Denver’s PrideFest reacts to Orlando shooting

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DENVER -- For years, Denver's PrideFest has been a celebration of community and of differences.

“The reason for a gay pride celebration is to be visible as a community and to celebrate the civil rights victories of a community but also to remember the past struggles that we've had,” said Rex Fuller, vice president of communications for the GLBT Community Center of Colorado.

Past struggles coming again to light with the attack inside gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Fla.

“Not everybody is accepting of LGBT people,” Fuller said.

That is something organizers of next week’s gay pride events say they have to keep in mind, planning security to protect a massive crowd.

“We have had drills and continue to have drills on how to deal with potential situations with gun violence. It is a real concern,” Fuller said.

It’s also a concern for local LGBT hot spots.

“It’s just so sad this whole thing. You now it’s going to change the way we do things, it’s going to have to,” said Steven Alix, the owner of Denver’s X Bar, a gay club on Colfax Avenue.

For the first time, X Bar is thinking of hiring off-duty police officers to ensure safety during Pride Week.

“It's the busiest and obviously the most vulnerable,” Alix said.

For now, flamingos hang from the trees and roof. In the gay community, it's a sign of a safe space.

“Hopefully, that reassures them that we are doing everything we can to make this, continue to make this a safe place for people,” Alix said.

At Tracks nightclub near downtown Denver, off-duty officers always have a presence.

“We are very vigilant. We always have been. We have a 36-year track record of being a safe place to party, a safe place to be yourself and we're not going to let any bad guys change that here,” said Andrew Feinstein, managing partner of Tracks.

Owners of the longstanding gay club said when that safety is threatened is when the community really needs to come together.

“We have to celebrate or the bad guys win, it's as simple as that,” Feinstein said.

On Saturday, PrideFest will take place at Civic Center Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It's one of the largest festivals in Colorado.

Organizers said a fence will be set up around the perimeter for safety. Bags will be subject to search and no weapons are allowed inside the festival.

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