The Chestnut Hill Community Association held its first-ever Pride Party last Friday night.
The Chestnut Hill Community Association’s first-ever Pride Party, which was held Friday night at NoName Gallery, featured all the staples of any quality party: fashionable guests, scrumptious food, and, of course, a signature cocktail.
CHCA board member Alex Burns, who is also the artistic director at Quintessence Theatre, said he hopes it’s just the start of many more such events designed to support the neighborhood’s LGBTQIA+ community.
“I heard many people, from many different generations, all talking about how wonderful it felt to be together in one space that was specifically for this affinity group,” Burns said. “So we created a goal, to think about other ways in which we can create opportunities like this on a more frequent basis, whether that’s meeting for walks, or taking over a bar or event space once a month or so.”
As for the signature cocktail? “They/them-onade,” a heavenly concoction devised by CHCA membership & administration coordinator Will Standish, features vodka and a honey-lavender lemonade shrub topped off with sparkling water. Then a little wedge of lemon and a sprig of lavender for garnish. The lavender came from the garden of Heather Gray, CHCA director of marketing and communications.
Two of the guests, Mary Moorhouse and Angela Griffiths, said they were happy to see that such an event would be hosted here in Chestnut Hill – though they would have liked to see a bigger crowd.
“I was really glad to see that there was an event,” Moorhouse said. “That’s a breakthrough in itself. And it’s a start.”
Standish, however, said the turnout was “really better than we could have hoped, especially given how dreadful the weather had been earlier in the day.”
Griffiths, who left Washington, D.C. to join Moorhouse when the couple decided to retire in Philadelphia, said she wasn’t too sure about what kind of welcome they would get when they were house hunting in Chestnut Hill.
“My sense was, ‘Oh, they probably don’t want gay women moving in,’” Griffiths said. But the couple, who has lived here since retiring together 18 years ago, said they think attitudes have shifted since then.
“I think overall that Chestnut Hill has either become more ‘gay friendly,’ or we’re just seeing them more,” Griffiths said. She’s not sure whether that’s because more gays are living here, she said, or they’re just patronizing the stores and the restaurants that draw people from all over the region.
The event was attended by guests who came from as far away as Wayne. The party also was attended by Chestnut Hill’s newly-elected state representative, Tarik Khan. Khan told the Local the party was “a great way to celebrate Chestnut Hill Pride and kick off the summer.”
“Our conversations at NoName Gallery that night spurred thoughts about ways the legislature can support local art and artists, something I’ll be working on in the coming weeks,” Khan added.
Gray, who helped organize the event, said the CHCA intends for the event to be held annually going forward during June, which is Pride Month.
“We’re trying to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community in Chestnut Hill,” Gray said. “This is just the start of it.”
CHCA board member Laura Lucas said she attended to express her support for the gay community, and found it to be “an evening filled with love, pride, and unapologetic authenticity.
“In these turbulent times, the need for our community to come together and celebrate one another is more vital than ever,” Lucas said.
While partying, the CHCA also managed to raise funds for the William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City.
CHCA executive director Anne McNiff thanked the owner of NoName, Jonene Nelson, and everyone who contributed a donation to the William Way Center.
“We were thrilled that the party was such a success and look forward to making this an annual event,” McNiff said. “We wanted to celebrate the people who are a vital part of our community.”