Outfest celebrates, advocates GLBT rights

NICHOLAS DEROOSE / IAN WATSON TTN Festival-goers dance at Outfest on Oct. 9.

Outfest attendees took to the streets of the Gayborhood Oct. 9.

Outfest 2011, a gay-pride celebration full of rainbow displays, erotic dancers and passionate attendees, held a prominent presence in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood on Sunday, Oct. 9.

“I think this year is bigger [than previous years], definitely,” University of Delaware freshman Matthew Diamond said. “The overall mood is better.”

DJ Maria V supplied music for the dance area, which was open to people of all ages–an elderly man held the crowd’s attention as he danced and willingly accepted dollar bills from voyeurs. Younger attendees joined him, merging all ages of the GLBT pride community in fun and celebration.

Many attendees wore their pride, sporting T-shirts with phrases such as “Likes boys” and “All the cool girls are lesbians.” Some even wore balloon hats made to resemble penises.

Entertainment at Outfest included performers from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts who performed an aerial routine. Mere feet away a mechanical bull drew the attention of many. A drag queen performed a saucy rendition of a Beyoncé song for an attentive crowd, and others strutted through the streets and posed for pictures. “This is the biggest and busiest [year] so far,” vendor Nicole Krecicki said.

Krecicki sold hand-stenciled, spray-painted clothing alongside her girlfriend Nicole Wiegand’s handmade jewelry from Night Owl Designs.   Although this was Krecicki’s fifth year at Outfest, it was the debut for T-shirt vendor Wilma Grand. Sixty years old, Grand started her company only three months ago when she lost her job of 20 years. Business being less than she expected didn’t deter Grand from appreciating the festival.

“I’m still enjoying the event,” Grand said.   Despite the festivities’ intended purpose, protesters congregated amidst attendees to offer their opinion of GLBT lifestyles.

One man claimed the festivalgoers were “parading their sins through the city of Philadelphia,” holding a microphone in one hand and a “Jesus saves from Hell” sign in the other. A woman scribbled on a piece of cardboard and stood next to him smiling, her sign reading: “F*** this dude and f*** religious hatred.”

“I feel like that doesn’t ruin the mood because [protestors] are at every [GLBT] event,” Krecicki said. “It gets part of the crowd fired up, but we’re so used to it.”

“I just walked by,” University of Delaware freshman John Rudy said. “I mean, it’s our whole lives.”

Regardless of protestors, Diamond and his boyfriend, Rudy said they enjoyed Outfest.

“I’m here with my boyfriend and I’m loving it,” Rudy said, holding Diamond’s hand.

Jenelle Janci can be reached at jenelle.janci@temple.edu.

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