York Equality Fest will celebrate historic year for marriage equality
If you go
What: Equality Fest
Where: 100 Block of King Street, York
When: noon to 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 2
Details: For more information about the vendors, sponsors and other event details, visit www.equalityfestyork.com
Last May, after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, Carla Christopher was inspired.
"I just felt, at that moment, I needed to do something," said Christopher, an instructor at William Penn Senior High School and host of WRCT TV's "Culture & Main."
In the past, Christopher said, her inspiration often resulted in poetry, prose or activism. This time, it resulted in a festival celebrating equality that attracted hundreds to the Cherry Lane area of downtown.
Now, the Royal Square neighborhood of York will host the second-annual Equality Fest, billed as an arts festival "to promote inclusion and community and to celebrate marriage equality and equality for all."
A lot has changed since last summer, the big change being the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. The decision requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
"I never thought I'd see marriage equality in my lifetime, and I never thought PA would lead the way," Christopher said.
Sabrina Duke, a York-based singer-songwriter performing at the festival for her second year, said this year's event will mark a major turning point in U.S. history. It's also an expanded scope for the event, set against the recently renovated Bond building in the 100 Block of East King Street. The Bond will host a wedding expo with "equality-minded vendors," Christopher said, while an outdoors arts fair, a children's area and two stages for performers will provide a variety of entertainment options.
Christopher said she's probably most excited for Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine to speak. Levine is a transgender woman, and is among a small group of transgender people serving in high level state government.
"The idea that this super history-making figure is coming to York shows how important this festival is," Christopher said.
State Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York, a vocal supporter of the festival, said events like Equality Fest will continue to evolve.
The Marriage Equality Act was a huge step forward, Schreiber said, but "hard work remains" in preventing discrimination.
"In PA, you can get married on a weekend, post a picture and on Monday be fired based on who you chose to marry — and that's fundamentally wrong," he said in an email.
That said, Schreiber emphasized that the festival's tone will be celebratory.
For Melissa Anne Palmer, it will also be one of the most memorable days of her life. Palmer and her fiancee, Amanda Lynn Bowden, are getting married there.
"I thought, what better way to support our marriage than to do it this way?" Palmer said.
Mark and Christa Raught, married 15 years, plan to renew their vows at the festival.
"We're supporters of same sex marriage and equality," Christa Raught said. "We're looking forward to renewing our vows, and our excitement and love."
Music and performance
• 1:15 p.m. - Broadway Fundraiser Preview
• 1:30 p.m. - Sabrina Duke Band (Contemporary)
• 2:00 p.m. - Ladi Glori (Baltimore Spoken Word)
• 2:20 p.m. - Anthony Bruno (Pop)
• 2:50 p.m. - Suzi Brown (Folk)
• 3:10 p.m. - Jessica Fox & Veronica Lush (Female Impersonation)
• 3:30 p.m. - LOVE the Poet (Baltimore Spoken Word)
• 3:50 p.m. - Los Monstros (Latin Traditional)
• 4:20 p.m. - Glyph Pneumatic (Reading Spoken Word)
• 4:40 p.m. - Weary Arts Group (Broadway Eclectic - Youth)
• 5:10 p.m. - Dustin Nispel (York Spoken Word)
• 5:30 p.m. - B-Tropical (Reggae)
• 1:15 p.m. - Storytelling by Holly Metzger
• 1:45 p.m. - Magic Show by Levi Sparkx
• 2:15 p.m. - Learn with Hope Street Garden by Anne Juarez Clark
• 2:45 p.m. - Yoga for EVERYONE! By Jason Konopinski
• 3:15 p.m. - Youth Poetry Showcase with Beautiful Spirit
• 3:45 p.m. - Kid Zumba by Eat-Play-Breathe, a YMCA York Initiative
• 4:15 p.m. - York City Derby Dames
Details about the Wedding Fair, Fine Arts Fest, children's activities and group wedding can be found on the Equality Fest website, www.equalityfestyork.com