Questions Raised After White Guy Wins Mr. SEXO, GALAEI Responds

Mr. SEXO 2015 Marcous Marchese with last year's winner Syfr Gavriel, Elicia Gonzales and host Cyannie Famouz. Photo by Freedom G Photography

Mr. SEXO 2015 Marcous Marchese with last year’s winner Syfr Gavriel, Elicia Gonzales and host Cyannie Famouz. Photo by Freedom G Photography

Last week I told you about the 2015 Mr. SEXO winner, Marcous Marchese, who was crowned (or, err, sashed) at Woody’s on Thursday night. I was a little surprised by the  news, considering Marchese is white and the competition was billed as a search for a “gay/queer Latino who is the epitome of sexy.”

The event, now in its second year, is sponsored by PhillyGayCalendar and Philly queer Latin social justice organization GALAEI, so I reached out to Executive Director Elicia Gonzales to see why a white dude took the prize. She told me that, “GALAEI is a queer Latin@ social justice organization. Latinadad is not who we serve but how we serve, so we treat everyone like familia. And we feel the new Mr. SEXO embodies this.”

When I shared the post on Facebook, however, a few readers voiced their opinions about the win. One commenter said, “Not to be rude … but why was a white guy even allowed to enter this competition designed specifically for the Queer Latino community? I’m confused … ”

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Meet Mr. SEXO 2015 Marcous Marchese

Mr. SEXO 2015 Marcous Marchese with last year's winner Syfr Gavriel, Elicia Gonzales and host Cyannie Famouz. Photo by Freedom G Photography

Mr. SEXO 2015 Marcous Marchese with last year’s winner Syfr Gavriel, Elicia Gonzales and host Cyannie Famouz. Photo by Freedom G Photography

Last night, Philly queer Latin social justice organization GALAEI and PhillyGayCalendar hosted the 2015 Mr. SEXO competition at Woody’s. The contest, now in its second year, seeks to find men in Philly who use their sexuality in positive ways—like promoting body-positivity and safe-sex.

Mr. SEXO 2014 Marcous Marchese

Mr. SEXO 2014 Marcous Marchese

There were 10 contestants taking part. They each had a moment to share their talent with the audience, and of course strip down to their skivvies. Last year’s winner, Syfr Gavriel, also did a dance number, and gave the hopefuls tips on how to represent the Mr. SEXO title.

In the end the winner was Marcous Marchese, who you may recognize as a bartender at The Raven. He was also one of PhillyGayCalendar’s 2014 Boys of Summer lifeguards. I tried reaching out to Marchese for a statement, but have yet to hear from him. I’m told that he is currently working on getting his PhD in social psychology in the hopes of becoming a professor. When asked why she thought he won, GALAEI Executive Director Elicia Gonzales told me that “he won over the crowd with his nice smile, and his commitment to spreading sex-positivity throughout the LGBT community and volunteering with GALAEI—and his dance moves certainly helped too.”

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PHOTOS: Philly Youth Kick-Off It Gets Better Project at Kimmel Center

“It’s Philly’s LGBTQ youth that are leading the change,” says 17-year-old Bella, a high school student from Kensington. She, along with a panel of other emerging leaders in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community, kicked off this week’s Kimmel Center It Gets Better Project residency, and if last evening’s performances and discussions were any indication, Bella (and Whitney) were right: Children really are our future.

The afternoon featured three distinct opportunities for local youth to participate in community building and performance. First, students from the Kimmel Center’s Show Stoppers and Wolf Performing Arts Center teamed up to film an outdoor performance of Sara Bareilles’s “Brave,” which will be screened at Saturday’s It Gets Better Project concert. Led by touring actors Mario Mosley and Tyler Houston, the triple threats danced their way down a picturesque Philly block, causing lots of local commuters to pause for the show.



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PHILANTHROPY FRIDAY: GALAEI

Every Friday Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) Executive Director Samantha Giusti introduces you to a local LGBT non-profit in Philadelphia. This week, the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative more affectionately known as  GALAEI. (Pronounced “gal-āy.”)

Elicia Gonzales

Elicia Gonzales

Who are you? Elicia Gonzales, executive director of GALAEI. We are a queer Latin@ social justice organization. “Queer” acknowledges and represents the mosaic of sexual and gender identities within our communities. “Latin@” represents the multiracial, multicultural experience of Latinidad. GALAEI embodies the common history of resistance and resilience of Latin@ and queer people. We are unwavering in our commitment to the advancement de nuestra familia through  leadership and economic development, sexual empowerment, and grassroots organizing.

When was GALAEI founded? GALAEI was founded in 1989 by David Acosta and other queer, Latin@ activists to respond to the lack of support and resources for our Queer Latin@ community during the HIV epidemic.

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PHOTO ROUNDUP: Gay Philly Comes Out For AIDS Walk Philly

It was a crisp autumn morning in Philadelphia, but thousands turned out for Sunday’s 28th annual AIDS Walk Philly. The event—which is put together by a dozen local nonprofits, including the Mazzoni Center, Action AIDS, and The Attic Youth Center—is a 5K walk that raises funds for HIV/AIDS organizations in Philadelphia. As always, gay Philly came out in full force for the cause. I’ve rounded up some photos of all the troopers below:

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#whyiwalk #team0005 #friendsforlife

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4 Gay Things To Do in Philly This Week: OutBeat, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, More

Dena Underwood will be playing at OutBeat, the nation's first ever queer jazz festival.

Dena Underwood will be playing at OutBeat, the nation’s first ever queer jazz festival.

Everybody’s working for the weekend, as the song does, but there’s some awesome events happening Monday through Thursday this week that will keep you engaged and excited: here are our best picks of what to do in gay Philly this week.



5 Gay Things to Do in Philly This Week: Gay Speed-Dating, Stoli Guy Contest, Animated Drag, and More



PHOTOS: GALAEI’s 19th Annual Alternative Prom Was Better Than Your Prom

galaei prom

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.



SEXx Philly to Demystify The Stigma of Blowjobs, Hookup Culture, More

SexX

Did you know May is National Masturbation Month? Although you won’t find any cards at Hallmark to commemorate the holiday, you can celebrate in a way that won’t leave a mess!

This evening, GALAEI, Sex With Timaree, and the William Way LGBT Community Center present the first annual SEXx Philly Conference from 6PM-9PM. It’s essentially a TEDx-style event that’s meant to break the stigma behind talking about sex in public places.

“We need to continue to have safe, accessible, and fun spaces to have honest conversations about sexuality,” said Elicia Gonzales, the event’s co-coordinator and Executive Director of GALAEI. “In a society that is plagued by sex-negativity, we wanted this event to bring communities together to have intentional sex-positive conversations.”  Gonzales and her co-coordinator, Timaree Schmit, aim to build that type of safe space at the event.

Attendees can expect to hear renowned speakers from across the nation chat about everything from senior citizen sexuality, blowjobs, webcam models, and the “power of bottoming.”

All attendees who want to take part in the event at the William Way Community Center (1315 Spruce Street) must be over the age of 18. Tickets, which are on a sliding scale of $5 to $10, benefit GALAEI and William Way; snacks and beverages will be available.

For more information, visit the SEXx website.

GALAEI Honors Philly Revolutionary Leaders at 25th Anniversary Celebration

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.

louie ortizThe 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 LatinaQueer 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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