Pittsburgh Pride Through the Years

With Pride month now ended and the celebrations of 50 years of LGBTQ liberation in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania concluded, let’s take a look back on how Pittsburgh Pride has grown and changed over those 50 years.


Pittsburgh’s first Pride Parade occurred on June 17, 1973, only four years after the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. About 150 participants marched 3 miles uphill from Market Square to Flagstaff Hill in Oakland.


The second LGBTQ pride parade was held on June 23, 1974, followed by a picnic in South Park.


Organizers shortened the parade route in 1975. On June 22, an unknown number of community members and supporters marched from the old Civic Arena site to Point State Park.


Marchers wound their way from the Civic Arena to the Federal Building, where they made demands of the federal government. The group continued around downtown, issuing rights demands at the City-County Building, the Catholic Diocese Building, and Point State Park.

We don’t have information on Pittsburgh Prides in 1977 or 1978. To help restore this missing part of LGBTQ Pittsburgh history, contact us at info@qburgh.com.


In April 1978 a large protest was held outside of the Civic Arena against Anita Bryant, the Florida orange juice spokesperson turned anti-LGBTQ activist.

Photos courtesy of Ronald Lawrence.


On June 24, 120 participants marched through Shadyside from Ellsworth Avenue to Flagstaff Hill.


On June 22, 1980, the march again crossed Shadyside, this time from Morewood and Fifth to Mellon Park.

1981 – 1990

Pittsburgh Pride marches and festivals seem to have dissipated in the 1980s with no widely known festivities taking pace. To help restore this missing part of LGBTQ Pittsburgh history, contact us at info@qburgh.com.


Together in Pride

Starting in 1991, themes or slogans for Pride festivities locally were chosen either adapting the international theme or choosing a local-based theme. The parades returned in 1991 when almost 500 traveled to the Point from the Civic Arena.


Pride = Power

An early, record-setting crowd of nearly 1,000 marchers again marched the Civic Arena to Point State Park route.


A Family of Pride

Unfortunately, rain dampened the success of the 1993 Civic Arena/Point march, and attendance fell to 400.


Stonewall 25 – A Global Celebration of Lesbian & Gay Pride & Protest

Attendance fell further when the Pride planning committee was hindered by the City’s insistence that the march proceed along Fifth Avenue and the supposed construction zone. Determined marchers followed the route to Market Square, which crossed over an unobstructed Fifth Avenue.


Pride – From Silence to Celebration


Pride Without Borders


Equality Through Visibility


Out in the ‘Burgh


Prideful Past, Powerful Future


Take Pride. Take Joy. Take Action.

The June 17 Pride Parade and festival continued the tradition of a Shadyside march and Mellon Park festival and was the final Pride event organized by an independent Three Rivers Pride Committee, which formed to produce Pittsburgh Pride beginning with the 1994 events.


Embrace Diversity

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC; now known as the Pittsburgh Equality Center) took over Pride, organizing and moving the event away from Mellon Park. The new Pride Committee’s choice of Flagstaff Hill did not materialize, and it settled for Schenley Meadow. Heavy rains soaked the city for much of the morning and only stopped when the Squirrel Hill parade arrived.


We Are Your Neighbors

Undeterred by the weather of 2001, the GLCC Pride committee returned the parade to Shadyside, but chose Ellsworth Avenue over Mellon Park as the site for the festival. Ample participation in the parade pushed the crowd size to an estimated 10,000 people before once again, a drenching rain soaked the festival.


Peace Through Pride

Pittsburgh marked 30 years of celebrating Pride with a parade and street festival in Shadyside. Marchers followed a route through Shadyside which ended at the 5800 block of Ellsworth Avenue. Leading up to the Pride festival was a series of activities including a unity ball, an all-ages sweetheart dance on the Gateway Clipper, the 2nd annual Mr. Pittsburgh Drag King Pageant, and a Pride Run/Walk.


Stand Up! Stand Proud! Stand Together!

More than 2,100 people and 50 vendors attended the festival on the North Shore’s Great Lawn, and 600 people and 43 units participated in the parade. Responding to requests to move the event to a more visible location, the Pride Parade started downtown and wound around through the Three Rivers Arts Festival, ending on the North Shore.


Equal Rights – No More. No Less.

The parade, with Grand Marshals Jim Huggins and Randy Forrester at the helm, started downtown and across the Allegheny River to Riverfront Park on the North Shore. Entertainment included the Renaissance City Choir, Dreams of Hope, Patrick Arena, Proudly Presents Productions, Stacy Lee Lucas, numerous drag kings and queens, and the high-energy band Bootlickers. A children’s activity area was added for the first time.


Pride Not Prejudice

The Pride Awareness March kicked off downtown and included PA Governor Ed Rendell speaking before the parade stepped off. Led by the Dykes on Bikes contingent and grand marshal Susan Hough, the parade started downtown and finished at Riverfront Park on the North Shore. The Steel City Softball League held the honor of carrying the Rainbow Flag in recognition of its 25th anniversary.


United for Equality

Pittsburgh Pride 2007 logo

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was the first Pittsburgh Mayor to speak at Pittsburgh Pride and Governor Ed Rendell was on hand for the second year to kick off the Pride parade, led by grand marshal and local businessman Herb Beatty. The Shepherd Wellness Community carried the Rainbow Flag in the march which started downtown and ended in Riverfront Park, where 65 vendors welcomed the crowd.


Live, Love, Liberty

In 2008 the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh became the sole planner of Pittsburgh Pride events under controversial circumstances. Pride Week was held June 16-22, 2008. Thursday night included a pool party in Mt. Washington and Friday night featured a pub crawl. Pride in the Street on Saturday was hosted by Frank DeCaro and featured American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, Frederick Ford, Global Groove Tour, and DJ Escape. Sunday’s Pride Parade and festival featured Fran DeCaro, Reina, the Cliks, comedian Eddie Sarfaty, Jacob Retain, and Mary Lou Wallner.


Your Rights, Our Rights, Human Rights

Pride Week 2009 was held June 8-14 with the theme “Your Rights, Our Rights, Human Rights.” Throughout the week were numerous events including “LGBTQ Civil Rights: How you can change government for your rights,” “Your Rights, Our Rights, Human Rights: An ACLU Forum Issues and Answers on Law, Marriage, Money and Family Matters.” Grammy and Tony Award winner Jennifer Holiday perfroemd. The Pride parade started on Blvd. of the Allies to Liberty Avenue and featured Grand Marshals State Rep. Dan Frankel, advocate Wendi Miller, and musician Thea Austin. Organizers claimed this year’s parade was the largest ever with 25 floats and 50 groups.


We Belong

In 2010, the theme was “We Belong” and featured a concert with Deborah Cox. The Pride festival was filled with local dance troupes, drag queens and kings, and local and regional performing acts including Official Hank, Pandora Scooter and Aaron & Sonji. The event closed with dance pop artist Amber.


Don’t Stop Believing

The theme for Pittsburgh Pride was “Don’t Stop Believing” and Pride kicked off with an Advocacy Rally on the steps of the City-County Building featuring Zach Wahls, Stuart Milk (Harvey Milk’s nephew) and Mary Key Totty. A concert with Patti LaBelle was held on Saturday. Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (now known as Allies for Health + Wellbeing) Executive Director Kathi Boyle was the grand marshal for the Pride March.


Pride in the Name of Love

Melissa Etheridge headlined 2012’s concert with a theme of “Pride in the Name of Love” and thousands of Pittsburghers both straight and gay descended onto Liberty Avenue. Surprisingly this was Melissa’s first Pride event and she performed for 2 and a half hours.


I Wanna Marry You

“I Wanna Marry You” was the theme as marriage equality became legal in many states in the U.S. American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert performed for a record crowd on Liberty Avenue. A drenching rain began as the Pride parade stepped off but the crowd was undeterred and the clouds did clear and the sun did shine as the parade reached the festival on Liberty Avenue. Acting Police Chief Regina McDonald led the Pride parade down Fifth Avenue.


Be Brave

The theme for Pittsburgh Pride was “Be Brave”. On May 20 marriage equality became the law in Pennsylvania and the community celebrated with a Marriage Equality Celebration on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside complete with a surprise marriage proposal on stage. Several new events were added to the Pride line-up that year including a 5K Stride for Pride, the Race to Equality a stationary cycle event, Equality on Ellsworth, which featured Charice who Oprah Winfrey called “the most talented girl in the world,” and two events in Market Square designed to promote Pride to the corporate community. Disco diva Chaka Khan and MAGIC! performed.


All You Need is Love

Local activists formed Roots Pride Pittsburgh, organized by The Garden of Peace Project, as an alternative to the Delta Foundation Pride events after the Delta Foundation booked Iggy Azalea to headline Pride in The Street. Iggy Azalea was known to make racist and homophobic comments and tweets on social media. Roots Pride Pittsburgh announced an alternative set of pride events — pitched as more inclusive of queer and trans people of color. The Delta Foundation’s Pride continued after Azalea withdrew from the event in response to the public’s outcry over her comments. Nick Jonas replaced her and headlined Pride in The Street.


Together We Are Stronger

Kesha headlined Pride in the Street. Opening for Kesha was Mahogany La Piranha and Angel Haze. This was the final year for the pub crawl. Early Sunday morning, the world woke with the news of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and 49 seconds of silence was held during the Pride parade. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch was the first CEO to participate in the parade. Performers at the festival included Jaila Simms, who made history as the first trans person to win a reality show.


Rise Up

The Delta Foundation controversially sold the naming rights of the Pittsburgh Pride parade to oil and gas corporation EQT, making it the EQT Equality March. The backlash and fallout of the corporatization of Pride, especially to an oil and gas corporation, was fast and loud. Between this, the controversies from 2015, and numerous other complaints and concers from the community, the Delta Foundation never fully recovered the trust of the LGBTQ Community of Pittsburgh. People’s Pride Pittsburgh was formed by SisTers PGH. People’s Pride held their first march on Sunday June 11, at 1 P.M. after the Delta Foundation’s EQT Equality March.

“America’s Got Talent” Singer Brian Justin Crum performed on Ellsworth Avenue at the Ready. Set. Pride! event in Shadyside which kicked off Pittsburgh Pride 2017. This year saw American Idol Jennifer Hudson in her first ever Pittsburgh appearance, as well as an expanded two-day Pride festival. PrideFest entertainment included Brand Parson who penned the “Forty- Nine Times” anthem about Pulse Nightclub and trans female pop group Secret Girls led by Nikki Exotica.


This is Me

Friday night was headlined by Troye Sivan, Leland, and trans pop singer Kim Petras. The ABBA Tribute Band brought all the “dancing queens” downtown for a huge, free dance party in the street. PrideFest had a diverse array of entertainers including Shemuwel, JLINE, and RV Mendoza. DJ Barry Harris led the Pride Radio Dance Party up until the rainstorm which came near the end of the day.


We Are One

2019 would be the last time the Delta Foundation would hold Pittsburgh Pride events. “We Are One,” was the theme for Pittsburgh Pride 2019 which moved from Liberty Avenue to Ft. Duquesne Blvd. and the Andy Warhol Bridge. Two headlining performances were held, Walk the Moon on Friday night and R&B Diva Toni Braxton on Saturday night.


Just Be You

“Just Be You” was the announced theme of Pride 2020. The Delta Foundation made the controversial decision to schedule Pride activities in July instead of June. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no in-person Pride events were held. People’s Pride held a virtual festival and the Delta Foundation announced that they would cease operations and close. Questions remain about the final status of the Delta Foundation and money owed back to the community from 2020 Pride registrations. You can contact Persad at 412-441-9786.


The Pittsburgh Pride Group with TransYOUniting announced the reclamation of Pittsburgh Pride in 2021. They worked with organizations throughout the region to put together all the Pride events with under 4 weeks notice after COVID-19 restrictions began to be lifted. Pittsburgh Pride 2021 took place from June 4 through 6 with the parade crossing the Andy Warhol Bridge to the festival on the Northside and an attendance of 14,000.

Starting in 2021, local, community-based Pride events began popping up around the region including Millvale Pride.


Photos by Mara Rago.

Stand Up Fight Back

The Pittsburgh Pride Group’s Pittsburgh Pride events of 2022 took place from June 2-5 throughout the city of Pittsburgh and featured performances, vendors, a community march, and free concerts featuring performances by local, national, and international artist including SUPA’ NxC, May May Graves, Joey Young, Venus de Mars All the Pretty Horses (EPK), Viral Hip-Hop Sensation; Saucy Santana, and this years Pittsburgh Pride headliner; Miss Money. Billy Porter grand marshaled the Pride parade.

A new event, Pride on the Shore at Stage AE, was headlined by Jessie J and Billy Porter made a surprise appearance.

Through partnerships and community collaboration, Pittsburgh Pride got back to the basics and refocused the events on celebrating the many amazing creatives, activists, and game-changers of the LGBTQIA+ community of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.


Photos by Chad Isaiah.

No Fear

A record-setting 82,000 people marched in or watched the Pittsburgh Pride 2023 march and parade celebrating 50 years of Pittsburgh Pride. The parade was grand marshaled by State Representative La’Tasha Mayes and accompanying her were Jim Huggins and Wendy Bell, LGBTQ community advocates from 1973 and the first Pittsburgh Pride. Over 200,000 attended Pride events Thursday through Sunday which featured two days of the Pride festival in Allegheny Commons Park West, a street festival on Main Street in Bloomfield, and Too Hot for July on Thursday evening.

Pride on the Shore at Stage AE featured Ava Max and Fletcher.

Help us preserve Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ history, like this article, by contributing to our GoFundMe.

Chrissy Costa is a local comedian known for her dry wit, satirical style of comedy, and big earrings. Before doing stand-up she studied sketch comedy at Chicago’s famed Second City. You can follow her on Instragram and Facebook. (She / Her / Hers)