Gay Video Gaming Gets a Boost

Known for bestselling titles like Sims, Battlefield and Madden NFL, Electronic Arts (EA) could change the way gamers think about LGBT-themed video games. The video game maker announced it would join next year’s GaymerCon in San Francisco. It’s the first-ever gaming and tech convention for the LGBT community and EA is the first mainstream mover and shaker to sign on.

“EA believes that to be truly innovative, you must be inclusive,” Ginger Maseda, EA’s head of global diversity and inclusion, said in a press statement. “We are proud to be a part of this event.”

GaymerCon has also teamed up with GLAAD for Spirit Day on Oct. 19, which encourages people to wear purple to support LGBT youth. GaymerCon is holding a contest to find out who can make the best video to help raise awareness for the event, as well as issues related to homophobia and bullying. Just share your story in video format to win top prizes, including a new Xbox 360 signed by the Xbox Live staff and free passes to GaymerCon 2013. The videos will be shared online and on Facebook.

Find out more about the contest, how you can submit a video and where to vote for your favorites:

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Religious, Young and Queer?

Courtesy of Crystal Cheatham

Is it okay to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer – and be a Christian? Crystal Cheatham‘s new book IDentity Kit: For Queer Christian Youth, which was recently released as an e-book, is a guide to help discuss this question and others surrounding gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Cheatham, a Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter, not only answers tough questions about sexuality, but also addresses religious questions specifically for teen and young LGBT readers.

Cheatham first launched an initiative to help promote the book called The IDK Project this summer – and now she and fellow performer J Mason III are holding workshops and special trainings this month in Philly. While the workshops are targeted toward young adults, the trainings are designed to educate adults and professionals about how to reach young people who may be struggling with sexuality, gender identity and spirituality.

Some of the major topics? How to come out and start a Queer-Straight Alliance at a school – and how to seek out more affirming churches.

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Brian Sims Hosts Victory Fund

Brian Sims addresses the crowd at his headquarters last night (all photos by G Philly)

Last night, 215 South Broad was buzzing with political talk. Brian Sims, the soon-to-be-elected first openly gay legislator in Pennsylvania (he unseated longtime Rep. Babette Josephs in the primary), welcomed members of the Victory Fund to his headquarters for the “Out to Win” event. The Victory Fund, based in Washington D.C., is an organization dedicated to educating and empowering LGBT candidates around the country. Sims himself has been a part of the organization for years. The reception not only helped to celebrate his own victory – he has no opposition this November – but also to inspire LGBT leaders in Philly to consider their own political futures.

Sherrie Cohen, Chris Dietz, Brian Sims and Angela Giampolo

Sims delivered a powerful speech at the event, praising Chris Dietz, an openly gay man who’s also running for the legislature in Central PA, and touting the fund’s value for helping to change the course of LGBT rights in the U.S. He said that the Victory Fund has had a 72 percent success rate electing openly LGBT candidates to office in this country – two times that of the Tea Party. He cited Judge Dan Anders as an example in Philadelphia.

“When we elect each other, we get to go inside,” he said. “And it doesn’t happen accidentally.”

He also encouraged the 60 people in the room to “start paying attention,” noting that Philly has the power to really change the status quo. He also referenced Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay U.S. Representative from Wisconsin, who is currently running for the Senate this election year. Not only is she endorsed by the Victory Fund, but she’s been supported by the first-ever lesbian PAC.

The event was hosted by Harvey Hurdle, Autumn Bayles, Jim Epstein, Tom Hess, Michael Weiss and Angela Giampolo, and sponsored by Mel Heifitz, John Alchin, Kevin Yoder, Arthur Kaplan and Duane Perry.

PHOTOS: QFest Film Festival

Opening night of the 18th Annual QFest kicked off with a pre-party at Cafe Nola. Running till July 23rd, the festival is screening 107 films – including 42 feature films, 13 documentaries, 52 short films, seven world premieres, one North American premiere, two U.S. premieres, 16 East Coast premieres, and 26 Philadelphia premieres.

Here are a few photos from the kickoff:

Pictured left to right: Michael Marsico from Philadelphia Fight, Renee Gilinger of the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District, and Matthew Ray of ChatterBlast Media (all photos by HughE Dillon)

Model and Smirnoff Vodka spokesperson Amber Rose, surrounded by the Smirnoff girls, at the QFest after-party at Table 31.

Heather Coutts of Liberty City KIngs and Kelly Burkhardt of TLA Releasing

From left to right: PR rep Sara Ann Kelly, Randal Mrazik, general manager of Uncle’s and Tavern on Camac, Tara Lessard of Gay Philly Calendar, and WMMR’s Pierre Robert.

Click here for more highlights from QFest on The Philly Post.

What We Love: Diner En Blanc

Imported from oh-so-gay Paris, Dîner en Blanc is coming to Philly this summer. This très chic picnic is one part mystery tour and one part pop-up feast – with not shortage of, as they say, je ne sais quoi. On Thursday (August 23), culinary and culture enthusiasts dressed in white will converge upon a secret location for an evening of dinner, fine wine and much more.

“Philadelphia is a city full of life with a passion and appreciation for food, tradition and culture which makes it a perfect backdrop for Dîner en Blanc,” says Natanya DiBona, the Philadelphia co-chair of the event. “The goal is to spend an extraordinary night – an unconventional picnic – and gather Philadelphians in a beautiful public space to reconnect friends and create new relationships.”

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Vigil Planned for Shooting Victims

Photo by Think Stock

This week, two teens – Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and Christine Chapa, 18 - were shot in Portland, Texas. The crime has sent shock waves through the LGBT community around the country as family, friends and concerned citizens try to make sense of the crime.

Since being gunned down, Olgin has died and Chapa remains in the hospital, with little known about why the two young women were targeted, though investigators are saying the crime could be motivated by bias. Both were found in a grassy area by a couple the morning following the shooting.

On Friday (June 29) in Philly, organizers from the Philly Dyke March are planning a vigil to pay tribute to the young women and to bring attention to violence against the LGBT community.

“I was heartbroken when I first read about the girls in Texas,” says Kate Hinchey, who’s working with the Dyke March on last-minute details for Friday’s event. “It is still so unclear if the motive was their relationship, but I still believe we have to stand up against violence against women.”

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Listen: Chad D’s “1 Dance”

When Philly native Chad D packed his suitcase (and synthesizer) for Brooklyn, we were sad to see him go. But he never left Philly far behind thanks to his new EP Williamsburgadelphia. The first single “1 Dance” is a playful club song with glimmers of Gaga and even George Michael.

Click here to download the EP for free.

Keep your eye out for this guy – he’s performing later this summer (August 16) at Fluid Nightclub.

Check out the remix:

Did You Update Your Status Today?

Paul Blore and Marquise Lee – one of our featured couples in G Philly magazine’s summer issue – created a video for Philadelphia FIGHT in honor of National HIV Testing Day today. Some of our usual haunts are represented – like 13th Street Pizza and Woody’s.

There’s also an important message about knowing your HIV status. Philadelphia FIGHT encourages anyone who is sexually active to get an HIV test every six months. Click here to find out where you can get your free test today.

And check out the video:

National HIV Testing Day

Tomorrow (June 27) is National HIV Testing Day – and a critical part of AIDS Education Month here in Philadelphia. In our city alone, as many as 30,000 people are living with HIV and one in five don’t even know they’re infected.

But thanks to the awareness campaign – first begun by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) in 1995 – the day will feature free local HIV testing at Philadelphia FIGHT (1233 Locust Street) from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., and at various AIDS partner organizations throughout the city.

All those who receive an HIV test at Philadelphia FIGHT or its partner organizations will be entered for a chance to win several prizes, including a flat-screen TV, Apple iPod or digital camera.

For a comprehensive list of testing sites, times and locations available year-round, click here or call 215-985-4448.

There’s a New Gay Party in Town

Courtesy of Tashan

With QFest just around the corner next month, the city is bracing for a new LGBT party with proceeds from the kick off to benefit the gay and lesbian film festival.

Swagger gets the party started at Tashan (777 S. Broad Street) between 6 and 9 p.m. with “777 Happy Hour” specials – including small plates, select wines and specialty cocktails. Each month a portion of the food and bar proceeds will benefit a local LGBT charity.

“Our goal is to throw an amazing party that lets us get to know the local community while giving back to a worthwhile cause,” says Tashan’s Assistant General Manager Brion Pizzi. “Swagger’s first beneficiary will be Philadelphia QFEST, a renowned gay and lesbian film festival presented by the Philadelphia Cinema Alliance.” The festival runs July 12 to July 20 with dozens of screenings and special events throughout the city.

Since last year, Tashan has been serving up small plates inspired by Indian flavors in a swank atmosphere – and one that promises to welcome a lively bar scene. The hot spot even earned a coveted place as the Best New Restaurant on the James Beard Awards’ list.

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