Remember the rainbow flags that festooned Center City’s flagpoles in 2002?
That was the work of the Equality Forum, whose festival runs from April 26 to May 4 this year. Everyone is invited to some of Philadelphia’s most exciting venues for events celebrating the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community of the region and the world.
The festival kicks off with “Pure: The Works of David Hillard and Ryan McGinley,” a photography exhibit that runs from April 26 to May 1 at the University of the Arts.
On April 27 the Prince Music Theater will host two programs focused on political and religious issues surrounding gay life.
The 5th Annual International Family Values Panel will discuss non-heterosexual marriage and family life, while the 7th Annual International Religious Colloquy will feature a discussion with Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Islamic leaders about faith, religion and the GLBT community.
But the Equality Forum is more than exhibits and discussion programs.
“When I think of college, I think of partying,” said Alisha Simons, the Communications Associate for the Equality Forum.
Seven parties are scheduled for this year’s celebration. The highlights include “Jet Set” at Shampoo on April 30, “Liberation” at the Trocadero on May 1, featuring DJ Mark Anthony of Montreal and “Girl Fever” at Sisters with DJ Eve Falcon from L.A.
On May 1, Chumley and Carlotta’s May-Day! May-Day! City and River tour offers the snarkiest sightseeing tour of Philly ever done from the confines of a vintage amphibian vehicle. In the evening, the barbecue gets fired up in Kahn Park, the heart of Philly’s “gayborhood,” with music from Q102 and appearances by Canadian drag troupe The B-Girlz, actor Robert Grant from Queer as Folk and others.
The award-winning musical, “Zanna Don’t!” will premiere at The Kimmel Center on April 30. This Xanadu spoof tackles the issue of gay marriage with a humorous fairytale treatment.
The last day of the fest, May 4, will feature “SundayOut,” a block party on 12th & Locust streets. Featuring food, entertainment, crafts and vendors, the block party will be a place to socialize and relax. This year’s featured nation is Canada.
“Differences between the U.S. and Canada, regarding the GLBT community, are explored through this aspect of Equality Forum,” Simons said.
A Canadian delegation including government officials, entertainers and Canada’s first married gay couple will be participating in events throughout the festival. The former Attorney General of Canada, Michael Cauchon, will be awarded the 2004 Tom Stoddard Role Model award in for his support of gay marriage in Canada.
The Equality Forum began in Philadelphia as PrideFest Philadelphia and was founded by Malcolm Lazin. In 1999, the name changed to PrideFest America and expanded from a weekend event to a seven-day festival.
In 2003, PrideFest America became the Equality Forum to “reflect a broader mission and international scope,” according to their Web site. In 2003, Germany became the festival’s first Featured Nation.
For more information check out the Equality Forum Web site at www.equalityforum.com or call (215) 732-3378.
Carrie Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org