Pride Weekend Recap: Calls for solidarity during and after the march and festival

A massive Pride flag reaches in length so far the eye can't see its beginning and ends. It spans the width of the street. Two people embrace nearby while some people hold onto the flag from the sides of the road. Philadelphia buildings -- including Center City's Comcast building -- is visible in the background.
Attendees hold a 400-foot Pride flag as they participate in the Pride march on June 2. (Photo: Kelly Burkhardt)

A record-breaking 400-foot flag spanned the length of 15 city blocks as it weaved its way through the city toward the Pride festival in the Gayborhood on Sunday, June 2 — kicking off Philadelphia’s annual festivities.

“There’s never enough flag to go around,” said Tyrell Brown, the executive director of Galaei, the organization that coordinated the event. “Maybe that’s the call to action — to build more so more people can grab a hold. Our flag is kind of a symbol of solidarity and unity.”

Brown said the metaphor underlines the need for people to come together and use their solidarity to more effectively reach those who need the support and bolster that Pride month can provide all year long. 

It’s estimated that the march and festival welcomed approximately 100,000 attendees — which Brown said makes Pride the largest event the city has hosted so far this year.

“That alone is something to digest,” said Brown, laughing with joy at the idea that Pride could become the largest event in Philadelphia if another doesn’t surpass that number.

“Still, that’s just a fraction of the LGBTQ+ community here in Philadelphia,” they added. “So who needed Pride that didn’t get it?” 

Brown is specifically thinking about people who lack access to specific life-saving resources — including food, housing, healthcare, and other tangible needs as well as access to community spaces and affirmation.

Brown views Philly’s Pride festival as a resource event. They said this year’s POP Wellness zone connected 15,000 people to those kinds of resources and care. About 7,000 people visited the family zone. People also got linked in with sober networks, sports teams, connections to those with shared experiences — such as sapphics and people of color, and other resources.

“Did everything run smoothly? I don’t even know if that’s a question I can wrap my brain around,” laughed Brown, noting that there are so many moving pieces to the event that perfection is impossible — but that they’re proud of the way the festival was able to meet so many needs and expand to include more people.

Sapphira Cristál performs during Philly Pride 2024. (Photo: Kelly Burkhardt)

Speakers at the march included Rue Landau, who is the first openly LGBTQ+ city council member, as well as various state and local LGBTQ+ political leaders. Singer Samantha Rise and Rev. Jeffery Jordan uplifted the weekend’s theme, “Be you,” with speeches that reflected the need to explore and embrace authenticity.

Various stages on the festival grounds showcased musicians, drag artists, and other performers. Sapphira Cristál headlined as the day of celebrations wrapped up.

“What we did was legendary,” a friend of Brown, who is Black and trans, told them as they started packing up after the event. “I see Black and Brown trans and queer folks in the Gayborhood living it up like they belong here.”

Brown said that quiet moment highlights the mission of Philly’s take on Pride.

Other LGBTQ+ people used the spotlight of the weekend’s festivities to bring attention to suffering in another part of the world.

“Queers 4 Palestine Philly extends our solidarity to all those resisting colonial genocide around the world,” the group wrote in an Instagram post about their stance participating in Pride events this year.

“From Palestine to Sudan to the DRC to Ayiti, we call on queer people of conscience to ignite a global intifada against colonizers and capitalists who seek to use our identities, our beauty, our brilliance as justification for unimaginable violence,” the statement continued. “We reject all celebrations of pride if they are not grounded in the struggle to end genocide.”

The group organized a protest in which dozens of participants briefly paused the Pride march near the entrance to the festival before attendees began walking around the demonstration.

“I personally affirm people’s right to protest and to lift up their messages,” said Brown, who noted that LGBTQ+ people should talk to each other in order to find and support common goals.

“What is our ultimate mission and goal? And how do we collaborate with each other in order to make sure that each and every single one of us — particularly the most marginalized in our community — are resourced and served, lifted up, and granted the same level of privilege that we’re exercising by being able to stand and shout and yell at all?” Brown asked.

“We are tasked with carrying it all,” they continued, noting that the weight of the community’s needs can feel especially heavy given its many intersections. “Everyone needs to find their role and to do the best they can in order to carry some for other folks.”

They shared that it’s important for people to consider the needs of Philadelphians while also supporting global movements and invited those who want to be a part of the continually evolving Pride initiatives to approach planning and collaboration with a spirit of serving others.

“What can we create together?” Brown added, underlining that their idea of Pride is all about working in solidarity to more effectively and efficiently help those who need it most — in Philadelphia and across the world.

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