13 Fantastic LGBTQ Events In Philly This Fall

Outfest, Martha Graham Cracker, Fringe Festival, AIDS Walk Philly and more...

In fall, Philly’s LGBTQ arts and culture scene activates in a big way.

The season welcomes back Opera Philadelphia’s epic festival, O18, where original performances include Queens of the Night, starring beloved local drag queen Martha Graham Cracker, local cabaret impresario John Jarboe and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe.

Other highlights include the Fringe Festival and an onstage sit-down with two of TV’s most prominent gay icons, AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen.

Here’s a closer look at these events and others slated for Philly this fall.

Fringe Festival

Philly’s 22-year-old, 18-day citywide arts festival comprises more than 1,000 performances by local and international artists, with a focus on accessibility, affordability and moving the needle.

Fringe Festival

When:Through Sunday, September 23
Where:Various locations including FringeArts, 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Cost:Varies by event

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O18

Queens of the Night, part of O18 festival in PhiladelphiaQueens of the Night | Photo by Dominic M. Mercier

Hot off a successful first year, Opera Philadelphia’s O18 festival feeds the momentum with 11 days of productions that highlight human connection, including two standout LGBTQ-centric works. Rising star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo created and stars in Glass Handel, an interdisciplinary world premiere concert and immersive art installation at the Barnes Foundation. And performances of Queens of the Night band together two Philadelphia gay icons — Philly’s John Jarboe of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret and inexhaustible drag-queen king Martha Graham Cracker — with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe.

O18

When:September 20-30
Where:Various locations including the Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South Street
Cost:Varies by event

www.operaphila.org/festival

Artist Bash: Fierce Women at the Barnes Foundation

Aerial dance theater by Tangle Movement ArtsPhoto courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Ahead of the opening of Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist, the Barnes hosts women-only showcase that looks at how to nurture community. Performances by bold female artists include choreographer Annielille Gavino-Kollman, singer Vessna Scheff, clothing designer Nicole Haddad, drummer LaTreice Branson and queer storyteller Nikki Powerhouse, who will debut new performance art.

Artist Bash: Fierce Women at the Barnes Foundation

When:Friday, September 21, 8-11 p.m.
Where:Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:$10

www.barnesfoundation.org

The Laramie Project

Theatre Horizon presents this poignant, popular staged retelling of the story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student who died in October 1998 after being severely beaten in rural Wyoming. At the time of its release in 2000, the play was a monumental production in the theater community. This revival marks the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s death.

The Laramie Project

When:September 28-30
Where:Theatre Horizon, 401 DeKalb Street, Norristown

www.theatrehorizon.org

GayBINGO! and AIDS Walk Philly

GayBINGOPhoto by J. Fusco for AIDS Fund Philly

AIDS Fund puts on the monthly can’t-miss GayBINGO!, which returns for a new season of themed shenanigans and sassy card callouts — all for a great cause. And each October, the organization welcomes thousands of early-morning participants for a charity walk that begins at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where a portion of the national AIDS Memorial Quilt is on display.

GayBINGO! and AIDS Walk Philly

When:Bingo: October 6, November 17 & December 15; Walk: October 21
Where:Various locations including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

www.aidsfundphilly.org

Outfest

OutfestPhoto by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Philly’s giant block party for National Coming Out Day transforms the Gayborhood into a quirky carnival of dance parties outside of bars, rotating drag performances on the main stage at 13th and Locust Streets, food vendors along sidewalks and a slew of wacky games that are kid-friendly — or, in the case of a motorized bull at 12th and Locust streets, decidedly less so.

Outfest

When:Sunday, October 7
Where:Outfest, Between 12th and 13th and Locust streets

www.phillygaypride.org

LGBTQ Night at Terror Behind the Walls

Terror Behind The WallsPhoto courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary

Lovers of live haunts get immersed in Eastern State Penitentiary’s prison-turned-fright factory — while feeling like they’re among friends, even as cannibals and zombies close in on all sides. Afterwards: Participants toast their bravery onsite with a cocktail.

LGBTQ Night at Terror Behind the Walls

When:Wednesday, October 10
Where:Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue

www.easternstate.org

Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now

Haute couture, ready-to-wear attire and accessories by some of the world’s top designers make up this fashionable new exhibit. It begins with Christian Dior’s 1947 game-changing “New Look” and includes pieces from Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons and others — all part of the museum’s renowned collection. Fall visitors may also dine at Stir, the museum’s new 76-seat restaurant with design by architect Frank Gehry and seasonal menu by the Starr Catering Group.

Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now

When:October 16, 2018 - March 3, 2019
Where:Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

www.philamuseum.org

Dance Party Z

The Gayborhood’s must-do Halloween party happens at Tabu with a series of “zombie drag” performances, music from WXPN DJ Robert Drake, a special performance from local drag legend Brittany Lynn and a curated selection of Halloween videos — a party feature made possible by the bar’s new, multilevel digs at the former site of ICandy.

Dance Party Z

When:Saturday, October 27
Where:Tabu, 200 S. 12th Street

www.tabuphilly.com

Henri David Presents: Halloween the Ball

The year’s most colorful, most photographed party celebrates a half century of fabulousness on Halloween night at a hotel. Host and Antique Row jeweler Henri David has presided over this glorious bash since its humble start in 1968 — his costume is always the evening’s big reveal — although his guests’ getups certainly offer competition.

Henri David Presents: Halloween the Ball

When:Wednesday, October 31
Where:Philadelphia 201 Hotel, 201 N. 17th Street

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AC2: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen

Two of cable television’s most prominent gay faces open their minds and mouths in this Q&A tour, during which the two share gossip before taking questions from the audience. That audience can expect plenty of cheerful — and sometimes salacious — banter initiated by Bravo personality Cohen and some blushing from CNN’s famously private Cooper.

AC2: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen

When:Saturday, November 3
Where:Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street

www.kimmelcenter.org

Billie Eilish

With silver hair and an ethereal, synth-y “gloom pop” sound, 16-year-old Eilish has made a surprising impact at a young age, accruing millions of YouTube and Instagram views and nabbing big-ticket appearances on late-night television. Her Philadelphia appearance will include a performance of her first hit single “Ocean Eyes,” along with brand new tracks like “You Should See Me in a Crown.”

Billie Eilish

When:Sunday, November 4
Where:Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street

www.utphilly.com

PAX Unplugged

This offshoot of the major gaming convention Penny Arcade Expo returns to Philly for a second year to focus on board games that venture far beyond Monopoly and Scrabble into queer territory. Some panels and performances explore diversity, and a Diversity Lounge welcomes queer-identifying groups to mix, mingle and game with other LGBTQ game enthusiasts.

PAX Unplugged

When:November 30 - December 2
Where:Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street

www.paxsite.com

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