Thursday, February 16, 2017

Travel: A year's worth of reasons for LGBT travelers to visit Philly

Since holding the nation’s first major LGBT rights protest some 50 years ago, Philadelphia has continued to prove that it’s still one of the best destinations for LGBT travelers to get their history straight and their nightlife gay.
The city offers a full calendar of events in 2017, including a handful of visiting national expos, like the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in October. These are the icing atop the city and region’s annual pride celebrations, weekly bashes in bars across the Gayborhood and cutting-edge performing arts with LGBT twists. Here’s a look at the best events of 2017, including a rundown by night, week and month, in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, after the jump.

National Gatherings:
  • Mazzoni Center’s annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference is packed with two days of activities and informational booths aimed at educating transgender individuals and their allies on issues of health and wellbeing. The event brings in 4,000-5,000 attendees and includes high-profile speakers and meet-and-greet sessions around the city. Various locations. September 7-9. (215) 563-0652,
  • More than 350 journalists, news executives, communications professionals and educators are expected at the National Convention for The Association of LGBTQ Journalists (NLGJA). Held at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, the event comprises four days of networking opportunities and workshops angled at keeping LGBT media professionals on their A-game. When not attending sessions, attendees can attend NLGJA’s Author’s Café, Career & Community Expo and any of many social receptions throughout the weekend. September 7-10. 1200 Market Street, (202) 588-9888,
  • The 2017 Out & Equal Workplace Summit is a global conference that aims to create more inclusive work environments for all sexual orientations and gender identities. More than 4,000 participants can expect hundreds of workshops, expert panels and networking mixers, as well as opportunities to meet with some of the nation’s leading fair-workplace companies. October 9-12. (415) 694-6500,
Annual Events:
  • Taking place a little earlier than usual in 2017, qFLIX Philadelphia welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers from around the globe to screen more than 70 films and attend celebrity-studded events. March 14-19. Various locations.
  • Diners nosh for a great cause during Dining Out for Life. Close to 200 restaurants around the city donate 33% of every breakfast, lunch and dinner bill to Action Wellness, a nonprofit organization that helps people living with chronic illnesses, including HIV/AIDS in Greater Philadelphia. The day also includes a food truck pop-up in the heart of the Gayborhood at lunchtime. April 20. Various locations.
  • Philadelphia Black Pride is five day’s worth of activities aimed at spotlighting and empowering the LGBT African-American community. Taking place across the city, event opportunities run the gamut from discussion panels and happy hour mixers to concerts, art shows and community picnics. April 27-May 1.
  • Now in its 14th year, the weeklong New Hope CelebratesPride Festival culminates in a Pride Parade that starts on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville before crossing the New Hope & Lambertville Bridge to New Hope for a fair featuring international entertainers and family fun. Festival, May 14-21; Parade, May 20.
  • Always the Saturday before Pride, the Philadelphia Dyke March draws hundreds of the community’s most vocal revelers for a march through Center City that spotlights Philly’s dyke community and their allies. The rally starts in Kahn Park, where a stage is set for speeches and a variety of performances and where the procession steps off. June 10. 328 S. 11th Street,
  • The 29th annual PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival begins with a colorful procession from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing, where a celebration ensues. Revelers can look forward to live music, DJs, food, drink and other ways to fete International Gay and Lesbian Pride Monthalong the Delaware River Waterfront. June 11. (215) 875-9288,
  • The hottest guys in the region descend upon Philadelphia for The Boys of Summer, Philly Gay Calendar’s weekend-long bash that leads up to a steamy swimsuit party at Voyeur nightclub. Other weekend highlights include a pool party, a Sunday barbecue and scantily clad lifeguards galore. August 4-6. Various locations.
  • The Phillies invite all members of the LGBT community, as well as family, friends and groups to celebrate the region’s LGBT culture at the MLB club’s annual Pride Night at Citizens Bank Park. Summer, date TBA. 1 Citizens Bank Way, (215) 463-6000,
  • Philadelphia celebrates National Coming Out Day with OutFest,a block party in the heart of the Gayborhood that’s made up of drag shows, games, bar crawls and shopping. Philadelphia’s celebration is the largest Coming Out Day street festival in the world. October 8. (215) 875- 9288,
Performing Arts:
  • Every third Thursday of the month Philly’s self-proclaimed tallest, hairiest drag queen puts on a rowdy cabaret above Crêperie Beau Monde in the lovely French-inspired watering hole, L’Etage. The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret finds the golden-voiced diva belting covers of everyone from Whitney to Bowie; local LGBT artists often open the show. Every third Thursday of the month. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656,
  • Openly gay performance artist John Jarboe hosts the monthly Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg. The late-night, uncensored affair always features a new lineup of mostly LGBT performers, including Jarboe himself, and takes a nod from original French and German cabarets from the turn of the century. Performances take place monthly. La Peg, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 375-7744,
  • In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Barbra Streisand’s television special and album Color Me Barbra, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret teams up with the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a series of events that seek to turn the museum galleries into a queer playground. In Color Me Bearded, guests can expect a colorful, glittering spectacle of song, dance and over-the-top costuming. Wednesday and Friday evenings, January 27-February 10. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,
  • Always provocative dance troupe Brian Sanders’ JUNK brings their annual Snowball soiree to Bok in South Philadelphia. The fundraising extravaganza features performances by the troupe, dancing and decadent beverages and desserts. This year’s “Get Pelted” theme encourages guests to dress in creative white attire and dripping with jewels. January 28. 1901 S. 9th Street, (267) 406-6080,
  • The gay-centric Mauckingbird Theatre Company brings two cabaret-style musicals to its 2017 season. First up, Miss Cast 007 (January 28), features Mauckingbird regulars crooning songs “sung by the wrong people.” Sing Out Loud (February 4-5) presents an evening of tunes “that speak to the LGBT experience”—ditties that span the satirical, romantic and political.
    Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street, (267) 385-6910,
  • Out Philly actor and singer Jeff Coon invites Broadway stars to Manayunk’s Venice Island Performing Arts Center for The Summer Club. The monthly spectacle is described as a series of Rat Pack-style shows that feature a 17-piece big band and promises big-voiced singers such as Kenita Miller from The Color Purple and Krissy Fraelich, an original cast member in Frank Wildhorn's The Civil War. First Monday of the month from February to May, and June 12.
    7 Lock Street, (215) 685-3583,
  • Spring and summer finds Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus at the Prince Theater for two shows: Philly Made features songs that embody the spirit of Philadelphia (March 24-25), and One Hit Wonders: A Sing-Along (June 1-2), presents ditties by artists who have a single hit under their belt. 1412 Chestnut Street, (215) 731-9230,
  • Gay icon Mariah Carey joins R&B stalwart Lionel Richie on a double-bill tour of the artists’ greatest hits. Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center is the duo’s third stop on the spring-long national tour. March 18. 3601 S. Broad Street, (215) 336-3600,
  • Dancers at the Pennsylvania Ballet get together for Shut Up & Dance, a LGBT-rich evening of exquisite performances that benefits MANNA, the local organization dedicated to delivering fresh meals to people in Philadelphia struggling with life-threatening diseases. This is the 25th such benefit at the Forrest Theatre; it also offers a sneak peek at new choreography from the ballet. April 29. 1114 Walnut Street, (215) 496-2662,
  • Mary Martello stars in Arden Theatre Company’s adaptation of the gay-loved musical Gypsy. The show follows Mama Rose, a role popularized by some of Broadway’s biggest stars, as she struggles to raise two daughters and keep her fading vaudeville career alive. May 18-June 18.
    40 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-1122,
  • Contemporary dance troupe BalletX promises a world premiere by celebrated out choreographer Matthew Neenan at their Summer Series 2017. The series also sees a reprisal of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s dazzling Castrati, which delves into the phenomenon of castrated singers in 16th-18th century Italy. July 12-16. Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, (215) 546-7824,
  • Philadelphia experiences two weeks of artistic pleasure during the annual Fringe Festival. Avant-garde performance meets street theater at venues throughout the city. The schedule is always jam-packed with LGBT-centric events, including a popular festival-closing performance by Martha Graham Cracker and provocative works from out choreographers Brian Sanders JUNK and Gunnar Montana. September 7-23. Various locations.(215) 413-9006,
  • The city’s musical profile hits a high note with O17, Opera Philadelphia’snewfestival of glittering stars in more than 25 commissioned works, one-time-only performances and world premieres. Those looking for LGBT angles will find plenty to love during the festival, including out performer Jarrett Ott, who stars as Papageno in The Magic Flute. Other out-and-proud performers include librettist Mark Campbell and stars Troy Cook and Joseph Gaines in the world premiere of Elizabeth Cree, and a transgender storyline plays out in the much-anticipated We Shall Not be Moved, a new opera by famed dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones. September 14-25. Various locations, (215) 732-8400,
LGBT Monthly Must-Dos:
  • Our Night Out gives LGBT professionals the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city.
  • Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo,a monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund. 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255,
  • QOTA (Queers on the Avenue) lures LGBT socialites to South Philly for a popular monthly mixer along East Passyunk Avenue. The event takes place at a different venue each month, but always features light bites and alcohol. Summertime gatherings are especially vibrant, when crowds spill onto the street.
  • Similar to QOTA, Out in Fishtown is a monthly LGBT-centric happy hour taking place in bars around the trendy northern neighborhood. The group also teams up with event organizers around the city to spotlight their neighborhood’s understated LGBT community.
  • Every month at Tabu, local lesbian-focused party producer Stimulus presents Back 2 Basics. The popular party packs the bar with ladies of all persuasions for drink specials, live DJs spinning and an excellent night of dancing. The event spawns special one-off parties throughout the year during events and holidays like Pride, New Year’s Eve and OutFest. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,
  • Northern Liberties’ whiskey-centric, Southern-infused Bourbon & Branch dedicates one Sunday a month to Drink Your A** Off Brunch, an upstairs event featuring the lovely Brittany Lynn and the Philly Drag Mafia. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660,
  • One of Philly’s sexiest LGBT-themed ragers, NSFW Dance Party returns in 2017 after a brief hiatus. Organizers bring back their popular Thermal Party in February; in spring, they’ll celebrate their anniversary with a bash called CAKE. Dates and venues are TBD.
  • South Philly’s Dolphin Tavern hosts Philly’s first and only all Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj dance party. Holy Trinity DJs Dame Luz and Wassup Gina spin tunes from the divas’ catalogues once a month on the dive bar’s neon-lit dance floor. 1539 S. Broad Street, (215) 278-7950,
LGBT Weekly Events:
  • South Street dive bar Bob & Barbara’s draws a diverse crowd for its legendary Thursday Night Drag Show, the city’s longest-running drag show, starring the entertaining Miss Lisa. Adding to the fun: the famous “Citywide Special,” a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Beam for just $3.50. Show starts at 10 p.m. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,
  • Boxers Philadelphia hosts events throughout the week, like a video game night every other Thursday, free pool and $6 mimosas and bloody Marys on Sundays, a free-to-play Texas hold ’em night on Tuesdays and a nightly happy hour that runs from6 to 8 p.m. 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977,
  • Those looking for a low-key night of drinking outside the Gayborhood head to Stir Lounge in Rittenhouse Monday through Friday, with daily happy hour specials. On Thursday evenings, the vibe picks up for Stirsday, when attendees slurp down $1 drinks and dance to live DJs until 2 a.m. 1705 Chancellor Street, (215) 732-2700,
  • Philly’s original gay sports bar Tabu inspires friendly competition among patrons at popular Quizzo nights on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those events offer food and drink specials and catty banter by hosts drag queen Aurora Whorealis and comedian Connor Michalchuk. Upstairs offers a different vibe most any night of the week with a creative lineup of events—from singing and drag competitions to burlesque shows. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,
  • Songbirds flock to piano bar Tavern On Camac for Showtune Sundays, which broadcasts clips from popular stage and movie musicals and gives patrons a chance to perform for the crowd. The piano bar stays buzzing all week, but with lighter crowds—an excellent option for those looking to try out a song in a more intimate setting. Dancers tend to bop upstairs to a jam-packed floor on Friday and Saturday nights. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900,
  • Philly’s newest lesbian bar, Toasted Walnut hosts happy hour Tuesday through Sunday, and DJs play live music every Friday and Saturday night. When there’s a big game on, guests stop by to check it out on the venue’s 70-inch TVs. 1316 Walnut Street, (215) 546-8888,
  • Every day, Woody’s hosts a happy hour in its gorgeous Globar. On weekends, the bar’s upstairs dance floor packs in the boys for DJs and primo cruising. Those looking for a more intimate dancing experience can try Latin and salsa lessons every Thursday night at 10 p.m.
    202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893,

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