Pride Month festivities across Pennsylvania combine celebration, activism

"Our fight is ongoing, generation after generation," said Erik Larson, deputy director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs.

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Saturday, June 4, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

The celebration marks the beginning of Pride Month. This year's festivities come as Philadelphia celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first Pride events.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The north apron of City Hall was filled with people on Friday afternoon, many of them wearing rainbow clothing and accessories that displayed their support for the LGBTQ+ community. But the largest accessory was the large rainbow-colored Pride Flag that was raised in front of City Hall.

The celebration marks the beginning of Pride Month. This year's festivities come as Philadelphia celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first Pride events.

"Our fight is ongoing, generation after generation," said Erik Larson, deputy director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs.

The city's Office of LGBT affairs and the support and resources available in the city are a far cry from the availability of programs in the suburbs.

"Out here in the counties, we are dealing with systemic issues and a lack of resources that I don't know of many people realize," said Kyle McIntyre, vice president and co-founder of the nonprofit social justice organization Understand, Devotion, Take Action and Justice (U.D.T.J.) in Upper Darby.

U.D.T.J. organization was formed during the period of civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd. The organization's mission is to fight for justice for all people. Part of incorporating that mission is placing a value on allyship and intersectionality.

"For a long time, we've tried to fight our own battles. We tried to fight our own struggles. And the reality is the struggles of my neighbor are my struggles," said McIntryre.

Philadelphia's Pride flag-raising event also focused on representing all voices in the LGBTQ+ community.

"I am a queer, trans, indigenous immigrant living in Philadelphia," said a person who identified themselves as Sofia while speaking to the crowd.

"The most marginalized of any group including the LGBTQ community is generally the people of color of that group," said Shanay Rowe, assistant director of Philadelphia Family Pride.

The event also included representation from members of the LGBTQ+ community who have disabilities.

"(We want) to work towards transforming a society that is quick to forget those that are most marginalized," said Vicki Landers, executive director of Disability Pride PA.

This Pride also comes at a time when activists say trans rights are under attack.

"Bills across the country and here in Pennsylvania are being introduced and signed into law that discriminate against our trans young people," said Larson.

It gives organizations like U.D.T.J. a new purpose and new opportunities like hosting Upper Darby's second annual Pride March and Festival.

The festival will take place on Saturday, June 11 at Upper Darby High School from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Before the festival, there will be a march that will depart Beverly Hills Middle School at noon. Participants are encouraged to bring signs representing the LGBTQ+ community and issues. The festival is open to the public and will include educational sessions, entertainment and more than 100 vendors.

Philadelphia's Pride March and Festival will take place on Sunday, June 5. The March will take place at 11 a.m. on the North end of Independence Mall in front of the Constitution Center. The festival will begin at noon in the Gayborhood immediately following the march.