This year, the annual SundayOUT! did not disappoint the LGBTQ community and allies in Philadelphia. The six hour event included a fashion show and a commitment ceremony.
The SundayOUT! event at the Piazza at Schmidts and Liberties Walk in Northern Liberties was a stark contrast to last year’s event.
Last year, participants and organizers wore ponchos and huddled under umbrellas to escape the rain at the usual Market Street location, and showed their appreciation for the largest 15th annual LGBTQ street festival in the region.
This year, however, LGBTQ citizens, tourists and allies experienced a change in venue and weather. Participants were greeted at The Piazza by the sun and 80-degree weather when they arrived to SundayOUT! the culminating event of an annual, week-long LGBTQ summit put together by the Equality Forum, the nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, whose mission is to “advance national and international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights through education.”
“It’s a great location, and Northern Liberties is the really new, chic urban place to go,” Equality Forum Communications Director Chip Alfred said. “It is more expensive now to have [SundayOUT!] in the city, so we were really looking for alternative locations where we could take the street festival to the next level.
“We looked at a couple of venues and we decided The Piazza was the best fit,” he added.
LGBT Philadelphians, tourists and allies swarmed the Northern Liberties locale, entering the Piazza and paying the first-time admissions fee to crowd the myriad of events at the stage, or walk around the festival and check out the vendors, which included but was not limited to the Human Rights Campaign and the Please Touch Museum, located in the family section of the festival.
The Temple University School of Medicine, who recently added an LGBT health elective as a result of a student initiative, was also present to offer health services.
“We did a joint program between Temple Medical School, [the Temple Dental School], Drexel’s medical school and the Mazzoni Center,” Temple medical and graduate student Jason Durant said. “Mazzoni provided us with most of the supplies and we had HIV testing, dental exams for two hours and gave away a lot of condoms.”
The National Same-Sex Commitment Ceremony, two fashion shows and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Cabaret, were among the major attractions at SundayOUT! this year.
The commitment ceremony brought a political theme to the street festival.
“SundayOUT! is going to be a fun day, but there is also going to be a strong civil rights message with this national same-sex commitment ceremony, which came to fruition after months of work on Project 1138,” Alfred said.
Equality forum started Project 1138, a website to get couples to register for the commitment ceremony, as a result of the 1,138 marital rights not afforded to same-sex couples.
“The whole point [of the commitment ceremony] is that same-sex couples are denied 1,138 federal marital benefits that opposite sex couples receive,” Alfred said. “Even if you are married in states where same-sex marriage is legal, you are still not entitled to those benefits.”
Alfred added that the more than 100 couples participating in the commitment ceremony were meant to create awareness that “[LGBTQ people] don’t deserve to be second class citizens, that we deserve all the rights and benefits and privileges that opposite sex couples have.”
Following the ceremony, two fashion shows took place, one from sex toys and costume store Passional Boutique and Delicious Boutique.
Manny Claudio, a model for Passional Boutique, sported metallic silver underwear and a triangular studded torso strap that exposed his chest. He enjoyed the new SundayOUT! venue.
“It’s a new frontier for the Equality Forum,” he said.
Models showing off the best of the edgy and classic Delicious Corsets collection rocked the runway to songs like Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ version of “I Love Rock’n’Roll.”
Brittany Williams, a high school senior from Delaware enjoyed the fashion show with her family.
“It was awesome and really well done,” she said. “It was [great] seeing all of these things and people.”
The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus took the stage after the fashion show, performing the ensemble called “Brotherly Love” with Rent-actor Anthony Rapp. The ensemble drew crowds to the stage.
The last hour included live music performances by artists such as Swedish pop singer Agnes and up-and-coming pop musicians Kristine Elezaj and Samantha Marq.
The day’s events ended just in time as grey clouds loomed over The Piazza at 6 p.m.
Josh Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.