Philly Pride parade, from outlandish to acceptance

The Philadelphia Pride Parade has come a long way.

Now in its 28th year, the Pride Parade’s roots are in what many identify as the first gay pride protest in the nation: a July 4, 1965 protest at Independence Mall where about 40 gay Philadelphians marched with signs demanding equal rights. They returned for several years in an event named the “Annual Reminders.”

And 50 years later, in the summer of 2015, the legalization of gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court was celebrated at the same location – with the lead plaintiff in that historic lawsuit, John Obergefell, on site for the occasion.

Ironically, legal same-sex marriage had already come to Pennsylvania a year earlier after a federal judge’s decision. The Pride Parade in 2014 saw 13 couples wed in a mass wedding ceremony on Independence Mall led by two city judges.

So what else is there to be said?

For South Philly activist, model and musician Cory Wade, 25, who has been on America’s Next Top Model numerous times, the legacy of the Pride Parade is still just as important for the many LGBT people who may not be in a welcoming environment.

“When I was coming to grips with my sexuality and when I was first tapping into my authentic self … It was hard, I was surrounded by negativity,” Wade said. “That’s why we have these pride events, it’s a hub for anybody who feels like they don’t fit in. They know everybody who is in their corner is going to be there on that date. That’s what it was for me.”

Despite the significance of Pride for Wade, he won’t be attending this year, choosing to get his tan on at the Shore instead.

“I think you should always be walking proud,” Wade said. “I wear my pride every single day. I don’t need an event to give me the permission to do that.”

But maybe that’s a sign of how far the Pride Parade has come – people know that it has become its own established institution in Philadelphia.

“That’s what people have been fighting for so long I don’t think awareness should be taken away,” Wade said. “There’s still so much work to be done.”

If you go

Philadelphia Pride events run from Friday to Sunday.

June 10

6 p.m., kick-off party, 12th and Locust streets

June 11

3 p.m., Philly Dyke March, Kahn Park, 11th and Pine streets

June 12

11:30 a.m., Philly Pride Parade, 13th and Locust streets

1 p.m., Philly Pride Festival, Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing