Philadelphia Gay Pride

How Philly celebrates its LGBT community

Philly illuminated
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One of America's most politically progressive and LGBT-friendly cities, Philadelphia hosts its Philly LGBT Pride Parade and Festival in mid-June. The same organization also produces OutFest each October, one of the largest National Coming Out Day events in the world.

Philadelphia has a long tradition of supporting its LGBT community, and the city's diversity is reflected in the variety of its LGBT celebrations. Philadelphia's Lesbian and Gay Task Force, founded in 1978, is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. It was instrumental in helping pass one of the earliest LGBT civil rights measures, the 1982 Philadelphia Fair Practices Act. 

Traditional Route of Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade

The Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade departs from the intersection of 13th and Locust Sts., right in the city's celebrated "gayborhood," and zigzags its way in an easterly direction to the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing.

There are several different locations along the route where entertainers perform. Then, at the Plaza, performers and some 160 vendors gather to present the Annual Philadelphia Gay Pride Festival, typically held from noon until 6 pm, and featuring dozens of notable performers.

History of Gay Pride in Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love held its first informal Pride parade in the 1980s, as part of a larger rally with the Lesbian and Gay Task Force. The parade proved so popular that the community started a formal organization to continue the parade on an annual basis. 

That organization, now known as Philly Pride Presents, oversees what has evolved into the largest LGBT celebration in Pennsylvania, drawing more than 25,000 visitors annually. 

OutFest and National Coming Out Day

Philadelphia also plays host to the largest National Coming Out Day (NCOD) event, known as OutFest. The first NCOD event was observed in Washington D.C. in 1987, and inspired other cities to create similar block party-style celebrations of their own LGBT communities. 

OutFest was launched in 1990 and grew to be one of the most popular LGBT events in the Northeast. It's in a gay-friendly neighborhood, is free, and local businesses and performers participate. It's usually held in October, on the Sunday before Columbus Day, and attracts crowds of 40,000 people. 

Philadelphia Black Gay Pride

The city is also host to an event for LGBT people of color. Philadelphia Black Gay Pride evolved from the COLOURS Organization, a health services organization. In 1999, COLOURS hosted the first Philly Black Pride event. Philadelphia Black Gay Pride (PBGP) was formally established as a separate nonprofit in 2004, and provides year-round services and programming for Philadelphia's LGBT people of color. 

The PBGP is part of the Cente for Black Equity, a national organization that supports the LGBT community of color. PBGP's biggest event is an annual carnival at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Philadelphia Gay Resources

Keep in mind that Philly gay bars, as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops, have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Check local gay resources, such as Philly Gay Calendar and Philadelphia Gay News, as well as Greater Philadelphia Tourism's gay and lesbian site for details.

For more information on Philadelphia's LGBT community and events, check out our Philadelphia Gay Guide.