What We Learned at Pride

Highlights from the party front

Drag queens on the parade sidelines were decked out in some serious Pride gear. Pictured: The Lady Marisa

It looks like a rainbow threw up in here. It could be because yesterday we hit up the official Gay Pride parade, Penn’s Landing and many of the after-parties around town. It was a long day, but the rain managed to hold off long enough to get our gay on. Here are a few highlights from the event:

Lesson learned. If you don’t make it to the Gayborhood by the time the Dykes on Bikes kick off the parade (They vroom at noon!), it can be a long, sweaty walk to Old City trying to catch up with all the floats you don’t want to miss. The crowd at 13th and Locust was bigger than we’ve seen in years. After tipping our hat to friends who were most definitely making the most of Sunday brunch, we hankered down at a watering hole on Market to take in the parade with a few friendly folks from around the country – even as far as California.

The folks at ICandy and Tavern on Camac/Uncles really outdid themselves with amazing floats this year – drags queens and all. We spotted everything from Rosie the Riveter and sailor boys to glammed-out queens and more than one Muscle Mary. We were also impressed with the live inspirational vocals from MCC of Philly.

Philadelphia Fins: You always know exactly what to wear during Pride each year – next to nothing.

We were a little disappointed with the huge gaps between parade participants. We get that the organizers were trying to stretch things out, but the lulls made for some serious low-points without any music or revelry.

And where were all the members of local LGBT organizations? While GALAEI had a great showing – Carnival style – the William Way was sparse, even if we did enjoy seeing Christopher Bartlett on his trusty bike (What? No flowers this time, Chris?). We’re guessing those folks may have done a little too much partying at “Homecoming 2011” the night before.

Gay-friendly companies also made a showing, including LGBT employees from Wells Fargo, US Air (we loved the gay flight attendants pushing beverage carts through the streets of Philly) and PECO.

And yes, that was the gayest majorette ever leading the Philadelphia Freedom Band, who interpreted some Gaga for fans (speaking of Gaga, did anyone catch the guy with the red Gaga-inspired costume who seemed to be everywhere?).

And yep, those were gay cheerleaders from Cheer New York doing some very adventurous routines – flips and all – atop the macadam on Market Street.

Fact: The gays love their pets. Thankfully Penn's Landing is a pet-friendly venue where we met 10-year-old Hudson.

Young folks were also out in full force on the parade route and at Penn’s Landing, where the hot sun didn’t keep anyone away. We also spotted a lot of Pride-inspired tees from Old Navy, despite protests by conservative, anti-gay organizations to boycott the retailer in time for all the LGBT events this month.

We personally had a great time meeting and greeting everyone at our booth on the waterfront. Thanks for stopping by! We’ll be in touch to let winners know what prizes they won.

As we tried to cool down, it was worth the extra five bucks (for a collectible cup) to lend support to the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, who were mixing up icy Ab Fabs with peach vodka and lemonade. But how disappointed when these guys ran out of vodka.

The Trevor Project ambassadors to Philly were also canvasing Penn’s Landing (we spotted your white tees) with hopes of recruiting more volunteers and bringing awareness to issues impacting LGBT youth. You can follow them on Twitter @TrevorPhilly.

We didn’t forget to toss a few balls at Sisters‘ Dunk-a-Dyke tank where a portion of proceeds support cancer research. Not a bad way to cool off, ladies. How many times was Denise Cohen dunked exactly?

And how many of you paid a buck to sign the historic marker banner for Giovanni’s Room or to get a kiss from the dedicated folks at the Action AIDS?

By the time Aisha Tyler took the stage, Bruce Yelk’s “Triumphant Pride” was already packing them in at Mad River. We stopped by to see lots of familiar faces, hear some live music and, we admit it, soak in some air conditioning. Plenty of guys even ended up in a new music video that Jade Starling filmed at the Old City club. And we spotted one of the regular (straight) bartenders wearing a Madonna T-shirt. Happy Pride, indeed.

Stimulus” also worked up a Sapphic sweat with a six-hour dance party in the loft at Marathon Grill. We also celebrated with friends at The Bike Stop where the bears and otters were practically giving away ice-cold $3 beers at the bar. And Woody’s, despite the construction work on the restaurant and side bar, still managed to draw a crowd late into the evening.

Have any favorite Pride highlights or quandaries? Share them with us.