Philly Pride Sucks? Let’s Do Something About It


Yesterday, we reported on the findings of a survey that ranked Philadelphia as one of the worst places to celebrate Pride. Of course, as soon as the piece hit the interwebs, people went berserk, defending Philly Pride Presents and decimating the survey’s results.

Aren’t these the same people who, for the other eleven months, complain and moan about how horrible Philly Pride is?

Let’s face it: Philly Pride has problems, and everyone knows it. Also, let me be clear: I’m not attacking any individuals, organizers, or people who put together these events, and, as you’ll soon read, I think the issue here is a lot more insidious than just a small group of people.

What I can affirm is that I’ve lost track of how many people I hear say that they would rather leave town during Pride than actually take part in the festivities. When I travel and I identify myself as a gay Philadelphian, one of the most common responses I get is, “Oh, you guys have a terrible Pride.” In other words, this isn’t news, people.

So why does everyone who is otherwise so vocal about the problems with Pride get completely offended when there’s clear data to support the argument that Philly Pride isn’t up to par?

The survey, completed by users of the app Jack’d (okay, fine—not the most professional of survey tools, but still…), encompassed users from across the country; this isn’t some random sampling of people sitting around Tabu for a drag show. The fact of the matter is, Philly ranked pretty damn low on the list: Dallas, Houston, and Detroit all beat us. This isn’t the most encouraging news.

Therefore, why not take this information and use it to improve the festivities? Why react like Jack’d has somehow decimated the gay community in Philadelphia? What exactly are we scared of here?

One of the cries I heard yesterday was how unfair the survey was to the hard-working people who put Philly Pride together. Let me offer a comparison: There are television shows that get canceled every season due to low ratings. I’m sure that the casts, crews, and producers of those shows are all “hard working,” too. Data is data. It can’t be taken personally. Sure, it’s a slap in the face to those who put effort into organizing the festivities, but an emotional reaction is not the way to handle a suggestion that Pride needs to be re-thought and re-imagined. We can’t let feelings get in the way of actually doing something.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns is that no one wants to really go forth and admit there’s a problem. It’s natural human psychology: change leads to fear. Admitting a problem makes people feel vulnerable. However, there’s something bigger here. As one high-profile gay Philadelphian told me (who, of course, asked to remain off the record), people are scared of the “gay mafia” in this town. They don’t want to say anything because of fear of being ridiculed, rejected, or downright “barred” from the community. This begs the question: What kind of community is this, then?

Which leads to another issue: We absolutely cannot assume that the Philadelphia gay community is “one size fits all.” People who identify as LGBTQ in this city are just as varied as the colors on a rainbow flag, if not even more so. To assume that every single person in Philadelphia likes the same sort of things, wants to go to the same events, wants to drink at the same bars, is not only lunacy: it’s downright dangerous. To criticize or question how a “gay event” in Philly operates shouldn’t rouse a battle cry to bar an individual from the community. If anything, questioning or offering feedback should be commendable—it is an effort to improve.

In essence, we need a candid, open, and civil dialogue about Pride and how we, as individuals, can contribute to the future of this city’s LGBTQ events without feeling threatened, shamed, or scared. The community has been abuzz for years about wanting to see change; we have the data now to support that a change is not only needed, but required. We can’t let sentiment get in the way of the future. Now is the time to actually do something.

But first, we’ve got to admit there’s a problem.

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  • Guest

    It’s rather diffuclty to say the Philly Pride sucks when you look at the attendence at the Plaza on Sunday. From the stage were I was photographing there wasn’t a space anywhere to be seen. The crowd went up to the 2nd tier with no space for anyone.

    • Guest

      I attended Philly Pride this weekend for the first time. I was impressed with the attendance, but it did need a major overhaul. I say this compairing Philly to other Pride event I’ve attended…like Pittsburgh, Chicago, DC, Toronto, etc… Philly is the 4th Largest City in the USA…it’s time for change and improvement.

  • Patrick Hagerty

    It’s rather diffuclt to say the Philly Pride sucks when you look at the attendence at the Plaza this past Sunday. From the stage were I was photographing there wasn’t a space anywhere to be seen. The crowd went up to the 2nd tier with no space for anyone. PLUS we are taking a hookup sites word for statistics? Come one, Now it is came from a relaible source, I might consider the validity of their claim, but Jack’d is a site that has the oddest people on it and the large amount of their users are European, not from the USA.

  • Neil M.

    Neil McGarry I
    am skeptical of the statistical value of this poll. Are we sure that
    the pool of respondents spans age/race/background categories so that
    it’s a representative sample? Also, I’d be curious to hear *why*
    respondents are displeased with Philly Pride.

    • Kevin

      Pittsburgh Pride had 100,000 and Philadelphia is trumpeting 15,000? Philadelphia is a much larger city. That speaks to the fact that Pride needs to be revise and soon. It is always the same cast of characters: Franny. Chuck. Henri. New blood is needed. Or mutant.

  • Ed Hermance

    How many have been to the festivities in Detroit, Houston, and Dallas? None, of course, so none of the surveyed is in a position to make a comparison. Did none of them say what they liked better in any other city? If not, Jack’d seems to be a platform for people who like to insult other people.

  • Guest

    I agree 100% with this article, and the issue goes much deeper that the Pride event. Philly

  • Luke

    Totally disagree with this article. I am not personally involved with Pride planning or know anyone who is. I had a super fun time at Pride festival and events the past three years! Generally people who went were having a great time as I far I could tell. Philly is such a gay friendly place, and the LGBT community and events in the city are really wonderful. Penn’s Landing is scenic setting for a fun party, in support of people being who they are. Of course the event could always be better, perhaps getting Demi Lovato like LA did, but it is already awesome in my opinion.

  • Luke

    Philly has among the best LGBT communities and events nationally in my view. I disagree that people in other cities have an inaccurate negative view of Philadelphia events, because that is not my personal experience at all.

  • Aaron

    I’d like to say that I went to Pride for the first time this year, and I was a little underwhelmed. I thought that it would be much crazier, that it would be hard to find a spot on the street, and the floats would have a lot more spirit. And once again, I want to say that I did like it, I just didn’t love it, and was expecting more. I also thought that information about Pride was really hard to come by. My friend and I tried to find more things to do after the parade, and couldn’t find anything, and the website was kind of hard to understand.

  • Meg

    Our Pride sucks. I’ve wanted to get involved in organizing it for years but haven’t been able to figure out how. My feeling is that there are leadership issues. Who is the executive director? Who is on the board? Who is making the programming decisions and how are they being made? None of this information is on the website.

  • rich

    the gayboorhood has come a long way and I believe it is definitely one of the happening places in the country in regards to LGBT & community. Unfortunately Gay Pride in Philadelphia is not whats happening and has never been whats happening for a very long time. There are almost no parties going on during the weekend. the big bang of the weekend is the festival and parade and that is just mediocre.

  • Chuck Volz

    Maybe we can start with GPhilly participating!

  • styleguyjosh

    We need to do what outfest does. That makes it a party. In the heart of the city. Shorten the parade route, concentrate the people and keep it in the hood. Spreading it from the hood to the festival site disperses all of the people out and really lessens the impact. Closing the streets and putting the booths along the perimeter and having several stages with performers and dj’s will keep every group happy.

    • Patrick Hagerty

      You do realize the people that do Outfest is the same group that does Pride…..right?

    • KPhilly

      I don’t think we need to re-make outfest in June. Pride should be its own distinguishable event. Philly has dozens of locations, have they been entertained at all? Maybe we should be thinking outside the box? What about Broad Street? Fairmount Park?

  • Dl5bx

    I think pride could use more events : you have voyeur ubar icandy woodys – there should be pride parties / activities during the day and at night have some specials etc. I think the cover was also an obstacle for college and high school age population – 15$ is ALOT of money, maybe there’s a way to look into the costs of certain things. 2013 the parade was awesome, this one didn’t seem as spirited. Maybe we need more sponsors

    • Patrick Hagerty

      You do realize there are cities that charge even more that that. I have seen some that charge as mush as $45.00 and as high as $80.00 with just a DJ. If you want the bars to do more parties, that you need to address that to them, Prides like NYC has nothing to do with the parties the bars throw, that’s solely up to the Bar. Also many of the Pride parties are 21 and over. Philly Pride is one of the few Pride celbrations that is for all ages.

  • Dl5bx

    Also last year there were booths in the streets, which made it more fun and more of a community block party maybe it’d help bring more people out. Fundraising throughout the year would be a solution to some of the cost problems

  • JR

    Change Philly pride to the Second Week in June and stop charging $15 people to get into the festival. Step yo cookies up, Philly pride !

  • Chumley Singer

    Problem #1 is that the organizers, while I’m sure dedicated and hard-working, seem to think there is no problem. Yes, there will always be some degree of attendance – youth who have no where else to go will always attend. Those who feel drinking in public is an amazing way to show their pride will always attend. Those who refuse to let an underwhelming event ruin their pride will always attend. And of course, those who have never been to another city for Pride will always attend – not knowing what they really deserve. Sadly, it is 2014 and our great community deserves more than third rate talent – and having to pay for it to boot. And while we all love the drag queens, our celebration of pride should reflect all of us, our community is more than just drag queens.

  • Joshua Halladay

    You should be grateful that your pride is much better than the city that I live in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have to pay for parking and to get into the main area with all the booths and vendors also we have two main gay bars miles apart from each other and once they’re full to capacity that’s it I once lived in Philly many years ago and went to pride fest there and wish I knew how good it was back then compared to where I am now

  • John

    Of COURSE Philly Pride sucks. It always has.
    Why bother putting on a spectacle that can’t possibly rival New York’s?
    We know what’s holding Philly back–a small-town capital in a HUGE state that wants nothing to do with the ONLY real city in Pennsylvania.

  • Robert Adams

    I attended Philly pride a few years ago and was about 15 minutes late getting to the starting point of the parade route. 15 minutes. It was done and gone. I was more than a little shocked.

  • Irish856

    It is time for new blood at the helm… The parade took just 45 min to Pass by… the only floats were the bars… and wells fargo… we deserve more
    Few of the major corporations had a presence…
    where was …
    G Philly/Philadelphia Mag??
    PGN… why no float or marching
    Comcast??/ where the hell were they…
    Chanel 10… and the others… why no floats?
    Did I miss The Mayor and others marching the route?
    Mayc*s… You advertise how proud you are… you have plenty of balloons in Pride in other cities… why not here
    The list could go on and on and on

    The team running the event is stuck in a rut… they have done the same old thing for 15 years… time that they pass the torch to a new group… it is stale

  • Caitlin

    Take a look at the demographic of attendees at Pride, you need to base your Pride festival off of who your attendees are to keep them coming back. Young people know that Pride is a safe place to express themselves, so we need to bring them to the table for the discussion as well. Every year I loathe the time of Pride, but can’t wait for Outfest. While the numbers were astounding for Pride this year, how many of them are reoccurring attendees. I applaud the effort that is put forth by the committee to create this event as we all know it is not a small feat. However, let’s get some new ideas to the table and bring those into the discussion who will be attending Pride for years to come. Also, let’s find some nicer volunteers because I had horrible experiences all weekend with people in the blue volunteer shirts, except for one.

  • NS

    Just look at the outdated mess of a website and you will see exactly what is wrong with this event. Philly Pride is a tired event that is stuck in the past. It is not 1975 anymore and many changes are needed to attract a broad base of supporters and new attendees: a shorter parade route, higher quality entertainment, more focused schedule, better location, and less emphasis on bars and drinking. It’s time for new leadership – not the same bitter old queens who can’t let go and move on.

  • brrr

    this was the first year i attended pride (after living here four years) and it was definitely underwhelming. i’m not an insider in the community, but there are two things that strike me as odd about the way philly celebrates its lgbt community:
    (1) why does the pride festival/party not take place in the gayborhood, which has tons of gay-owned businesses, organizations, etc, who could benefit?
    (2) why does philly have three prides each year (outfest, equality forum, and pride)? does that dilute the audience for “pride”?
    does anyone know why philly does it this way? i don’t think other cities do this (although i only have anecdotes, no hard evidence). [for the record, i don’t think these are necessarily bad, i’m just curious why we do it this way]

    • NS

      Outfest and Philly Pride are produced by the same (tired) group. Equality Forum was created by others to be an event that is more progressive and have more substance, quality, and a variety of well-rounded events.

      • brrr

        ok, i get it. maybe having three different prides dilutes the audience somewhat? i know i’ve not bothered going to “the” pride before because there’ll be another one along in a few months anyway :)

      • Patrick Hagerty

        And yet the “tired” group had a better attendance than Equality Forum. There were less vendors that were there, less people attended and was even further away from the gayborhood

        • NS

          A couple of broken down floats with a couple of broken down drag queens does not a success make. Neither does public alcoholism. And why does your website look like its 1999? More tired and lame than PGN!

  • Aiden James

    thank you

  • Rich Brome

    Having visited Pride in a few other cities in recent years, I can say from experience that Philly Pride is not what it should be. Much smaller cities put on much better Pride events. San Diego Pride is amazeballs. Heck, even ALBANY, NY puts on a considerably better Pride event! I enjoyed the parade this year in the gayborhood, but in past years I viewed it toward the end, on Market, and it was pathetic. I personally can’t stand to be out in the blazing sun on that hot concrete of Penn’s Landing during the day. They need to move it to the gayborhood. Or it could at least be more of a Saturday evening festival following an afternoon parade.

  • Patrick Hagerty

    WOW! Chumley you say “3rd rate talent”. The Village People? Well-Strung? If it was just 3rd rate talent, how is it, from the time I arrived after photographing the Parade did I see more and more people fill in the seating areas and not move once they found a spot. They are photo’s that I have that show this and I have attached one, you will see wall to wall people. From the time Wendy Ho got on Stage till the Village People finished, that’s what the crowd looked like. It even filled the 2nd level of seating

    Now with all your tearing down about Pride I see NOTHING from you on what you would do to correct this issue! All the negative comments on here who are tearing down Philly Pride, yet I see NONE of them offers ANY suggestions on how they think it should be corrected, WHY??? Because it’s easier to tear something down then offer suggestions.

    We need to be a community; a community works together, it supports each other, it offers help and suggestions. So I say this to EVERYONE who is posting a nasty comment about Philly Pride, Get off your ass and offer some help!! If you think there is something wrong offer suggestions on how you think it should be fixed, don’t just point fingers and sit back because you can’t be bothered to help!! The cocktail will still be chilled when you get back!!!

    • NS

      There are plenty of suggestions and observations in the comments. All you have to do is re-read them instead of going on a defensive rant because you can’t handle criticism.

      • Patrick Hagerty

        PLEASE regale me on those suggestions!!! Most just say it sucks, now people to head. Those aren’t suggestions, just criticisms. And you comment coming from someone who does has the balls to show their name “NS”

        • NS

          Irrelevant. The discussion is about the tired and lame pride events in Philadelphia that are put on by an organization with a website and attitude that is just as tired and lame. That you are being so nasty is a perfect example of why many of us want nothing to do with these event anymore. Stop talking and start listening, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

  • Aspen

    I’ve been to the Dallas pride and I must say it absolutely rocked! This year was my first time going to Philly’s pride. I expected it to be the same as Dallas being it’s a big city. I must say I was disappointed. Something about it just felt bland. The parade was boring and I didn’t feel that everyone in it had really put their best foot forward. I had more fun at last year’s outfest than I did with pride. I think having everything in a more compact environment would help; keep everything near the gay bars.

  • biggestegoaward

    A party in the heart of the city is wonderful. For better or worse most citizens don’t care of you’re gay or straight so long as you also think cable bills should be lower. Celebrate the city’s acceptance and diversity. It would be amazing.

  • guest

    I think they need to look at doing everything Saturday. some people work, and doing a full day of partying on a Sunday-is not possible. in DC (i have only been to two prides, philly and dc), much of the fun happens on saturday and it is in their neighborhood. it is definitely a sad vibe. outfest is my favorite event…much more fun. though i remember the equality forum sunday out day on market street which was fun…and they had cindy lauper play.

  • KPhilly

    I think all everyone wants, is a better Pride. If criticism is looked on as an attack, then we can’t hope for much better. Perhaps, The Philly Pride committee needs to update their site, to be more professional, and show an open book on their finances, their decission making, their processes Attendance. People respect those who make choices, when they know what the decissions were. People can justify a $15.00 attendance when they see how much of that goes into paying for Outfest in the fall. But at this moment, all the official website does, is show rainbow farting unicorns (not literally) as they offer no real information of who the group is, what they look like, where they come from. Let’s open up the committee to outside ideas, a forum on the website perhaps to openly exchange ideas? Let’s see how they collaborate with other Pride Committees from other cities. Let’s see how they market and promote. Transparency, is the key to success in any committee. Let’s pull the committee out of the closet, bring their websute up to 2014 standards (It’s completely stuck in 2001), and let’s grow as a community.

  • crimdaddy

    Pride’s contact email is an AOL address…’Nuff said ;)