Rally, concert, parade part of gay pride festival
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"You Belong" is not just the theme of this year's Pittsburgh Pride event. It's the vibe event planners hope people get when they check out the parade, street party, rally and other festivities taking place throughout the city Friday through June 13 as part of the annual LGBT event.
Pittsburgh Pride has "a great political message, and [it's] a great time just to see everybody out there," said Gary Van Horn Jr., president of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, which is organizing the event. More than 25,000 people turned out last year for the celebration.
Cities across the country will hold pride events this month in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, regarded as the start of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender rights movement. Pittsburgh's commemoration kicks off with the new pride advocacy rally at 6 p.m. Friday outside the City-County Building, Downtown.
"It's a great time for people to come together," said Cleve Jones, a national human rights activist and AIDS Memorial Quilt founder who grew up in Mt. Lebanon, and will speak at Friday's rally. "It's about visibility and making it clear that LGBT people live, work and pay taxes."
Mr. Jones of San Francisco is a "very inspiring, fired up, fight-for-your-rights type of person," Mr. Van Horn said. He got his start in the 1970s gay rights movement in San Francisco, working as a student intern in the office of another activist, Harvey Milk (Mr. Jones was played by Emile Hirsch in the Oscar Award-winning 2008 biopic "Milk").
The Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes of the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto and Nate Phelps, the estranged son of fundamentalist Christian pastor Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., also are slated to speak. Mr. Phelps' father garnered notoriety for protesting Fred Rogers' funeral in Pittsburgh in 2003 because the children's television icon failed to condemn homosexuality.
On June 12, the celebration will take over Liberty Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets for Pride in the Street, a party and concert for the 18 and older crowd with Canadian R&B artist Deborah Cox as the featured performer.
More festivities will follow the next day with a pride awareness march through Downtown and PrideFest on Liberty Avenue between Sixth and 10th streets. The street festival will feature more than 100 vendors, children's activities, two entertainment stages and even an appearance by Mr. McFeeley. The event is a chance to "celebrate the diversity of the region," Mr. Van Horn said, "and celebrate our differences and our commonalities." PrideFest is a family-friendly festival for people of all backgrounds.
For a full list of Pittsburgh Pride activities, visit www.pittsburghpride.org. To purchase advance tickets for Pride in the Street, visit http://www.pittsburghpride.org/events/pride-in-the-streets/.
First Published June 2, 2010 12:00 am