May 24, 2017

It's A Gay Old Summertime In Philadelphia

Philly's Summer LGBT Life Means Pride, Beer, Baseball, Bathing Suits, Ballet & A Bunch More

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Every July, the historic and massive Eastern State Penitentiary hosts a Bastille Day celebration. Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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LGBT life heats up with rising temps in Philadelphia, and the summer of 2017 is no exception. Just after Memorial Day, the region puts Pride on display, with city parades and parties (Philadelphia Dyke March and PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival) and a countryside celebration at the Chester County Pride Festival. Martha Graham Cracker hits play on the soundtrack to summer with her Made in Philadelphia Festival, a two-night showcase highlighting local musical talents. Concerts by gay-loved international acts Blondie, Mary J. Blige and Diana Ross keep the tunes going throughout the season.

To maximize the season’s offerings, visitors can book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, featuring free hotel parking, at Here’s a look at what to expect from Philadelphia’s LGBT scene this summer:

Festivals, Gatherings & Fun:

  • Regulars and newcomers dreamed all winter of the legendary Pool at The Raven Resort on the edge of scenic New Hope in Bucks County. The popular oasis, decked with a cabana bar and 150 loungers, reopens officially for the swimming season on Memorial Day. After that, it’s open seven days a week, weather permitting, through Labor Day. May 29-September 4. 385 West Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2081,
  • Coinciding with the Wizard World Comic Convention (June 1-4), the SuperDope House Party: Cosplay Edition invites LGBT comic lovers to Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar for a night of networking and geeky shenanigans. Guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite comic book characters as they dance the night away to a set list of tunes spun by DJ Reezey. June 1. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,
  • A short trip from Philadelphia, the Chester County Pride Festival brings two days of LGBT celebrations to the Brandywine Valley. The weekend kicks off June 3 with a festival from noon to 5 p.m. at Reeves Park. There, guests can browse vendor booths and take in drag shows, live music and comedy from the entertainment stage. The extra-devoted can stick around for the Pride Gala, on June 4, for dinner, dancing and other activities benefitting Chester County’s LGBT Equality Alliance. June 3-4. Second Avenue & Main Street, (484) 393-LGBT,
  • The historic Philadelphia Dyke March returns for a rally that calls—no, yells—for equal rights for female dyke-identified Philadelphians. The day begins at Khan Park with a parade through Center City that loops back for an all-out rally featuring speakers, live performances and fired-up voices raised for the cause. June 10. 11th & Pine Streets,
  • The campiest, most irreverent game in town—for the past 20 years now—GayBINGO gathers hundreds each month for a most rousing rendition of the game, as led—and, at times, sung—by the famed drag queen Bingo Verifying Divas, to raise money for AIDS Fund Philly. In June, GayBINGO is all about Cher. June 10. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street,
  • The Pride Kick-Off Party officially launches Philadelphia’s Pride celebrations with a jam-packed block party in the heart of the Gayborhood. Local gay bars hold their own parties indoors, while outdoors, dancing in the street and live performances take place all evening. June 16. Between 12th-& 13th & Locust Streets,
  • Philadelphia celebrates big with the PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival, which features a lively parade that winds its way from Center City to Penn’s Landing for a bash along the Delaware. The festival’s center is a booming stage featuring drag shows and musical performances. Guests can also browse booths by area businesses and nonprofits and try their hands at carnival-style games. Parade starts at 13th & Locust Streets. June 18.
  • The queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige headlines this summer’s free Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Among those joining the nine-time Grammy® winner are the Philly POPS Big Band and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez, who’s performed in Hamilton. July 4. Benjamin Franklin Parkway,
  • The Speedo-clad come out in full force for Philly Gay Calendar’s Boys of Summer weekend, a series of events taking place throughout the city in late July. The itinerary includes the Oasis Pool Party at Monarch Beach Club, a daytime block party outside Tavern on Camac and the sexy main event that’s practically swimming with buff lifeguards at Voyeur Nightclub. July 28-30. Monarch Beach Club, 1031 Germantown Avenue; Tavern on Camac, 243 S. Camac Street; Voyeur Nightclub, 1221 St. James Street,
  • LGBT sports fans fill a whole section at Citizens Bank Park for Pride Night. Allies and gay-friendly organizations are welcome to join the community that evening, when the Philadelphia Phillies take on the Florida Marlins. The first 1,000 fans to purchase tickets through the Pride Night promotion receive a special Phillies Pride Night giveaway. August 22. 1 Citizens Bank Park Way,

Show-Stopping Performances

  • New York queer performance artist Nath Ann Carrera joins The Bearded Ladies Artistic Director John Jarboe for his final Get Pegged Cabaret of the summer season. Taking place at FringeArts, the spectacle also welcomes a host of local LGBT talents for a night of uncensored, glitter-filled musical performances inspired by early-19th-century French and German cabarets. June 16. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-1318,
  • Philadelphia’s preeminent live-singing—and very hairy—drag queen Martha Graham Cracker waltzes into FringeArts this June for a cabaret performance on the venue’s expansive main stage. The towering diva takes on covers of pop and jazz hits alongside guest performers Molly Pope, a New York singer and actress, and Philly trombonist extraordinare Ernest Stuart. June 12. In July, she hosts the two-day Made In Philadelphia Festival at Johnny Brenda’s, which spotlights a host of talented musicians and comedians such as Judith Priest, Mary Radzinski and Eliza Hardy-Jones. July 15-16. FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-9006,; Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Avenue, (215) 739-9684,
  • Supreme diva Diana Ross brings her furs, feathers and mountainous piles of hair to the Mann Center for an open-air, late July concert. Miss Ross performs her massive catalogue of hits spanning nearly six decades and myriad genres—from Motown to disco to jazz. July 29. 5201 Parkside Avenue, (215) 546-7900,
  • The glam gods smile upon Philadelphia in late July when rock legends Queen come to the Wells Fargo Center with Adam Lambert. The out American Idol alum steps into Freddie Mercury’s hallowed loafers, taking on those high notes that slayed radio airwaves in the 1970s and ’80s. July 30. 3601 S. Broad Street, (215) 336-3600,
  • Rock queens Debbie Harry and Shirley Manson share the stage this summer when the Mann Center welcomes the co-headlining show Blondie and Garbage: The Rage and Rapture Tour. Philadelphia is one of a handful of final stops on the North American outing, which spotlights new music and time-tested favorites from both groups. August 2. 5201 Parkside Avenue, (215) 546-7900,

Theater & Visual Arts

  • Philadelphia Theatre Company closes its season with master storyteller James Lecesne’s The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey. Lecesne inhabits nearly a dozen characters in the story of a tenaciously optimistic 14-year-old boy who goes missing from a small Jersey shore town. Pelkey is the co-founder of The Trevor Project and 1996 Oscar winner for his short film, Trevor. Through June 4. The Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street, (215) 985-0420,
  • Mary Martello stars in Arden Theatre Company’s adaptation of the gay-loved musical Gypsy. The show follows Mama Rose, a role popularized by some of Broadway’s biggest divas, as she struggles to raise two daughters and keep her fading vaudeville career alive. Through June 18. 40 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-1122,
  • The late Philadelphia native and landscape artist returns to his hometown via The Journeys of John Laub: Fire Island and Beyond. On display at the Woodmere Art Museum, the paintings inspire wanderlust with vibrant portraits representing Laub’s travels to places such as the Coral Gables, the Adirondacks and gay-friendly summer beach destination Fire Island. Through August 13. 9201 Germantown Avenue, (215) 247-0476,
  • You won’t hear any Britney, Madonna or Whitney at Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus’ summer revue, One Hit Wonders: A Sing-A-Long, which pays homage to the folks who have but a single hit under their belt. The show invites audience members to sing along to unforgettable tunes like “Hey Mickey,” “Barbie Girl” and “Walking On Sunshine.” June 1-2. Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, (215) 422-4580,
  • Experimental cabaret troupe The Bearded Ladies reprise the absurdist stage show Marlene and The Machine: A German Expressionist Cabaret at the Beardcave in St. Mary’s Church. The work centers around 1930s screen goddess Marlene Dietrich, who, with the help of songs from Weimar Germany and the contemporary music it inspired, leads the audience through a musical seminar on emotional control. June 7-8. 3916 Locust Walk,
  • As part of Pride Month, the National Liberty Museum welcomes a first-in-the-nation exhibition of art glass exclusively by LGBT artisans. Transparency: An LGBTQ + Glass Art Exhibition features stunning works that explore the themes of identity and freedom. June 2-August 6. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800,
  • Contemporary dance troupe BalletX promises a world premiere by celebrated out choreographer Matthew Neenan at their Summer Series 2017. The series also sees a reprisal of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s dazzling Castrati, which delves into the phenomenon of castrated singers in 16th-18th century Italy. July 12-16. Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, (215) 546-7824,
  • The Bearded Ladies also headline Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary. Emceed by artistic director John Jarboe as Edith Piaf, this historically inaccurate reenactment of the storming of the Bastille is a Fairmount summertime tradition, Tastykakes and all. July 15. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300,

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