Philly’s LGBTQ flag raising brings focus on ‘most marginalized’ community members

Speakers at the flag raising hosted by the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs called on the community to center the experiences of Black and brown trans people.

The LGBTQ pride flag was raised outside Philadelphia City Hall on June 3, 2022. (Sophia Schmidt/WHYY)

The LGBTQ pride flag was raised outside Philadelphia City Hall on June 3, 2022. (Sophia Schmidt/WHYY)

Philadelphians cheered as the ‘More Color, More Pride’ flag rose above City Hall Friday, with the traditional rainbow stripes, as well as black and brown stripes.

Speakers at this year’s LGBTQ pride flag raising, hosted by the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, emphasized the need to center the experiences of Black and brown trans people — and prioritize their safety.

“Quite frankly, every month should be Pride, because I can tell you for a fact that trans issues do not start or end in June,” said two-spirit activist Rey Resendez, with the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference. “Trans people like myself have to live their lives in fear 365 days a year, especially Black trans women.

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Shanay Rowe, of Philadelphia Family Pride, said the most marginalized members of any group, including the LGBTQ community, are generally people of color.

“If organizations here in Philadelphia shift our focus to safety, providing access to the most marginalized and centering those experiences, we can approach equality and equity with integrity,” she said.

People with additional flags were in attendance at the LGBTQ pride flag raising outside Philadelphia City Hall on June 3, 2022. (Sophia Schmidt/WHYY)

Erik Larson, deputy director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said celebrating pride is especially important this year, when hundreds of anti-LGBTQ laws, targeting trans youth in sports, transgender medical care, and classroom instruction, have been introduced across the country, and some fear that marriage equality could be threatened.

“Our rights are not freely given, and they are not protected in perpetuity,” he said. “So our fight is ongoing, generation after generation.”

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Anne Geheb has lived in Philly for four decades, and attended Friday’s flag raising.

“This brings tears to my eyes, just looking at the flags,” Geheb said. “It’s so touching.”

The flag raising was Amanda Nichols’ first Pride event, ever. She came to watch with friends who held signs that said “love.”

“I’m from a very conservative, Republican town,” Nichols said. “I’ve never really been able to attend Pride events and feel safe while doing so, until I moved to Philly.”

Nichols said the fact that the city government sponsored the flag raising meant a lot to her.

“I feel seen, like, I feel heard,” Nichols said. “I still experience my fair share of just, like, ignorance out on the street, people saying things to me. But I know overall that everyone’s on my side, for the most part.”

Speakers at the event included representatives from PHL Pride Collective, the group composed mostly of Black and brown LGBTQ organizers that is putting on this year’s reimagined Pride event. It’ll be a march and street fair Sunday with an emphasis on inclusivity and activism.

“We are trying to radicalize the way that we see Pride, being as intersectional as possible and thinking about how we can prioritize and center the lives of Black and brown, queer and trans people in the midst of celebrating Pride for all of our collective reasonings,” said Dennis Maurice Dempson, with the Collective.

Vicki Landers, of Disability Pride PA, said the event will be accessible, and the organization is excited to have a presence there.

“Pride teaches us how we can be better together as a community,” they said.

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