Philly OutFest participants celebrate, reflect on historic movement

Thursday marked more than 31 years since 500,000 people marched in Washington D.C. in support of gay rights.

Kristen Johanson
October 07, 2018 - 3:08 pm
The Philadelphia Police Department also had a booth during OutFest, representing the Gay Offices Action League (GOAL).

Kristen Johanson | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Dozens of LGBTQ businesses, nonprofits and corporations lined the streets around 12th and Locust in Philadelphia for Outfest, the world's largest National Coming Out Day celebration, Sunday.

National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, marks more than three decades since an estimated 500,000 people marched in Washington, D.C., in support of gay rights.

"This is supposed to be in the heart of the Gayborhood, so that people feel a little more comfortable in coming out," said Chuck Volz, senior adviser for Philly Pride Presents, one of the groups that organized the event. "People are coming out earlier and earlier in their lives and it's better psychologically."

The Philadelphia Police Department also had a booth during the event, representing the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

"We have done very well here in years past," said Sgt. Robert Ryan, president of GOAL. "We have had a lot of gay officers come through on the force, as well as two transgender officers on the force at this time. ... The group was formed because we saw a need for gay officers, LGBT officers on the force, and wanted to have more representation."

Philadelphia held the first ever OutFest in 1990 — the first major city to do so.

"Back then, we must have had about 20 vendors, and we must have attracted 1,500 people, and we have 147 vendors today, and we should get around 40,000 people," added Volz.

He hopes the celebration encourages others to live freely.