After 30 years of competing with other events, Philly Pride is moving to a new date

The June LGBTQ festival will no longer conflict with Odunde.

The 2019 Pride parade took over Market Street in Old City

The 2019 Pride parade took over Market Street in Old City

Kriston Jae Bethel / for Billy Penn

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For the first time in 30 years, Philly Pride is changing its date.

PHL Pride Collective announced on Tuesday it’s moving the summer event from the second weekend of June to the first. That means it will no longer conflict with several regional events — including Capital Pride in Washington DC and Philly’s Odunde Festival, the largest and longest-running African American street festival in the country.

And instead of the event being a parade, it will be a march. The switch is meant to honor the Stonewall Riots of 1969, and also protest the modern issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

“June Pride has traditionally been more of a march,” said PHL Pride Collective organizer Lee Carson. “It made sense that if we were going to have a parade and a march, that the march would be in June. That was more historically what Pride was about.”

PHL Pride Collective plans to then host a parade celebrating queer and trans people in October, when OutFest is usually held.

One of the benefits of moving the date: Black LGBTQ+ Philadelphians won’t have to choose between Pride and Odunde anymore.

“I’m clear that when people see me, they understand my race before my sexual orientation,” said Carson, a West Philly resident. “I just made a choice: I’m going to Odunde, because I prefer to be in a Black space that I don’t get to be in that often.”

Now an organizer with the new group PHL Pride Collective, Carson wanted to do it differently.

“When we were reimagining Pride, we did not want it to be in conflict with Odunde,” Carson said. “It just seemed like we could do better.”

The conflict between the two events has been present since the 1990s, when Philly Pride Presents, the organization that imploded last summer, first started hosting the parade. Executive Director Franny Price decided to schedule it for the second weekend in June.

But Odunde had already been running on that date for 20 years, drawing roughly 500,000 people to the intersection at 22nd and South for music and a giant marketplace of vendors and food.

Longtime ACT UP Philadelphia organizer José de Marco said he objected at the time, telling Price she should change the date.

“You’re making African American people choose between their race and their sexuality,” de Marco told Billy Penn this summer. “It’s like, ‘Are you Black or are you gay?’ No one’s going to run to two festivals in one day.”

For decades, that’s exactly what many Black queer and trans people did. It forced some Philadelphians to contend with which identity they wanted to celebrate.

To Dennis Maurice Dumpson, founder of the InvestBLK consulting firm and organizer with the new collective, it didn’t feel like a choice at all. He always attended Odunde.

“There was no choice for me,” said Dumpson, also a Black gay man. “I love the celebration of Blackness. I write about Blackness. I work in the realm of trying to eviscerate anti-Blackness. And Pride really reflected more of a white experience.”

But with the events scheduled for different weekends, Dumpson is eager to attend both.

“Now we don’t have to separate who we are in different spaces,” he said.” “Everything should be intersectional.”

Odunde Festival organizers did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

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