LOVE Park was a veritable sea of supporters this afternoon, when more than 300 (!) local lawmakers, LGBT leaders and community members showed up in the rain to attend a rally for the two gay men attacked on September 11th in Center City.
The event was hosted by State Representative Brian Sims, who used the opportunity to draw attention HB 177 and SB 42, two pieces of legislation that would add sexual orientation to Pennsylvania’s current hate crime laws.
Photographer HughE Dillon was there to capture some snapshots, which you can seen below. Check some of the captions for remarks made by those who took part.
"There are some in Harrisburg who object to restoring sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the hate-crime law. But they haven't been calling for repeal of the law's remaining protections, for victims targeted because of their race, color, religion or national origin -- they know they would take a political hit for that. "
"Unfortunately, they think there's no political penalty or constituent outrage to face for leaving out women, LGBT people, or people targeted because of their ancestry or mental or physical disability. Pennsylvanians who don't like this injustice need to let their state representative and senator know now."
Caryn Kunkle, friend and spokesperson for the two victims: "I am thankful that many legislators are working to restore Pennsylvania’s inclusive hate crime law. This is important to me not only because of my gay friends who were brutally attacked, but also because I have struggled my entire life to protect my autistic younger brother. It is never OK to hurt someone because of who they are."
Brian Sims stands next to Caryn Kunkle.
Councilman Jim Kenney: "True equality will never be achieved through government action alone. Transphobia and homophobia have always been deeply embedded in American culture. As we were brutally reminded two weeks ago, our children are growing up in a country where LGBTQ people are still seen as an 'other' and somehow different from themselves – victories will remain hollow until this changes."
First Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross Jr.
Rudy Flesher, Beth Wilson Rudd, and Matt Kurilla
Representative from GALAEI, who's Executive Director Elicia Gonzales told the crowd that, ""The outpouring of both outrage and support surrounding this heinous act has been nothing short of heart-warming. The fact that this issue moved hate crimes legislation into the foreground must not be taken lightly. We must also bring to light the other hate crimes that have gone unpunished, and sometimes, unnoticed. Let us use this momentum to continue to seek justice for Nizah Morris, Kyra Cordova, and Diamond Williams."
Sharron Cooks, community organizer and consultant at Making Our Lives Easier LLC, stand next to William Way Executive Director Chris Bartlett,
Every hump day, a Philly woman shares her local picks for Woman Crush Wednesday. Today, Stimulus Philly Co-Founder Morgan Levine. Miss Levine wears many hats day to day: She is currently completing her Masters of Social Work degree at the University of Pennsylvania; working as the project manager for Dubois’ The Ward Oral History Project; and completing her MSW fieldwork with Representative Brian Sims’ office.
My name is Morgan Levine, and these are my picks for Woman Crush Wednesday:
Noe Bunnell is my version of a girl wonder. She's the owner of BONeJOUR in Old City, a budding horticulturist, a talented home chef, and she can fix just about anything. Basically, she's one of the top three people I'd want around if I were ever stranded on a desert island.
Chaska (Precolumbian) is a genderqueer Philadelphia-based DJ who stole my heart when she flawlessly mixed a Disney song with a booty bumpin jam at the height of a Stimulus party. I admire her ferocious originality almost as much as I admire her dedication to positive, inclusive nightlife spaces.
Becky Sell is an all around badass. Seriously, she's a historical preservationist who scales the exterior of buildings for a living. When she's not hanging from perilous heights, she's a Philly Roller Girl, snow boarder, and she recently discovered her love of ice hockey. Swoon!
Hannah Zellman and I don't know each other well, but what I do know makes Hannah a forerunner as one of my Philly social justice #wcw's. Hannah, director of Philadelphia Fight's Institute for Community Justice, works diligently to reduce the number of people in prison living with HIV, and to reduce the lasting effects of mass imprisonment on the communities most affected.
I promised myself I would avoid the usual redo's that are inevitable of the most visible, crush-worthy women in Philly, but I had to make an exception for Elicia Gonzalez. Elicia is the executive director of GALAEI. Sex-Positive Social Justice Advocate. Authentic. Role Model. Fierce Femme. Leader. #WCW.
Share your Woman Crush Wednesday!
Here are the rules: (1) Name five to 10 ladies you’re crushing on (2) You and all women involved must be from Philadelphia (3) Email your crushes to email@example.com.
Our Last Five Woman Crush Wednesdays:
On Friday night — at Fire and Ice in Old City — GALAEI hosted its 19th annual Alternative Prom. The event invites LGBT youth and allies for an evening of all-inclusive prom festivities for area youth aged 13 to 21. Young people filtered in—wearing everything from sequined gowns and tuxedos to halter tops and even workout attire—to the welcoming environment, not waiting a second before hitting the dancefloor. (I told you it was better than your prom.)
The sense of acceptance in the air was undeniable. Kids were cheering each other on in dance circles, and compliments were flying left and right: “I love your dress.” “I’m so glad you came.” “Girl, you gotta tell me where you got that wing. I want one just like it!” It was heart-warming, and fabulous, and it brought a tear to my eye just thinking about all the stuffy proms around the world where boys aren’t allowed to wear dresses, or a transgender male can’t run for prom king. GALAEI Executive Director Elicia Gonzales explains the history and importance behind the event here:
Check out some more of our photos of the Alternative Prom here.
Philly queer Latin social justice organization GALAEI is gearing up to host its 25th anniversary celebration, an evening that will see the doling out of three David Acosta Revolutionary Leader Awards (DARLA). The trophies will go to Philly go-getters who have worked to improve the lives of queer Latino communities.
The night’s highest honor, simply called The DARLA, will go to Louis “Louie” Ortiz (right), a photographer who has worked on campaigns for the Mazzoni Center and GALAEI. Most recently he has taken on the ambitious personal task of photographing every Latino gay man in Philly in a series he calls “El Gran Varónes.” The project aims to “tell our own history, document our own realities, and chronicle a history that is rarely told – a history that should be told by us.”
Diana Estefania Estrada Alamo will receive the Youth DARLA award. She’s being recognized for her involvement with Penn’s Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina, Queer People of Color (QPOC), and for her work to establish the university’s Inclusivity and Support for Queer People of Color Task Force.
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Philly ladies share their local picks for Woman Crush Wednesday (#wcw). Today, hot-as-a-firecracker GALAEI Executive Director — and our 2013 HERO honoree — Elicia Gonzales.
My name is Elicia Gonzales and these are my picks for Woman Crush Wednesday.
Nikki Lopez (aka DJ NiiLO)
Nikki is my hero. Is there anything she can't do? Advocate. Poet. DJ. Friend. She is the baddest queer boricua ever. I will come for you if you even try it.
Gun$ Garcia (aka Regina Garcia)
I have had such a fan-girl crush on this DJ since i first heard her remix of The xx at ActionAIDS' "Fashion in Action" event. I listen to her mixes, like "Galentine's Day," about every other day. No one gets the blood flowing like this fierce DJ. She does it right.
Do I really need to say why? Gloria is a visionary. A warrior. A dear friend. And she can boogie down to Stevie B. and Lisa Lisa like no other. On an almost daily basis, I find myself asking "WWGD" (What would Gloria do?.) Her bravery is beyond measure. She is a true Philly treasure.
I adore this woman. She has been described as the perfect balance of professional and ratchet. All good. She is passionate, hard-working, and dedicated like no other. She puts a smile on my face. I feel honored to be working alongside her in the struggle for justice.
We have been best friends since 2006, and I can officially say we are (clearly) more than that now. Megan is one-of-a-kind. Kind to her core. A heart of gold. A lust for life that is infectious. She is driven (about to complete her graduate program in may.) She is adventurous (agreeing to go camping even though it's not her "thing.") She is a giver (she has been running with me even though she is not a runner — just to help me prep for my half-marathon.) I adore this one.
This woman is a wonder! She is, without a doubt, the hardest working girl in showbiz. Between taking pics, working, being sex-positive, being an amazing girlfriend, and a great friend, she is also just an all-around lovely person. She is spunky and fiery and gives 150 percent in all that she does. I am in constant awe.
Recent Woman Crush Wednesdays
Share your Woman Crush Wednesday! Here are the rules: (1) Name three to five ladies you’re crushing on (2) You and all women involved must be from Philadelphia (3) Email your crushes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last night was supposed to be a regular evening for Gabriel Martino (aka Syfr Gavriel). He and some friends went to Woody’s Latin Night, where GALAEI and PhillyGayCalendar just so happened to be hosting the first-ever Mr. SEXO contest. Martino’s friends talked him into competing and a few hours later he walked away with the title. “I’m still in some shock about last night,” he wrote on his Facebook wall, explaining to friends that he was chosen out of a crop of 10 contestants.
The contest was seeking a man who could represent GALAEI‘s sex-positive message, and Executive Director Elicia Gonzales says Martino hit the nail on the head. “I think the crowd chose him as winner, because he is hot, outgoing, fun, confident and not cocky,” she says.
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If you can believe it, Latin Night at Woody’s this evening is going to be a little sexier than usual, when GALAEI and PhillyGayCalendar team up to present the first annual Mr. SEXO competition. The pageant, GALAEI Executive Director — and our 2013 Hero honoree — Elicia Gonzales says, doubles “as a way to do a winter event comparable to Boys of Summer” and continue promoting SEXO, a 1992 sex-positive campaign that GALAEI revamped in April.
Men are asked to sign up for the event on-site, so Gonzales doesn’t know how many will participate. “I feel like we’ll have a good number, because there are a lot of guys in the community who like to show off their bodies and who are kind of hams anyway,” she laughs. But those who sign up shouldn’t rest on their muscles alone. “It’s a hot-body contest plus the [Q&A] round of Miss America.” She is hoping for a man who can embody what GALAEI represents, which, in a nutshell, is that everybody — gay, lesbian, trans, HIV-positive — deserves to have a healthy sex life.
HERO: GALAEI Executive Director Elicia Gonzales
As the matriatch of the only organization for Philly (and all of Pennsylvania)’s gay and lesbian Latino community, GALAEI’s executive director has worked this year to spearhead a host of educational campaigns that offer a unique, often provocative perspective on vital sexual issues, while also shining a light on a demographic that’s often overlooked. This year, she revived the 1992 campaign “SEXO,” an exhibit that promoted safe-sex via lusty images of men grabbing their junk with rubber gloves; she kicked of Philly’s first “Masturbate-a-Thon,” encouraging self-pleasure over risky sexual encounters; and an inspiring collection of personal stories in “Positivo” showed Philly’s poz Latino community that it’s okay to embrace your HIV status. She’s the sex-ed teacher we all wish we had (and should have had) in high school. GALAEI, 1207 Chestnut St., 215-851-1822, galaei.org.