Philadelphia has always been a key supporter of LGBT rights, and with October being LGBT History Month, it is no wonder the city held the largest National Coming Out Day event in the world. Being that National Coming Out Day falls on October 11, the city of Philadelphia held their 26th annual OutFest, a celebration for the LGBT community that honors coming out, all day on Sunday in the Gayborhood.
The festival spanned ten city blocks and held various types of events for all who attended the function. The main stage, located in the middle of the event space, featured various performers who are part of the LGBT community. From drag queens to dance teams, and from burlesque dancers to hula hoopers, OutFest had it all and then some. In addition to the 25+ performances, bar crawls were in place and gay bars were opened early for the event. Overcrowding led to people spilling into the streets, prompting DJs to set up in the streets and host massive dance parties.
The other blocks featured more festival like components, such as a mechanical bull, rock climbing wall, dunk tank, and carnival games. But perhaps the most inspiring part of the festival was the amount of vendors from local LGBT nonprofits, businesses, and companies who came to the event to support a great cause. The vendors, all 160 of them, ranged from organizations such as those who provide information and health services to the LGBT community, all-inclusive churches, the Philadelphia Police Force, activists, national corporations, and safe spaces offering sex and sexuality information. Amongst the 160 vendors was Temple University Health, who were initiating conversation about safe spaces, sexuality, contraceptives, and STI protection and prevention. With many Temple University students attending this event, it was reassuring to see the college there supporting its student’s and promoting safe sex and freedom of sexuality and agency.
Philadelphia was the first state to ever hold a National Coming Out Day event in 1990, with only a few thousand people attending. At this rate in 2016, with over 50,000 people coming out to celebrate coming out, it can only be assumed that Philadelphia will continue to celebrate OutFest every year and encourage people not to be ashamed for being themselves.