Spring has officially sprung in the City of Brotherly Love, kicking off what I call Pride Season. Most major U.S. cities have one gay pride celebration, but that simply isn’t enough in the birthplace of independence. Beginning with this week’s Equality Forum, Philadelphia has a series of pride events between spring and fall, including the LGBT Pride Parade and Festival (June 12) and Outfest (October). One of the most popular upcoming functions is Heroes 2011, a fundraiser for the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF). DVLF is a grant-maker—it raises money and awards it to LGBT service organizations through a competitive, merit-based proposal process. This month, DVLF will paint the PNC Center with every color of the rainbow at Heroes and announce this year’s “LGBT heroes”—citizens who have led our community to new heights.
Fri., May 6, 6pm. The PNC Center, 1600 Market St. dvlf.org
Dragapalooza: Broadway Divas
“Dragapalooza: Broadway Divas” is coming back for a return engagement. In March, more than 400 exuberant fans came out to witness the debut performance of Bruce Yelk’s masterpiece. Word is, he’s planning some special surprises that are guaranteed to raise the bar, again. The show is a celebration of songs from the Great White Way’s most iconic musicals, including Wicked, Chicago, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Mary Poppins and Rent. Every step is expertly choreographed by Jason Josephs (aka, Diana Dharling). The cast includes the cream of Philly’s drag-performance crop including Diana Dharling, Isis, Navaya Shay, Joey Josephs and more. Brittany Lynn will reprise her hosting duties, lending a plentiful supply of witty one-liners that will have the audience begging for more.
Sat., May 21, 9pm. Voyeur Nightclub, 1221 St. James St. nightlifegay.com
Lambda Legal Fundraiser
Also taking advantage of increased LGBT visibility at the outset of Pride Season is Philadelphia’s chapter of the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund. Across the spectrum of nonprofit organizations, few have made contributions as impactful in the daily lives of gay people as Lambda Legal. Its staff and volunteers fight to end discrimination in courtrooms, Capitol buildings and boardrooms throughout the country. Philly’s most influential LGBT movers and shakers—lawyers, politicians, civic leaders, media personalities—will be OUT to honor Lambda Legal and enjoy cocktails and a silent auction. There will also be a special viewing of the exhibit “Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle,” to highlight the celebration.
Thurs., May 12, 6pm. Art Museum. lambdalegal.org
12th Street Gym’s 25th Anniversary
A little over 40 years ago, Philly’s Gayborhood relocated from Rittenhouse Square to Washington Square West. For four decades, several proprietors and community leaders have invested their capital and passion to support the area. While many strived to be successful, few have made an impact like Rick Piper, owner of 12th Street Gym. For 25 years, 12th Street Gym has consistently supported the neighborhood and city. It’s far more than a place to exercise; it’s a community gathering spot, a supporter of local non-profit organizations and a company that welcomes diversity in all shapes and sizes. The gym is not an exclusively LGBT facility; 60 percent of its members are not gay. It’s simply a place where absolutely everyone is welcomed with open arms. Piper feels strongly that the health of a city’s residents is paramount to strengthening the city itself. That philosophy pervades every aspect of his business. “Over my desk is a sign I made several years ago: ‘Not one iota of entitlement.’ It reminds me and my team that we earn our stripes with every customer every day,” Piper says. In celebration of 12th Street Gym’s 25th anniversary, Piper will host an event to unveil a commemorative 25th anniversary portrait of the complex. The event marks the official kick-off a month-long celebration at 12th Street Gym, which includes several other gatherings and programs in June.
Fri., May 25, 10am. 12th Street Gym, 204 S. 12th St. 12thstreetgym.com
Calendar: Sept. 2-9