Earlier this week, the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) issued a statement calling for the resignation of Office of LGBT Affairs director Nellie Fitzpatrick, alleging that she has “consistently missed the mark when it comes to serving the needs of Black and Brown LGBTQ community members in the gayborhood.”
Since then, ACT UP Philadelphia, The Gran Varones, and Philly Coalition for REAL Justice have also lent their support to BBWC’s stance. Their announcements were shortly followed by an unexpected demonstration that disrupted an awards reception being held for Fitzpatrick on October 5th.
On Friday afternoon, the racial-justice activist group Black Lives Matter Philly released a statement calling on Fitzpatrick to resign over her “ineffective leadership and inability to respond to issues impacting Black and Latinx queer and trans people”:
Bye Nellie: BLM Philly Stands in Solidarity With BBWC
Black Lives Matter Philly stands in complete solidarity and support of the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) call for the resignation (or removal) of Nellie Fitzpatrick as the mayor’s liaison on LGBTQA affairs. Her failure to adequately address the blatant anti-blackness, racism, and classism that exists in the Gayborhood is proof of her ineffective leadership and inability to respond to issues impacting Black and Latinx queer and trans people.
For white patrons, the gayborhood is a place of refuge, safety, and liberty. However, for Black and Latinx people, anti-black racism has plagued the Gayborhood unchecked for decades.The recent protest of the iCandy establishment in response to the release of video in which the owner of the nightclub, Darryl DePiano, was filmed saying the “n-word” several times, is not an isolated incident. According to a recent Philly.com article, Black and Latinx communities have raised concerns about the Gayborhood since the 1980’s, forming coalitions to document instances of racism in bars and nightclubs.
Today, members of the Black and Brown community reference multiple forms of explicit and coded anti-black racism such as: uneven application of dress codes and entry requirements which specifically target Black people; the lack of racial diversity in Gayborhood establishments, which isolates Black and Latinx patrons; wage discrimination against Black workers in Gayborhood businesses; and, the heavy police presence that targets and surveils Black and Latinx youth.
The Gayborhood should be a safe space for Black queer and trans people. All spaces should be safe for Black queer and trans people, especially those within the Black community. Black Lives Matter includes and centers the safety of our queer and trans family and their right to live and thrive, and not to be persecuted in any space. We believe that anti-Blackness anywhere is anti-blackness everywhere.
Black queer and trans people have consistently shown up for the Black community, standing against injustices in our community, placing their bodies on the front line while demanding “Black lives matter!” We need to stand with them. We are standing with them.