William Way Turns 35

The LGBT Center celebrates the anniversary during Pride weekend

William Way turns 35 this year – and to celebrate, the center is hosting Homecoming 2011 (June 11 at 8 p.m.) just one day before Philly’s gay Pride events.

William Way’s Executive Director Christopher Bartlett tells us that the event will feature “fantastic” entertainment from several folks in the LGBT community, including the much beloved and “radically inclusive” gospel choir A Voice For All People and popular drag troupe The Liberty City Kings, Philadelphia’s only all queer drag and burlesque troupe.

Also featured at the anniversary bash: The Ladies of Sinful Sundays, featuring local drag legends Goddess Isis, Omyra Lynn and Diana Dharling.

“The Notorious OMG will be the ‘Mxtress’ of Ceremonies for the evening,” says Bartlett. The William Way will also crown two community leaders as “King and Queen” as nominated and voted on by the attendees.

Several businesses in the community have also donated their talents to the Homecoming, like delicious summertime barbeque food, as well as specialty cocktails and beer provided by Tub Gin, El Dorado Rum, Yards Brewing Co. and Tavern on Camac.

With the blessing of Philly Pride organizers, William Way decided to move beyond its former Building Bash celebration in June, which supported physical improvements to the center, to an event that celebrates the broader community, and the center’s role within it.

“We are thrilled to be creating a new community event that throws open the doors of the community center for the Saturday evening of gay Pride weekend. The William Way is the center of our community, and we want to be a central part of the LGBT pride celebration, too,” explains Bartlett, who celebrates his one-year tenure with the William Way on July 15th.

Think you know the William Way? Here are a few facts:

-The William Way was originally incorporated in 1976 as “The Gay Community Center of Philadelphia.”

-It began in a small storefront on Kater St.

-The center’s been in its current Spruce Street location for the last 15 years.

-The center is home to one of the largest LGBT historical archives in the country.

-In the next few years the center will also be home to the first-ever LGBT senior residences in the region.

Homecoming 2011, June 11, 8 p.m., 1315 Spruce St., 215-732-2220.