OUTBEAT KICKOFF: The Nation’s First Queer Jazz Festival Opens Tonight with Dena Underwood

Dean Underwood, one of the performers at this year's OutBeat. (via the Dena Underwood Facebook page)

Dena Underwood, via the Dena Underwood Facebook page

It’s been years in the making and tonight it becomes a reality: The nation’s first queer jazz festival, OutBeat, opens, thanks to the efforts of the William Way LGBTQ Community Center. The four-day musical extravaganza takes places all throughout Philly, and features some of the nation’s most renowned jazz players, players who just happen to fall into the LGBTQ spectrum.

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(UPDATE) High School Parts Ways With Assistant Coach Connected to Beating

[Update 1:55 p.m.] The archiocese has released a statement saying the assistant coach was not fired, but resigned when confronted about the matter. The archdiocese has also released a statement of support from Archbishop Charles Chaput for the school.

The following statement came from Stephanie Brophy, associate director of communications for the archdiocese:

I have a clarification on this matter. I am just being informed by Archbishop Wood High School that the coach resigned when confronted about the matter. Had he not done so, he would have been terminated.

Also, a statement from Archbishop Chaput is below for you.

“A key part of a Catholic education is forming students to respect the dignity of every human person whether we agree with them or not.  What students do with that formation when they enter the adult world determines their own maturity and dignity, or their lack of it.  Violence against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable and alien to what it means to be a Christian.  A recent beating incident in Center City allegedly involved, in some way, a part-time coach at Archbishop Wood High School.  After inquiries by school leadership, the coach was contacted regarding the matter and he resigned. Archbishop Wood’s handling of the matter was appropriate, and I support their efforts to ensure that Catholic convictions guide the behavior of their whole school community, including their staff.”

[Original] Multiple news outlets are reporting that Archbishop Wood Catholic High School in Warminster has fired an assistant basketball coach in connection with last week’s beating of a gay couple in Center City.

The school, earlier on Wednesday, issued a public statement decrying the incident.
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Brian Sims: I Will Bring Victims to Harrisburg to Change the Law

brian sims enda

You can sign the “Change PA Hate Crime Law to include Sexual Orientation” petition all you want, but the real change is going to have to come from within the Pennsylvania state legislature. The good news is that there’s already a bill that’s been introduced to do it. The bad news is that it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. Read more »

Gay Bashing Witness: “I Don’t See How It Could Be Self-Defense”

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Geoff Nagle lives on the 3rd floor of an apartment building on the corner of 16th and Chancellor streets, and he saw last Thursday’s brutal attack from his window, where he took this photo of one of the victims being treated. Nagle has been in communication with the Philadelphia Police Department, and he tells us that he doesn’t know the suspects or the victims. We got him on the phone to discuss the attack and the aftermath. Read more »

Alleged Hate Attack Group Members Reportedly Claiming Self-Defense [UPDATED]

See below for updates….

[Original] Multiple sources have tipped us off that the still-unidentified alleged assailants in last week’s attack at 16th and Chancellor streets are claiming self-defense. Caryn Kunkle, a source close to the victims who originally publicized the story, shared the following message on her Instagram feed:

Hate Crime update: the group of 15 genius kids who attacked two unarmed and non-PDA gay men on their way out for pizza on Sept. 11th at 10:45pm in the Rittenhouse area of Philadelphia are claiming “SELF DEFENSE.” Probably because the insanity defense was clearly unavailable….. Since when does collectively pounding someone’s face into the concrete while audibly and repeatedly shouting “dirty faggot” qualify 

I reached out to her to ask how the victims were taking this development, and she told me that “the District Attorney prepared the boys for that. It would be pretty much the only attempt at an excuse they could possibly try. However, it was very clear that the group asked if they were dating before the assault began, and they verbally assaulted them before and during the time they were beating them. I don’t think self defense will stick for long. Every witness refutes their claim.”

We reached out to the District Attorney’s Office and Philadelphia Police Department, but neither would verify Kunkle’s claim.

[Update, 9/18/2014], 12:01 p.m.] Gay bashing witness says, “I don’t see how it could be self-defense.”

[Update, 9/17/2014, 7:29 p.m.] NBC10 reports that Archbishop Wood Catholic High School has released a statement concerning reports former students were involved in the incident.

Earlier today, Archbishop Wood High School became aware that some of its former students were allegedly involved in the assault of two men in Center City last week. This afternoon, administrators communicated with the entire Archbishop Wood school community to make it emphatically clear that the school does not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the violent and hateful behavior displayed by those who took part in this senseless attack.

Administration also stressed that Catholic schools are centers of learning where students are expected to treat each other in a Christ-like manner at all times and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. The actions of those who took part in the attack are reprehensible and entirely unacceptable. They are not an accurate reflection of our Catholic values or of Archbishop Wood High School.

Philly Drag Queen Offends With 9/11-Themed Performance. Did She Go Too Far?

Divine, from the Official Divine Facebook

Divine, from the Official Divine Facebook

When I was an undergrad, I took a feminist art history course as a random elective, and I loved it so much that I almost changed my major. When it came to the 1970s segment of the class, we spent a lengthy amount of time discussing performance artists. The piece I will always remember, not because of the physical performance, but because of the debate in our class surrounding it, was Carolee Schneemann‘s 1975 work “Interior Scroll.” In it, Schneemann posed nude while covering herself with mud. Then, she took a scroll out of her vagina and started reading it.

We were all really torn about whether or not to call Schneemann’s work “art.” That’s not really the point here: Call it whatever you want, but she really wasn’t harming anyone by performing the work, and it’s still considered one of the most provocative feminist “artworks” of the 20th century.

That clearly won’t be said about a performance that took place at last week’s Philadelphia Drag Wars competition that’s caused quite a stir. The show, which took place on September 11th, featured a number by drag queen Ariel Versace. Dressed in Muslim garb, Versace entered the stage adorned with bombs. From a balcony, someone threw dolls and shards of paper. The dolls were supposed to represent people jumping from the Twin Towers on 9/11, and the paper? If you watch footage from the day of the attacks, you can clearly see shards of Xerox copies falling from various offices in the World Trade Center.

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Cece Rex

Every hump day a Philly person shares their local picks for Woman Crush Wednesday. Today, Cece Rex, owner of Special Touch Massage where she works in the practice and development of massage therapy. 



Queer Pop-Up Book Shop Series Begins This Weekend

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Philly AIDS Thrift re-opened the doors to Giovanni’s Room last Friday, debuting a new space that, much like its store in Queen Village, will sell secondhand goods—everything from records and clothing to jewelry. We’re thrilled that the storied bookstore is alive and well again, but we can’t help but mourn the lack of queer reads. As we reporter earlier this week, there is a shelf full of children’s books and some miscellaneous works in the store, but not a ton of the LGBT persuasion.

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Does This Photo Show the Suspects in Gay Beating Having Dinner at La Viola?

Former Real Housewives of New Jersey castmate Greg Bennett tweeted this photo that he claims — because of similarities in clothing — includes some of the alleged suspects in the hate crime that happened on Thursday in Center City.

Bennett did not want to confirm who sent him the picture, but from the image it appears it was taken at La Viola West at 252 South 16th Street, not far from where the attack happened at 16th and Chancellor streets. We reached out to management, which confirmed they had a large party on the night of the attack; they could not, however, confirm whether the photo was taken that night. They also said they do not know who made the reservation, as they tear up their reservation list each night. They say they have not heard from police.

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