For the first time in its 31-year history, the Philly Pride parade will be aired on TV.
Local network 6abc will film the June 9 procession and air a one-hour segment June 30 at 1 p.m.
The broadcast will include an approximately 20-minute segment of the Penn’s Landing celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It will follow a 30-minute history special on Philadelphia’s LGBTQ-rights movement, which will air at 12:30 p.m.
The history special is produced in partnership with 6abc’s sister news station, New-York based WABC-TV. The program will highlight Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, key locations and players in the city’s gay-rights movement and the 50 years after Stonewall.
John Morris, 6abc’s vice president of content development and innovation and the station’s programming director, said Pride is “the missing gem” in the parades already televised by the company.
The network broadcasts the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Polish-American celebration Pulaski Day Parade and Juneteenth, an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery, among others.
“We always try to represent the entire community and for a few years we tried to see if we could add this parade to our year-round representation of what’s happening in the community,” Morris said. “With the 50th anniversary [of Stonewall] this year, we stepped up that effort.”
Morris grew up in Center City and said he witnessed the evolution of Philadelphia’s “rich” LGBTQ history over the decades, and how the city accepted what was not well-received in mainstream culture. He hopes the broadcast will expose viewers to other communities, Morris added.
Bernie Prazenica, 6abc president and general manager, said he also aims to show the city’s diversity.
“[The station] has a long heritage of community involvement and support,” Prazenica told PGN. “We are so delighted to celebrate with our LGBTQ community by broadcasting the Pride march on 6abc. We look forward to showcasing this event and bringing our community a bit closer together.”
This year’s parade will feature 130 marching groups, said Franny Price, executive director of Philly Pride Presents, the event organizer. It’s the largest lineup ever, compared to 96 participating groups in recent years.
Price added she is excited for the parade to be televised and is expecting a large turnout.
“Every news channel gives you their one minute on the news, but they never show the festivity of it, how beautiful our parade is,” she said. “A lot of us do have Mummer blood in us, so our gay Pride parade is different than other cities’. We have performances, presentations, so you have to be there to see it.”
Representatives from local organization dmhFund, which funds programs for Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community, alongside tourism group Visit Philadelphia, worked with Price for months to implement televising, said Mark Segal, dmhFund president and PGN publisher.
“We brought 6abc onboard and are excited to produce the special segment showcasing Stonewall 50 and LGBTQ history,” Segal said in a statement.
In 2014, dmhFund partnered with Penrose Properties to develop the LGBTQ-friendly John C. Anderson senior apartments at 13th and Spruce streets. In 2005, it produced the Philadelphia Freedom Concert and Ball, an event that raised awareness of HIV and AIDS by donating $1.1 million to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“Mark’s work and the work of many others from Philadelphia have positively affected change in the LGBTQ community worldwide,” said Visit Philadelphia president and CEO Jeff Guaracino in an email. “Mark is an example of the Philadelphia pioneers who were and are brave leaders and changemakers. The 50th anniversary of Stonewall represents the first time that LGBTQ history will be authoritatively and comprehensively told to the world through the power of mass media.”
The TV network also developed a special logo for televising Pride. It combines the Liberty Bell, a rainbow and the symbol for 6abc’s existing Philly Proud series that highlights local people and organizations working to improve their communities.
Throughout June, 6abc will produce a wave of stories focusing on gay rights and pride in the region, Morris said. The network will also air LGBTQ-related stories from seven other stations across the country, including Chicago and San Francisco.
Beginning next month, all of the network’s Pride-related content will be available online.
“We hope this will be the start of a long relationship with this parade,” Morris added. “We hope to learn more about the organization and the creation of the parade this year and have it just lead to many more years of a good partnership.” n