Philly Pride Organizers Disband Over Stonewall Post Blowup

Photo by Brian Kyed on Unsplash

The group that has organized Philadelphia’s Pride Parade and official Pride events for the past 28 years has disbanded.

Due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, the official Pride Parade for the city of Philadelphia was postponed and downsized into a PrideLite Festival in September. But on June 21, the organization Philly Pride Presents announced that “there will be no PrideLite Festival on September 4.” The organization, instead, has announced the disbandment of its committee and the dissolving of the group.

The catalyst for this disbandment was a June 10 Facebook post from the nonprofit group, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the post, the organization’s Facebook profile retold the story behind the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The problem is, the post included anti-trans and pro-cop sentiments.

“The Stonewall Riots were exactly that,” the post read. “Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. The police were going to transport the bar’s alcohol in patrol wagons, but the patrol wagons had not yet arrived, so patrons were required to wait in line for about 15 minutes. The violence escalated until the police were outnumbered by between 500 and 600 demonstrators. Pennies were throw at the police, then bricks. Ten police officers – including two policewomen – barricade themselves, and several handcuffed detainees inside the Stonewall Inn for their safety. A parking meter was uprooted and used by the crowd as a battering ram. The riots and pandemonium lasted 5 days, the crowds increasing every day.”

Image via Facebook

After its release, the Facebook post and organization received harsh pushback from Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community. From several social media posts to a column from Philadelphia Magazine, there were several people condemning Philly Pride Presents and calling for a boycott. Then, the organization released a statement on June 17 apologizing for the original post. Philly Pride Presents also alleged that an unnamed senior advisor had resigned from the board after creating the post.

“Although no offense was intended, offense was taken and we are sorry. As a consequence, our senior advisor, responsible for the postings, has resigned from the board. The executive director, Fran Price, did not post or approve these comments and requested that they be removed when she read them.”

Image via Facebook

But, again, the group then suddenly disappeared. By Monday, June 21, Philly Pride Presents’ phone line was disconnected, its Facebook page was deleted, and large portions of its website were removed from public view.

In response to the sudden disappearance of Philly Pride Presents, some on social media are celebrating the change as a victory. Though, some are frustrated with the lack of information and accountability. And some wonder who will fill in to organize Philly’s future Pride events.

On the last matter, Black and brown LGBTQ organizers like Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, a West Philadelphia-based writer and co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Co-operative (BBWC), are putting together an event to replace the abandoned September PrideLite. In addition, Another Planet Barber Shop is hosting a South Street Pride this Saturday, June 26. Plus, there are several Pride-themed events happening all over the city, according to the PhillyGayCalendar. There just isn’t a main organization tying them all together. Despite that, Muhammad and company see this sudden disappearance as a much-needed change.

“It allows for something new to be born,” Muhammad told The Inquirer. “It allows for something resonant with Black and brown queer and trans people in the city, for all LGBTQ folks in the city, to have a space that’s truly held by the people in our community.”

“The abrupt departure of Philly Pride Presents leadership gives LGBTQIA community members a golden opportunity to build something that represents all of us — and completely unlike what came before,” wrote journalist Ernest Owens for Philly Mag.

Many LGBTQ activism groups have also noted the lack of action from prominent, commercial, and governmentally-backed LGBTQ community leaders and organizations.

As Nic López Rodriguez, a queer Latin activist who served as the executive director of queer Latin social justice group Galaei between 2016 and 2018, said, “There is a saying in Spanish that accurately describes the silence of Philly’s LGBTQ leaders and that is: dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres — tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. Their silence has proven exactly who they are, they have an opportunity to use their power to truly confront systemic change, and they have chosen to do nothing. They want us to forget this incident, but we’ll never forget.”


Source: The Philadelphia Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 94.5 PST,

11 thoughts on “Philly Pride Organizers Disband Over Stonewall Post Blowup”

  1. It’s time for the POCs to celebrate their own Pride. We are all supposed to be united, yet if we micro-identify and become offended about everything, we won’t ever come together again as a larger community. Every LGBTQI person has had to face some diversity. Why can’t we fight against that together, and stop being offended by ourselves?

    I see you, Sis! I see all of you. Get over your little groups & work together.

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  2. Though I also feel that at times people take offence easily, in this instance they were right to complain. And a small edit as suggested will not douse the flames it ignited. The author was aware of what they were igniting, and they succeeded. By describing what occurred isolated from its contexed, harassment of the LGBTQ+ community by police and other institutions, it paints the patrons as peeved children and the police as victims. There is also the deliberate stressing of the Riot aspect not calling it an uprising. After a turbulent year in the U.S. with uprisings/riots this was knowingly bound to get both sides of the present issues railed up and so planting the seeds of division.

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  3. This is seriously fcked up. There was nothing offensive about that post. There were both drag queens and trans women at that bar and I highly doubt any of them would be offended by that facebook post. Get a thicker skin or you are going to homogenize the community into a bunch of worthless mutes afraid of any thoughts or opinions. What a shame

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  4. Maybe this is a good thing. It could just be a good time for those people who are anti-cop, or trans supporters who think that everyone is going to be perfectly accepting, find their own organizations where everyone is in agreement and marching in lock-step. In a time where everyone should be coming together for mutual support, this sounds pathetic. It seems like a great celebration was spoiled with a few people acting like “babies” who seem to take themselves too seriously. Maybe it’s time to end pride as we know it. Too many groups see things too differently. I, myself, think there are far too many initials in our little “group” and too many people with issues that need their own grouping or organization to deal with them. I identify with GAY MEN’S issues . I support others, but I also am a big environmental supporter, and yet I do not advocate for a few more initials so we can all be cuddly and inclusive, and march down the street as one happy family (which, obviously, we’re not).

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  5. Sounds to me that there has been some past issues brewing, and that this was an opportunity to disolve instead of help fix the issues.
    Shame that the LGBTQ community is mimicking Washington DC’s government cancel culture.

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  6. I’m trying to understand where the offense is. Is this not what happened at Stonewall? Was it the term “men dressed as women”?
    There were many POC @ Stonewall …..and it was the drag queens who lead the defiance against the police!
    I am confused and trying to stay enlightened.
    We need to remain a diverse but UNITED group to move forward.

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    • The “men dressed as women” were actually trans women, Martha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera among others no doubt, both there at the Stonewall uprising. No, they are not men dressed as women, they are women. It’s a deliberate and trans-phobic insult from that original poster to call them men.

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      • If you mean MARSHA P. JOHNSON…. she never used the term transgendered to identify herself. She said transvestite. She also stated in an interview that people credit her with throwing the brick that started it all and she had no idea where that came from, because she didn’t.
        And back then; yes, some men would wear some women’s clothing to the gay bar, they were not living a woman’s life….. they wore some women’s clothing. Nothing less, nothing more. Yes, there were also transexuals, and transgendered people at Stonewall even with the term “transgendered” not yet having been invented.
        People rewriting history to fit today’s narrative need to stop.

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  7. Surely a small edit to this tweet was all that was necessary. Disbanding the entire organisation and cancelling the festival seems like throwing the toys out of the pram.

    Reply

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