In the eight years that I’ve lived openly as a queer woman, I had never actually been to Pride. Year after year, there was something that got in the way – summer classes, travel expenses, or no one able to go with me. This year, I was determined to go to Pride. I was no longer in college, I lived relatively near Philly’s Gayborhood, and I knew exactly with whom I would be marching and celebrating.
I am happy to report that, for my very first Pride, I marched with The Philadelphians MC and The Bike Stop, surrounded by the people I have grown to care for over the past eight months, carrying flags and singing along to the blaring music. Marching in and photographing Pride gave me a unique perspective where I was both dancing in the streets and acutely aware of the history of Pride and the rebellion that had to happen to create a space of celebration and dignity.
The first Pride was a riot. Pride was born from defiance. From a people fighting to survive, whose very existence was a protest. Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Storme DeLarverie: these names should be etched into the minds of every Queer person, a constant reminder of where we come from.
There are still protests at Pride, because there is still injustice. People of Color and Transpeople remain disproportionally at risk to face homelessness, hate crimes, and police violence. Women face violence and misogyny as women-centered queer spaces continue to disappear. Bisexuals, gender non-conforming people, and non-monogamous people are met with stigma and erasure. However, the protests calling attention to these problems give me some hope for change. Because the queer community is always changing and adapting.
There is no way to capture everything I saw and felt at Philadelphia Pride 2017. However, I hope that the photographs below provide the sense of joy and fellowship I felt while marching this year. I look forward to next year’s Pride and all the adventures I’ll have in the time leading up to it.