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What’s Gay in Philly this Year?

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 2018, including an expanded fifth-annual qFLIX Philadelphia film festival, a Fringe Festival rounded out by a special Bearded Ladies Cabaret performance, as

well as concert featuring both Rufus Wainwright and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. 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 2018, including a rundown by night, week and month, in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

National Gathering: Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, previously the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, is packed with four days of activities and informational booths aimed at educating transgender individuals and their allies on issues of health and wellbeing. The event brings in 7,000 attendees and includes high-profile speakers and more than 250 workshops around the city. Various locations. August 2-4. (215) 563-0652,

Annual Events:

  • qFLIX Philadelphia welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers from around the globe to screen more than 70 films and attend celebrity-studded events. New in 2018: Plays & Players Theatre as headquarters and seven days of screenings. March 19-25. 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 on April 14 in the heart of the Gayborhood at lunchtime and, new this year, a beer garden in partnership with Yards Brewing Company. April 19. 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, timed to coincide with the Penn Relays, events run the gamut from discussion panels and happy hour mixers to concerts, art shows and community picnics. April 24-29. Aloft Philadelphia Downtown, 101 N. Broad Street, (215) 607-2020,

  • Now in its 15th year, the three-day New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival is known for a Pride Parade that brings the world’s largest rainbow flag from the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville to the New Hope & Lambertville Bridge to New Hope, Bucks County, for a fair featuring international entertainers and family fun. Festival: May 18-20, parade: May 19.

  • The Philadelphia Dyke March draws hundreds for a proud march through Center City that spotlights Philly’s lesbian community and their allies. The rally traditionally starts the day before Pride 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 30th 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 Month along the Delaware River Waterfront. June 11. (215) 875-9288,

  • Some of 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. July, date TBA. 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 14. (215) 875-9288,

Monthly LGBT Gatherings:

  • 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,

  • Each month, grizzly and nimble-footed men load a suitcase with pasties and props for an over-the-top burlesque performance as part of Tabu’s Bearlesque series, held upstairs every first Friday. Though it’s become a multicity phenomenon, Philly lays claim to the original. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,

  • Northern Liberties’ whiskey-centric, Southern-infused Bourbon & Branch dedicates one Sunday a month to Drag Your A** To Brunch, an upstairs event featuring Brittany Lynn and the Philly Drag Mafia, plus twerk-off competitions, mad-libs and lip-sync battles. Talk about Sunday funday. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660,

  • Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo, a 20-years-running monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. Themes on the agenda for 2018: Mardi Gras and Studio 54. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund. 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255,

  • 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,

  • One of Philly’s sexiest LGBT-themed ragers, NSFW Dance Party continues in 2018, starting with the return of the popular Thermal Party in February. Dates and venues TBD.

  • Our Night Out gives LGBT professionals the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city.

  • 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 or fundraise for local nonprofits like The Attic Youth Center. Dates and venues TBD.

  • Organized by neighborhood resident and Boys of Summer planner Steve McCann, OUT in Point Breeze unites the southwest Philadelphia neighborhood’s queer community for casual monthly meetups at venues such as American Sardine Bar and South Philadelphia Taproom. Dates and venues TBD.

  • QOTA (Queers on the Avenue) lures LGBT social butterflies 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, and the holiday party is exceptionally festive. Dates and venues TBD.

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