Pop on that rainbow pin and turn up the Lady Gaga tunes — October is LGBTQ History Month, and Philadelphia is at the center of some of the country’s biggest celebrations.
The monthlong observation is first and foremost an opportunity to spotlight the pioneers and major moments of the LGBTQ civil rights movement, while a string of local events, like Philadelphia OutFest on October 7, offer the chance to whoop it up with community members and allies.
LGBTQ HISTORY MONTH FAST FACTS
- LGBTQ History Month is observed every October.
- A massive National Coming Out Day bash, Philadelphia OutFest, takes place on October 7 in the Gayborhood.
- Other events throughout the month celebrate local LGBTQ culture.
Philadelphia OutFest Returns
One of the centerpieces of LGBTQ History Month is National Coming Out Day, on October 11. Philadelphia marks the occasion with Philadelphia OutFest, a massive block party on October 7 from noon to 7 p.m.
The festival is arguably the most anticipated local LGBTQ event of the year because it happens right in the heart of the Gayborhood — and it’s free to attend.
The OutFest Layout
OutFest shuts down 10 blocks in the Gayborhood — roughly 12th Street and 13th Street from Walnut Street to Pine Street, and Locust Street and Spruce Street from 11th Street to Broad Street.
The neighborhood is filled with more than 120 vendors selling food and drinks and handing out all kinds of free swag. Guests can play games and ride a mechanical bull at the Sports Zone on 13th Street between Spruce Street and Locust Street, or shop at a flea market on Spruce Street between 12th Street and 13th Street. A main stage at 13th and Locust streets hosts a full day’s worth of performances by local drag queens, singers and dance troupes.
Looking for grub? There’s a food court at the corner of 12th and Spruce streets, conveniently located next to one of four designated outdoor-drinking areas. Find the other three on 13th Street between Locust Street and St. James Street, and at the corners of 12th and Locust streets and 13th and Irving streets.
More OutFest Parties
Besides the designated drinking areas, local gay bars swing open their doors to sell beverages on the streets and host dance parties and live DJs.
Head over to lesbian bar Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen for an all-day bonanza, where they’ll pour cocktails for $6 and beers for $5 while DJs play nonstop from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.. FOMO-riddled sports fans can catch the Philadelphia Eagles game inside on the big screen starting at 4:25 p.m.
Over at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, Stimulus Philly and Back 2 Basics host Rock the Block! from 4 to 10 p.m. The free bash features a constant rotation of DJs, outdoor dancing and live drag and burlesque performances. Side note: This is one of the last chances to party at this location of Tabu. Later this month, the gay sports bar is moving down the street into the space formerly occupied by Icandy.
Find more OutFest information at phillygaypride.org.
More Ways to Celebrate LGBTQ History Month
OutFest is just one way to celebrate the local rainbow community in Philly during LGBTQ History Month.
On the morning before OutFest, Saturday, October 6 at 11 a.m., a gaggle of local drag queens mark National Coming Out Day with Drag Diva Brunch, a lively sit-down meal and performance at Punch Line Philly.
Also on October 6, the Philly Trans March goes down from 3 to 6 p.m. at LOVE Park. Happening in the shadow of City Hall, the rally is a chance for attendees to raise their voice in the name of equality and justice for transgender individuals.
Eastern State Penitentiary’s haunted attraction, Terror Behind the Walls, goes gay on Wednesday, October 10 from 7 to 10 p.m. The special Pride Night includes admission to all six haunted experiences within the venue as well as a complimentary drink ticket to use at the onsite Speakeasy at Al Capone’s Cell.
Indigo Ball 2018: Golden Years, on Saturday, October 13 from 6 to 11:30 p.m., is a fancy annual fundraiser for the William Way LGBT Community Center. Guests head to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for a Great Gatsby-themed affair that features a three-course dinner and tunes from WXPN DJ Robert Drake.
For even more fun LGBTQ events happening this fall, go here.
More About LGBTQ History Month
LGBTQ History Month began in 1994 as a way to enlighten folks about a side of history rarely taught in the classroom.
The official site for LGBTQ History Month, spearheaded by the Philadelphia Equality Forum, offers information about a different LGBTQ icon every day of the month. In 2018, that list includes a range of national and local movers and shakers, such as music stars Lance Bass and Ani DiFranco; Gilbert Baker, the designer of the rainbow flag; and Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine, the first transgender person to serve on a Pennsylvania governor’s cabinet.
Each icon gets their own bio, links to related articles and photo downloads. To delve a little deeper, check out the Icon Search page to sift through a database of more than 400 pioneers recognized over previous years, from James Baldwin and Leonard Bernstein to Josephine Baker and Willa Cather.
Happy LGBTQ History Month!