Hundreds Pack PCHR Hearing on Gayborhood Racism

Part of the overflow crowd that attended last nights Human Relations Commission hearing. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Part of the overflow crowd that attended last night’s Human Relations Commission hearing. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Last night’s Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations hearing on racism and discrimination in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood could be considered a massive catharsis, as speaker after speaker gave highly personal stories in which they described how their interactions with Gayborhood institutions, especially bars, clubs, and nonprofit organizations, made them feel disrespected, ignored, or worse.

And those were the people who ventured into the Gayborhood. Others testified that they did not feel comfortable or safe venturing into the one part of the city where they should feel that way.

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Gayborhood Racism: Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Detail from a form filed by an observer who reported on the scene at Mamzelle’s, a lesbian-oriented dance club located atop the Bike Stop in the mid-1980s. Photo from the collections of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center

Detail from a form filed by an observer who reported on the scene at Mamzelle’s, a lesbian-oriented dance club located atop the Bike Stop in the mid-1980s. Photo from the collections of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center

“What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9

And so it is with the curious case of iCandy, which will be one of the focal points of Tuesday’s Philadelphia Human Relations Commission hearing into discrimination at Philly’s LGBT bars.

Back in the mid-1980s, complaints similar to those recently leveled against the management at iCandy and Woody’s were rife in the community. Minorities and women alleged that they were being singled out for extra scrutiny at the most popular clubs in what was not yet called the Gayborhood. Then as now, the complaints largely centered on a few clubs with dance floors that were hugely popular with the mainstream gay male community. If you’re of a certain age, the names Equus, Kurt’s, and Key West should ring bells.

The complaints led a group of LGBT organizations concerned with social justice to form a coalition to study the issue and recommend changes. One of them was Black and White Men Together-Philadelphia, to which my then-partner and I belonged. Both of us were members of the study team the coalition put together. Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: Action Wellness Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

Action Wellness' 30th Anniversary Celebration is this Friday.

The Action Wellness 30th-Anniversary Celebration is this Friday.

For its ceremonious and remarkable goodwill, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is the Action Wellness 30th-Anniversary Celebration. Formerly known as ActionAIDS, the prolific nonprofit is celebrating its evolution while maintaining its core mission “to help those living with chronic illness to navigate the healthcare system and to provide them with a variety of services to sustain and enhance their quality of life.” 6ABC meteorologist Adam Joseph is the celebrity guest host. Guests can expect to enjoy a cocktail reception and silent auction while enjoying the immaculate vocals of multiplatinum-selling singer, composer, lyricist, pianist, and actress Ann Hampton Callaway. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 21st, at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Hamilton Building, 128 North Broad Street. Tickets Read more »

New Attendees Confirmed for Gayborhood Racism Hearing

Gayborhood sign

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) has confirmed that two additional LGBT community leaders will attend its October 25th public hearing on Gayborhood racism.

As previously reported, PCHR has subpoenaed the owners of all 11 Gayborhood bars and already confirmed that both Mayor Jim Kenney and Office of LGBT Affairs director Nellie Fitzpatrick would be attending. Read more »

Kenney Announces New Commission on LGBT Affairs

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

A week after Mayor Jim Kenney made his first-ever public statement addressing incidents of racism in the city’s LGBTQ community, his office has now officially announced the creation of a Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs.

“In order to fully serve the many needs of the city’s diverse LGBT community, we need an array of voices and perspectives to inform and advise us,” Kenney said in a statement on Monday. Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Fall Ball 2016

PGMC's Fall Ball is Saturday, October 15th.

PGMC’s Fall Ball is Saturday, October 15th.

For its swanky and charitable vibe, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) Fall Ball 2016. This year’s theme is prohibition, and guests are expected to “get dolled up for your favorite daddy or dame, enjoy the hooch at the keenest joint in town, and have a hotsy-totsy time.” Presented by Geno’s Steaks, the ball is geared toward supporting the efforts of PGMC’s community outreach program. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 15th, at Loews Philadelphia Hotel on 1200 Market Street. Tickets Read more »

The 30th-Annual AIDS Walk Philly Is This Sunday

30th AIDS Walk/Run Philly is on October 16th.

The 30th AIDS Walk/Run Philly is scheduled for October 16th.

On October 16th, more than 10,000 people are expected to be at Eakins Oval for the 30th-Annual AIDS Walk Philly and AIDS Run Philly 5K, presented by Merck. The event has become a tradition bringing together members of the community in fundraising, education, and mobilizing around the conversation on HIV/AIDS in the city.

There will be free rapid HIV tests and information clinics on site during registration. In commemoration of the event’s 30th year, there will be panels from The AIDS Memorial Quilt and a special presentation of “1981-Until It’s Over …,” a visual timeline featuring the history of AIDS advocacy. Read more »

OPINION: Black City Officials Should Speak Out Against Gayborhood Racism

City Council President Darrell Clarke

City Council President Darrell Clarke

It has been nearly two weeks since a video leaked of ICandy owner Darryl DePiano repeatedly using the n-word among his peers. Since then, it has been revealed that one of the named victims during DePiano’s racial tirade was Ricky Peterson, a former black employee of ICandy who no longer feels “comfortable going back to the Gayborhood.”

But despite numerous boycotts and protests that have taken place before and since this incident, black elected officials in Philadelphia — both City Council members and state legislators — have not spoken out publicly against this particular act of racism and potential discrimination in the city.

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Protesters Criticize Kenney, Fitzpatrick at OutFest Kickoff

Black & Brown Workers Collective and other protesters disrupt the LGBT flag raising ceremony at City Hall on October 9th. Photo by Ernest Owens.

Black and Brown Workers Collective and other protesters disrupt the LGBT flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on October 9th. Photo by Ernest Owens.

Minutes after Jim Kenney made his first public statement about Gayborhood racism during the seventh-annual LBGT pride flag-raising at City Hall on Sunday, protesters from the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) and other racial justice groups commandeered the podium to criticize the mayor and Office of LGBT Affairs director Nellie Fitzpatrick. Read more »

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