By Nick Vadala
Celebrations honoring National Coming Out Day will return to Philadelphia for the first time since 2019 in October, and this time around, they’re coming with a parade.
Organized as part of local LGBTQ organization GALAEI’s Pride 365 program, the parade will be part of the group’s planned OURfest activities, a three-day festival honoring National Coming Out Day, which is observed Oct. 11. Along with the parade, OURfest — an acronym for “Our Uniting Resilience” — will include a resource fair, festival, and additional events, and will run Oct. 6-8.
Known as the National Coming Out Parade, that event will run Oct. 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will begin at Fifth and Market Streets and run through the Gayborhood to Broad and Locust. It will feature floats, marching bands, community leaders, and an appearance by the largest Pride flag in Pennsylvania — a 200-foot tapestry that Galaei debuted in June to kick off Philly Pride Month.
“Pride in June has roots that were in protest and a stand for justice and equality for our larger LGBTQ+ community. We created a march where the entire LGBTQ+ community could participate, march together and raise up our voices,” Galaei executive director Tyrell Brown said. “The parade allows for our community to experience and enjoy a visual display of how far we’ve come, to watch a moving and powerful show together, and to take a moment to enjoy the story of our coming out.”
The following day, Galaei will host the National Coming Out Festival in the Gayborhood, complete with a roster of 200 organizations, entertainers, nonprofits, food trucks, vendors and other exhibitors. That festival will take place on 12th and 13th Streets from Walnut to Spruce.
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Youth and family programming will be included in the festival, and the space where those events take place will be alcohol- and smoke-free, Galaei said. A dedicated sober space will also be provided at Writer’s Block Rehab and will offer a menu of alcohol-free beverages and mocktails. And the Decompression Zone, presented in collaboration with Disability Pride PA, will provide an accessible, quiet space for older attendees and attendees with disabilities, as well as those looking to rest during the event.
Galaei will present an award for the first annual Mx., Ms., Mr. OURfest 2023. The festival will also include events such as Bailar con Amor, honoring Afro-Latinx heritage art, and Kiki Alley, which celebrates Philly’s ballroom community culture and history.
OURfest marks the first National Coming Out Day celebrations in Philadelphia in several years, but the day’s observance stretches back to 1988. Meant to celebrate LGBTQ people accepting their sexuality and living openly, the day was inspired by the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979.
The parade and OURfest are the latest events from Galaei, which took over as the official host of the Philadelphia Pride March this year. That event itself experienced a turbulent few years, initially taking a pause in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the former organizers, Philly Pride Presents, disbanded amid accusations of racism and transphobia. And last year, following a successful relaunch, Galaei’s partner backed out of the event.
“Galaei is proud to be at the forefront of bringing both Pride and National Coming Out back from the pandemic,” Brown said. “But even more so we are honored to help redefine what each of these means to our community now and moving forward.”
Further information about the festival and parade will be announced as the events approach. For information about volunteering or participating, go to www.galaeiqtbipoc.org.