By Shara Dae Howard, KYW Newsradio
Philadelphia’s LGBTQ communities are completely revamping the city’s annual National Coming Out Day celebration, and they’re doing it with a little bit of glitter and a new name.
Philadelphia is one of few cities in the country that regularly produces curated events in recognition of National Coming Out Day, observed on Oct. 11, as a day to support who is in the process of owning their identity and “coming out of the closet.” Tyrell Brown, executive director of GALAEI, says the organization is taking the celebration to a whole new level this year.
“We were like, ‘We always do a block party but can we do something else and add another layer to this?’ That’s where we came up with the parade as well.”
GALAEI, which also produced June’s LGBTQ Pride March and Festival, will host OURfest, formerly known as Outfest. The celebration will now be a weekend-long event, including an LGBTQ Pride parade on Saturday, Oct. 7 — different in tone from the march of June’s Pride Month — and a community festival in the Gayborhood on Sunday, Oct. 8. The festival will feature programs for youth and families, dedicated spaces for people who are sober and a food truck market.
“OURfest is an acronym: Our Uniting Resilience Festival,” explained Brown, “so we wanted to make sure we were lifting that up and the storytelling aspect of it too.”
Brown says as political opposition mounts against LGBTQ communities nationwide, specifically those of color, it’s necessary to highlight pride and identity, which happens to be the central theme of the celebration.
“It’s really important we get stories out there from Black and brown queer and trans folks in Philadelphia, to tell how they came out, the hurdles they overcome, but also the joy they have every single day and how they overcome every single day,” said Brown.
“Because that is the kind of resilience, when you share it with other people, that inspires them to come out as well.”