Finding community in October

Philly OutFest photo by Scott Drake.

Several people and organizations have contacted PGN asking whether there is going to be an OutFest celebration this year in October. In lieu of a major event, there are always things you can do to connect with others, bring joy to yourself, and feel that sense of Pride.

If strolling the booths and finding LGBTQ-themed merchandise is your favorite part of OutFest, you can do that easily. There are numerous queer-owned and themed shops in the Gayborhood and beyond. Billy Penn keeps a crowdsourced map of LGBTQ businesses, which includes places such as Giovanni’s Room and South Street Art Mart (and if you have suggestions of places to add, please let them know).

If you use events like OutFest to meet new people and expand your LGBTQ circle, numerous organizations make it easy to network. One of the Independence Business Alliance’s main goals is to foster collaboration between LGBTQ businesses. Delaware Valley Legacy Fund hosts a monthly community networking event called Our Night Out. And the William Way Community Center offers various peer groups, including a book club dedicated to the queer literary experience.

If the performances are what draws you to OutFest, there is no lack of stages for you to see. The Philadelphia Fringe Festival is going on now through October 2, and it has a variety of LGBTQ shows, including traditional theater and dance-based performances. There are also weekly drag shows and more traditional dance spaces if you want to lose yourself in the music. 

If you enjoy learning more about LGBTQ history during events like Pride or OutFest, you can take a walking tour with Beyond the Bell Tours, which offer several different themed outings including a Gayborhood and LGBTQ Tour and a Badass Women’s History Tour.

But that’s not all that events like OutFest are about. Beyond the crowds and the spectacle, one part of community celebrations that often doesn’t get attention is the sense of self-worth that they bring to people individually. Pride-type events offer a chance for people to feel empowered. It allows people to wear that LGBTQ t-shirt they might only wear one or two days a year. It allows people to enjoy time with friends in a way that is more freeing and more open than any other day. It can be easier to smile at a Pride event because people know they are surrounded by others who support their decision to be authentic. How do we replicate that feeling of freedom?

The answer is that we try our best, even without help, to bring those feelings to ourselves and those close to us. You can still go to the Gayborhood on a crisp fall day, wear whatever LGBTQ garb you wish, and have a day out with friends. You can eat together, shop together, see a show together or just sit in the park together. You can do your research and find a new LGBTQ business to frequent or an LGBTQ cause to support. To mark the occasion, you can even do something special that you wouldn’t normally do. Volunteer for a political campaign for the day. See a new part of the city. Donate items to mutual aid organizations. Check in on a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

It’s easy to find Pride this fall season. How you make it special is up to you.

Newsletter Sign-up