Friday, June 7, 2019
Start the weekend festivities with our Pride kick-off party, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., 12th and Locust Streets. Refreshments, food, amusements, and wristbands for the Festival discounted to $10. This is the only time you can purchase wristbands at the discounted rate. At the Festival and along the route the wristbands are $15.
Sunday, June 9, 2019 (and some history)
“The way you remember the past depends upon your hope for the future.” Story Musgrave
The first gay pride parade took place in New York City, June 28, 1970, to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots (June 28, 1969), considered to be the beginning of the LGBT civil rights movement. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and we are presenting a thumbnail history of them. By 1972, many cities, including Philadelphia, were staging gay pride parades and festivals.
Stonewall Riots and the Difference it made: There had been several examples of gay activism prior to the Stonewall riots, such as the Compton Riots and our own Annual Reminders at Independence Hall on five consecutive July 4th’s, but Stonewall was different because it changed things permanently. On June 28, 1969, there was yet another routine police raid on the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. Things were different this time because the crowd fought back. Events spiraled out of control with things being thrown at the police, who eventually had to barricade themselves in the Stonewall Inn for protection. A parking meter was uprooted and used as a battering ram to try to get to the police. The New York police had to dispatch their tactical patrol force to rescue the trapped officers and handle the crowd which grew to 500-600. Riots and civil unrest continued for several days. A week later, the New Yorkers who attended our local Annual Reminders on July 4 received death threats and had to have a police escort to and from Philadelphia. The Gay Liberation Front was formed and Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago. These were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history.
Local Pride History: Philadelphia was one of the first cities with a gay pride parade, in 1972. They continued until 1976 at which time the parades stopped but other gatherings continued. From 1977 to 1987, there were no gay parades in Philadelphia. In 1988, there was a spontaneous parade from the gayborhood to a rally sponsored by the Lesbian and Gay Task Force in Love Park. This parade was so successful that community leaders got together to establish an organization that would coordinate a gay pride parade and festival in Philadelphia every June. That organization is Philly Pride Presents, and last year (2018) we celebrated our 30th PrideDay.
We grow every year, but there have been ebbs and flows along the way. In the mid-1990’s, it was not even a certainty that the Philadelphia Gay Pride organization would continue as it was mired in debt and other organizations and events mounted competition and diverted crucial funds. Changes in leadership on the board, renewed determination, and some hard decisions (such as to charge admission for the Festival) finally changed the trajectory of the organization. Philly Pride was able to settle its debt and gradually secured the financial ability to hire its Executive Director. Because we also organize OutFest in October, having an Executive Director avoided “reinventing the wheel” twice a year. And, although the event becomes increasingly expensive every year, we have drawn a line at the $15.00 admission price for Penn’s Landing least some of our community become priced out. We also have avoided the methods of other gay pride organizations by moving their headliners and main entertainers to a separate location where a substantial ticket price can be charged while still touting a cheap admission price for the festival. All our entertainers perform at the Great Plaza, which is why the $15 admission is a great bargain.
The parade used to begin at Rittenhouse Square but the current LGBT Pride Parade and Festival begins in the heart of the Gayborhood at 13th and Locust (11:00) and proceeds along a 1.5 mile route through Center City and Philadelphia’s historic district. The judging stand is at Independence Mall, 6th and Market Street. The parade terminates at the Festival location at the Great Plaza of Penn’s Landing, the best pride festival location in the country. Future planned changes at Penn’s Landing are disconcerting but out of our control. Although the parade turns down Front Street and crosses I-95 via Chestnut Street, there are several ways into Penn’s Landing via the Market Street and Walnut Street overpasses. The lines at the admission booths on Chestnut Street grow every year despite our hectic efforts to pre-sell wristbands and sell them along the parade route. Keep an eye out for our volunteers selling wristbands, they will save you time and grief in getting into the festival
The parade starts at 11:00 a.m at 13th and Locust Streets. The festival gates open at Noon at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. The Parade reaches the Festival location at approx. 1:00pm
Dealing with the crowds entering the Great Plaza
There is always a crush to buy wristbands as the parade starts to arrive at the Great Plaza festival location. The staircase leading from the Market Street over pass to the parking lot below has been reopened with a ramp and leads to the North gate along the river where crowds may be thinner. Things will get sufficiently more complicated as all parade goers descend on the main gates to Penn’s Landing. Helpful hints are to use the south entrance by the Seaport Museum or purchase your wristbands from the coordinators and volunteers that sell them at parade formation, along the route, and at 2nd and Market Streets. You can also purchase your wristbands at a reduced $10 rate at the block party on Friday, June 7.
There is a $15 cover charge to help fund the event, pay entertainers, cover site rental, and provide seed money for Outfest in October. Where can you get 6 hours of entertainment and 150 vendors and community groups for such a low price? Remember you can purchase the wristbands at the discounted price of $10 at our Friday pre-party. You will be able to purchase wristbands along the parade route for the same $15 price as at the festival gates. Avoid the lines at the Festival site by getting your wristbands early.