The disco group Village People will take center stage at this year’s Pride. The group first hit the airwaves in 1978 with their hit “Macho Man” and became a household name with “Y.M.C.A.”
The musical group — composed of Eric Anzalone, Felipe Rose, Jim Newman, Ray Simpson, Bill Whitefield and Alex Briley — went on to become gay icons and “Y.M.C.A.” is now considered an anthem for the LGBT community.
Philly Pride Presents president Franny Price said she tried to get theVillage People to Philly Pride in the past but the group was always unavailable.
She said the group is one that all generations can enjoy.
“These are people that everybody knows,” she said. “I don’t care how old you are, how young you are, you know ‘Y.M.C.A.’ They were the first gay group so this is exciting.”
In addition to the headliner, this year’s entertainment line-up also includes comedian Lynne Koplitz, singer Erika Schiff who appeared on “American Idol,” indie-pop band Ariana & the Rose, alt-rock group BETTY, singer Steve Cohen, Well-Strung Quartet and drag queen Mimi Imfurst.
CBS 3 anchor Jim Donovan and local performer Rudy Flesher will be the reviewing-stand announcers during the parade.
Price announced that Philly Trans* March founder Christian Axavier Lovehall and Gloria Casarez, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, will act as grand marshals.
Price said Lovehall’s work to get the march off the ground should be recognized.
“Here is a younger person who had this vision and did something about it and actually makes it their mission,” she said.
Lovehall said he is honored to serve as grand marshal and added, as a transman of color who identifies as bisexual, he has often looked forward to the Pride festivities but sometimes felt the events were not as inclusive and affirming as they could be.
“As a member of both communities, being chosen as grand marshal, to me personally, represents times of change and increased visibility for people who have felt silenced and ignored for quite some time,” he said. “That is awesome. And it’s a very special thing to be a part of such change. This year I actually feel that this will be a space where someone like me feels celebrated and affirmed enough to be proud.”
Price said Casarez’s commitment to the LGBT community goes beyond her job.
“She has been active in everything since she first got involved in the community,” she said. “She was one of the founders of Dyke March. She has been involved with everything in our community. She is an institution and a leader.”
This is the second time Casarez will serve as a grant marshal; she was honored in 2001.
“I’m proud to represent the work we’re doing in the mayor’s office and across city government at Pride,” she said. “This has been a great year for Philadelphia: We opened the John C. Anderson Apartments, began implementing transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, took the top spot in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index and have been active in the American Civil Liberties Union case to overturn the statewide same-sex marriage ban.”
Councilman Mark Squilla, whose district covers the Gayborhood, will act as Friend of Pride. Youth grand marshals are Da’Shawn “Dalyla” Baker and Avery McNair.
The parade will step off from 13th and Locust streets at noon June 8 and head to Penn’s Landing.
For more information, visit www.phillypride.org.