Rain not much of a damper on Trans* March, OutFest

RALLY CALL: Despite a chilly rain, more than 100 supporters turned out for the sixth-annual Philadelphia Trans* March Oct. 8. Before heading to the march through Center City, the crowd heard from speakers such as Nikki López, executive director of GALAEI, whose Trans-Health Information Project organized the event. Photo: Scott A. Drake

A steady drizzle Saturday afternoon and wind gusts reaching 30 miles per hour Sunday morning in Philadelphia didn’t deter people from participating in a full weekend of LGBT activities.

More than 100 people gathered Oct. 8 near City Hall for the sixth-annual Trans* March, organized by the TransHealth Information Project at GALAEI, a queer Latinx social-justice organization.

“We want to make sure that every building, every neighbor, every person on the sidewalk knows that we are marching for trans lives because trans lives matter,” said Nikki López, executive director of GALAEI.

She encouraged folks to hashtag the march on social media to share the work with an even wider audience.

Later, López said, “I want to hear your voices powerful because we are a resilient community. Our history is resilient, and if it was not for black and brown trans women there would be no LGBTQ-rights movement.”

The march also featured a new song by Grammy-nominated artist Andra Day called “Rise Up,” which represented this year’s theme.

After a stormy morning Oct. 9, the sun came out for OutFest in the late afternoon. Attendance appeared only slightly lower than average.

The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office debuted the design for an LGBT-themed badge at the event. It includes the colors of the rainbow flag and the trans pride flag. People could take stickers with the badge design on them.

Aneesah Smith, a co-chair of the Philadelphia host committee for Creating Change, walked around OutFest throughout the day to recruit volunteers for the conference sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force. Creating Change comes to Philadelphia Jan. 18-22. Those who volunteer can get access to some workshops for free. To get involved, visit www.creatingchange.org or email Smith at [email protected]

Philly Pride Presents, the organizers of OutFest, dedicated a portion of the day to presenting awards to four community members: Sharron Cooks won the Jaci Adams OutProud Transgender Award; Bebashi won the OutProud Award; Leon King II won the Gilbert Baker National OutProud Award; and Robert Brisbon won the OutStanding Youth Award.

Before receiving his award, Brisbon told PGN, “It means a lot to me. It makes me feel appreciated. It makes me feel I have a close community.”

Brisbon started attending programming at The Attic Youth Center when he was 17. His school guidance counselor had pointed him to the center. He said he felt especially impacted by a poetry program with TS Hawkins and became an increasingly active participant in the community.      

Now 20, Brisbon has graduated from Prep Charter High School and is taking classes at Community College of Philadelphia to study psychology. He wants to earn a doctoral degree and eventually open his own psychology practice.

For young LGBT people, Brisbon offered this advice: “Know who you are and that you can be comfortable with who you are.”