Philadelphia celebrated the 30th Annual PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Kelly Burkhardt)

by Sue Ann Rybak

You don’t have to walk far along the tree-lined streets of Mt. Airy before you see a sign that says “Hate has no home here” or “Love is Love.” The message is clear – even to a child – that everyone is welcome here.

It maybe one of the reasons why the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, Philadelphia Family Pride and the Mt. Airy Art Garage partnered to host the first annual Philly Family Pride Picnic and Arts Festival at Lovett Library Park, 6945 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 23.

Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride, said the nonprofit is excited to be partnering with the Mayor’s Office and the Mt. Airy Art Garage to host the “Pride Celebration and Arts Festival.” She added that the organization hopes that by hosting the event outside of Center City, it will be a little more accessible for families – especially those with disabilities.

There will be lots of family-friendly activities including facepainting, a juggler, live music by Music Over Matter or M.O.M., Anna Crusis Women’s Choir, and arts-n-crafts. The Arts Festival will be held behind the library where a variety of artists and artisans will be selling everything from photography, paintings, sculptures, digital arts, mixed media, jewelry, ceramics, hand blown glass, fabrics/textiles, handmade leather goods and buckles, and much more.

If you don’t feel like packing a picnic lunch, attendees can feast on a smorgasbord board of gourmet goodies from food trucks including Zsa’s Gourmet Ice Cream and Ramble Pizza.

Haynes said there will also be resource tables from a variety of organizations and nonprofits including The Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Williams Way LGBT Center, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, PFLAG, Fifty Shades of Purple Against Bullying and more.

Arleen Olshan, co-founder of the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), said the nonprofit, which works  to support and connect multi-disciplined artists in order to build a thriving, safer community, was honored to have been approached by the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to partner in the Philly Family Pride Picnic & Art Festival.

Through local and city wide partnerships, MAAG uses art  “to create a sense of community spirit and pride.” Recently, students at Eleanor C. Emlen School completed the Community of Pride (COP) Mural and Literacy Project. The students’ artwork is currently on display in the library. In an earlier interview about the COP mural, she said the project was designed to not only to “create a sense of community spirit and pride,” but “to create a culture of respect that encourages children to embrace each other’s differences.”

“Mt. Airy is one of the most diverse communities, recognized nationally for being a positive place to live and work,” she said. “Hosting this event is an affirmation to our neighborhood and the resident families, showing our children the respect that everyone deserves regardless of their gender, race, country of origin, or economic status. The Art Festival by local artisans exemplifies, to both young and elder residents, that creativity can both enhance, heal, support the quality of life we share.”

Mayor Jim Kenney said in celebration of Pride Month and Philadelphia’s 30th Anniversary of Pride, the city has partnered with organizations across Philadelphia to spread “pride throughout our city.”

“I encourage all Philadelphians to get involved and come out and support our LGBTQ community at one of these events,” he said. “This Pride Month, let’s show the rest of the nation how just how inclusive, welcoming, and proud Philadelphia really is.”

Amber Hikes, executive director for the Office of LGBT Affairs, said the city “celebrates the rights of all LGBTQ Philadelphians’ to live, work, and love” in Philadelphia. She added that the Office of LGBT Affairs advocates for policy that supports  [the LGBT] “community in all aspects of their daily lives.”

“Over the past year, City Council has passed legislation banning conversion therapy and replacing gendered marital signifiers in city code,” she said. “Conversion therapy is a harmful practice that is condemned across the country by mental health and non-profit organizations. Eradicating the use of gendered language in ordinances ensures that Philadelphia is protecting its LGBTQ community members, as well as recognizing that all genders, sexual orientations, and relationships are vital components of our city. Using non-gendered terms such as spouse is a simple solution to a serious problem and shows respect for the marriages and identities of LGBTQ Philadelphians.”

Earlier this year, the City hosted the first LGBTQ+ State of the Union to raise awareness and address issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and how people can work together to protect the rights of all Philadelphians.

Mayor Kenney said The LGBTQ+ State of Union is “critical” in this time “of social and political unrest.”

“Over the past decade, we have witnessed great progress in the fight for rights and liberties of LGBTQ+ individuals, but we must work together to ensure that these triumphs are not undone,” he said. “It is vital for us to gather together and affirm that all LGBTQ+ people deserve respect. There is nothing greater than striving for the inclusion, empowerment, and protection of those who continue to be marginalized.”

For more information about PRIDE events, go here.