PBGP will run April 21-28 with a plethora of educational, networking and social events throughout the week.
This year’s festival, themed “New Beginnings,” celebrates its 14th anniversary.
Jeremy Taylor, PBGP president, said two new events will be on the lineup this year.
“Gurlz Gone Pride” will take place from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. April 26 at the Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square. Taylor said the event, which will feature music and dance, was designed to celebrate the lesbian community in Philadelphia.
“It has been brought to my attention that we tend to fall short in our efforts at reaching this segment, so in an attempt to offset that, we started dialogue, with the end result being this event,” Taylor said. “It’s all of our hope that this event becomes annual, in addition to starting a shift in our focus when we think about this very-important part of our community.”
PBGP will also present “Society Lights,” from 5-7 p.m. April 26 at Tabu, 200 S. 12th St.
The event will highlight various young leaders within the community.
“The idea is to get these ‘Lights’ into the same space and recognize them for their accomplishments, as well as foster information-sharing so that each can improve upon the great work they are already doing,” Taylor said.
These two events are not the only new features for PBGP: This will be the first year Taylor will lead the event.
Taylor, who started his new position in July after the resignation of longtime president Chris Alston, began volunteering for the organization in 2009 and joined the board a year later.
Taylor said it has been challenging to bring the organization into its next phase, but that he’s confident the transition will be successful.
“One of my ongoing struggles is having to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors and convince our longtime partners that change can be good,” he said. “But, amazingly, most of our stakeholders have received the information well and are fully committed to helping us celebrate our ‘New Beginnings.’”
Taylor said the organization has worked hard to keep expenses low this year.
“It’s no secret, from an economical standpoint, it’s been rough and borderline back-breaking, but through actions like paring down of the event schedule and tightening our belt where we can, we will continue to do find a way to make Pride happen. There’s simply no alternative.”
Taylor said PBGP is also committed to continuing its youth initiative, which includes a scholarship started in 2011 designed to support an LGBT youth of color.
“In the past, most of our programming and initiatives have been focused on HIV/AIDS education and seldom did we have an opportunity to expand our interaction beyond that dialogue,” Taylor said. “So building upon my vision of inclusion, we’ve decided to not only continue with the youth scholarship, but to make it a mainstay for many years to come.”
The week will begin with the crowning of Mr. and Miss Philadelphia Black Gay Pride, 7 p.m. April 21 at the Ethical Society Building. A two-hour reception will precede the competition.
The opening reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the same location, and will include performances by Mr. and Miss PBGP, as well as the winner of the poetry slam that will be held the previous night, 7-11 p.m. at The Arts Garage, 1533 Ridge Ave.
The following day will feature workshops from noon-4 p.m. at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., that will cover such topics as estate-planning, relationship issues, health and wellness and issues impacting lesbians.
Taylor said besides the educational panels and programs, he thinks one of the biggest draws of the week will be the parties — including Simply Christopher’s bash at Devotion, 417 N. Eighth St., from 5-7 p.m. April 27, which will feature an appearance by reality-TV star NeNe Leakes.
“It’s one-on-ones like this that add to the already-high energy level of our Pride festival.”
Taylor said he hopes the event showcases all aspects of the LGBT-of-color community and of Philadelphia.
“My hope is that all of our attendees, both local and out-of-town, leave Philly Black Gay Pride knowing that our vision is to become visibly more inclusive of all segments of the LGBTQI community and to walk away knowing that America’s first city is an awesome place to visit, conduct business and, of course, party.”
For more information on PBGP, visit www.phillyblackpride.org.