The New Who’s Who of Philly’s Gay Community

They’re more than just here and queer. They’re the people who feed you, entertain you, provoke you, amuse you and surprise you. Come meet them




Kevin Gatto comes from a long line of beautiful people, starting with his mother, a model, and his cousin, David Evangelista. “When I was a little boy I used to play with my mom’s wigs,” says Gatto, owner of Verde, a salon in Collingswood. “We joke that we have the ultimate gay gene in my family.” After graduating at the top of his class and making chocolate-covered strawberries for Patti LaBelle, he joined the Clairol Styling Team and worked the New York fashion shows. Today, as a stylist for CBS3’s Talk Philly, Gatto rubs elbows with folks like Bradley Cooper. “I want to have a positive impact and bring the LGBT community together,” says Gatto, who lives in Rittenhouse Square with his pug, Oliver.

And as a boy growing up in Smithtown, N.Y., Matthew Izzo lived on a horse farm.

“I started teaching equestrian horse show riding on a national level,” says Izzo, the owner of Matthew Izzo, a boutique in the Gayborhood. Eventually, his talent led him to Ethan Allen and Juan Pablo Molyneux. “Much of my style comes from the equestrian horse show environment,” says Izzo, who lives in a converted schoolhouse with his partner. “People inspire me,” he says, whether he’s designing a posh condo featured on HGTV, finishing a new painting or designing jewelry. “Going forward, I want to be a role model for young LGBTs,” he says.

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Thank Hikes and Levine for Stimulus and Arouse each month. “It always felt like there was an inequality between the options gay men had in their nightlife compared to the options lesbians had,” says Levine, a Temple student. “We wanted to create a space where everyone could come together.” Levine and Hikes (director of Upward Bound at Penn) have also linked activism with nightlife. “We’re focused on expanding ‘Stimulus Gives Back,’” says Hikes—most notably by encouraging the party people to get involved with nonprofits. For Hikes, being a role model is a big deal. “I think it’s important to see people like me—young, black, female—involved in our community in a positive way,” she says. “We’d like to eventually say that Stimulus has left an indelible mark on the LGBT community.”

And since she was 21, Tracy Buchholz has been on The Scene. After dashing between Rehoboth and Philly all summer after moving back from Los Angeles, the Ambler native admits, “There was a void I tried to fill.” So she resurrected the monthly dance party. “One of the best things about coming out was feeling like a part of a new family—Philadelphia’s LGBT community,” she says. “I consider this community my family.” That might explain why the Temple grad also works with the Philly Gay Tourism Caucus and Sapphire Fund’s Emerge event. “On a personal level, I want to be an example that it’s okay to be an out professional,” says Buchholz. “It’s part of who I am. No one should have to hide it.”

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“My LGBT advocacy started with my family,” says Moeller, executive director of the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. “Throughout my life, I have always been an advocate for those who are marginalized within society.” By the time Moeller—a Chalfont native who discovered early on that he had a learning disability—got to college, he joined a campus group that shared coming-out stories with other students, most of them straight. He’s also worked with Planned Parenthood, FACT and amfAR. “I am inspired by leaders in the community,” he says, “and seeing an issue that needs to be addressed and working with others to create change.” When he’s not changing the world, Moeller lives in Queen Village with his partner, Joe Carlucci, and their dog, Rocco.

With a painful coming out, Jeanne McIntyre takes her job as a Philly Ambassador to The Trevor Project to heart. “Trevor speaks personally to me because I’m a suicide survivor,” says McIntyre, a California native. “I was homeless in this city 20 years ago. And I believe that if there was something in place like Trevor then, it would have given me hope.” As she embarks on a new job this year with an industrial company, what people may not realize is that McIntyre was also a popular DJ and is an avid surfer who is more than happy to share stories about shredding some gnarly West Coast waves.

And at City Hall, Gloria Casarez is the reason the rainbow flag was raised at City Hall last year. When she’s not in the public eye as Philly’s director of LGBT affairs, she’s got the mayor’s ear. “I translate community into government and government back into the community,” says Casarez, who came out through community activism in the early 1990s. “I grew up in North Philly and took an early interest in welfare rights and poverty issues. I was born a few blocks away from where I live now. My grandfather was a stonemason who worked on the Ben Franklin Bridge.” For Casarez, who celebrates a decade with her partner this year, gay rights are personal. “We contribute to the life and success in every way to the city,” she says. “There is no area of government that we are unaffected by. I remind people of that every day.”

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Lohman’s been playing soccer since she was six years old. Today, she’s a starter with the Philadelphia Independence, a professional women’s soccer team that surprised everyone by placing second last year in the national championship. “Philly is one of the strongest organizations in the league,” says Lohman, 29, whose fiancée is also on the team. “We don’t make very much money,” she says. “Really, we’re doing it because we’re passionate about it. I love coming home and feeling fulfilled. I especially love the personal connection I can have with the fans.”

Wayne Knaub, commissioner of the Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League (GPFFL), says, “We, as LGBT citizens, should receive equal treatment from our federal government. Knaub, who’s featured in Dan Savage’s It Gets Better book and involved with many local groups like Delaware Valley Legacy Fund can brag about plenty of homeruns, touchdowns and hat tricks in his career. “I want to continue to grow our league and support organizations in the LGBT community,? he says. In less than three years, GPFFL went from being a pick-up league of 11 guys to 60 men and women.” And he’s got even bigger plans for the future. “One day,” says the 35-year-old, “I want to adopt a child.”

It’s early morning on the Schuylkill and Meegan Coll is getting ready for the first paddle of the day. As a member of the Flying Phoenix Dragon Boat team, Coll admits, “I competed in the 2002 Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival as a favor to my aunt. I’ve been hooked ever since.” The Philly native—who played lacrosse in high school and can brag that Janis Joplin danced with her when she was three years old—also studied painting at Tyler School of Art and is glass coordinator at the National Liberty Museum. She competed all over the North America, from Montreal to Florida, winning the gold last year. It’s how she met her girlfriend Emilia Rastrick. “Being on the water in the middle of the city and seeing the skyline is amazing,” she says.

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Matzke and Weinberg have been together for 13 years. And for the last four, City Food Tours has been their baby. “The only time we’re not together is in the bathroom and at the gym,” says Weinberg, who, with Matzke, leads tours through Philly’s gastronomic world. “National Coming Out Day is every day,” says Weinberg. “I think because we own the company, we don’t have concerns that our boss is going to fire us.” That might explain why half of the guides are gay. “What we bring to the community is openness and comfort about being gay and being a couple,” says Weinberg. Matzke adds: “There are straight people who say they don’t know any gay people. The more they realize they’re surrounded by really cool people doing their jobs, the easier and easier it gets.”

Crystal Fox, the chef at Giorgio on Pine, says, “I stumbled upon cooking.” She got her first food job as a cook in the kitchen at Sisters—and spent the next few years working at local restaurants including Amada. It’s what you might expect from an army brat with several college degrees under her belt. This year, she appeared on TV’s Chopped hosted by Queer Eye’s Ted Allen. As Fox graduates yet again—this time in culinary arts—she’s found a family in the food biz: “I spend 10 to 15 hours a day with these people. You know their ups, downs, ebbs, and flows—even more than their partners.” After coming out at 19, Fox, an only child, experienced a few rocky years until her parents packed up for the Southwest and didn’t invite her to join them. “It will be six years this July,” she says.

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His mother sang in Billy Graham’s choir and his aunt starred in Damn Yankees with Joe Piscopo. Dahl, founder of Traverse Art Project (TAP) and the director of LGBT nightlife at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, admits, “I grew up in a theatrical family.” He’s traveled the world in more than 75 stage shows, directs the “Miss’d America” pageant, produces POP! gay sketch comedy, and has worked at the Wilma Theater, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center on star-studded events like Night of a Thousand Gowns. “I hope to create shows that really challenge people’s beliefs and make them question why they believe what they do,” says Dahl, who also wants to make people laugh. “We want to do Steel Magnolias in drag this year.”

Booker, a West Philly native, got his start at the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts. “I got into Philadanco early,” says Booker, artistic director of The Smoke, Lilies and Jade Arts Initiative. He eventually trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City before moving to Europe to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. “My focus now is on developing a work based on Essex Hemphill and Joe Beam,” says Booker, both African-American gay rights activists. This year Booker, also an artist-activist, was honored with a dance tribute at Equality Forum. “I want to keep us talking about the difficult issues, like HIV and AIDS, racism, class and historical revisionism,” he says.

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Hallman’s been playing music ever since he was 12. “I just dove in,” says Hallman, a Girard College grad. As a writer, performer and composer, he recently launched a ballet tour based on Alice in Wonderland in San Diego, penned a bassoon concerto in Pittsburgh, and remixed for Gemini Wolf. Hallman has also been in the studio recording his own album, which he describes as “experimental pop.” At the Rosenbach this year, he composed music based on the letters of Mercedes de Costa, a lesbian lover to both Greta Garbo and Isadora Duncan. “I want to create something that brings attention to the gay experience,” says Hallman. “Arts can be used as successful intervention programs for young people and reduce the risk of violence.”

“I started playing music when I was nine,” says Hines, a native of Jackson, Mississippi. Her mother worked as a biscuit baker to buy a $90 violin for the gifted child. Today, Hines also plays organ, piano and harpsichord. “The quest has been bittersweet,” she admits, “including two periods of homelessness during my adult life, and discrimination because of my being a transsexual woman.” She’s leaving her post as organist and choirmaster at Holy Innocents St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Tacony for a scholarship to the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City this fall. “I am the only openly transsexual African-American woman in this field,” says Hines, who began transitioning when she was 22.

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When she walked onto a movie set, it was love at first sight. For Pollino, a writer, director and producer of several independent films and TV projects, it’s been a swift road to celluloid. “One day I got a call about a film,” she says. It was Out There, a flick starring indie darling Clea DuVall. A half-dozen or more projects later—including the latest film, Regrets, with her longtime creative collaborator, Peter Patrikios—Pollino is leaving Philly for Hollywood after working for a show on Oprah’s OWN. Over the years, she’s also worked with Judd Nelson (who told her secrets about making The Breakfast Club) and Michael Madsen. “I get chills doing this for a living,” she says, as she gets ready to direct her first feature film this fall.

Patrikios wanted to be a doctor—until he was cast as Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof. “That’s when I really started to feel that I should reconsider med school,” says the actor, a Philly native who’s been in 23 films, TV shows and plays with stars like Uma Thurman, Parker Posey and M. Night Shyamalan. “I love to play characters that are bad, but have a soft center,” admits the actor, who played against type recently as a serial killer. He also never hides the fact that he’s gay. “After I came out, my mom asked me to take her to Woody’s,” he says. “She wanted to meet my friends and get a feel for what my life was like. I would like to impress on young LGBT people that they can be out and proud of who they are.”

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Sims started his advocacy by helping elect Judge Dan Anders to the Court of Common Pleas. “Dan was trying to join Ann Butchart on the bench, and it was really important to me that he was running as a member of the LGBT community,” says Sims, an attorney who’s now running for the State House in the Democratic primary against Babette Josephs who’s held the seat for almost three decades. The ex-football star—a Division II champ—is a former Army brat who lives in the Gayborhood with his 170-pound Newfoundland. He credits his dad with teaching him to be a leader. “He’s shown me my entire life that a strong, intelligent, capable man can also be compassionate and empathetic,” says Sims. “He was a career Army officer who has a doctoral degree, has traveled the world, has been married to the same woman his entire life, and is loved by all of his children. There’s a lot to look up to there.”

Gambone admits, “I wasn’t one of those people who always knew that I wanted to be a lawyer.” She wanted to go to film school until something just clicked. “My focus is on nontraditional family law and family law aimed at the LGBT community,” she says, in Collingswood, N.J. “My intentions are to help LGBT folks navigate this confusing landscape so that they and their families are protected as best as possible. In this field, awareness can be key, so I take great personal pride in helping to shed light on those issues that are important to our community.”

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