Philadelphia shows its Pride all summer long!
Pride season takes center stage in Philadelphia each summer, but the celebration and commemoration is bigger than ever in 2019. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, an event that jumpstarted the gay-rights revolution, a movement with strong Philadelphia roots. The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection joins cities across the world by marking the milestone with a jam-packed weekend of Pride events in mid-June, including the annual Philly Dyke March, a floating dance party on the Delaware River and the weekend’s main event, the PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival, debuting a Philadelphia Pioneers On The Road To Stonewall float.
The extended summer season sees a slew of international stars coming through town for live stage shows. Glam rocker Adam Lambert joins Queen for a night of music in South Philly, and lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby hits Philly on her first U.S. tour. Philadelphia also hosts America’s largestTrans Wellness Conference and Stonewall @ 50, a thoughtful exhibition of works by LGBTQ artists that recounts the Stonewall Riots and its impact a half century later. Here’s a look at what to expect from Philadelphia’s LGBTQ scene this summer:
Essential LGBTQ Pride Celebrations:
• Philadelphia Pioneers On The Road To Stonewall Float Creation – For four days at Cherry Street Pier, the public can observe final construction of the Philadelphia Pioneers On The Road To Stonewall float, a creation of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund. The float will appear in Pride parades in Philadelphia and New York City (for WorldPride) and at Philadelphia’s Salute to America Independence Day Parade. On June 8, the public is invited to write messages on ribbons that will be attached to the float. On now until June 8.
Pride Month Flag Raising – The Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs joins local community leaders to hoist the city’s eight-coloured equality flag at the northeast corner of City Hall. The gathering then moves across the street to LOVE Park for a mini block party featuring live entertainment and fellowship. June 6. phila.gov
• Philadelphia Pride Kick-Off Party – The start to Pride weekend is a rollicking block party in the heart of the Gayborhood. The night draws big crowds with outdoor food and drink booths, games and live performances. June 7. phillygaypride.org
• Philadelphia Dyke March – Dyke-identified people and allies hit the streets of Philadelphia with protest signs and raised voices calling for more visibility and equality for marginalized LGBTQ voices within the community. The march begins and ends at Louis I. Kahn Park, where a stage is set up for fired-up oration, live bands and gender-bending burlesque and drag performances. June 8. facebook.com/philadelphiadykemarch
• FairyDust: Gay Pride Boat Party – All aboard The Deck at the Moshulu for a floating dance party on the eve of the Pride Parade hosted by Boys of Summer and Toasted Walnut Bar and Kitchen. The bash features three decks, two DJs and a projected 1,000-plus attendees, all of whom are encouraged to don glitter, wings and anything rainbow hued. June 8. thedeckphilly.com
• Patti LuPone: Don’t Monkey with Broadway – The feisty, phenomenally talented two-time Tony winner brings her newest one-woman concert to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Through classic showtunes by Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Irving Berlin, LuPone tells the story of her love of and modern-day concerns for her beloved Broadway. The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus will back Lupone. June 9. kimmelcenter.org
• Philly Pride Run 5K & 1.5-Mile Fun Run – Runners can enjoy the Philly Pride parade route before the procession steps off via two courses. The 1.5-mile fun run follows the route exactly, ending at the festival at Penn’s Landing; the 5K loops back around to finish at the William Way LGBT Community Center in the Gayborhood. June 9. runtheday.com
• PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival – Philly’s annual Pride parade and festival marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. The day begins with the parade through Center City East, consisting of marching bands, floats bedecked with drag queens, dancers, youth groups and, in the case of the Philadelphia Pioneers On The Road To Stonewall float, early champions of LGBTQ rights. Penn’s Landing’s Festival Pier serves as the parade’s ending point and the party’s beginning, featuring live music and drag shows from a massive main stage, tons of vendor booths and some of the best rainbow-clad fashion this side of Oz. June 9.
• Citywide Rainbow Light Ups – For two nights, iconic Philadelphia landmarks glow rainbow colors. Spectators will notice the ultra-Instagrammable light displays after sundown on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the PECO Building and along Boathouse Row and North Broad Street. June 9 & 30.phila.gov
• Philadelphia Family Pride and Arts Festival – Mount Airy’s idyllic Lovett Library Park hosts a daytime affair marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots while celebrating local LGBTQ families. The day comes alive with live music, a picnic-style spread of food and drink, a display of locally made fine art and handcrafts and informational displays by a variety of organizations and nonprofits specific to LGBTQ parents and youth. June 22. philadelphiafamilypride.org
More Summer To-Dos:
• Be Gay, Throw Axes – South Philly’s ax-throwing center welcomes LGBTQers for a special Pride night. The event features competitions for throwers of all skill levels; a costume contest for best Pride, lumberjack, Viking and couple looks; and food and drink from nearby Chick’s Philly and Meduseld Meadery. June 6. burythehatchet.com
•Goddesses of GayBINGO! – The GayBINGO! season culminates at Rodeph Shalom with an homage to its fierce and kooky drag queen hosts. Attendees can enjoy the wig- and lash-filled spectacle while partaking in games of bingo for a good cause: All proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS service organization AIDS Fund Philly. June 22. aidsfundphilly.org/gaybingo
• Glamsino Royale: Goldfinger – Two floors of the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia transform into a Bond-worthy casino where guests sip cocktails, mingle with the fabulous bingo-verifying divas and flaunt their skills at a host of casino games. Giveaway opportunities abound, and the night’s proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS-fighting nonprofit Action Wellness. June 24. actionwellness.org
• District C: Balboa – International DJ and prolific diva remixer Tony Moran hits Concourse Dance Bar—the one with the massive ball pit—for a midweek dance party that serves as a thumping precursor to Philly’s Fourth of July festivities. Local DJ Stephen Durkin opens. July 3.distrktc.ticketspice.com
• Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference – The world’s largest free trans-specific health conference hits the Pennsylvania Convention Center with a three-day itinerary of workshops, panels, youth programming, social and networking mixers, and a dance party. All events are geared toward nurturing community and educating transgender folks and allies on issues of health and well-being.July 25-27. transphl.org
• Quiet No More: A Choral Celebration of Stonewall – LGBTQ crooners from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and ANNA Crusis Women’s Choir come together at International House for a poignant production that tells the story of Stonewall through song, poetry readings, photos and video. June 22.pgmc.org
• Hannah Gadsby: Douglas – How does out Tasmanian comedian Gadsby follow up the success of her raved-about recent Netflix special, Nanette? The answer lies in a mysterious dog named Douglas, who joins her on her first U.S. tour. June 23. kimmelcenter.org
• Wawa Welcome America – The annual Fourth of July concert, the finale of a six-day festival, is gayer than ever this year, with allies and powerhouse Grammy Award-winning divas Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor sharing headlining duties. Attendees can settle in for a night of wow-worthy vocals followed by an amazing fireworks show over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. July 4.welcomeamerica.com
• Katya – Kooky “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Katya comes to deep South Philly on her North American Help Me, I’m Dying comedy tour. The show promises a multimedia spectacle of song, video, dance and hilarious ramblings. July 30. 2300arena.com
• Queen + Adam Lambert – “American Idol” legend Adam Lambert joins even more legendary rockers Queen to breathe new life into the songs of the great and phenomenally talented Freddie Mercury. Touching down at the Wells Fargo Center, The Rhapsody Tour features infectious, fist-pumping anthems We Are the Champions, We Will Rock You and everyone’s favourite karaoke fail, Bohemian Rhapsody. August 3. wellsfargocenterphilly.com
• Civil Disobedience: Celebrating Queer Narratives – The Da Vinci Art Alliance and International House Philadelphia (IHP) team up on an exhibition honouring the 50th anniversary of Stonewall through art and cinema. The effort comprises a small gallery exhibition featuring a variety of art made by local creatives and a complementary series of films at IHP’s Lightbox Film Center. Through June 29. ihousephilly.org, davinciartalliance.org, lightboxfilmcenter.org
• Neon Daydream – Always provocative Philadelphia choreographer Gunnar Montana slips off his dancing shoes to host his first-ever exhibition as a visual artist. Happening two nights only at Washington Square West’s HOT•BED gallery, the show features 20 Pop Art-inspired paintings depicting artistic icons who have inspired Montana’s creativity, including Grace Jones, Marilyn Monroe and Wonder Woman. June 21-22. hotbedphilly.com
• Stonewall @ 50 – Fifty LGBTQ Philadelphia artists come together at the Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery for a multimedia exhibition that’s being called the largest of its kind in Philly history. The works commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and its far-reaching impact with an array of unique works, including video, sculpture, textiles, paintings and live performance.June 28-July 26. drexel.edu/pearlsteingallery
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.