LGBT community has reason to celebrate at PrideFest

The first time Louise Stutler walked down Liberty Avenue at the Pittsburgh Pride Parade in 2009, she was amazed by the crowds of people of all ages lining the streets, colorful in both personality and clothing.

All she could think was, "Wow, this is really happening. They're here to support me, and they don't even know me."

She and her wife have been coming ever since, this year bringing their two dogs, which will likely be wearing pride colors. Although she's been coming for five years, she's still just as excited about the parade.

"The parade is just a way to come out and show your color," Ms. Stutler said. "However quirky or individual, the whole person is there."

In light of Pennsylvania's recently overturned ban on same-sex marriage, this year's Pittsburgh Pride has garnered even more significance -- and more people. The Delta Foundation is expecting 100,000 people between Saturday and Sunday's events -- 15,000 more than last year's estimated amount.

"People are excited about marriage equality, and we're going to see that in supporters and members of the community," Delta's director of marketing and development Christine Bryan said. "We're setting all kinds of records, so we think that has something to do with it."

According to Ms. Bryan, the community is still putting a "full force" behind House Bill 300 -- an act that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. Still, marriage equality is a step in the right direction.

"The community is excited, and I have friends who are engaged and planning marriage ceremonies that are happy, so there's definitely increased pride because of marriage equality. These are exciting times," Ms. Bryan said.

Marching in PNC Orange this year will be Joshua Stewart, his partner and their 18-month-old child. They'll be celebrating Father's Day and LGBT Month.

"The date is what hits me the most because it's Father's Day. My partner and I adopted our baby about a year and a half ago," Mr. Stewart said. This will be the family's second year marching together.

"It's kind of a good way to be proud of and celebrate LGBT Month and fatherhood and our ability to solidify position in Pennsylvania's law," he said.

A new installment this year is the theme "Be Brave," which, according to Ms. Bryan, was designed to be interpreted widely.

"We wanted a theme that was kind of broad and spoke to all members of the community, if they haven't come out of closet or haven't told family. Just the message that everything's going to be OK and to be brave and that it gets better," she said.

So far, the response to the theme has been widely positive.

"It has a lot to do with being comfortable with who you are," Ms. Stutler said. "It's stepping up and standing up for those who aren't necessarily out yet and haven't gotten that comfortable to be who they are. ... There's more people like you."

PrideFest Schedule

Today: Splash! annual pool party at the home of Steve Herforth and Peter Karlovich on Mount Washington. Tickets $40.

Friday: Pub Crawl, a chauffeured tour of more than 13 LGBT-friendly bars and restaurants throughout town. $30 in advance, $35 on Friday.

Saturday: Pride in the Street, featuring headliner Chaka Khan, begins at 5 p.m. and runs through 1:30 a.m. on Liberty Avenue, Downtown. Also on the bill will be Vita Chambers, Ayah Marar and Lazaro Arbos. Tickets are $40 in advance; $50 at the gate.

Sunday: Pride March will start at noon at the corner of Grant Street and the Boulevard of the Allies and wind its way through Downtown, ending at the free street festival on Liberty Avenue between Sixth and 10th streets from 1 to 6:30 p.m. PrideFest festivities include more than 150 vendors, a children's activities area, and daylong entertainment on two stages with dance troupes, drag queens and kings, alternative rock group Betty and gay country artist Steve Grand. Tickets for the Coors Light beer garden are $30 in advance, $35 day of.


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