Equality Fest York is broadening its scope this year, aiming to appeal more to families and to promote equality and human rights for all Pennsylvanians.
When the festival started two years ago, it had a strong focus on LGBT equality, specifically gay marriage, said Carla Christopher, Equality Fest president. But Christopher realized that legalizing gay marriage is not the end of the fight for equality for all people.
“If we can get married and still be afraid of being fired from jobs … is that really free?” Christopher said.
That’s why continued education and awareness are important, she said. This year, Equality Fest is moving to Penn Park and will bring together a variety of cultural, human services resources, activism and educational elements to inform and provide the tools people can use to improve their lives and their communities.
This year's theme is "Live Without Fear, " which was decided before prior to the June attack in Orlando that targeted a gay nightclub, Christopher said. The tragedy in Orlando and other acts of violence against marginalized people since then affirmed the theme this year.
“We put a stronger emphasis on it being family friendly, being educational instead of just celebratory,” Christopher said.
But there will still be celebration. The event will run from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7, at Penn Park, and the event schedule is full of music and dance, in addition to the activism and educational resources.
The festival, which was held in Cherry Lane in 2014, and then at The Bond and in the 100 block of East King Street in York in 2015, will showcase an international food court, an Equality Fest Fine Art Fair, and a wide range of entertainment with a range of music from Latin to rock.
There will be games and activities for children, including an educational scavenger hunt. And a Stop the Violence! rally is scheduled from 1:45 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. A full schedule of events is available at www.equalityfestyork.com.
Jada Richardson of York speaks about the peaceful protest and what she hopes it will do. Teresa Boeckel, York Daily Record
Christopher doesn’t want only gay people, or people of color, or any one particular group of people to attend. Everyone is welcome, she said.
Even the skeptics.
“Part of raising awareness is creating space for conversation,” Christopher said. “We are trying to make it OK to ask the questions to get those answers.” Free speech applies to everyone, she said, not just the people who say what you want to hear. Everyone who comes to Equality Fest is asked to be respectful of others.
“I try to model best practices, but what does best practices mean?” she said. “It means to never stop learning.”
Equality fest is all about “encouraging people to engage and interact,” she said. “On this day, you can come and whatever your flag is, let it fly.”
If you go:
What: Equality Fest York
Where: Penn Park, 100 West College Ave., York
When: Noon to 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 7.
Learn more: Visit http://www.equalityfestyork.com.