Gloria Casarez Passes Away at 42

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It’s a terribly sad day in gay Philadelphia. The incomparable Gloria Casarez, the City’s first director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs has passed away at the age of 42.

She had been battling cancer, but Gloria was a fighter till the end. One of her last public appearances was at the rainbow flag raising at City Hall on October 2nd to mark LGBT History Month in Philadelphia. Despite her illness, she stood up and rallied the crowd as the flag made its way to full mast.

The mayor’s office just released the following statement, which highlights some of her biggest accomplishments—which include everything from being executive director of GALAEI and working to put into place the groundbreaking LGBT Equality Bill that helped Philadelphia earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.

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Weekend Roundup: Take a Gay Ghost Tour, Halloween Drag at Voyeur, Circus of the Stars and More

FRIDAY

  • Eric Jaffe hosts a Gayborhood cabaret on Friday night.

    Eric Jaffe hosts a Gayborhood cabaret on Friday night.

    Qventures is taking guests on a ghost tour through Old City. The guided walk promises a 90-minute candle-lit stroll through graveyards, haunted houses and dark alleys that ends at City Tavern for some drinks. First person to have a ghost pinch them in the butt wins!

  • World Ukelele Champion—and amazing froyo slinger at Igloo Frozen Yogurt—Eric Jaffe is hosting the Gayborhood’s only all-live-singing cabaret at Tavern On Camac. His guests this evening include vocalist and America’s Next Top Model‘s Cory Wade, Drag Wars 4 winner Pissi Myles and Songbird Cycle 1 winner Jo Stones. Not too shabby huh?
  • Tabu is hosting talent competition Circus of the Stars. Judges, like the high-larious Brittany Lynn, will award $100 to the evenings best performer, a cast of characters that includes magicians, comedians, singers, and maybe a meep or two.
  • If you’re wanting to get your dance on later, head to Voyeur to hear electro-pop princess Anna Lunoe. Get there early for an opening set by Factory Girls DJs Katie K Rex, Suga Shay, and Yolo Ono. Listen before you go: “Breathe.”

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Philanthropy Friday: Valley Youth House

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Every Friday Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) Executive Director Samantha Giusti introduces you to a local LGBT non-profit in Philadelphia. This week, Valerie Johnson on Warminster’s Valley Youth House, an organization that works to improve the lives of local homeless youth and their families.

Valerie TK and Wired 96.5's  Buster TK at Valley Youth House's annual Casino Night.

Valerie Johnson (L) and Buster from Wired 96.5 at Valley Youth House’s annual Casino Night.

Who are you? Valerie Johnson, development officer at Valley Youth House.

Valley Youth House was founded in … 1973.

One-sentence mission statement: The mission of Valley Youth House is to provide prevention and intervention services, counseling, life skills and behavioral health services to abused, neglected, and homeless youth and their families.

Our biggest shining moment, to date was the inception of our Pride housing program in 2009. We are the only organization in Philadelphia to provide rapid rehousing to homeless LGBTQ youth, which includes rental assistance and supportive services to prepare the youth for independence. Given that 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT compared to just 3 to 5 percent of the general population, these youth are experiencing homelessness at a disproportionate rate and we’re proud to be able to support them.

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13 #GayPhilly Instagrams You Should See This Week: Who Went Purple for #SpiritDay

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:



Throwback Thursday: Early Transgender Activist and Co-Founder of William Way Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Every week I take a trip down memory lane in William Way Community Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, archivist—and author of The Gayborhood Guru—Bob Skiba shares photos of Tommi Avicolli Mecca taken in the 1970s and 1980s. Skiba tells me that “Tommi was an early activist here, one of the founders of the Gay Community Center (which later became William Way) and the Archives, and a trans activist.”



Four Penn Medicine Hospitals Named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality

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Ever wonder where you’d go if you came down with a sudden case of the ills?

Four hospitals in the Penn Medicine network—Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and Chester County Hospital—were named 2014 Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

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Woman Crush Wednesday: The Mazzoni Center’s Samantha Jo-Dato

Every hump day a Philly person shares their local picks for Woman Crush Wednesday. Today, local mover and shaker Samantha Jo Dato, who works at the Mazzoni Center to organize the annual Philadelphia Trans-Health ConferenceShe will soon publish a testimonial journal called Sami Jo Shattered Perfect, which she “hopes will reach trans* people near and far and inspire them to transform their narratives of struggle into stories of major success.”



Our Last Five Woman Crush Wednesdays:

Man Crush Monday: Adam J. Williams

Every week, Philly gay gents share their local picks for Man Crush Monday. This week: Adam J. Williams (aka Adam JW), a multilingual Chinese food-enthusiast who spends his day working in public health outreach for a local nonprofit. 



Last Five Man Crush Mondays:

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