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Pittsburgh Pride Events Are Back, And There’s No Shortage Of Ways To Celebrate

Black trans LGBTQ rights lives matter
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A sign at a demonstration to protect Black trans lives on May 2, 2021.

It’s been almost a year since downtown Pittsburgh Pride celebrations were cancelled due to COVID-19 and the dissolution of the group that had long organized it. Celebrations are back this year, and the two major celebrations are being led by Black transgender advocacy groups.

Downtown Pride celebrations

Next weekend kicks off “Pittsburgh Pride Revolution,” with a mix of virtual and in-person events. Beginning at noon on Saturday, June 5, there will be a march from downtown to Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side. Dena Stanley, CEO of Trans YOUniting, said she wants to channel Stonewall throughout this year’s celebrations.

“We want to bring it back to the beginning,” Stanley said. “Instead of being more of a parade-type setting, it’s going to be more of a march.”

COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place for the Saturday event from noon - 6 p.m. Throughout the day, vendors will be set up around Lake Elizabeth, and local artists will perform.

“We'll just be out there having a good time and celebrating us for the first time in 13 months,” Stanley said.

Other events include a virtual showing of teen short films, a drag queen story time and “International Whores Day” with Sex Workers Outreach Pittsburgh.

people's pride lgbtq sisters pgh activist bridge andy warhol seventh street.jpg
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Attendees at People's Pride in 2020 march across the Andy Warhol Bridge.

People’s Pride returns for the fourth year

People’s Pride, put on by SisTers PGH, will take place virtually beginning June 18. Founder Ciora Thomas said organizers wanted to emphasize safety again this year, moving the events to an online space where participants can create their own avatars and communicate with others in the community.

“It’s an innovative, futuristic, virtual space,” Thomas said. “We started for the people, not for capital gain, not for money, not for anything of the sort, but to make sure that people were supported and safe.”

In its fourth year, Thomas said People’s Pride developed in opposition to the former Delta-led Pride events. The non-profit had long been criticized for allegedly prioritizing corporate money over the needs of the queer community. The group disbanded in August of 2020 following an internal audit of its finances.

“Now that Delta is dissolved, we’re all in a space of [thinking] ‘What’s going to happen?” Ciora said. “I think what can happen with Pittsburgh Pride is that we continue moving forward and building community around it.”

Local and national artists will perform on the virtual platform, and SisTers PGH will be sending out self-care packages to folks who sign up on their website. They’re also working with local libraries to ensure interested people have access to the internet.

Millvale to hold its first Pride

The inaugural Pride Millvale will take place in the borough’s downtown. Organizer Patty Sorg says the event will highlight the “safe spaces and faces” in their community. After a year of isolation, Sorg says neighbors and businesses have been telling her they're excited to participate.

"We're going to celebrate the LGBTQ community and celebrate everyone," Sorg said. "And we're going to show how accepting Millvale is, and how diverse."

The free events will include educational sessions about the LGBTQ community, resource guides, drag queen Bingo, and kids' crafts. Several health care groups will also be available for HIV and Hepatitis C testing, as well as an artisan fair. Sorg says participating businesses will be hanging a Pride flag outside.

"The response has been insane in the best way possible," Sorg said. "I've had such positivity, support and acceptance."

Millvale Pride will be at noon on June 26.

Where else to celebrate Pride

The Washington County Gay Straight Alliance is setting up at Washington Park for their “Gayer than a Picnic Basket” event on Sunday, May 30 beginning at noon.

“It's going to be a super fun blast,” said Tyler Bogden, co-chair of the group’s Pride celebrations. “People are extremely thankful just to have something to go to, something to look forward to.” Tickets are $25 and include food and non-alcoholic beverages. Bodgen said there will be dancing, summer games and an appearance by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Sanctuary Pittsburgh, a tattoo studio and vintage clothing and antiques shop in Lawrenceville, will hold and “Out and Proud” artists’ market on June 12. Studio director Jessica Brown said the event will focus on LGBTQ+ vendors “to give them voice and increase their visibility.”

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Niven Sabherwal
90.5 WESA
Greeting stickers for attendees of a February 2019 meeting of the Washington County GSA. According to research out of The University of Texas at Austin, when transgender youth are able to use their chosen name and pronouns, their risk of depression and suicide drops.

“Any time a creator doesn't fit the mold, they inherently have less resources available to them,” Brown said. “We've seen it time and time again with marginalized communities, talented and worthy folx are passed up for opportunities and the entire community suffers as a result.”

The market takes place from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

On June 2, the University of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ group Rainbow Alliance will host the virtual event “An Evening with Adam Rippon” at 9 p.m. Rippon is an openly gay Olympic figure skater who was named one of Time’s most influential people in 2018.

In Carnegie on June 12, musician Phat Man Dee will perform at a hybrid virtual and in-person event honoring Pittsburgh native Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn, who was gay, was a prolicific jazz musician who collaborated with composer Duke Ellington.

Greensburg Pride will be held at the Westmoreland Museum of Art on June 26 from 5-9 p.m.

The LGBTQ online news resource QBurgh has a full line-up of summer Pride events, including the many drag brunches and shows taking place throughout the region.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm
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