Meet the Activist Who Protested Mazzoni With an HIV Meds Strike

Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. Photography by Louie Ortiz-Fonseca.

Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. Photography by Louie Ortiz-Fonseca.

Last Friday afternoon, after Mazzoni Center’s board of directors publicly reaffirmed its support of CEO/executive director Nurit Shein following a walkout by half of the nonprofit’s 138 full-time staffer members over concerns with her leadership, former Mazzoni employee and patient Abdul-Aliy Muhammad publicly vowed to refuse their HIV medication until she stepped down.

Just three days later, on Monday morning, Mazzoni announced a huge leadership shakeup — both Shein and board president Dr. Jimmy Ruiz had resigned. The organization has not commented on the reasons behind the board’s decision, but it would be hard to believe that Muhammad’s stance — which had already begun to gain national attention — had no part to play in the outcome. Read more »

Bill Prompted by Gayborhood Racism Complaints Passes Out of Committee

Councilman at Large, Derek S. Green, Esq.

Councilman at Large Derek S. Green

On Monday, an anti-discrimination bill introduced by Councilman Derek Green that would strengthen penalties against Philadelphia businesses that discriminate against their employees, tenants, or customers passed unanimously out of Council’s Health and Human Services committee.

In a public statement, Green said that he was prompted to introduce the bill by “public outcry about discrimination in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood and release of a video showing a business owner employing racial slurs.” Read more »

More Than 60 Mazzoni Staffers Walk Out, Call on CEO Nurit Shein to Resign

Mazzoni Center staff members during a walkout. Photo by Ernest Owens

Mazzoni Center staff members during a walkout. Photo by Ernest Owens

A week after Dr. Robert Winn resigned as Mazzoni Center’s medical director following reports that he was the subject of an investigation, more than 60 full-time staffers of the nonprofit are now calling for executive director/CEO Nurit Shein to step down.

“Nurit Shein, resign!” said Anthony Leon, a youth education manager at Mazzoni, at the conclusion of a PCHR-mandated organization-wide training session on racial bias on Thursday morning. Staff members began to confront Shein over what they claimed was her lack of transparency surrounding the allegations against Dr. Winn and other internal issues. Former Mazzoni staff members were also present during the confrontation. Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: 2017 Transgender HIV Awareness Day

Wednesday is National Transgender HIV Awareness Day.

Wednesday is National Transgender HIV Awareness Day.

For its civic timeliness and community-building vibe, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is 2017 Transgender HIV Awareness Day. Recognize this significant day of advocacy with a full lineup of tributes, receptions, and live performances. There is a cash bar with snacks, and proceeds from the entire event go to the Philly AIDS Fund. Chair of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs Sharron Cooks will give a keynote address and serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19th, at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. This event is free and open to the public. Read more »

Robert Winn Resigns as Mazzoni Center’s Medical Director

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center's website.

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website.

After a week of speculation and public outcry from community members over the suspension of Mazzoni Center medical director Dr. Robert Winn pending the outcome of an investigation, the nonprofit’s board confirmed his resignation on Friday morning. The announcement follows a private Mazzoni executive session board meeting held on Thursday night. Read more »

Mazzoni Center Staff Members Stage Walkout After Reports

Photo by Ernest Owens

Photo by Ernest Owens

On Tuesday afternoon, a day after G Philly reported that sources connected to Mazzoni Center claim that the organization’s medical director, Dr. Robert Winn, has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation, a group of the nonprofit’s employees participated in a protest walkout.

A heavy police presence shadowed roughly 30 staff members from Mazzoni’s headquarters at 21 South 12th Street to another Mazzoni office at 809 Locust Street. (The organization employs 139 people full time.) The walkout, organized by the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC), included case managers, prevention facilitators, linkage-to-care assistants, and operational staff who departed their posts in response to a social media post made by BBWC co-founder and former Mazzoni staffer Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. None of Mazzoni’s medical providers participated. Read more »

Mazzoni Center’s Medical Director Is Under “Investigation,” Sources Claim

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center's website.

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website.

After more than a week of rumors alleging that Mazzoni Center medical director Dr. Robert Winn has been absent from work without explanation, a Mazzoni spokesperson said on Monday that Winn is on “paid leave,” and two sources inside the organization further claim that he has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

“Winn is currently on a paid-leave suspension during an … investigation,” said a staff member who works closely with Mazzoni’s medical department and who requested anonymity. “He’s been gone for at least a week, and oddly there’s been no blast email sent out to inform staff.”

“Winn is suspended and staff has not been made aware,” said a second staff member, who also asked not to be identified. “There is an investigation happening right now.”

Neither source would characterize the nature or cause of the investigation, nor explain who is conducting it. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Raquel Evita Saraswati

Raquel Evita Saraswati

Raquel Evita Saraswati

Raquel Evita Saraswati is a Muslim queer activist who has worked in various interfaith communities and serves as an appointee to the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs. We chatted with her on advocacy work and what it means to be a femme womanist.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Muslim activist and writer, focusing primarily on issues related to the rights of women and girls in Muslim-majority societies and communities. I do direct intervention work and support organizations focused on combatting gender-based violence, including honor-based violence, forced and child marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM), in all communities and cultures where those crimes occur. I’ve been blessed to be published both domestically and internationally, and to have had the opportunity to lecture in North America and Europe on issues like gender-based violence and minority rights. I’ve been interviewed by networks like the BBC, France24, Voice of the Cape (South Africa’s Muslim radio network), Al-Jazeera and others, and in publications like The Root, International Business Times, and Salon.

I’m also a vegan (for 21 years now, and I love to cook for anyone who will let me), a master bargain hunter, a partner, a cat mom, a lover of words and loud, busy cities, and a muhajjaba – a woman who covers her hair. Read more »

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