LGBTQ&A: Amber Hikes

Amber Hikes | Photo credit: Ashlee Kulp

Amber Hikes | Photo credit: Ashlee Kulp

Amber Hikes, the new executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, has served in community leadership positions at the Attic Youth Center, William Way Community Center, Philadelphia Dyke March, and many other organizations. We chatted with the unapologetically proud black queer woman on her goals in combating Gayborhood racism, things she’s never told anyone, and following in the footsteps of one of her favorite mentors, the late Gloria Casarez. Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: Queer Performances of Color

Instrumentalists, vocalists, dancers, burlesque, drag, art -- Saturday night's "Queer Performances of Color" at CiBo appears to have it all.

Instrumentalists, vocalists, dancers, burlesque, drag, art — Saturday night’s “Queer Performances of Color” at CiBo appears to have it all.

For its diverse lineup of entertainment and intersectional harmony, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is Queer Performances of Color. This edition’s theme is “Empowering Women of Color Through Intersectional Feminism” as your favorite queer female performers “show unity and solidarity in our community.” Guests can expect performances fromSelene Rose, VinChelle, Jakeya, Isa Ardiente, Jaeda, Büm Büm Kapau, and many more. Special guests speakers at the event are Ashley Coleman and Shani Akilah of the Black & Brown Workers Collective. The event kicks off at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 18th, at CiBo Ristorante Italiano 1227 Walnut Street. Everyone is welcomed and suggested donations are $5 to $20. Read more »

Mayor’s Office Announces Appointments to the Commission on LGBT Affairs

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

A day after announcing Amber Hikes as the new director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, the Mayor’s Office has released its long-awaited list of appointees to the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs. The commission’s 23 members were selected through an application and review process that involved the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Office of LGBT Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office.

“Philadelphia values and promotes diversity and the contributions of our LGBT community,” said Mayor Kenney in a statement.  “I appreciate the commitment of these stellar individuals to serve on the LGBT Commission, and I believe the city will benefit from their rich and varied perspectives.” Read more »

Amber Hikes Named New Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs

Amber Hikes. Photo credit | Ashlee Kulp

Amber Hikes. Photo credit | Ashlee Kulp

The Mayor’s Office officially announced on Monday that Amber Hikes, a black queer woman, will be the new executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs. Hikes will begin work on March 6th.

“My diverse experiences in the vibrant Philadelphia LGBTQ community — first as a student, then as a professional, then as a business owner and finally as a community leader — afford me the unique opportunities to view LGBTQ community work in this city from multiple vantage points,” said Hikes in a statement. “I’m eager to serve my community during this pivotal time by increasing the accessibility of the Office, listening to community members and implementing initiatives to serve LGBTQ Philadelphians more efficiently and effectively.”

Hikes is a well-known community leader within the Gayborhood, having served as a board member at the William Way LGBT Community Center, an organizer for the Philadelphia Dyke March, and a community fundraiser for GALAEI, the Attic Youth Center, and ACLU-PA before moving to California for a short time.

Hikes succeeds Nellie Fitzpatrick, who is leaving the office effective today. In an interview with Philly Voice, Fitzpatrick said she will be opening a private law practice in April.*

“Mayor Kenney and I are committed to serving the needs of Philadelphia’s LGBT community,” said Nolan Atkinson, chief diversity officer for the city, who oversees the Office of LGBT Affairs. “Nellie’s work to institutionalize this Office by pushing forward legislation to change the city’s charter helps make this possible, and we appreciate her laying the foundation for the focused community work that Amber will be doing moving forward.”

As executive director, Hikes will focus on “community organizing and engagement, as well as inward facing policy work, both of which are in line with the mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, under which the LGBT Office sits.”

*Editor’s note: This sentence was edited for clarity after publication.

Protesters Disrupt Mazzoni’s “Justice In Action” Awards Luncheon

Screenshot of Abdul-Aliy Mohammad reading a list of demands to Nurit Shein and Michael Weiss.

Screenshot of Abdul-Aliy Mohammad reading a list of demands to Nurit Shein and Michael Weiss.

“Nurit Shein, resign!” was the catchphrase a dozen members of the intersectional activist group Black & Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) chanted on Friday during the Mazzoni Center’s eighth-annual “Justice in Action” event at the Loews hotel in Center City.

After posting a Change.org petition calling for the Mazzoni CEO to resign amid controversy surrounding her remarks following the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Gayborhood racism report, Friday’s protest was an in-person confrontation in which the BBWC handed Mazzoni board members a list of their demands and spoke to Shein in person. The demands included Shein stepping down, Mazzoni medical director Dr. Robert Winn resigning, and Mazzoni allocating nonrestricted​ funds to “support therapy and other infrastructure to help former and current staff that have had an increase in need for therapeutic care due to workplace violence.” Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: Mr. & Ms. Philadelphia Leather Contest 2017

The Bike Stop and Philadelphians MC presents the Mr. & Ms. Philadelphia Leather Contest 2017 this Saturday.

The Bike Stop and Philadelphians MC presents the Mr. & Ms. Philadelphia Leather Contest 2017 this Saturday.

For its competitive spirit and edgy dress code, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is Mr. & Ms. Philadelphia Leather Contest 2017. This time around, the Bike Stop and Philadelphians MC are asking you to “strap on your hottest gear, grab all your friends, and don’t forget your cellphone so you can vote online and help decide the winner!” Guests can expect to compete and/or vote for the Bar Wear, Hot Wear, Formal Wear, and Audience Vote categories. There is a cash bar with snacks, with an afterparty following the crowning of the winners. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 7th, at the Bike Stop, 206 South Quince Street. Read more »

It’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is February 7th.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is on February 7th.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a day dedicated to coalition-building and increasing information surrounding HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in the black community. Spurred into existence by the startling statistic that HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death among black men ages 25 to 44, the day has been growing across the country since 1999.

Here are some important facts to consider about how HIV/AIDS affects Philly: Read more »

Nellie Fitzpatrick Is Leaving LGBT Affairs Office “Within the Next Few Weeks,” Sources Say

Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Office of LGBT Affairs. (Screen capture from Philly 311 video)

Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Office of LGBT Affairs. (Screen capture from Philly 311 video)

Two weeks after the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) released its report on Gayborhood racism, two sources have told G Philly that Nellie Fitzpatrick will soon leave her position as the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs.

“There has been a transitional phase for her to exit out of the role within the next few weeks,” said a city employee who works closely with the Office of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (which oversees the Office of LGBT Affairs) and who requested anonymity. “There has been a search for someone to fill the role, with a strong emphasis on diverse candidates. … I believe they have finally found that person, [and] she’s black.”

“The next LGBT Affairs liaison will be a black queer woman and will be there by the spring … I was told by this person of her selection not too long ago,” said a source who says they are a close friend of the new liaison and who also requested anonymity. The source described Fitzpatrick’s replacement as being in her 30s and local, and someone who has done community-based work. “Folks know her and will be very pleased,” they added.

On Friday, G Philly paid a visit to the Mayor’s Office for the city’s reaction to the sources’ information. A spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the reports, and simply said, “I have nothing to say on that matter.” During the same visit, a staff member at the front desk of the Office of LGBT Affairs told me Fitzpatrick was not in for the day. Reached again on Monday, the Mayor’s Office had no further comment. Fitzpatrick has not returned a request for comment.

Fitzpatrick has been the target of frequent criticism from community activists of color over the past year due to her alleged failure to proactively address Gayborhood racism. In October 2016, LGBTQ protesters disrupted an award reception in her honor at the Hard Rock Cafe shortly after the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) called for her resignation. Later that month, Fitzpatrick, along with Mayor Jim Kenney, was called out by protesters during the Outfest flag-raising ceremony for being politically connected to Gayborhood bars accused of racial discrimination. In November 2016, a Change.org petition circulated with more than 200 signatories calling for the Mayor to replace her with a person of color.

LGBTQ Event of the Week: Mauckingbird’s Sing Out Loud

Mauckingbird's Sing Out Loud concert kicks off on Saturday, February 4th.

Mauckingbird’s Sing Out Loud concert kicks off on Saturday, February 4th.

For its show-stopping entertainment and queer ballads, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is Mauckingbird’s Sing Out Loud Now in its 10th season, Mauckingbird Theatre is bringing a show of new LGBTQ compositions featuring Kim Carson, Nate Golden, Mike Dorsey, Zachary Chiero, Stephen Tornetta, Lindsay Mauck, and more. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 4th, at the Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake, 302 South Hicks Street. Tickets Read more »

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