This year, Philly Pride Presents will celebrate its 25th year with the theme PRIDE 25.
On the event lineup will be headiner Omarosa Manigault, best known for her appearance as the bad girl favorite on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.”
“When we choose our headliner, we always try to pick somebody who will be a draw, that the LGBT community is fascinated with and who’s unique because usually we have people that nobody else thinks about having,” said Philly Pride Presents president Franny Price. “Omarosa has always been known as the villain on all the shows but then, if you look beyond that and read about her, she is very smart and quite interesting.”
Price said Manigault will most likely speak to and answer questions for the audience; however, on-stage plans are still pending.
Like every year, Pride will feature a host of locals leading the parade into the festival.
Amber Hikes and Larry Felzer will serve as the grand marshals with Jim Julia as Friend of Pride.
“We are really happy with our choice in grand marshals and friend of Pride,” Price said.
The queer 29-year-old Hikes has been a staple in the local LGBT scene in Philadelphia for several years, as co-producer of the monthly women’s Stimulus parties. She also serves on the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center.
“It is an incredible diverse group of people from all backgrounds and expertise,” she said about her board work. “The board is made of people who truly love and care about this community.”
Hikes, an Atlanta native who currently serves as the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Upward Bound program, also sits on the board of Philly Dyke March and Identity Kit.
Hikes said she was taken aback when she was asked to be a grand marshal.
“I was in complete and utter shock. For the first time, I was speechless, but really honored. I was really proud and excited when I was told,” she said.
Although Hikes was surprised, Price said she was a natural choice.
“Amber is the next generation. She throws parties for Stimulus but she does more than that,” she said. “She is so involved in the community with activism. She is not a kid, but in one sense there comes a point where the next generation does need to step up and Amber is one of those people.”
Hikes said Pride helps show the full diversity of the community and its myriad contributions to the city.
“It is a premier opportunity to celebrate the full range of beauty on who we are and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of that,” she said. “I am not from Philadelphia, but I live here, went to school here, work here. I love this community to my core.”
Feltzer, 50, said he had a mix of emotions when he was asked to participate.
“I felt surprised, humbled, excited and honored,” he said.
Felzer, director of development and finance at SeniorLAW Center, is a Philadelphia native who has been involved in a number of local organizations. He serves as chair of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia and has volunteered with the AIDS Fund. He also founded the annual Gay Community Night at the Phillies.
Price said Felzer is a community member whose contributions often go under the radar.
“Larry contributes a lot to the community and he is one of these people who doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” she said.
Felzer said he’s come to see that Pride provides a safe, welcoming environment for many LGBTs.
“When I was younger, I didn’t understand the need for it and why it existed, but as I got older, I realized that, for a lot of people, it is the first time that they are aware of LGBT individuals,” he said. “It is a once-in-a-year opportunity to celebrate being ourselves.”
Julia, president of the Fancy Brigade Association of the Philadelphia Mummers, was selected as Friend of Pride for his work to incorporate an LGBT drag component in the annual event.
“Jim is so genuine and sincere and he was excited to work with the LGBT community and bring the performers and impersonators back into the parade. He has been behind this 100-percent,” Price said. “It is important for us to support our allies because of all the hassle they get sometimes for supporting us. Sometimes it would be easier for them to say that they don’t want the stress, but they don’t and they stick to their beliefs.”
The event will also honor two youth grand marshals from The Attic Youth Center: Oberon Wackwitz and Lillian Rodriguez.
Pride will be held June 9. For more information, visit www.phillypride.org.