The Biggest Gay and Lesbian Events Coming to Philadelphia in 2015
Parties, art exhibitions, film festivals and more
Earning a perfect score on the Human Right Campaign’s Municipality Index for three years running, Philadelphia continues to prove that it’s still one of the best destinations for LGBT travelers to get their history straight and their nightlife gay.
In 2015, Philadelphia marks the 50th Anniversary of the Gay Rights Movement with a year of commemorative exhibitions at major institutions and a Fourth of July weekend full of special events, including a re-enactment of the first “Annual Reminder,” which took place in front of Independence Hall on July 4, 1965.
Add to that landmark celebration a calendar of weekly parties, annual gay pride events, eye-popping art exhibitions and celebrity-studded film and theater festivals. Here’s a look at the best events by the night, week, month and year in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.
LGBT Annual Events
Pink Pub Crawl
March 21 and November 25, 2015
Pink Pub Crawl guides participants to some of the Gayborhood’s favorite watering holes. Those wearing pink can join the sipping for $25 ($30 for non-pink wearers), with free admission to Voyeur Nightclub included.
Dining Out For Life
April 30, 2015
Diners nosh for a great cause during Dining Out for Life, an annual event in which participating restaurants around the city donate 33% of every breakfast, lunch and dinner bill to Action AIDS.
Philadelphia Black Gay Pride
Over five days, Philadelphia Black Gay Pride entertains and inspires with open-mic spoken word, awards, parties and much more happening at venues all over the city.
Philadelphia brings together people of different races, ethnicities and sexual orientation during the Annual Philadelphia Black Gay Pride celebration, a growing tradition that continues to influence and educate the community. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.)
Mr. Gay Philadelphia
April 2015 TBA
Who will nab the top prize during Mr. Gay Philadelphia? Celebrity judges size up the competition based on a variety of criteria during the all-male pageant.
U.S. National Mr. Gay competitors pose at the Rockie statue in Philadelphia. (J. Kaczmarek for Visit Philadelphia.)
New Hope & Lambertville Celebrate Pride
May 10-17, 2015
Bucks County’s 12th annual New Hope & Lambertville Celebrate Pride includes the Pride Parade, athletic events, family activities, performances, dance parties and more. Proceeds benefit national and local charities.
Each May, the New Hope Celebrates Pride festival includes the Pride Parade, athletic events, musical performances, a dance and more, and proceeds benefit national and local LGBT charities. (A. Sinagoga for Visit Philadelphia.)
Pride Day LGBT Parade and Festival
June 14, 2015
The 27th annual Pride Day LGBT Parade and Festival takes place during International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and features live music, DJs, food and drinks. A festive parade, the signature event, runs from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing.
More than 10,000 people and 150 vendors come out for Pride Day LGBT Parade and Festival in June. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.)
Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference
June 4-6, 2015
The 14th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, focuses on educating and empowering Trans, GV (gender variant) and GNC (gender non-conforming) individuals and promoting wellness in mind, body, spirit and community.
Reminder Block Party
July 5, 2015
Taking over Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, the Reminder Block Party commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first major U.S. protest for LGBT equality, which took place in front of Independence Hall on July 4, 1965. Vendors, food, music and plenty of pro-gay organizations celebrate half a century of pride and progress.
The 50th anniversary of the first U.S. protest for LGBT equality will be commemorated this summer in the Gayborhood. (J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia.)
July 10-20, 2015
A picture-perfect event for movie buffs, qFLIX Philadelphia (formerly QFest) welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers to town to screen dozens of movie premieres and attend other celebrity-studded events.
August 7-22, 2015
The fifth annual GayFest! puts LGBT lives center stage in Philadelphia’s only LGBT theater festival. Participants take in plays, music, dance, performance art and spoken word at Plays & Players and Theatre Exile.
Philadelphia Phillies’ Gay Day
August 5, 2015
Summer, sports and LGBT celebration comes together for the Philadelphia Phillies’ Gay Day. The beloved home team welcomes thousands of gay and lesbian fans to Citizens Bank Park each August.
The Boys of Summer
August 7-9, 2015
The hottest guys in the region descend upon Philadelphia for The Boys of Summer, Philly Gay Calendar’s annual swimsuit party/fundraiser. Highlights: hot body contest, live performances and lifeguards galore.
October 11, 2015
Philadelphia celebrates National Coming Out Day with OutFest, a block party in the heart of the Gayborhood that’s made up of drag shows, games, bar crawls and shopping. Philadelphia’s celebration is the largest Coming Out Day street festival in the world.
Don’t miss Philadelphia’s Outfest, a National Coming Out Day (NCOD) Festival that attracts over 30,000 people to the region. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.)
Gender Reel takes a look at transgender and non-conforming gender identities during an art and film festival featuring performances and special events.
Everything is Going On Brilliantly: Oscar Wilde and Philadelphia at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Through April 26, 2015
The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia hosts Everything Is Going on Brilliantly: Oscar Wilde and Philadelphia, an exhibition that focuses on Oscar Wilde’s connections to Philadelphia. Believed to be either homosexual or bisexual, Wilde gave a series of lectures throughout the area in 1882, and in many ways, he never left.
Speaking Out for Equality: The Supreme Court, Gay Rights, and the Constitution at the National Constitution Center
June 5-September 7, 2015
At the National Constitution Center, Speaking Out for Equality: The Supreme Court, Gay Rights, and the Constitution explores the gay-rights movement through the constitutional “conversations” that have framed the struggle for equality. Supreme Court cases and public discourse reflect the national mood at various points along the journey.
Speaking Out for Equality will address the Reminder Day demonstrations and explore the impact the demonstrations had on the gay rights movement. (D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia.)
En Blanco y Negro (In Black and White): A Gay-Latino Perspective at Taller Puertorriqueño
June 12-July 25, 2015
The paintings and drawings of Philadelphia-born José Luis Cortes, one of the earliest out Puerto Rican artists, depict New York City’s gay scene. Taller Puertorriqueño mounts an exhibition of his works in En Blanco y Negro (In Black and White): A Gay-Latino Perspective.
Legendary at The African American Museum
June 12-August 16, 2015
Through the photographs of Gerard H. Gaskin, The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Legendary captures the culture of “house balls.” These parties, popular in the African-American and Latino gay and transgender communities, allowed marginalized groups to embrace and showcase their most vibrant selves. Evidenced by the images, the “house balls” were full of artistry and self-fashioning.
This summer, explore the world of “house balls” via Gerard H. Gaskin’s photographs at The African American Museum. (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.)
LGBTQ Library Activism at The Free Library of Philadelphia
June 22-August 14, 2015
The Free Library of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Library Activism exhibition emanates from the 1960s protests led by Barbara Gittings, founding coordinator of the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force. It will feature moments from her life including her first protest march at Independence Hall 50 years ago. Also on display: books and materials important in the life of the LGBTQ community from the pre-Stonewall era to today. The exhibit will be displayed in the Parkway Central Library’s West Corridor.
More Exhibitions, Exhibits and Events in Philadelphia.
Discover the work of art masters, local creators and global innovators at the events and exhibitions in Philadelphia happening now. Click the button below for the latest info on ongoing exhibitions, exhibits and events in the city right now.
Proud Marys – A Diva Sing-A-Long at the Suzanne Roberts Theater
March 12-14, 2015
Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus performs songs inspired by the long list of ladies that everyone knows and loves—think Judy, Barbra and Cher—in Proud Marys – A Diva Sing-A-Long.
Shut Up And Dance at the Forrest Theatre
March 21, 2015
Every year, the dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet produce Shut Up & Dance. The one-night-only performance takes place at the Forrest Theatre and benefits local non-profit MANNA.
Annual fundraising performance Shut Up & Dance returns to the Forrest Theatre stage in support of MANNA on Saturday, March 21. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Hagerty.)
Liberace! at the Walnut Street Theatre
March 24-April 12, 2015
All about the highs and lows of being “Mr. Showmanship,” Liberace! dazzles at Walnut Street Theatre. From classical to ragtime, the piano score almost matches the range and diversity of the acclaimed American icon.
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at The Wilma Theater
March 25-April 19, 2015
At The Wilma Theater, lesbian playwright Paula Vogel Wilma artistic director Blanka Zizka put on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Considered by many to be the greatest play written in the English language, Hamlet portrays the fight for the throne of Denmark, the quest for moral righteousness and the complexities of vengeance—this time in a 21st-century context.
The Submission at the Walnut Street Theatre
April 9-25, 2015
Quince Productions puts on The Submission at the Walnut Street Theatre. Under a pseudonym, a gay white man writes a play about growing up poor and African-American. When a major theater festival wants to stage it, he hires an African-American actress to “play” the playwright, and dromedy ensues.
Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Walnut Street Theatre
April 12 and 19, 2015
The hit of Gayfest! 2014 returns for two nights only at the Walnut Street Theatre. Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays features a collection of short plays by world-famous playwrights. Proceeds benefit LGBT community groups.
Standing On Ceremony will play at the Walnut Street Theatre for two nights only this April. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.)
Kinky Boots at the Forrest Theatre
April 28-May 10, 2015
Audiences at the Forrest Theatre kick up their heels for the six-time Tony Award®-winning musical, Kinky Boots. A struggling shoe factory owner teams up with funky entertainer Lola, who is in need of some sturdy stilettos. Together, the unlikely pair learns that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.
Bette Midler at the Wells Fargo Center
June 16, 2015
“The Divine Miss M” is back for Pride month. Bette Midler plays the Wells Fargo Center during her It’s the Girls tour. Fans who purchase tickets online get a copy of the CD.
The Fringe Festival
September 3-19, 2015
The Fringe Festival brings two weeks of artistic pleasure to Philadelphia. Avant-garde performance meets street theater at venues large and small throughout the city.
First Friday in Old City
Every First Friday of the month, art galleries throughout Old City open their doors from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., debuting new exhibitions and treating visitors to refreshments. Plenty of street entertainment adds to the festival atmosphere.
On the first Friday evening of every month, the streets od Old City fill with art lovers of all kinds who wander among the neighborhood’s 40-plus galleries.
Our Night Out
Our Night Out, a gathering of LGBT professionals, gives people the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city.
Gay Bingo at The Gershman Y
Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo, a monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund.
Sex Dwarf at Voyeur Nightclub
DJ Robert Drake gets the new wave party started on varying Fridays each month in the Ruby Lounge at Voyeur Nightclub during Sex Dwarf. This “New Wave Clubhouse,” which gets underway at 10:00 p.m., features different themes and a playlist of underground music from the 70s and 80s.
At Voyeur, the after-hours nightclub in the heart of the Gayborhood, the scene heats up well into the early-morning hours when well-known DJs spin dance music. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.)
Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac
It’s all about Broadway during Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac, broadcasting favorite video clips from stage and movie musicals.
Every week at Tabu, The Goddess Isis invites special guests for Sinful Sundays, an evening of female illusion and gender-bending hilarity that gets started at 9:00 p.m.
Sing Your Life Karaoke at Bob & Barbara’s
Participants belt it out at Sing Your Life Karaoke, run by well-known karaoke host Sara Sherr, at Tabu on Mondays and Thursdays, and at Bob & Barbara’s on Sundays, all starting at 9:00 p.m.
Temptress Tuesdays and Seductive Saturdays at ICandy
Thirsty partiers join ICandy events such as Temptress Tuesdays or Seductive Saturdays, all about the slew of drink specials starting at 10:00 p.m.
Texas Hold’em at Stir
Players try their best poker face Texas Hold’em at Stir each Wednesday starting at 8:00 p.m. The drink specials and prizes are worth betting on.
Throwback Thursdays at Boxers Philadelphia
Boxers Philadelphia hosts events throughout the week (Quizzo on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays), but it’s the Thursday evening happy hour that has everyone hashtagging #TBT. Throwback Thursdays brings its usual drink specials, plus fabulous music from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Think Madonna, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. It runs a glorious two hours, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
The Dollhouse Revue at Voyeur Nightclub
Drag star Mimi Imfurst—of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame—headlines The Dollhouse Revue with her cast of Dollstars on Thursdays starting at 11:00 p.m. at Voyeur Nightclub.
Thursday Night Drag Show at Bob & Barbara’s
Bob & Barbara’s draws a diverse crowd for its legendary Thursday Night Drag Show, the city’s longest-running drag show starring the entertaining Miss Lisa. Adding to the fun: the famous Citywide Special, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Beam for just $3. Show starts at 10:00 p.m.
A Sexy Hoedown at Woody’s
Cowgirls and cowmen boot scoot over to Woody’s for two-stepping, country and line dancing at A Sexy Hoedown, taking place at 7:00 p.m. every Friday.
Woody’s club and bar is a traditional first stop on any proper first visit to the Gayborhood. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia.)
Seven Nights A Week
The Bike Shop
Philly’s longtime leather outpost, The Bike Stop is the perfect place for a pick-up pool game or grabbing an extra-large beer. The friendly bar hosts the famous Underwear Night on Wednesdays, as well as a variety of happy hour specials on its three floors of fun (The Pit Stop, The Bike Stop, and The Short Stop).
A bi-level gay sports bar, Boxers Philadelphia draws crowds with brick-oven pizza, a full bar, a pool table, flat-screen TVs, weekly events and a seven-days-a-week happy house.
ICandy has three levels of fun starting with the first-floor bar and restaurant. There’s also a dance floor and a top-floor lounge that opens up to a roof deck in the summer.
A lunch, dinner and late-night favorite for the mature crowd, Knock dishes out creative entrees and a lively bar scene. Regulars love the see-and-be-seen outdoor dining area during the warm-weather months.
Located in the heart of the “Gayborhood,” the chic Knock Restaurant and Bar features an ambitious New American menu with global touches and a lively bar scene. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.)
Both guys and gals flock to lesbian-owned Stir Lounge for happy hour, dance parties and special events featuring DJs and creative drink specials served up by some of the friendliest bartenders in Rittenhouse Square.
Sports fans catch the big game on the big screens at Tabu, a gay sports bar that’s a popular eatery also. Upstairs in the lounge, guests enjoy karaoke, drag shows, comedy acts and much more at this community-supportive spot.
Tavern on Camac
Tavern on Camac offers three settings under one roof: an intimate fine dining restaurant called The Tavern downstairs, an energetic piano bar on the main floor and a top-floor dance club and cocktail lounge featuring DJ nights, karaoke and community events.
Tavern on Camac is nestled on a charming street in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. (N. Santos for Visit Philadelphia.)
U Bar, formerly Uncles, boasts a wall of windows for prime Gayborhood people-watching beginning at 11:00 a.m.
U Bar boasts a sleek look, great lighting and floor-to-ceiling windows.(M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia.)
Venture Inn, housed in a historic stable on a tiny byway, offers an amiable staff and special events like Spin It and Win It on Wednesday nights at 10:30 p.m.
Voyeur is a gay after-hours favorite. The scene really heats up in the early-morning hours when popular DJs spin club hits. Three floors of dancing, a VIP mezzanine level and weekly drag shows and dance parties keep the place hopping.
As one of the longest-standing bar/nightclubs in Philadelphia, Woody’s draws a gay crowd for happy hours and a variety of themed dance parties throughout the week. The upstairs late-night lounge boasts DJs spinning must-dance playlists until last call.