This year Philadelphia is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the city’s gay rights movement with a wide variety of events. Here’s your guide to some of the best the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has to offer.
Starting tonight, Philly continues its 12-month celebration with GayFest!, a theater festival that puts LGBT lives center stage. The 5th annual fest runs through August 22nd, with scheduled events that include plays, concerts, modern dance, spoken word and performance art.
Some of the Gay Fest highlights:
- The Secretaries: In this play, lumberjacks begin disappearing, and the trail leads to a murderous gang of lesbian secretaries.
- Staged reading of My Favorite Husbands: Mark is plotting to crash the wedding of his ex-lover, who is marrying a (gasp!) Republican. Complications arise and chaos ensues.
- From White Plains: An award winning filmmaker wages a social media war with the man who bullied his high school friend and led to the friend’s suicide. Can he learn to forgive even the unforgivable before it destroys his own relationships?
- Mother Tongue: Matt’s boyfriend and mom are both hung up on exs, can he help them move on?
Other on-going events to catch before they end:
- The Boys of Summer. Philly Gay Calendar’s annual swimsuit party and fundraiser features a hot body contest, live performances and “lifeguards galore.” August 7-9th, 1221 Saint James Place.
- The Free Library of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Library Activism Exhibition honors Barbara Gittings, who led Philly’s first gay protest march 50 years ago (four years before the Stonewall riots) and later helped found the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force. Parkway Central Library through August 14th.
- House Ball photos by Gerard H. Gaskin. Philadelphia’s African American Museum celebrates the parties popular with African-American and Latino gay and transgender communities. House balls create environments where creativity and pride thrive. Through August 16th.
- Speaking Out for Equality: The Supreme Court, Gay Rights, and the Constitution. Explores the gay-rights movement through the constitutional “conversations” that have framed the struggle for equality. Through September 7th at the National Constitution Center.
Or plan to celebrate with one of these upcoming events
- The Fringe Festival: two weeks of avant-garde performances and street theater at venues hroughout the city. September 3-19.
- OutFest. Philadelphia celebrates National Coming Out Day with the largest Coming Out Day street festival in the world. Drag shows, games, bar crawls, a marketplace and a block party take over the city’s gayborhood. October 11th.
- Pink Pub Crawl through the gayborhood’s favorite watering holes for $25 ($30 for non-pink wearers), with free admission to Voyeur Nightclub included. November 25, 2015.
Although you can’t drop in (unless you’ve got a time machine), some of Philly’s past event deserve recognition. In addition to the city’s annual events like Philadelphia Black Gay Pride, Philadelphia Phillies’ Gay Day, this year’s events celebrated 50th anniversary of the first major U.S. protest for LGBT equality, which took place in front of Independence Hall on July 4, 1965, so, naturally, Fourth of July was a particularly celebrated day this year, cause for gayborhood wide merriment. There was also an event honoring Oscar Wilde,who gave a series of lectures there in 1882.
Earlier this year, the city played host to a solo exhibition of Jose Luis Cortes. One of the first gay Puerto Rican artists to come out, the Philadelphia-born Cortes was also among the first ten members in the Visual AIDS Archive when it was founded in 1994. The HIV positive artist is well-known in Puerto Rico, where he now resides, but hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves in the U.S.. En Blanco y Negro (In Black and White): A Gay-Latino Perspective, it features drawings and black and white gauche paintings on newspaper depicting his life, interests, and desires. The exhibit was at the Taller Puertorriqueño. (You can view some of Cortes' work in this photo gallery.)