With 60 people gathered in front of Lancaster City Hall July 15, Karen Foley proclaimed “Welcome to the third annual pride week flag raising!” Foley is one of the founders of Lancaster Pride Week.
“I am continually honored to work and live in an accepting and affirming city with leadership like Mayor Danene Sorace and Chief of Staff Jess King who understand without a doubt that LGBTQ rights are human rights,” Foley said July 15 at Lancaster’s third Pride flag raising at Lancaster City Hall. King attended representing Sorace.
Lancaster City, like York City, has witnessed an explosion of LGBTQ+ community organizing activity. “I am blown away by the outpouring of support from organizations and businesses around the city and the tireless work of the newly formed all volunteer Pride Board that has raised Pride Week go a whole new level this year,” Foley added.
Last year efforts raised nearly $6,000 for Waves Ahead, an organization helping the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
More recently community organizing efforts have resulted in formation of The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition. Foley told The Central Voice, “We will operate as a much needed community Drop in Center with programming and events.
“Since every issue is an LGBTQ+ issue, we will work closely with legislators and community partners county wide to address necessary issues such as access to dignified healthcare, affirming crisis shelters and statewide non-discrimination legislation.”
“Each year for over a decade we have celebrated the progress that the LGBTQ community has made here in Lancaster with a Pride Festival,” said Lancaster Pride Chair, Jessi Purdy. “This year being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots it is more important than ever for us to not only celebrate our progress but to acknowledge the work that must still be done to ensure that every member of the LGBTQ community enjoys equitable access, opportunity, and rights.”
Lancaster Pride features vendors, food trucks, a beer garden, drag performances and a children’s play area.
Todd Snovel, executive director, The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, shared an encouraging message on behalf of Gov. Tom Wolf, who recently noted in a news release that “Across the country, there has been an alarming trend of violence against LGBTQ citizens, especially trans women of color,” Snovel said. "Wolf denounced this violence and urged approval of pending bills to provide LGBTQ citizens additional protections from hate crimes and ensure comprehensive, non-discrimination protections."
City Council member Ismail Smith-Wade-El said, “We are an inclusive city. We are an inclusive LGBTQ community.” He told The Central Voice “intersectional perspectives and efforts are important.” Intersectional in this context means that members of the community-in-general and the LGBTQ community share common accomplishments and problems. For example, lack of access to affordable healthcare or adequate housing is an issue experienced by some individuals across the L-G-B-T and Q portions of the queer demographic and the larger community. Meeting at the ‘intersections’ is a way to address common problems.
The Central Voice is a 2019 Lancaster Pride Sponsor.