Out and About: Why we held another Equality Fest in York


Why a second Equality Fest?

The festival's first year was an understandable celebration of the passage of marriage equality in Pennsylvania.

Yes, marriage equality recently became the law of the land nationally, but since it was already the law here, what else has changed for Yorkers, really?

In just the last handful of years, everything.

And that's why the continued celebration is worth bringing to the forefront.

Equality Fest is a celebratory gathering of traditionally marginalized communities, many still fighting for equal rights in wages, housing, economic or educational opportunity and more.

It would be easy to feel discouraged or cynical when looking at the work still to be done, when we see the struggle for unity and understanding erupting across the national headlines.

But here's the wonderful thing about cooperation between minority or marginalized groups: Together, we become a powerful majority and a force to be reckoned with.

Equality Fest brings together artists and hipsters, political activists and community organizers, independent businesses and legal, medical or other community and life resources.

It reminds people that THIS is York. This is the York of 2015. This is the York of today and of the rapidly approaching future. This is the stereotype-shattering, progressive and dynamic community that so many of us are blessed to call home, and this is a home worth fighting for, worth organizing in and worth inviting the county, the region and the world in to see.

A local pin-up model and a half-Latino power poet from Reading, Pennsylvania, dancing the bachata. A Native American drag queen doing a cartwheel in the middle of the street as a thrilled crowd of African-American children cheered from the sidelines. One of the most highly regarded fine artists of the York scene, a dynamic gay man, dabbing the final bold strokes of oil paint on a live-painted portrait of Janice Joplin before an admiring cluster of art lovers.

This is equality.

State representatives, city councilmen, the commonwealth surgeon general and other well-known political faces posing for portraits with admiring political club volunteers.

An army of churchgoers in boldly colored T-shirts arriving with an arsenal of children's activities and packs of Skittles after morning services conclude. This is equality.

A wedding expo happened inside the dazzlingly decorated, newly refurbished Bond Building, which held its first wedding on Sunday, a gender-free group ceremony where the couples were gifted with donations from Beaver Street and Royal Square shops and congratulated by local politicians.

A street festival took over the afternoon with a stage that hosted reggae, Latin, pop and R&B bands, mixed with female impersonators and spoken-word poets.

A food court served everything from seafood to barbecue to Healthy World Cafe's locally sourced artisan dishes.

A fine art fair and open galleries dominated one side of the street, while the other side boasted an array of information and community connections. Customers toured a pop-up marketplace for everything from hand-blown glass and tie-dye to pink and purple tasers for women. A family area had activities, games, storytellers and balloon-animal makers surrounding a Tumble Bus and an Atomic Bounce House.

Everything was free and open to the public, and everyone there was willing to brave the 90-plus-degree heat in an obvious mood for joyful cooperation.