Philly Family Pride to host Juneteenth event

Icon Ebony-Fierce at Drag Queen Story Time at Philadelphia Family Pride 2019. (Photo by Kelly Burkhardt.)

Philadelphia Family Pride (PFP) will host its first ever Juneteenth Family Picnic on June 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Black families, history, vendors and artists will be at the center of the picnic, which will be held at Lovett Park in Mt. Airy.

“Black folks still currently feel othered in queer spaces and Black spaces, oftentimes,” said PFP assistant director Shanay Rowe. “We often have to bury one identity for the sake of the other. Bringing Pride month and Juneteenth together and creating a safe space for Black folks to not have to categorize identities in a hierarchy is so needed right now.” 

Rowe said that she has seen more and more Black families join PFP, which stands to reason considering Black people are the largest racial demographic in Philadelphia. 

“I’ve been very intentional since coming on about planning events and designing programming that’ll lead to PFP’s membership base being a true reflection of a community it was created to serve,” Rowe said. 

Attendees of the picnic can partake in a barbecue lunch, performances by Icon Ebony Fierce, a music class with Lauren Scott, drumming with Jan Jeffries, entertainment by Quany the Clown, a bounce house, and free giveaways. Representatives from community organizations will be there with resource tables, including The Attic Youth Center, Bebashi, galaei, Prevention Meets Fashion and PFLAG. Black business owners who will be vending at the picnic include Naturally Queer, SCB Naturals, JazMakes Studios, MothaSistah and Brixxy & Co. Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health are sponsoring the event. 

In a political climate in which conservative U.S. lawmakers are making concerted efforts to pass legislation that erodes LGBTQ rights, especially those of trans people and trans youth, PFP remains visible. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 28 state legislatures have introduced anti-LGBTQ bills and eight state governments have signed such bills into law in 2022. The Pennsylvania Senate just approved legislation barring trans girls and women from participating in school sports that correspond to their gender, and Republicans in the House of Representatives are getting ready to introduce a “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Harrisburg.

“When you look at PFP, you see the faces of the whole family,” Rowe said. “You see all these unique and diverse family structures and it gives you the visual that despite all the diversity, these families are still filled with love and happiness and deserve all the rights that any other American family will have. That allows people to begin to understand the impact and implications of this anti-LGBTQ legislation, and how it impacts not only the LGBT community but the American family in general.” 

PFP was one of several youth and family-centric organizations that participated in PHL Pride Collective’s debut Pride festival earlier in June, which featured expanded youth and family programming. Many of the same organizations that provided resources at Pride will be at PFP’s Juneteenth picnic. 

“The collective came together, they hosted the best Pride that I’ve ever experienced in Philadelphia,” Rowe said. “It was really cool that they gave families a safe space to come with their children.”