Reading Pride Celebration is a local non-profit working for the well being of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Each year they host a festival in the city’s Centre Park, which is a natural choice since the surrounding area has been described as “Reading’s gayborhood.” This year’s event took place on Sunday, when huge rainbow flags filled the park, along with a giant wooden rainbow Pagoda in the middle of what used to be the fountain. Musicians performed on a stage at one end of the park, while food vendors lined the 300 block of Douglass Street and other vendors and non-profits filled the space in between. Jade Starling, singer of 1980s pop band Pretty Poison, headlined the event.
We were there volunteering at the table for Centre Park Historic District, Inc, the group that promotes community spirit and involvement in our neighborhood. I had never been to such an event before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was nothing like the over-the-top gay pride parades you see in movies. Reading Pride felt like any other street festival, full of people just happy to be out with friends enjoying their community. Maybe that’s because the movies are exaggerated, or maybe it’s because Berks County just has a more relaxed way of doing things. As volunteers, we didn’t get much chance to walk around, but we were glad to say hello to friends at a few other booths, including RE/MAX, All Souls Ecumenical Catholic Church, and Calvary United Church of Christ.
Reading Pride Celebration hosts other events throughout the year, which can be found on their website here, along with info about next year’s party in Centre Park too.