It’s sad that Philly will not have a Pride parade or festival this summer. Events like Pride are always special to a region because it allows the local community to showcase what makes it special and to share that joy with others. They also provide needed visibility for the LGBTQ community, to remind people that we exist and aren’t going anywhere.
But, just as Philly pride has always drawn visitors from all over the region, perhaps now it’s time for Philadelphians to see what Pride is like outside the city. Lehigh Valley Pride is in-person on Sunday, August 15th in Allentown. It’s about a 90-minute drive or bus ride from Center City. Festivities run from noon to 6:00 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, and they include drag and music from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stars Kylie Sonique Love and Ariel Versace and singer-songwriters Erin McKeown, Crys Matthews and Regina Sayles; 125 artists, nonprofits, and retailers; and a Kids Space featuring craftmaking and Drag Queen Story Time.
Attendees will receive a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and masks, while not mandatory for the outdoor event, will be provided free of charge. There will also be Covid-19 vaccinations, HIV testing, syphilis testing, and general health screenings available on site.
Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, told PGN:
“Lehigh Valley Pride’s theme this year is ‘You Are Included’ — and we mean it. Pride is for everyone. Our values are at work with Lehigh Valley Pride. We prioritize access and inclusion for people with disabilities. We offer a full day of games and activities in a sober social space for community members in recovery or anyone who wants to celebrate Pride without the presence of alcohol. We pay all our local performers, because we believe in the inherent value of artists in our community. We utilize culturally-affirming private security instead of police, because we want pride to be a safe space for our whole community. This year, we are especially proud to honor local Black Lives Matter leader Justan Parker Fields as one of our grand marshals, because the movement for Black lives is central to LGBTQ+ liberation. Lehigh Valley Pride 2021 will be a safe, fun, and affirming celebration and a reminder of the continued work needed for equity for our community. We welcome Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community with open arms at Lehigh Valley Pride. We all need something to celebrate this year.”
Every Pride is different because every community is different. Things that work for one place might not work or be possible for another. But there are lessons to learn from each other. And those lessons are often best learned directly. So if you’re able to travel and interested to see Pride in another city, give Lehigh Valley Pride a try. Even though geography separates us, some parts of Pride are truly universal: the joy, the visibility, and the connection with the people and community we care about.