Pride goes off with few setbacks

Despite occasional showers Sunday, the Philly Pride went off with few issues. 

Franny Price, executive director of Philly Pride Presents, called this year’s festivities as “the best in 29 years.” She said almost 25,000 people attended the parade and festival combined.

The 29th-annual event was originally scheduled for June 11 but organizers rescheduled so it wouldn’t conflict with the National March for Equality and Unity in Washington, D.C. 

Price said the event being held on Father’s Day didn’t affect attendance, but did impact some other elements of the day.

“I don’t think it affected the attendees as much as it affected some of the venues we need to work with,” Price said. “We usually are able to get more floats for the parade but a lot of the drivers didn’t want to come into Philly [on Father’s Day]. Our tables were also late that day because it was Father’s Day.” 

She added Pride will not be held on Father’s Day in the future.

For the first time, the parade kicked off with a 1.5-mile run, organized by William Way LGBT Community Center, Lez Run Running Club and Out Philadelphia Athletic League. The sold-out event had 260 racers run from Camac and Locust streets to the festival at Penn’s Landing.

“I was so impressed — looking at the dispositions and the smiles on [the runners’] faces and I’m thinking to myself, These people are happy they’re going to run,” Price laughed, noting she only had to walk to opposite ends of Penn’s Landing. “I’ve never seen a happier, more excited group.”

The run was a precursor for next year’s Philly Pride 5K Race, in which Price said participants will circle back to the race starting line. 

The annual parade included more than 90 contingents marching with 15 groups and individuals. Sixteen awards were given out; Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus won the grand prize “Fruit Bowl” award for Best Performance.

Price said the parade grand marshals were the “best” Pride had. They included the Mazzoni Center front-line staff, local attorney Henry Sias and Councilwoman Helen Gym.

“I was so impressed and proud of this year’s grand marshals,” Price said. “Their float got a flat tire and rather than wait to fix it, they all decided to walk. Everybody on that float: Kudos to them.”

Gym laughed about the experience and said marching alongside other activists was “really fun.” When asked why she and the grand marshals decided to get off the float and march, Gym’s answer was short: “It’s Pride.”

“There are thousands of people in the streets and everybody is having a great time,” Gym added. “It’s really the best thing to shut down our streets and remind ourselves that we have to celebrate advancements in community as we drive the fight for justice in our country.

“I have been incredibly inspired by a number of groups that have demonstrated what it means to have courage today,” Gym, who served as Friend of Pride, added. “That includes the front-line staff at the Mazzoni Center. It includes folks who took on serious issues within the Gayborhood about exclusion and it includes newer groups like the Black & Brown Workers Collective, who are diversifying and energizing the LGBT movement and giving it new life every single day.” 

Pride also included participation from law-enforcement to ensure safety. 

While the Philadelphia Police Department did not make any arrests, police spokesperson Jeff Chrusch noted in an email to PGN that anti-LGBT group Matthew 24 Ministries “caused some commotion.” 

“They stayed for some time then just left,” Chrusch said. 

At least 20 protesters attended a Take Pride Back demonstration at City Hall that centered on the marginalization of queer and trans people of color and corporate exploitation of these communities. Chrusch said the group was “peaceful and ended up walking with the [Philly Pride marchers] under the watchful eye of the PPD.” The Civil Affairs unit of the PPD was in attendance during the demonstration and Chrusch noted the unit was not “called to the protest” but “attends every protest in the city that they know about ahead of time.”

Chrusch said two medical transports took place during the festival but declined to comment on the nature of these cases due to privacy laws.

Despite any challenges, Price said this year’s event fulfilled its purpose.

“The whole purpose of the day is about visibility — that we are everybody,” Price said. “That was the purpose of gay Pride parades after Stonewall: to show that we are everybody and that we exist. I really think this year’s Pride did just that.”