CommUNITY OUTfest resurrected as rally, march and fundraiser, Oct. 1

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

WEST CHESTER — OUTFest may be cancelled, at least as originally envisioned, but now a rally and march in support of the county’s LGBTQ+ community will take place, potentially a much larger event than the original plan.

West Chester CommUNITY OUTfest, a two-block street festival featuring performers, activities, and vendors, was scheduled for Oct. 1 in the Borough to be held in support of the local LGBTQ+ community.

The original event was canceled when the West Chester Republican Committee threatened on social media to protest at the event over planned performances by drag queens. The threat of protests led borough police to require more security — a cost event organizers could not afford, especially after sponsors — including Chester County Hospital — dropped out. That led to the cancellation of the event.

Enter Unionville native and current Downingtown-area resident Eddy Foster (Editor’s Note: Foster is the stepson of Times’ Editor Mike McGann and has been a contributor of arts content for the site) and Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell.

“I heard the news of the cancellation and felt the sense of urgency to respond.  Within minutes Eddy and I began to coordinate our efforts to plan an event.  My office staff, and my wife, immediately went to work to support Eddy’s vision of a rally on the steps of Chester County’s Historic Courthouse,” said Maxwell.

Foster said he felt that, in light of the event cancellation, that something needed to be done to demonstrate the community’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“The community was excited for OUTfest and disappointed that the festival was cancelled,” Foster said. “I felt it was important to respond with a rally to show friends, family, and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community that Chester County supports and celebrates the multiple ways their community enhances our county.”

The rally is currently planned for Oct. 1, at 2 pm on the Historic Courthouse steps. The event will feature local leaders and advocates, a short march through West Chester Borough, and will conclude with a party at Split Rail Tavern on Walnut Street in West Chester.

The event is described as “family friendly” with face painting for kids. Proceeds from the 4 pm afterparty — which will include performances by local drag queens — will benefit the Trevor Project.

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