong everywhere in Boulder. As we know, gay people tend to flock, and they tend to feel power in numbers and tend to feel safe in numbers. So, there is no central gathering point for anybody. It becomes kind of disparate. Also, I think part of Boulder’s angle is the fact that it has so much variety in food, bars, and nightlife; I don’t think gay people feel they can make one bar their one stop unless it’s absolutely perfect.”
Young and everyone else involved with Queer Pop are dedicated to growing the Queer Pop distribution all over the state and are open to working with folks who are interested in their mission.
“I know there are a couple of businesses owners in Boulder that I have talked to already who want to help and contribute,” Young said. “These business owners are new and haven’t been personally invested in Queer Pop or Prop Gay in the past with the previous generation. They want to keep the program going. They recognize the fact that there is not really a whole lot of community in Boulder. There’s not really a whole lot of conversation taking place up there. So, if other people or business owners in Boulder want to help us grow our footprint, we would love to talk with them. If anybody is interested in being a Queer Pop partner, we would love to work with them. We just want to make sure that people know that we are here, and that we are dedicated to growing as more of a resource.”
For more information and Queer Pop event updates, like and follow OUT FRONT Magazine’s Facebook page.