Philly Quaker day school Friends Select School (FSS) is gearing up for a season of programming to build community among its LGBT youth and students of LGBT-headed families.
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Sims looking rugged and accomplished at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. | Photo from Facebook.
State Representative Brian Sims climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. He began the trek right after Christmas to raise funds for the Military Assistance Project (MAP), an initiative that provides legal and housing services to Philadelphia veterans.
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Sims posted this photo of himself and his climb-ready mohawk on Facebook.
On December 26th, State Representative Brian Sims will hop a plane to Africa, where he’ll climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Military Assistance Project (MAP), an initiative that provides legal and housing services to Philadelphia veterans.
During a phone chat last week, Sims told me he signed up for the adventure because it hit close to home. “My parents are both retired army lieutenant colonels. For years, during my time with the Bar Association, and even with Equality Pennsylvania, if there was a veterans component, or an opportunity to work with veterans I tended to take it,” he says. So when MAP approached him about this project last spring, it was a no-brainer.
As you can imagine, climbing a mountain requires a certain amount of training, training to acclimate to the gradual drop in temperature as you ascend, and, more importantly for Sims, an asthma sufferer, adjusting to the change in elevation. “You don’t want to rush it. Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,000 feet high. If you rush, that’s when you get in trouble with oxygen deprivation and altitude sickness. The route we’re going on is tough, but it’s also the longest, so we’ll have plenty of time to get acclimated.”
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Photo by HughE Dillon
Philly Mag and G Philly contributing photographer HughE Dillon broke some sad news on his Facebook page this weekend: Brian Sims is officially off the market.
He caught up with them when they were on their way to an Eagles viewing party over the weekend. What we know is that the lucky fella’s name is Brandon McMullin. According to his Facebook page he studied at DeSales University, and he will now be the proud owner of lots of jealous, gay side-eye in the Gayborhood. I reached out to Sims to get more info, but he had nothing to offer on the record (except some obvious glee).
Congrats to the lucky—and very handsome—pair.
Every week, Philly gay gents share their local picks for Man Crush Monday. Today, we feature Russell Oden, a self-proclaimed Philadelphia lover and QVC stylist.
Last Five Man Crush Mondays:
Brian Sims just may break the gay Internet today with this #ThrowbackThursday post:
The huge community choir performs the closing number of the “It Gets Better” concert at the Kimmel Center.
It was quite a Saturday evening to remember as the Kimmel Center wrapped up its weeklong “It Gets Better Project” residency with a concert featuring nothing less than a 150-piece choir comprised of various Philadelphia area singers and members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Concert goers were surrounded by some of Philly’s most renowned LGBTQ supporters, including State Representative Brian Sims and Kimmel Center CEO and President Anne Ewers. The musical event featured cover songs from the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Cher, Elton John, and Gnarls Barkley, amongst many others. We were there to capture the night’s festivities.
Community choir members Adlai Waksan, Gershon Cattan, Simone Allender, Jill Chambers, and Vibes, a seeing-eye dog in training.
Members of the Philadelphia Voices of Pride Chorus: Robert Lamb, Kirsten Schaney, Dan Schwartz, and Paul Jensen.
Members of the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus: Tom Conway, Patrick Agagni, Thoth Weeda, Ron Johnson, and Paul Foster.
Music Director of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles Joe Nadeau with Kimmel Center Artistic Director Jay Wahl.
The crowd waiting to get into the theater.
Kimmel Center CEO and President Anne Ewers.
Samantha Giusti and Amy Scarano.
Philadelphia Fight's Chip Alfred and Danny Alvarado.
Sean Atley, Jasper Lloyd, and James Vanderbilt.
The theater was nearly sold out for the 7:30 PM concert.
Brian Sims provided welcoming remarks for the concert.
A scene from It Gets Better: Tyler Houston plays C.J.
The cast of It Gets Better.
Mario Mosley as Tootsie (center), with the rest of the cast.
The cast breaks it down to a cover of Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time."
Cast member Jason Currie interviews Tom Ryan, who coordinated a "It Gets Better" video with the Camden Riversharks.
The 150-member community choir.
The untimely death of Gloria Casarez, Philadelphia’s first director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs, has sent shockwaves through the city as her friends, family, and colleagues mourn her passing. At only 42, Ms. Casarez left a legacy that will continue to impact the community for years to come. We reached out to Philadelphians who were impacted by Gloria’s unwavering dedication to the city and the LGBTQ community to share their thoughts, memories, and pictures of the local legend.
"’I'm fortunate to have loads of memories of Gloria—from community events to dance parties to coffee dates and karaoke battles. However, I never appreciated her more than I did last year when I served as Grand Marshal for Philly Pride.
When I found out that I had to ride on a float and give a speech in front of 10,000 people, Gloria was the first person I ran to for advice. To be fair, she was always the person I ran to for advice. In addition to giving the best tips for how to liven up the parade route with the right candy and the perfect pageant wave, Gloria was a life savior when it was my turn to speak.
I don't often get cold feet in front of an audience but the crowd at Penn's Landing was the largest group I've ever spoken in front of. Gloria noticed the textbook signs of an anxiety attack right before I went on and she took time to get me water and keep me out of the sun. Most importantly, she looked me in the eye and reminded me that I earned this honor and that I should let my heart guide my words. And just to make me laugh, she made a joke about the hilarious possibility of me fainting in front of 10,000 people. After that perfect pep talk, she turned around and delivered the most heartfelt introduction I've ever been honored to hear. That was Gloria's way.
Her light was so bright, it lit the way for all of us. She used her energy to build up those around her and support our dreams and our talents. Gloria guided this community in ways most of us do not know or even understand. She was a leader for LGBTQ people in this city for sure but to this queer brown girl, she was a giant, a living legend, proof that there was a place for queer people of color in this community. She was a constant beacon of light and my world will never be the same without her.” —Amber Hikes, Director of Upward Bound Program, University of Pennsylvania
Philly Dyke March
"We exist because of you, Gloria Casarez. You brought to life the Philadelphia Dyke March as we know and love it, and breathed energy and creativity into it every year since. You were, are, and always will be our family. To say that you were a trailblazer for dyke visibility and rights is an understatement, but we weren’t the only lucky ones. You paved the way for so many in our Philadelphia LGBTQ community with your fierce advocacy and unrelenting spirit. We don’t have enough words to do you justice. Our hearts are so heavy with this loss. We will never forget you, and we vow to carry forward your passion and vision. Rest in Power: we all mourn your loss together. The Dykes United Will Never Be Divided.” —Philly Dyke March Organizers
"Gloria was a mentor, a colleague, and most of all, a friend. I still cannot believe she isn't with us, but at the same time, she always will be. She is a part of all who knew her. She is my personal Wonder Woman. My karaoke outings will never be the same. I will miss her always." —Elicia Gonzales, Executive Director, GALAEI
"My first interaction with Gloria was via email. I had just joined the Nutter Administration in 2008, and was trying to make connections. From our first meeting, she immediately had my back, and I was an instant fan. She became a friend and mentor who I could call upon for advice, or a good laugh. She was the reason I became involved in the LGBT community and I will truly miss her." —David Torres, Chief Operating Officer, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
"I used to always run into Gloria at community events, but the first time I sat and talked with her one-on-one was literally her first week working at City Hall.
I was working on a project with the staff at the Department of Human Services to update their polices for working with LGBTQ youth in foster care. I emailed her to set up a time when we could talk, and I couldn’t believe that she made it a priority to meet with me during her first week on the job. Now looking back on this, it seems so Gloria. She never wasted time, especially when it came to making the city the best that it can be for LGBTQ people.
Over the years, every time I saw her, even if we only had a two-minute conversation, I felt so inspired by her social-change work and all that she had accomplished at her age. Thank you Gloria for bringing social justice to City Hall.” —Alyssa Mutryn, Director of Development, The Attic Youth Center
"One of Gloria's fundamental orientations was being a voice for someone who didn't have one. There are dozens and dozens of people who benefitted from her. As one of the founders of the Philly Dyke March, she was really a strong advocate for women. Gloria was incredibly accessible, whether it was having the mayor attend an event or giving suggestions for a policy. Because she really strategized for people and organizations to have the ability to be self-empowered, her work will live on for decades. I was one of the adults who benefitted from her wisdom. There will be many times I will hear her voice when I try to make a decision.” —Chris Bartlett, Executive Director, William Way LGBT Community Center
"There are no words to express the profound loss of Gloria. Like she was for many, she was a role model for me and the driving force in encouraging me to take on the job as executive director of Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. In leading by example, she taught me how to lead. While I will miss her leadership, I will most especially miss her friendship. Waking up this morning to a first day without her it makes everything around me feel so much less vibrant. Her love of life infused everything she did; Gloria really knew how to live. She was one of a kind.” —Samantha Giusti, Executive Director, Delaware Valley Legacy Fund
"Year after year, Gloria came up to me at Pride and wanted to know all about the Attic Youth Grand Marshals. She was interested in their lives, their accomplishments, their struggles, and their stories. Together, she and I would walk through the crowds and find them. Gloria would congratulate them and acknowledge their honor. Knowing that she was the Mayor’s Director of LGBT Affairs, the youth felt recognized and truly special. I will really miss her, especially at Pride next year. I am so glad that I saw her a few weeks ago and I’ll fondly remember our last conversation on the never-ending hopes we’ve had for creating housing for LGBTQ youth and how close it seems we are to making this finally happen.” —Carrie Jacobs, Director, The Attic Youth Center
"As a community leader, she taught me so much and influenced how I exist in our community. As a professional colleague, there was no one I enjoyed getting on the phone and bantering with more over whatever issue was at hand than Gloria. It wasn’t abnormal for us to text at midnight over an issue involving the community. In the end, though, no matter how grave or ridiculous the situation, Gloria found a way to make lemonade out of lemons, fix the problem and then laugh about it. To quote her, 'I have an inner hippie. Sometimes I think the greatest successes [the Philadelphia LGBT community has had] have been the bad things we didn’t let happen.'
I don’t think anyone knows how many things 'haven’t happened' because Gloria Casarez was there to make sure they didn’t. While the physical presence of Gloria as a lighthouse is gone, it will always shine bright." —Angela Giampolo, Attorney, Giampolo Law Group
"My heart is heavy. This is an incredible loss for the City of Philadelphia, the Latin@ community and the L.G.B.T.Q.A. community that were so lucky to see the results of her activism, heart and care all these years. Thoughts and prayers are with Gloria's wife Tricia Dressel, family and friends - all of us that will miss her incredibly.” —Michael Beachem, Associate Director, International House Philadelphia
“The impact of Gloria Casarez on what we now consider to be the most LGBT-friendly city in America can’t be overstated. She was a game-changer for everyone in Philadelphia who had been working to bring issues of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and racial & ethnic justice to the forefront in government and policy. It would be impossible to envision the experience of an LGBT person in Philadelphia without the hard work of Gloria Casarez. This city will never be the same because of her and it will certainly never be the same without her.” —Representative Brian Sims, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Yesterday, GLAAD hosted a nationwide campaign called #SpiritDay, where it asked people to “go purple” as way to stand up against bullying and to show support for LGBT youth. Millions took part, including a nice spattering of folks right here in Philly. Locally, we had everyone from politicians to community leaders to entire kickball teams donning purple for the cause. I round up some of the ones who crossed my radar below:
GALAEI's Elicia Gonzales looks great in purple, but then again what doesn't she look great in?
@jerseyboydallas's #SpiritDay proclamation came with a message: "I've been bullied since grade school, because my voice was not deep like the other guys in my class, and I was called all sorts of names. But today I stand up to those bullies to say I'm different. We are not all the same, so there is no need for all this. It's immature so grow up!!!"
GALAEI's @thefeverview is repping all kinds of causes: #SpiritDay, transgender issues, and the freedom to wear beanies!
@njrugger45 wore purple for #SpiritDay and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. "I think both observances invite us to ask what experiences of trauma, violence, and/or oppression we can work to heal from so that we do not reenact that violence upon ourselves, our families, and our communities."
"It's always spirit day on the purple team." (Photo by @jabaiocco01)
I don't think this was intentional, but @thatjimkid got his hair died purple on #SpiritDay. And he's rockin' it.
Awww. How could bullying exist in a world with cute puppies like this? (Photo by @edwardbenner)
The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on hate-crime legislation Thursday at the Kimmel Center. The recent attack on a gay couple in Center City has renewed calls for the state to provide hate crime protection to gays and lesbians.
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