As Pride Month concluded, its colors continued to soar sky high in Philly. Hundreds gathered to rally and dance for four consecutive days, chanting “They cant stop queer trans joy!” “Pride Pride 365!” and “Hate has no place in Philadelphia!”
Their united purpose: to stand in opposition to Moms for Liberty, which brought its 2023 national summit to the city. It started with a much-criticized welcome event Thursday at the Museum of the American Revolution and ends Sunday near the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, where most of the conference was centered.
A four-day dance party protest organized by ACT UP Philadelphia featured free books, food, drinks, music, art, and drag performances for the community.
“Isn’t it amazing to wake up and remember that Black and Brown futures demand reckoning with Black and Brown legacies,” Samantha Rise, a musician and organizer, told the assembled crowd. “That our histories must be taught, must be celebrated, must be shared.”
Moms for Liberty, which was recently labeled an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was founded in Florida in 2021. Over the past two years, it has spread across the country, with 195 chapters in 37 states advocating for what members term “parental rights” in education.
The organization actively opposes inclusive education and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in schools and communities. It employs strategies like backing bans on books featuring people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, and criticizing the inclusion of historical topics in school curriculum.
Philadelphians protesting this weekend said the M4L philosophies clashed with what they believe — and what they believe their city stands for.
“We were taught to respect books and respect people,” Jackie Taylor, a proud Philly native, told Billy Penn. “I think it’s terrible that they would have the nerve to come to Philadelphia with this Moms for Liberty garbage.
“I believe in freedom, I believe in people being able to be who they are, live and love who they are,” added Taylor. “I have a trans granddaughter and I would hope that if she came here or wherever she goes she would be treated with respect and decency.”
On Saturday, the streets came alive with young voices as families and children drew with colorful chalk, danced together, and shared their art, creating a vibrant tapestry of self expression along 12th and Filbert streets.
After a morning filled with creating art, the youthful voices took center stage.
One by one, they showcased and shared what their Pride art symbolized for them.The kid-centered protest, “Fabulous Families for Freedom,” organized by Philly Children’s Movement and Philly Childcare Collective, also included Drag Story Time, hosted by drag king Danny Delorian.
In a heartfelt tribute, organizer Rise took a moment to honor the memory and legacy of Gloria Casarez, a civil rights leader who was the first to hold the post of director of LGBT affairs for the City of Philadelphia. Seven years after Casarez died, she became the first person of Latino descent honored with a blue Pa. historical marker.
“Rest in power,” Rise said, praising “an unapologetically Queer AAPI mentor who showed up for each and everyone of us everyday that she lived and breathed.”
Rise noted she was echoing Casarez’s words to finish her speech: “It’s not about one cause or one issue, this community cares about everything. If it’s an anti-Black racism issue, it is an LGBTQ+ issue; if it’s a gentrification issue, it’s a public education issue.
“So if you come for one of us in Philadelphia, you come for all of us in Philadelphia. And best believe we will turn around and chase you out.”
Scroll down for more pics from the dance party protest.