Outfest celebrations will be from noon to 6:00 p.m. Oct. 9 throughout the Gayborhood from 11th to 13th streets and Walnut to Spruce streets.
Whether one is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or just a proud supporter of the GLBT community–Philadelphians can take advantage of Outfest, the world’s largest “coming out” event, happening Sun., Oct. 9.
As part of National Coming Out Week celebrations being held Oct. 11-17, Outfest is a colorful block party in Philly’s Gayborhood, from 11th to 13th streets and Walnut to Spruce streets. The event will showcase the gay and lesbian businesses, bars and restaurants in Washington Square West. Outfest will be held from noon to 6 p.m.
“[Outfest] gives people an opportunity to come out of the closet and be around thousands of other [GLBT] people,” executive director of Philly Pride Presents, Franny Price, said. This group organizes Outfest, the PrideDay Parade and Festival and other Philadelphia pride events.
Outfest was inspired by the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 11, 1987. Created by Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary, Outfest celebrates coming out in defense to anti-gay actions. In order to showcase the vibrant GLBT community in Philadelphia, Eichberg and O’Leary scheduled a block party. The celebration expanded to what is now Outfest.
“It’s about coming out,” Price said. “It’s a celebration that just grew and grew and grew.”
Outfest has no shortage of creative attractions, offering everything from a flea market and high-heel race to the “infamous” penis bagel eating contest.
“The mechanical bull is a big draw,” Price said.
Twelfth and Spruce streets will be host to a dance area, and 25 vendors will line the blocks. A health area will be available for those interested in STD screening and anonymous HIV testing. Breast exams and chest x-rays will also be available.
Outfest is also family friendly–a children’s zone is offered, as well as a pet zone.
The main stage located at 13th and Locust streets will have continuous entertainment. According to Philly Pride’s website, Mayor Michael Nutter will be speaking from the main stage. Forty-thousand attendees are expected.
Outfest 2011 has several new attractions. The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts will be performing, and a historic marker dedication will take place at Giovanni’s Room.
Giovanni’s Room is the country’s oldest gay and lesbian bookstore, founded in 1973. The dedication will be at 2:30 p.m. at 345 S. 12th St. Giovanni’s Room is the recipient of the 2011 Gilbert Baker National Out Proud Award.
Jenelle Janci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.