Updated Jun. 13
A rainbow of proud performers and partiers flooded the streets of Philadelphia on Sunday as the largest-ever Philly Pride Parade and Festival made its way from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing.
Now in its 31st year, the celebration was themed “Stonewall 50,” in remembrance of the groundbreaking 1969 Stonewall Riots that spurred changes in LGBTQ acceptance. A special on the 50th anniversary will air June 30 on 6ABC, followed by a recap of Philly’s 2019 parade, marking the first time the event has been televised.
A half-century ago, Philadelphia was at the forefront of the gay rights movement — organizers began hosting “Annual Reminders” outside Independence Mall four years before Stonewall — and the city remains on the front lines today.
Sunday’s parade brought out officials from around the region, including Pa. Governor Tom Wolf, Philly Mayor Jim Kenney and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, plus state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (the first openly gay person of color elected to the Pa. Legislature) and former Gov. Ed Rendell, who were both grand marshals this year.
In contrast to the negative role it played at Stonewall 50 years ago, law enforcement had a large, supportive presence on Sunday. Philly Police spent weeks decorating a special “LGBTQ1” rainbow cop car, and there was a special memorial contingent for Sheriff Deputy Dante Austin, the department’s LGBTQ liason who died of apparent suicide just two days prior.
Also in attendance on Sunday was everyone’s favorite mascot: the one and only Gritty.
Actor Jason Segel, who’s in town filming an AMC anthology series, showed his pride while making sports fans happy by bringing a Sixers cap to the festivities.
There were multiple wedding proposals throughout the event. As the parade passed Independence Mall, there was an engagement that got an additional surprise: An offer from the mayor to perform the marriage ceremony.
Scroll down for more colorful photos of the love, support, dancing and fun at Philly’s 2019 celebration of pride.
It was the tenth Pride Parade for Lili St. Queer. Over the past decade, Lili started doing drag, saying, “I’m more comfortable with who I am and putting that out there, and the world has become more accepting.”
Maria Gooch, who is bi, came to the parade with her boyfriend Jeremiah Rosado. She said being queer in her high school in Bethlehem, Pa., can be difficult and that being Latinx presents cultural challenges. PrideDay gave her an opportunity to experience something different, she said: “I feel accepted. I feel like I belong somewhere.”
Brian Downey, president of the Gay Offices Action League New York, came to Philadelphia in solidarity following the death of Dante Austin, the Philly Sheriff Department’s LGBTQ liason. “Dante was a giant, and well known,” Downey said. “There will never be another Dante.”