The “Philly Lights Up Rainbow” display will happen after sundown on two nights throughout the month: Sunday, June 9, on the evening of the Philadelphia PrideDay Parade and Festival, and on June 30, when New York City hosts its WorldPride march.
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Boathouse Row and PECO Crown Lights are among the most prominent landmarks to get the rainbow-light treatment. Other confirmed locations include the South Street Bridge, and the light poles that stretch for 2.5 miles along North Broad Street, between Hamilton Street and Glenwood Avenue.
“Of course, there may be others that join in, but they haven’t confirmed their participation with us at this time,” said Lauren Cox, deputy communications director at the mayor’s office.
This is the second year that sites like the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Boathouse Row and the PECO building lit up for Pride month, but Cox said the 2019 display is more widespread, including brand new spots like the North Broad Street light poles.
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge also showed support for the LGBTQ community in 2016, when it lit up for three nights in honor of the victims and families affected by the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
This year’s “Philly Lights Up Rainbow” was orchestrated by the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, which told PGN that it reached out to partners to participate in the attempt to “make Philadelphia’s support for and celebration of our LGBTQ+ community more visible than ever.”
“For too long, the LGBTQ+ community has been pushed into the shadows and actively erased from moments in history. These fun, illuminated displays on some of Philadelphia’s most visible and recognizable landmarks are one small way the City was able to ensure our LGBTQ+ residents and visitors feel seen,” said a spokesperson from the office.
Executive Director Amber Hikes reiterated that in a statement released on June 3 that said much of her office’s Pride-month event planning was inspired by a “commitment to lifting the voices of those who have been marginalized” in the hopes that it will “help elevate those voices and stories as well.”
She specifically pointed out the eight-color “More Color More Pride” rainbow flag that will fly outside City Hall throughout the month of June. “Philly Lights Up Rainbow” will also incorporate the black and brown stripe that was added to the flag in 2017.
Mayor Kenney released a statement in anticipation of the light show and other city-led activities happening during Pride month, suggesting that these widespread community events provide a glowing example of the city’s support for and commitment to its LGBTQ community — something he said is especially important today, when there’s a lot of negative rhetoric coming out of Washington.
“It is … a time for allies to double-down on our support for our LGBTQ neighbors as they continue to face … the ongoing challenges of ignorance, hatred, and bias,” the statement read. “We must remain unified as one community as we work to ensure true equality for LGBTQ individuals in Philadelphia, across the country, and around the world.”
Other city-hosted events happening throughout the month include a film festival at Lightbox Film Center called Queering the Lens, discussion panels that tackle topics like restorative justice and LGBTQ youth in foster care, and the Philadelphia Family Pride Picnic and Arts Festival, which happens outside Lovett Memorial Library on June 22. n