A City Council committee on Tuesday afternoon gave preliminary approval to a bill that creates municipal hate crimes protection for people victimized because of their sexual orientation.
The bill is intended to extend protections not available under the state’s hate crimes law, which doesn’t cover sexual orientation. It was sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Councilman James Kenney following the September attack on a gay couple in Center City. Tuesday’s hearing was held by the council’s Committee on Public Safety.
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The untimely death of Gloria Casarez, Philadelphia’s first director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs, has sent shockwaves through the city as her friends, family, and colleagues mourn her passing. At only 42, Ms. Casarez left a legacy that will continue to impact the community for years to come. We reached out to Philadelphians who were impacted by Gloria’s unwavering dedication to the city and the LGBTQ community to share their thoughts, memories, and pictures of the local legend.
"’I'm fortunate to have loads of memories of Gloria—from community events to dance parties to coffee dates and karaoke battles. However, I never appreciated her more than I did last year when I served as Grand Marshal for Philly Pride.
When I found out that I had to ride on a float and give a speech in front of 10,000 people, Gloria was the first person I ran to for advice. To be fair, she was always the person I ran to for advice. In addition to giving the best tips for how to liven up the parade route with the right candy and the perfect pageant wave, Gloria was a life savior when it was my turn to speak.
I don't often get cold feet in front of an audience but the crowd at Penn's Landing was the largest group I've ever spoken in front of. Gloria noticed the textbook signs of an anxiety attack right before I went on and she took time to get me water and keep me out of the sun. Most importantly, she looked me in the eye and reminded me that I earned this honor and that I should let my heart guide my words. And just to make me laugh, she made a joke about the hilarious possibility of me fainting in front of 10,000 people. After that perfect pep talk, she turned around and delivered the most heartfelt introduction I've ever been honored to hear. That was Gloria's way.
Her light was so bright, it lit the way for all of us. She used her energy to build up those around her and support our dreams and our talents. Gloria guided this community in ways most of us do not know or even understand. She was a leader for LGBTQ people in this city for sure but to this queer brown girl, she was a giant, a living legend, proof that there was a place for queer people of color in this community. She was a constant beacon of light and my world will never be the same without her.” —Amber Hikes, Director of Upward Bound Program, University of Pennsylvania
Philly Dyke March
"We exist because of you, Gloria Casarez. You brought to life the Philadelphia Dyke March as we know and love it, and breathed energy and creativity into it every year since. You were, are, and always will be our family. To say that you were a trailblazer for dyke visibility and rights is an understatement, but we weren’t the only lucky ones. You paved the way for so many in our Philadelphia LGBTQ community with your fierce advocacy and unrelenting spirit. We don’t have enough words to do you justice. Our hearts are so heavy with this loss. We will never forget you, and we vow to carry forward your passion and vision. Rest in Power: we all mourn your loss together. The Dykes United Will Never Be Divided.” —Philly Dyke March Organizers
"Gloria was a mentor, a colleague, and most of all, a friend. I still cannot believe she isn't with us, but at the same time, she always will be. She is a part of all who knew her. She is my personal Wonder Woman. My karaoke outings will never be the same. I will miss her always." —Elicia Gonzales, Executive Director, GALAEI
"My first interaction with Gloria was via email. I had just joined the Nutter Administration in 2008, and was trying to make connections. From our first meeting, she immediately had my back, and I was an instant fan. She became a friend and mentor who I could call upon for advice, or a good laugh. She was the reason I became involved in the LGBT community and I will truly miss her." —David Torres, Chief Operating Officer, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
"I used to always run into Gloria at community events, but the first time I sat and talked with her one-on-one was literally her first week working at City Hall.
I was working on a project with the staff at the Department of Human Services to update their polices for working with LGBTQ youth in foster care. I emailed her to set up a time when we could talk, and I couldn’t believe that she made it a priority to meet with me during her first week on the job. Now looking back on this, it seems so Gloria. She never wasted time, especially when it came to making the city the best that it can be for LGBTQ people.
Over the years, every time I saw her, even if we only had a two-minute conversation, I felt so inspired by her social-change work and all that she had accomplished at her age. Thank you Gloria for bringing social justice to City Hall.” —Alyssa Mutryn, Director of Development, The Attic Youth Center
"One of Gloria's fundamental orientations was being a voice for someone who didn't have one. There are dozens and dozens of people who benefitted from her. As one of the founders of the Philly Dyke March, she was really a strong advocate for women. Gloria was incredibly accessible, whether it was having the mayor attend an event or giving suggestions for a policy. Because she really strategized for people and organizations to have the ability to be self-empowered, her work will live on for decades. I was one of the adults who benefitted from her wisdom. There will be many times I will hear her voice when I try to make a decision.” —Chris Bartlett, Executive Director, William Way LGBT Community Center
"There are no words to express the profound loss of Gloria. Like she was for many, she was a role model for me and the driving force in encouraging me to take on the job as executive director of Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. In leading by example, she taught me how to lead. While I will miss her leadership, I will most especially miss her friendship. Waking up this morning to a first day without her it makes everything around me feel so much less vibrant. Her love of life infused everything she did; Gloria really knew how to live. She was one of a kind.” —Samantha Giusti, Executive Director, Delaware Valley Legacy Fund
"Year after year, Gloria came up to me at Pride and wanted to know all about the Attic Youth Grand Marshals. She was interested in their lives, their accomplishments, their struggles, and their stories. Together, she and I would walk through the crowds and find them. Gloria would congratulate them and acknowledge their honor. Knowing that she was the Mayor’s Director of LGBT Affairs, the youth felt recognized and truly special. I will really miss her, especially at Pride next year. I am so glad that I saw her a few weeks ago and I’ll fondly remember our last conversation on the never-ending hopes we’ve had for creating housing for LGBTQ youth and how close it seems we are to making this finally happen.” —Carrie Jacobs, Director, The Attic Youth Center
"As a community leader, she taught me so much and influenced how I exist in our community. As a professional colleague, there was no one I enjoyed getting on the phone and bantering with more over whatever issue was at hand than Gloria. It wasn’t abnormal for us to text at midnight over an issue involving the community. In the end, though, no matter how grave or ridiculous the situation, Gloria found a way to make lemonade out of lemons, fix the problem and then laugh about it. To quote her, 'I have an inner hippie. Sometimes I think the greatest successes [the Philadelphia LGBT community has had] have been the bad things we didn’t let happen.'
I don’t think anyone knows how many things 'haven’t happened' because Gloria Casarez was there to make sure they didn’t. While the physical presence of Gloria as a lighthouse is gone, it will always shine bright." —Angela Giampolo, Attorney, Giampolo Law Group
"My heart is heavy. This is an incredible loss for the City of Philadelphia, the Latin@ community and the L.G.B.T.Q.A. community that were so lucky to see the results of her activism, heart and care all these years. Thoughts and prayers are with Gloria's wife Tricia Dressel, family and friends - all of us that will miss her incredibly.” —Michael Beachem, Associate Director, International House Philadelphia
“The impact of Gloria Casarez on what we now consider to be the most LGBT-friendly city in America can’t be overstated. She was a game-changer for everyone in Philadelphia who had been working to bring issues of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and racial & ethnic justice to the forefront in government and policy. It would be impossible to envision the experience of an LGBT person in Philadelphia without the hard work of Gloria Casarez. This city will never be the same because of her and it will certainly never be the same without her.” —Representative Brian Sims, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
One of our favorite new columns, Tie-the-Knot Tuesday, has featured a host of Philadelphia-area gay couples who have shared their marriage stories with our readers. We thought it was fitting to capture some of the best vendors, the venues, food, and florists that our couples selected as being gay-friendly and fun. Below you’ll find some of our favorite picks of where you and your wedding guests can enjoy a great meal, a hot dancefloor, yummy food, and beautiful flowers.
Dana and Tracey Jones raved about the floral arrangements from this Harrisburg-area flower shop. "The Garden Path florist gave us the most gorgeous floral arrangements ever," the couple wrote. After a brief browse through their website, it is easy to see why Dana and Tracey loved their flowers: the sheer amount of choices, colors, and arrangements makes this florist one to cherish. (3525 Walnut St., Harrisburg, PA. 800-467-0561)
The gay-friendly stationary designer was the pick of Adria and Stephanie Bartash, our first-ever Tie-the-Knot couple. The company, based in Conshohocken, promises "to have exactly what you are looking for in order to make all the elements of your invitation ensemble come together." A local favorite, the papery has been named to PHL17's "Hot List" for best stationary. (235 Cardinal Dr, Conshohocken, PA. (610) 940-1100)
Sure, we've all been in the mega department store many times, but for married couple Anthony Lower and Nick Scott, Macy's provided outstanding service as they found their wedding-day attire. "The folks at Macy's helped us find the perfect suits," they said. "They treated us like we were family members." With over a dozen locations in the greater Philadelphia area, there's a shop near by to help meet your suit and tie needs. (1300 Market St., Philadelphia, PA. (215) 241-9000)
This Philadelphia-based wedding planning agency wowed Em Sov and Kat Nuguyen, who used the studio to decorate their reception space. "They totally transformed Tai Lake Restaurant," the couple said. The website for the studio is gorgeous, and provides a host of pictures and portfolios of how they created beautiful weddings for both gay and straight couples. (600 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA. (215) 271-7160)
When you have two gorgeous brides like Ethelda Makois and Wendy Sheppard, you don't need to worry too much about make-up and hair! But, nevertheless, the couple selected this Warrington salon to complete their wedding look. Of note, they recommended their friend Rayna Philbrick, who did both their hair and make-up. The salon offers wedding packages, including champagne and orange juice! (1432 Easton Rd., Suite 1B, Warrington, PA. (215) 343-1900)
Tucked away on 14 acres is this gorgeous venue, selected by Sheri Donley and Meredith Swinney as the location for their special day. The club, which promises "a unique blend of delicious food, atmosphere and superior service," has just about everything, from a Grand Ballroom to a private bowling alley. It's also on the National Historic Registry, meaning guests will experience old-world charm with modern amenities. (411 W. Maneim St., Philadelphia PA. (215) 438-9900)
John Brady and Trent Williams claim that they "are not easily impressed," yet found that the services of Michael Hagan were "truly perfect." The Drexel Hill-based photographer has shot numerous weddings, portraits, sporting events, and art pictures, and has been in the business since 1994. In fact, he has shot over 1,000 clients and events and has taught over 3,000 photography students. (4106 Rosemont Ave., Drexel Hill, PA. (610) 405-4112)
We could not finish this round-up of vendors without mentioning this fabulous idea from Melissa Cooper and Lauren Schmucker, who held their reception at the world-renowned museum. "There were many memorable moments, from our ceremony under the stars in Fels Planetarium, to the cocktail hour in the new Brain Exhibit, followed by dinner and dancing in front of Ben Franklin himself," the couple said. Now, that's cool. (222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia, PA. 215.448.1200)
Want to be featured in a future Tie-the-Knot Tuesday? If you’re a gay or lesbian couple married in Pennsylvania, we want to hear from you. Contact us here.
Photo | Jeff Fusco
City Council today will hear testimony on a bill that would create a “hate crime” designation when an offender is found to be motivated against a victim’s sexual orientation. It was sparked by the Center City beating of a gay couple.
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Every week, Philly gay gents share their local picks for Man Crush Monday. This week: occasional G Philly music contributor Patrick DeMarco, who’s all set to launch his own music blog, Philly Mixtape, in a few weeks.
I decided to take a break from being a butch music queen to reveal my local picks for Man Crush Monday. My choices are not only absolutely insatiable, but they are also extraordinarily talented in their respective music and writing fields, with each one turning up the volume levels on my mixtape in their own sexy way. Check them out. Oh, and by the way, I'm more single than Nick Cannon. Just saying.
Jimmy is everything and more: sexy, smart and he has a wicked sense of music knowledge. You guys may know him as the resident upstairs weekend DJ at Tavern On Camac on, but I'm delighted to call this guy a friend. I'm sure he knows that I crush on him every time we get together to throw music shade. Oh, and did I mention that his is bigger than mine? That's right, his music collection puts me to shame. Get your mind out of the gutter!
I know that whenever I'm having one of those ratchet days, I can turn to this songbird to lift my spirits. Besides having a balls-to-the-wall sense of humor, Mr. Stones is also oh-so-dashing, dapper and has an amazing singing voice. Hey, I know he's got a man, but what's his man got to do with me?
Charming, handsome and absolutely hilarious are just a few words to describe Drew. He's also killing it as up-and-coming Philly DJ and music producer Drootrax. My speakers blow out every time i listen to his explosive beats. If only I would have stayed 26, I might have a shot with him. (Sigh.)
Funny, adorable and he has a smile that could light up a dancefloor (and beats that can destroy a city block—as was proven at last week's Outfest.) Chris is the total package. Besides being an all-around amazing guy and a blast to hang out with, he's running it all over the Philly music scene as a DJ, music producer and an amazing dancer. Mr. Urban certainly puts the "mix" in my "tape."
I’m not crushing on Jonathan because he's absolutely sexy, saucy y mucho caliente, but because he has this incredible gift of writing the most heart-wrenching love song you've ever heard—and he can do it in minutes. Okay, the "big, big booty" doesn't hurt, either. Ay dios mio.
Andrew is everything you could want in a guy and a major force to be reckoned with in the Philly music industry. When he's not singing, songwriting and music-producing, he somehow finds the time to slay it as lead vocalist for his band, Life On the Horizon. Oh, and he's absolutely ridiculously handsome. If Andrew and I weren't going to be working together on Philly Mixtape, where he's just joined as a contributing writer, I may just have to tell him that I have a huge crush on him. Oops, I think I just did.
Two words to describe Mr. Shelley: marriage material. He's handsome, charming, funny and just such an enlightening human being to be around. Not to mention, he's also a well-received published author. He's inspired me in my writing career since day one, and he continues to do so now. You know what, I'm just going to say it: "Freddy, will you marry me?"
Submit your Man Crush Monday!
Here are the rules: (1) Name five to 10 guys you’re crushing on, and tell us why they have your heart aflutter (2) You and all men involved have to be from Philadelphia (3) Email your crushes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Five Man Crush Mondays:
Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal and Philly Pride organizer Franny Price (with back to camera) with one of Gloria Casarez's family members.
Delaware Valley Legacy Fund's Samantha Giusti (left.)
PGN photographer Scott Drake and his partner.
This afternoon Mayor Michael Nutter hosted an emotional flag-lowering ceremony at City Hall to honor his administration’s Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, Gloria Casarez. Casarez passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
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This weekend the Human Rights Campaign released a statement endorsing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV-prevention strategy that involves taking antiretroviral drugs like Truvada.
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The City of Philadelphia just announced via its Facebook page that Mayor Nutter will host a rainbow-flag-lowering ceremony to honor the life of Gloria Casarez this afternoon at 1 p.m.
Casarez—who served as the first director for the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs—passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. She was 42 years old.
The ceremony will take place this afternoon(October 20th), at 1 p.m., at City Hall. Full details below:
WHAT: Mayor Nutter, City officials and employees and members of the Philadelphia community will celebrate the life of Gloria Casarez, the first Director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, who passed away yesterday, with a flag lowering ceremony.
Mayor Nutter has ordered that the rainbow flag, which is currently being flown in honor of LGBT History Month, will be lowered to half staff.
WHERE: City Hall, Dilworth Plaza Northeast Corner Flag Poles
WHEN: Monday, October 20, 2014 1:00 p.m. TODAY
It was a crisp autumn morning in Philadelphia, but thousands turned out for Sunday’s 28th annual AIDS Walk Philly. The event—which is put together by a dozen local nonprofits, including the Mazzoni Center, Action AIDS, and The Attic Youth Center—is a 5K walk that raises funds for HIV/AIDS organizations in Philadelphia. As always, gay Philly came out in full force for the cause. I’ve rounded up some photos of all the troopers below:
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