June is Pride Month, which means celebrations of the LGBTQ community all month long, including the 30th annual Philadelphia Pride Parade this weekend. Pride has become synonymous with rainbow flags, day drinking, and glitter, but it began with the riots at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 and was fueled by decades of activism — raising awareness about AIDS, agitating for equal rights and marriage equality.
In other words, Pride is inherently political. And this year, after a few years of soul-searching about racism in the Gayborhood, the celebrations in Philadelphia make that abundantly clear. Here are a few events that’ll help you get back to Pride’s more radical roots, and a few more that just sound like a great time.
Juice: A Summer Fest for Queer/Trans Women of Color
Saturday June 9, 6 – 11 p.m.
Life Do Grow Farm, 2315 N. 11th St.
Tickets: Sliding scale up to $10
“Oftentimes the Gayborhood is seen as a place where all gay people can come together. But, in reality, there are issues of racism and anti-blackness that have permeated some venues, some organizations, and some businesses,” says Daiyon Kpou, who is organizing an alternative Pride event called Juice. She calls it a “vision of what a more inclusive Pride would look like.”
Allies are welcome, but it’s really a space to highlight and celebrate queer and trans women of color, who kicked off Pride as we know it back in 1969.
“Pride is celebrated in honor of the Stonewall Riots, which were led by queer and trans women of color. Specifically, the first action that started the riot was by a black transgender woman,” says Kpou. “So it’s unfortunate that some people of color feel they have to boycott pride, that they feel they can’t get involved in something that’s in honor of our ancestors.”
For that reason, she and the collective Her Philly Moves started Juice last year. Hosted at an urban farm in North Philadelphia, the event will feature a farm-to-table meal, live music performances, DJs, an art exhibition, and film screenings after dark.
Free Library of Pride
For the second year, the Free Library of Philadelphia is going all out for Pride, with neary 50 LGBTQ-related events at its more than 20 branches. “The Free Library of Pride program is really driven by librarians, and the the librarians are really responding to the needs that they see from their patrons,” says Andrew Nurkin, head of the Free Library’s Center for Public Life. That means events for all ages, ranging from the scholarly to the silly. Here are a few highlights and the entire lineup of events.
Drag Queen Storytime
Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Fumo Family Library, 2437 S. Broad St.; June 19 at 4 p.m at the Lillian Marrero Library, 601 W. Lehigh Ave.; June 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the Andorra Library, 705 E. Cathedral Road.
Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: Drag queens reading aloud children’s books about self-love and diversity. “They make it fabulous and fun and high-energy and engaging for the kids,” says Nurkin.
And there’s lots more LGBT programming for kids hosted by the library this month, including the Philly Family Pride Picnic and Arts Festival on June 23 and an all-ages drag show on June 27. “The library is an inclusive place for the whole community and especially children who may be learning about LGBT communities or questioning themselves,” says Nurkin. Also check out the Parkway Central Library exhibit of queer identities in children’s literature, up all month long.
Reading Out Loud
Friday, June 29 at 1 p.m.
Barbara Gittings Gay/Lesbian Collection, Independence Library, 18 S. 7th St.
When Barbara Gittings began to explore her lesbian identity in college in the 1950s, she wanted to read everything she could on the topic. Problem was, there wasn’t much. The existing literature seemed entirely focused on gay men — and on classifying homosexuality as “abnormal” or “deviant.” So began a lifelong quest.
“For years, I would haunt libraries and secondhand bookshops trying to find stories to read about my people,” she said in a 1999 interview. “And then I became active in other arenas of the gay rights movement, but I always kept an eye on the emerging literature. It began to talk about homosexuals who were healthy and happy and wholesome and who had good lives. That rang the bells for me — libraries, gay books!”
As a result, she amassed a large collection of LGBT literature, now housed at the Independence Library. “A lot of people don’t know about it. I think it’s a hidden gem,” says Nurkin. On June 29, visitors will gather to choose passages from her collection and read them aloud. It seems like an event Gittings, who died in 2007, would have loved.
Philly Queer Brunch: Supporting Girls Rock Philly
June 24, noon – 3 p.m,
Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia
Tickets are suggested donation, $5-20
Every month, Philly Queer Brunch hosts an open-to-the-public potluck to raise funds for an organization they support. This month it’s Girls Rock Philly, a group that teaches not only music skills, but also leadership and feminism to girls, women, and trans and gender-nonconforming people through camps, workshops, and more.
Brunch attendees are invited to bring a dish to share and a cash donation. It’s an all-ages, all-inclusive, alcohol-free event.
This article is part of a new effort recommending things to do in the Philly region. Tell us what you think.