Letters and Feedback

Letters and Feedback

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An open letter from Philly Pride Presents:

Philadelphia reflected its Pride on June 8, 2014.

Philly Pride Presents would like to thank the record number of LGBT citizens (and, of course, our straight friends) for making Pride Day 2014 an overwhelming success and certainly the best Pride we have organized in our 26-year history.

The numbers are simply staggering: an increase in paid festival attendance of 40 percent (to 15,000), an increase in parade contingents of 20 percent (to 71) and an increase in overall number of participating groups and businesses of 22 percent (to 179). The festival has been sold out of vending spaces for several years in a row, so now we just try to utilize our space better. That we were able to achieve record numbers of festivalgoers given our increase in admission fees to $15 makes the numbers even more remarkable. Once again, your participation and pride made June 8 a singular success.

We extend our best wishes to those married couples who exchanged their vows at the reviewing stand at Independence Hall. Achieving marital equality a few short weeks prior to June 8 put the spotlight on us to celebrate it appropriately. We are eternally grateful to the Hon. Dan Anders and the Hon. Ann Butchart for lending their professionalism and grace to Pride Day and marrying our proud couples.

As promised, our entertainment was the best in a decade. The Village People managed to pack all four sections of seats in the amphitheater and all standing room on the walkways, a feat not heretofore accomplished. Well-Strung, Lynne Koplitz, Wendy Ho, AKiRE, Ariana & the Rose, BETTY and our local entertainers rounded out enough talent and genres for everyone. (And, lest anyone resent the $15 admission, Well-Strung appeared in a New Hope cabaret the month before and tickets were $30 for them alone.) Philly Pride Presents, unlike most gay Pride organizations, offers entertainment as part of our festival. The Pride groups that charge admission to their festivals have a separate and stand-alone entertainment venue for which a separate admission is charged. We are happy to do it all for one low admission price.

Several weeks prior to Pride Day, the wonderful folks at Yikes designed Philly Pride Presents a completely new website. We could not learn WordPress in sufficient time to permit us to edit the site prior to Pride Day, but it is now up and running. Several Pride coordinators donated yet another June Sunday to learn the new system. Check out our new web home at phillygaypride.org, which differs slightly from the old home address of phillypride.org.

Our Pride coordinators will now burnish their National Coming Out Day gear and prepare for OutFest 2014, Sunday, Oct. 12. From the meager beginnings of 2,500 people at the National Coming Out Day Block Party at 12th and Pine streets, OutFest has repositioned itself in the Gayborhood, attracting upwards of 40,000, and is now the largest NCOD event in the world. OutFest has the look and feel of an old-fashioned block party and is safely ensconced in the Gayborhood. Pride Day, in keeping with the historical events of June 1969 at Stonewall, continues to celebrate in the most open and noticeable way possible: with a parade through the heart of the city and a massive celebration at the Great Plaza of Penn’s Landing. Philly Pride Presents is committed to continuing the historical nuances of both events.

Philly Pride Presents remains one of the most active and vibrant LGBT grassroots organizations in the city. Our meetings are held at the William Way LGBT Community Center and anyone can attend, volunteer and hopefully become a Pride coordinator. Monthly meetings are always announced on our website, and they become weekly as we approach events. Philly Pride Presents was the first — and still may be the only — LGBT group in the city to abolish corporate officers. You will not find a president, vice president, secretary or treasurer at Philly Pride Presents; only coordinators. We are very much a working board. You will find a single paid staff member, our executive director, who works for the board of Pride coordinators. Some of our longer-serving board members remember the bad old days when we had to reinvent the wheel each year. Having an executive director permanently in place avoids totally repetitive exercises, for which there is a brutal learning curve; the number of different permits and city agencies to deal with is staggering in and of itself.

Philly Pride Presents organizes and coordinates these yearly events, but make no mistake about it: Our LGBT groups and businesses, and our area businesses and sponsors, determine the content and character of those events. Each group prepares its own parade contingent. Each group stages its own festival location. Each group or business determines how it participates in OutFest. We simply reflect who we are as a community. The best way of changing any of our events is to simply participate.

We love showcasing the best and brightest of LGBT Philadelphia.

— Chuck Volz Senior advisor, Philly Pride Presents


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