LGBTQ&A: Diner en Blanc’s Fernando Valle
Fernando Valle is a long-time supporter of Philadelphia’s Diner en Blanc, the popular annual all-white popup dinner party. We chatted with him about the LGBTQ history of the event and what to expect this Thursday.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with Diner en Blanc.
I’m originally from Mexico City and have been enjoying Philly since moving here in 2011. This year, I am one of the group leaders for Diner en Blanc. I have six amazing table leaders, and all together we are responsible in assisting 150 of the 5,000 guests who will attend the fifth edition of DEB in Philly. The table leaders ensure their group knows where to meet and what to bring. They also answer many questions. I was a table leader last year.
What makes Diner en Blanc so LGBTQ-friendly?
This has been one of the most welcoming experiences in my life! Sexual orientation does not matter. Every guest is welcome to be themselves. The atmosphere encourages everyone to mingle and get to know one another! We party and enjoy a public space to show the world a little bit of Philadelphia: a multicultural and dynamic city.
How has the event evolved for LGBTQ audiences over the years?
In 1988, during the beginning phases in Paris, the seating was based on French royal court seating, with men on one side and women on the other. Philadelphia does not follow that tradition. You come with your date, your friend or your spouse and have a spectacular night.
What should LGBTQ Philadelphians anticipate during Diner en Blanc?
A party in a secret location that will welcome every guest with the intention of having a great night and respecting one another, where everyone dances and can hold hands and feel safe. In addition, it is the night to dress and show your Martha Stewart skills on your table decorations.
What’s your most gay memory while celebrating the event in Philly?
Definitely, year after year, the best part of the night is when everyone lights their sparklers at the sound of Viva la Vida from Coldplay. Five thousand lights shining while people dance, kiss, and toast on the dance floor.