Gayborhood Racism: A 30-Day Progress Report

It’s been a little more than a month since PCHR held its Gayborhood racism hearing. While the commission is still working on its findings, there has been movement in other quarters.

Part of the overflow crowd that attended the October 25th Human Relations Commission hearing. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Part of the overflow crowd that attended the October 25th Commission on Human Relations hearing. | Photo: Sandy Smith

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) has not yet released any preliminary findings from its October 25th community hearing on Gayborhood racism. PCHR has up to 90 days to present formal recommendations on how the community and government agencies (such as City Council, the Mayor’s Office, and/or Office of LGBT Affairs) should respond to complaints of discrimination and other civil rights violations.

Since the hearing, however, leaders within City Council and the Gayborhood have already begun to attempt to directly address complaints within the community. In early November, Councilman Derek Green proposed legislation that would tie a business’s ability to retain its commercial activity license to its compliance with the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance. And last week, Woody’s held a public Q&A to amend management policies that patrons might find discriminatory or racially insensitive. As a result, Woody’s now has publicly clarified on its official website that the club does not have a dress code policy and has provided direct contact information for patrons who experience any form of discrimination at the establishment.

Given the swift reactions from other government agencies and Gayborhood entities, some community members are not satisfied with the pace of response from PCHR.

“I think the silence of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations shows that anti-blackness is not and has never been a priority in our city,” said Christian Lovehall, a black trans activist who attended the public hearing. “I feel that people believe that forums, talks and discussions fix these problems — but it’s actually where the fixing begins. I think the hearing was not an attempt to solve real issues, but just another photo-op for city politicians and a ploy to keep us protestors at bay.”

G Philly checked in about the commission’s progress with PCHR executive director Rue Landau, who sent the following statement:

We are actively reviewing hundreds of pages of testimony, notes, documents, employee handbooks and dress codes that will form the basis of our report on racism and discrimination in the LGBTQ community, which will be released within 90 days of our October 25 hearing. We are thankful to everyone who has provided testimony and information throughout this process and appreciate your patience as we complete our report with due diligence. The transcript from the hearing will be available on our website by next week.

In addition, based on our review, we are working to create new tools and strategies for members of the LGBTQ community to identify and report acts of discrimination, hate crimes and bias incidents. As always, people are welcome to file complaints or report bias incidents to our office at pchr@phila.gov or by calling 215-686-4670.

G Philly will follow up with a 60-day report, or sooner if events warrant.

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