Outfest in Gayborhood expands in awareness and conflict

Hundreds flocked to the Gayborhood Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day with Outfest – an LGBTQ community and resource-based festival that connects various new and old members together publicly. Local and national policy organizations, health clinics, and social bars help sponsor the event every year in mid-October.

“Outfest has gotten a lot larger over the years,” said Mary Frankel, 57, who had been going to the annual event since her early college years. “More transgender people out and proud – I love it.”

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In comparison to other years, there were more trans-health based clinics and public awareness during the festival this time around. Micca Lowry, 19, of Brooklyn, said “the recent transgender murders might be why.”

“A black transwomen just got murdered in Philly last week – they better be out here spreading awareness,” Lowry, who is transgender, said. “When I came out there wasn’t much talk about girls like us … now there’s booths here for us all.”

But this celebration was not met without demonstrations and protest. Two very noticeable religious anti-gay and anti-abortion groups intruded within very lively sectors of the festival. Some of them even had mega-phones and shouted over LGBTQ organizers who were trying to trying to recruit youth for HIV/STI testing.

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“Planned Parenthood is out here and we want folks to know that black lives matter – even the unborn ones,” said Linda Mason, 47. Mason is a “proud supporter” of “Black Genocide” – a protesting group that claims they “want all lives to matter” and is against abortion of any kind.

“It was kind of a bummer to hear them out there,” said Joseph Miles, 22, of New Jersey. “Mazzoni Center is out here actually trying to save lives … these wackos are out here trying to tell people to go to hell.”

But despite the incidents of disagreement and public dispute, members seem to be pleased with the festival.

“Outfest, despite the hot mess of some folks, is always a great time to show up and show out,” said La’Tricia Matthews, 25. “The Gayborhood has a long way to go, but at least its going somewhere.”