7 Things to Know About Pittsburgh PrideFest 2014
The festivities kick off this weekend. Read up to prep yourself for the fun.
Photo courtesy of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh
It’s that time of year again. Kaleidoscopic flags fly from downtown lampposts and vibrant “Be Brave” banners hang from the streetlights. Pittsburgh PrideFest returns tomorrow — bigger than ever.
In 2007, when the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh took over the planning of Pittsburgh Pride, 3,000 people attended. In 2013, there were 85,000 attendees for the annual series of events — a parade, street fair, parties, concerts and more — that offer a safe and celebrative space for LGBT members of the community and their allies. Since Pittsburgh Pride’s birth in the 1970s, the festival has become the city’s fifth-best-attended special event, according to Christine Bryan, director of marketing and development for Pittsburgh Pride.
As LGBT visibility in news, entertainment and sports is at an all-time high and the issue of same-sex marriage is increasingly debated, Pittsburgh Pride receives generous corporate sponsorship. Pittsburgh is unique among comparably sized cities for welcoming nationally recognized performers — think Melissa Etheridge, Adam Lambert or this year’s headliner, Chaka Khan — for a Pride festival, says Bryan. This brings out people who might not otherwise attend a gay-pride event, she explains.
“While they are here, [they have] the opportunity to mingle and mix and be among folks they might not have otherwise had a chance to,” she says. “It really helps change hearts and minds.”
Pittsburgh Pride events will be held June 6-15; the official kick-off is Equality on Ellsworth, a rally and street festival, scheduled for this Sunday. Here’s a full primer.
June 6: Pride Shabbat welcomes openly-gay political trailblazer Stephen Glassman
Friday at 5:30 p.m., Rodef Shalom Congregation will hold Pride Shabbat, a celebration and lecture open to members of Pittsburgh’s LGBT community, Jewish community and allies alike; the featured speaker will be Stephen Glassman, an architect and lecturer who in 2002 became the first openly-gay individual to receive a gubernatorial appointment to a Pennsylvania office.
June 8: “Glee” star Charice performs at Equality on Ellsworth concert
Although local businesses including Cruze and Lululemon athletica host a variety of pre-launch events, the Pittsburgh Pride celebration officially commences on Sunday with a performance from “Glee” starlet Charice. The debut event, Equality on Ellsworth, also will feature a lyrical mashup of spoken voice artist Vanessa German; B-52’s Tribute band, The Re-52s; and DJ B-Tips, Phat Man Dee and Pittsburgh native drag kings and queens. The concert will take place on Ellsworth Avenue. $10 is the suggested donation for admittance.
June 12: Pool party!
Booked a babysitter and looking to take a night on the town? Pittsbugh Pride features a pair of after-dark options. Splash!, a massive pool soiree, is scheduled for Thursday, June 12 from 7 p.m.-midnight at Herforth & Karlovich Party Palace in Mount Washington. Tickets cost $30 in advance or $40 at the door. The event features a hot tub, dance floor and sauna. Admission includes complimentary cocktails and a chance at meeting a surprise attendee.
June 13: Pub crawl!
The party rolls into Friday at the Pittsburgh Pride Pub Crawl from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Guests will take a bus to gay-friendly bars throughout the city. Stops include 941, Brewers and Cruze Bar. Tickets for this 21-and-up event cost $30 in advance and $35 the day of; cost of admission also covers a coupon book containing discounts to all the pubs en route. The trip is entirely self-paced, with buses running every 20 minutes.
June 14: Chaka Khan and friends take the stage at Pride in the Streets
Prepare for the traffic lights on Liberty Avenue to quake with the breathtaking bravado of Chaka Khan. A former member of the 1970s band Rufus, Khan will headline Pittsburgh Pride in the Streets on Saturday, June 14 beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door (if available).
YouTube sensation Marar will kick up the beat with her dance mixes. (Listen!)
Chambers will keep the groove rolling with her setlist of love jams. (Listen!)
American Idol finalist Argbos will enchant audiences with his smooth voice and inspirational story. (Listen!)
Puerto Rican drag queen D’Opulence also will be making her debut performance on the downtown stage.
June 15: The Pride March is the city’s most colorful parade
Sunday’s Pride March marks the last day of the week's festivities and, much like a July Fourth fireworks show, the finale is a spectacle of stunning color and activity. Representatives from Pittsburgh Powerhouses, UPMC, Heinz and Google Pittsburgh join the march to Liberty Avenue. The paraders begin on the Boulevard of Allies, skirt Grant Street, wind left onto Fifth Avenue and turn right onto Liberty. The parade will run from noon to 1 p.m.
And remember, it’s all for a good cause
The moral of the story is: Proceeds benefit the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh. Delta seeks to foster a culture of acceptance in the city for the LGBT community. This grand event is a vibrant demonstration of the organization’s mission. So, be brave, be you and be on Ellsworth Avenue at the right time.
Grab tickets to all the events on Pittsburgh Pride’s website.