Reading Pride Celebration held its annual LGBTQ+ Pride festival Sunday in Jim Dietrich Park with a record number 5,000+ attendees.
One of the oldest and largest festivals of its kind in the area, the 17th year featured over 180 vendors, 15 food trucks, 30 performers over two stages, a Pride Kids Area, a Teen Space, and a Sober Space.
“The festival is more than just a party, it’s providing a place where we’re all family. It’s a sense of belonging, we’re supporting each other. LGBTQ community our allies, they’re all here, we’re all supporting each other. If you walk around the festival you can just feel the love that’s here, and that’s what we’re trying to create, in our County, for our community, where ever. It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, be happy and proud of who you are and you don’t have to feel bad about it” said Enrique Castro, Executive Director & CEO of Reading Pride Celebration.
Castro continued, “this Festival is important for a lot of people because it’s the only time they’re free to be themselves at a festival like this, so we’ll keep doing it every year because it’s for those people that we do it and we’re celebrating each and every one of them.”
On the stage, headliners included Cazwell, Thea Austin, David Hernandez and Christine W. The Richard L. Spangler Service Award was presented to Corinne Goodwin, Executive Director and founder of Eastern PA Trans Equity Project, which aims to empower transgender individuals throughout a 26-County area of Eastern Pennsylvania. The Business Ally Award was presented to Jobany Bedoya of Red Tie Affairs.
For attendees, the day was full of excitement and supporting each other. “Pride means everything really. For a long time people have faced bigotry, hate, and we still are till this day facing all those things” said festival attendee Desiree Cook.
“For us to be able to have a safe space to live our lives and just be who we are, I think that is one of the most important things that anyone could have. And realistically, we’re at risk every day to losing such freedoms and it’s really awesome to just be able to come and see everyone who has just somewhere to be, it’s really nice, it just means that much.”