Pittsburgh’s first Pride Parade occurred on June 17, 1973 only four years after the Stonewall riots in New York City. About 150 marchers trekked uphill from Market Square to Flagstaff Hill in Oakland. The day before, Gay Alternatives Pittsburgh (GAP) chartered a local streetcar. The queer streetcar traveled from Market Square, through Castle Shannon, Dormont, Beechview and back to downtown. That evening a dance was held at the Unitarian Church.
In the following years, an event was held annually in June, with the parade route changing from year to year.
In the wake of the Aids epidemic in the 80s, no Pride parades occurred until a renaissance trek in May 1991 when 500 queers and friends traveled to the Point from the Civic Arena.
1992 marked a parade apex with nearly 1,000 marchers.
In 2001, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) took over Pride, organizing and moving the event in Schenley Meadow.
In 2002, ample participation in the parade pushed the crowd size to an estimated 10,000 people.
In 2003, Pittsburgh marked 30 years of celebrating Pride with a parade and street festival in Shadyside. Leading up to PrideFest were a series of activities including the Unity Ball, the 2nd annual Mr. Pittsburgh Drag King Pageant, a Pride Run/Walk, and a performance by the gay/lesbian sketch comedy/cabaret trio Unitard.
In 2005, the parade snaked through downtown, across the Allegheny River to Riverfront Park on the North Shore. Nnew to the parade was the Doggie Drag Creative Costume Contest. A children’s activity area was added for the first time and Pride Night at PNC Park was held the prior week.
In 2006, the Pride Awareness March kicked off downtown and included PA Governor. New this year was the addition of a 2nd stage.
In 2007, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was the first Pittsburgh Mayor to ever grace the festival stage.
The following is the event program for 2020. Stay tuned for the 2021 program.
While the PrideFest weekend officially kicks off on Saturday, June 8, the preceding week is full of activities and chances to participate in everything from a 5k Fun Run and outdoor concerts, to the much-anticipated Big Gay Picnic on Memorial Weekend. Most events are family-friendly except for the picnic - you must be over 18 to attend.
On Saturday, June 8 at 12 noon, Liberty Avenue between 6th Street and 10th Street in downtown Pittsburgh is the center of activity for the start of an unforgettable Pittsburgh pride experience. With more than 175 vendors and food trucks, continuous live entertainment on three separate stages, the fabulous PRIDE Radio Dance Party, and plenty of family-friendly games and activities, there's something here for everyone to enjoy. This event is Pittsburgh Pride at its finest!
The Pittsburgh Pride Parade will kick off on Sunday, June 9 at 12 noon and it is expected to be even bigger and better for 2019. The 'guesstimated' crowd in 2017 was 175,000, and even larger in 2018 with an estimated 185,000 attendees. The rally will be held at the intersection of Boulevard of the Allies and Grant Street, and it will highlight the early struggles of the LGBTQ community and honor all those who participated in those struggles. At 12:30pm, the Pittsburgh Pride Equality March will make a left turn onto Grant Street, another left onto Fifth Avenue, and then end approximately a mile later at Liberty Avenue.
Bands, colorfully decorated floats, and marching groups comprise the majority of the parade, but onlookers are encouraged to join in to help carry the 20' x 30' Rainbow Flag or one of the many other flags and banners that symbolize LGBTQ unity. Welcoming 'outsiders' into their midst carries out the 'We Are One' parade theme for 2019.
It's not too late to make your plans to attend the 2019 PrideFest and Pittsburgh Pride Parade, and fully enjoy a fun, exciting summer experience making new friends and supporting the local LGBTQ community.