Philly Pride Problems: What the Community is Saying

Last week on G Philly, we shared two stories that provided a sobering view of Philadelphia’s Pride celebration — one article revealed results from a national survey that rated Philly Pride one of the worst in the country, the other served as commentary on why Pride seems stagnant and what we could do to change it. As you may expect, folks weighed in loud and clear. So we’re here today to share some of that feedback, which provides an eye-opening look at what specifically irks people about Pride — namely the location, expensive admission, and lousy talent. For the sake of balance, we also round up comments from folks who say Pride should be left as is. That section includes a statement from Pride organizer Franny Price.

“Pride Needs a Make-Over”

“Problem #1 is that, while I’m sure they’re dedicated and hard-working,  the organizers 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.”—Chumley Singer

Having it the same weekend as DC Pride is certainly a detractor. Also the fact that we never seem to book any ‘big names’ makes people indifferent as to wanting to actually go out to the events. When cities like DC, NYC, Chicago, etc. include both popular pop artists, up and coming artists, as well as local talent, they attract the entire community. Philly pride seems more focused on serving a small subset of the community that a majority of people don’t relate with.”—Ryan Foster

Hiking up the price definitely did not work! I don’t understand how Voyeur can attract the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race stars yet [the same performers] flock to other cities to feature in Pride events. [Why pay] $15 to watch a bunch of drunk underage kids and vendors who want more of my money, for what?  Being gay?”—Jewellee Williams

“I’ve been to lots of other Pride in smaller cities and Philly has lots of room for improvement. I honestly think that part of the problem is that the event is diluted by having Outfest and the spring event. It’s also time to up the entertainment; two of the six original Village People is really out of date. I’d suggest a change of venue too … it’s nice to have the big stage, but move the event to the street like maybe Broad Street.”—Tom Schneck

“I didn’t even go this year, as the entertainment was the same as I saw in Iowa City Pride circa 1995. I love our community, but our Pride celebration needs some updating and modernizing“—Melissa Billings

“Hold the vendors and small acts in the Gayborhood after the parade. At night, have a pier dance party with good DJ’s and a major recording artist performing before a fireworks finale. Other major cities do and they have a huge success. Philadelphia is becoming a destination for many LGBT travelers; it’s time that our leaders use our resources to our advantage.”—Jayson Messner

“The parade is fine but the festival at Penn’s Landing is pretty sad, and certainly not worth the $15 ticket. Cities that are smaller than Philly seem to have no trouble booking better entertainment. I’m still in disbelief that Omarosa was the headliner last year.”—Andy Davis

The committee needs to shake things up. I volunteered for the organizing committee about 10 years back, and its filled with hard-working folks who mean well, but they weren’t open to new ideas. I think they should try to find an up-and-coming (inexpensive) event planning professional to come in and turn things on its head, but that’s doubtful given how much the normal person on these committees hate change.”—Anthony Lower

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.”—Meg

“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 reccurring 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.”—Caitlin

“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.”—Rich Brome

“Pride is Fine the Way It Is”

We thought it was great! The weather was good, the parade enjoyable, the entertainment fun (although probably difficult for younger audiences to relate to), and the people were nice. We’re heading to NYC for theirs in a few weeks. Will see about a comparison then.”—Ed Williams

It’s rather difficult to say the Philly Pride sucks when you look at the attendance at the Plaza this past Sunday. From the stage where 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.”—Patrick Hagerty

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.”—Luke

The men and women who put on Philly Pride and OutFest do a lot of hard work for the community. Speaking from someone not affiliated with them, I would bet money that they do not get as much help as they would like in setting these up. I’d venture to guess that Philly Pride would be a lot better (which in my opinion it has been getting better every year) if more people volunteered to help them.”—Josh Hill

People should research how much it costs for permits, insurance, police, security or how much it costs to book all these other entertainers people suggest, because in doing so you’d realize how often event coordinators go through several ideas for headliners and entertainers, but because of scheduling conflicts or certain financial requirements, it’s not possible to book them”—Price Les

Thousands of people celebrated Pride in Philly Sunday. We have heard nothing but positive things, it was the best Pride ever. Thanks G Philly for printing negativity about ur city. —Pride Organizer Franny Price

Not quite satistfied with that response from Price, we reached out to her to see if she was gleaning any helpful ideas from the feedback commenters had submitted. She sent the following response via text:

I don’t [pay] them any mind!!! [None] of them names are posted anything we do! Matter of fact G Philly didn’t even have a table to show support to the community they want to read their post. Also this was a record year and we gave hundreds of more emails saying this was the best ever, and was at a meeting [Wednesday] morning with 22 directors of every big organization in our local community slashing G Philly for posting that — insulting all the people who participated who are from Philly. They had a great time. And not one person who responded ever, ever organize anything this big in their life. Further more 2 years ago our poster was attacked, not one person who commented, volunteered or offered their help in creating ads for us. So these people who don’t do anything this big cant wait to feed off of all the hard work 22 people do. They see thousands and thousands people from all the pictures and that speaks louder than a few people who do nothing, or a gay magazine that dont even have a table. Shame.”

We explained that this wasn’t a personal attack. Franny Price is an important part of our community. We applaud the work she has done for more than 20 years to put together the festival. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Why not make it as big and badass as it can be? Are wrong in thinking this?

We’re curious about what you think. Would you mind taking a second to weigh in in our poll?

POLL: What Do You Think About Philly Pride?

Additional reporting by Josh Middleton