On Sunday, gay pride organization Philly Pride Presents held its 30th annual PrideDay celebration, bringing together diverse members of the LGBTQ community and their allies.
“It’s really hard being open and out in the Black community, so it’s a celebration I would say,” said 24-year-old Drexel student Paul Mims.
A parade launched at 11:30 a.m. from 13th and Locust streets in the Gayborhood and continued east until turning north on 7th Street. The route continued east on Market Street before eventually reaching Penn’s Landing, where comedian and musician Margaret Cho headlined six hours of entertainment at a festival.
The first gay pride parade in the United States was held in New York in 1970 to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of protests that started the gay rights movement. Philadelphia soon followed suit with a loosely organized Pride parade in 1988 that led to the creation of Philly Pride Presents’ annual June event.
More than 180 groups participated in Sunday’s parade. Riders from Philly Naked Bike Ride each had one letter painted on their bodies to spell out “Love is for everyone” as they pedaled along the route. Another parade goer carried a flag that read “We the People Means Everyone” with rainbow stripes on an American flag.
A steady rain began shortly before 2 p.m. and slowed to a drizzle before returning with more strength later in the afternoon. Several people took cover under the entrance to the 2nd Street Market-Frankford Line station until the rain subsided or withstood the elements with umbrellas and ponchos at Penn’s Landing.
Second-year law student Sarah Hibbert and Erin Richwine, who came to visit Hibbert from Lancaster County, didn’t watch the parade, but the duo spent about three hours at the festival, which started at noon.
“It was really cool,” said Hibbert, who attended her first Pride event in Philadelphia. “The rain was a little bit of a damper, but it was a really fun atmosphere, and I really enjoyed it.”
Even though Richwine doesn’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ community, she said she respects those who do.
“It’s great to see that everyone is comfortable in their own skin,” she added.
Jeffrey Clark, 2011 French alumnus, also attended his first Pride parade in Philadelphia. In the past two years, he celebrated Pride in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Clark started his day near 2nd and Market streets and wandered between there and 10th Street before heading to Penn’s Landing. For him, Pride is about “openness, being who you are and being cool with that and sharing that with other people.”
Richard Laboy, who works for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, spent part of his time at the festival at the table for CHOP Pride. According to its website, CHOP Pride is “an employee network that seeks to foster a positive work environment that supports employees, patients and patient families” who are LGBTQ and their allies.
Laboy, 34, estimates he has been to more than 30 pride parades since he was 17 years old. He said crowds have grown more diverse.
“Over the years, people have been feeling more included so it brings out all different people who identify as all different kinds of identities,” Laboy said.
Owen Conway, 46, has been going to Pride events for most of his adult life, most of which he spent in London before moving to Philadelphia three years ago. Even still, he said he continues learning about the LGBTQ community. Conway was unfamiliar with the transgender pride and androgyny pride flags before this weekend.
When Conway first started attending Pride events, he said, they were more of a political statement than a celebration.
“The way that the laws have changed and the culture has changed to allow gay people to sort of live their lives more openly and more fully, the need for Pride has gone away a little…from a political sense,” Conway said. “But there’s still battles to be won. There’s still prejudices to be overcome.”