Confetti seemed to fall from the sky above Locust Street as rainbow flags twirled through the air in the hands of drag queens.
Behind them, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus serenaded the crowd with a cover of The B-52s’ “Love Shack” while aboard a parade float covered in pink balloons.
The scene was just one of many at the annual Philadelphia Pride parade on June 9. The parade lured about 25,000 people to the city’s Gayborhood from 11th and Broad Street to Chestnut and Pine Street, to Penn’s Landing to celebrate gay history.
This year, the parade’s theme was “Stonewall 50,” honoring the 50th anniversary of the demonstration at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 in New York City, where attendants retaliated against a police raid of the nightclub.
The riot is noted as a major change in the gay rights movement.
Companies like Citizens Bank, MAC Cosmetics and PetSmart all marched in the parade on Sunday, carrying rainbow banners and posters. Companies were followed by smaller groups like Philly Roller Derby and the Walnut Street Theatre’s cast of “Legally Blonde,” which runs until July 21.
Adam Mandala, a 2016 theater alumnus who is in the ensemble of “Legally Blonde,” said LGBTQ pride is a celebration of acceptance and individuality.
“It’s important to just remember all the people and everyone who is here today,” she said. “To see all the brave people that have come out over the years and how far we’ve come and to celebrate who you are, your individuality and being different.”
Lizzy Miller, a senior musical theater major, attended the parade in support of her LGBTQ castmates.
Other organizations used the parade to convey political messages.
The Philadelphia chapter of Refuse Fascism walked in the parade with signs reading “The Nightmare Must End; Trump/Pence Must Go” while shouting “Stonewall was a riot, we won’t be quiet” through a megaphone.
Miriam Oppenheimer, an English professor at Temple, walked with the organization and handed out flyers to parade goers.
“2020 is too late,” she said. “For the environment, for civil rights and the rest of the bad things, Trump and Pence have done lately.”
Sean Thompson, a 2008 theater alumnus who stars as “Warner” in “Legally Blonde,” said pride is the perfect way to speak out against President Donald Trump’s administration that doesn’t believe in civil rights for the LGBTQ community.
“Our rights and our lives are being threatened by this administration,” he said. “We want to show this administration, use our political power as citizens, to say ‘we are here, we do have rights, and we’re not going anywhere.’”
Thompson added that celebrating gay pride is especially important this month after Trump rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to raise rainbow flags this month, NBC.com reported.
Nick Brown, a 2018 theater alumnus and “Legally Blonde” castmember, feels LGBTQ pride stands as a call for visibility in a city that could be more open and accepting.
“Not everywhere is as open and friendly as the gayborhood,” Brown said. “I might not feel comfortable walking around in my crop top and rainbow socks in other areas, so it’s great to have pride to spread the message of acceptance and visibility.”
He added that he believes pride boosts gay visibility in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, and its all-inclusive nature can support a city that calls is nicknamed “The City of Brotherly Love.”
“It’s an important message of acceptance for everyone, regardless of your orientation, sexual identity, color, background, age, or your life situation,” Brown said. “It’s just an open message of acceptance and life.”
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