The Pennsylvania legislative session has come to a close for the season and, much to the chagrin of PA LGBT advocates, there has been no action taken to include LGBT people in state hate crime laws. Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director Ted Martin, for instance, is none too pleased with the lack of progress. The organization sent out this message from him earlier today:
Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director Ted Martin.
In spite of overwhelming support in both chambers of the legislature for nondiscrimination protections and a massive outcry for including LGBT people in hate crimes protections followed by a strongly bipartisan committee vote, the state legislature took absolutely NO action to protect LGBT people from discrimination over the past two years.
Legislators will now go home to focus on elections. While they are campaigning, we are sure that they will realize that voters care deeply about LGBT equality. Attitudes toward LGBT equality have only been growing stronger in recent years. Polls repeatedly show that a clear majority of voters support marriage equality and nondiscrimination. And when the legislature returns in January we expect them to live up to promises made to constituents and LGBT voters and take action for LGBT equality.
The next step, Martin says, is to elect the right leaders. Equality Pennsylvania has put together a voting guide for the entire state, which can be found here. We have a few weeks till election day, people. Let’s make this right.
This summer, the annual homo-tastic weekend beach party Sand Blast made some waves when it announced that it would move from Asbury Park, where it was held for the last 12 years, to the shores of Atlantic City. Organizers are reporting that 1,100 men and women showed up for the inaugural romp in AC, and dropped around $850,000 at local businesses. It’s no wonder, then, that Atlantic City is happy to welcome them back in 2015.
Next year’s event will take place July 17th to 20th, promising four days and nights of beach activities, dancing, pool parties, and many of its recurring events, like the Lost At Sea Kickoff Party, the main Sand Blast Beach Party on Saturday and the Drag Race & Hand Bag Toss, which was hosted by our very own Brittany Lynn in 2014
This is the next thing in a string of events showing that Atlantic City is clamoring for LGBT visitors. Earlier this summer, for instance, out Mayor Don Guardian announced the re-dedication of a gay beach at Park Place and the Boardwalk.
We were there for 2014 Sand Blast and had, well, a blast. Check out our photos from the party below for inspiration. Tickets for 2015 will be available soon, and can be purchased here.
Gloria Casarez, the first director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs who passed away Sunday night at the age of 42, will be laid to rest following a public funeral service on Friday, October 24th, at 10:30 a.m. It will take place at the Arch Street United Methodist Church at 55 North Broad Street.
The community has been celebrating Gloria’s legacy all week long—from the flag-lowering at City Hall on Monday to an outpouring of personal stories shared on Facebook. In another attempt to honor the civil rights leader friends, like Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus’s Tami Sortman, have started a campaign to all but drape the city in rainbows during her funeral. The “Show Your True Colors for Gloria” initiative calls on folks in the community and businesses to “display rainbow flags in windows of stores, bars, restaurants, offices, shops and homes,” says Sortman. “We want Philly to look like the rainbow for Gloria’s funeral.”
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A City Council committee on Tuesday afternoon gave preliminary approval to a bill that creates municipal hate crimes protection for people victimized because of their sexual orientation.
The bill is intended to extend protections not available under the state’s hate crimes law, which doesn’t cover sexual orientation. It was sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Councilman James Kenney following the September attack on a gay couple in Center City. Tuesday’s hearing was held by the council’s Committee on Public Safety.
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Photo | Jeff Fusco
City Council today will hear testimony on a bill that would create a “hate crime” designation when an offender is found to be motivated against a victim’s sexual orientation. It was sparked by the Center City beating of a gay couple.
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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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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 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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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)
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.”
Tommi Avicolli Mecca in drag at a Radical Queens drag party held in an apartment on 15th and Spruce. (1972)
Mecca playing with the Masturbatters softball team in 1972.
Mecca (right) with folk singer Anthony Lewis, who was performing at Independence Mall at the 1973 Pride march.
Mecca speaking at a Gay Activists Alliance meeting, pictured also is Marc Monro. (1973)
Gay Activists Alliance forum on drag by Radical Queens, the first transgender group in Philly. (1973)
First gay liberation conference at University of Pennsylvania. (1974)
Mecca in a Sissy T-shirt at the 1974 gay-liberation conference at UPenn. He made a impassioned plea for acceptance of transgender folks in the movement and denounced their exclusion.
Shot of an array of activists who fought for the passage of a gay-rights bill in 1974. (It didn't pass.) Standing inside City Hall. (Standing, L-R) Tom Wilson Weinberg, Dennis Rubini, Sheldon Rizen, Philip' Mara, Berna Aaronson, Mark Segal, Barbara Gittings. (Sitting) Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Harry Langhorne.
Gay Pagans and Atheists at a protest of the Catholic Church in New York City for its part in the defeat of a gay rights bill. Pictures: Philip' Marra and Tommi. (1975 or ’76)
Gay Pagans and Atheists party at Gay Community Center on Kater Street in 1975. Tommi Avicolli Mecca in nun drag.
Philip' Mara in pope drag and Tommi in nun drag at Gay Pagans and Atheist party 1975.
Shot of Mecca as a major gay-rights bill passed at City Council in 1982.