Philly Pride Bridges Past Pain with Future Fierceness

Written by | The Lens

Unpopular opinion: you can’t have success without struggle. Luck is reserved for lottery winners and Kardashians, so the rest of us need to hustle for every dollar we earn.

But at least we look fabulous in the fight, right?

The first Pride festivals blossomed from the blood and bravado of the Stonewall rioters. One year after they stood their ground on stiletto heels and unwavering courage, parades and political gatherings commemorated the uprising, and we have celebrated ever since.

Philadelphia just wrapped up their 50th anniversary of Pride, and the tales emerging from the event are a bracing mix of joy and lament. Our community has always subsisted on oral history; since we are often raised in straight households, we must share our experiences loudly and proudly to ensure that future generations learn from our examples.

But how much progress have we made? And how much further must we march to find solace?

“It’s traumatizing. It’s a scary time,” Tatiana Darden tells the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But we cannot stop living. The more we keep going, the stronger we’ll be as a community.”

Darden is only 27 years old, but her world is arguably as turbulent as the terrain that birthed the inaugural Pride parade. Trans rights are under attack, misinformation festers in every corner of cyberspace, and social unrest divides us with alarming efficiency in the digital era.

But as isolation echoes through our queer experience, we find an ironic connection to the souls of the past. While we wear masks to protect our fellow marchers, the first Philly Priders dropped symbolic masks into a coffin to represent their newly raised voices.

“There are an awful lot of gay people who feel alone,” declared one attendee of the 1972 festivities.

Fast forward to the present day. We have found our LGBTQ+ family, but our liberation has attracted bigots and bullies.

“Hate is always going to exist,” explains Philly resident Stephan Burse. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth… We just have to be brighter than the darkness.”

Leave it to the city of brotherly love to shine a rainbow ray of light on our enduring emergence from the closet and into a more triumphant tomorrow. Philadelphia freedom forever!


Last modified: June 10, 2022