Gender Transition to Unfold on Stage in Local Theater Series

Swift Shuker in a video promoting This Damned Body, which will premiere at this year's FringeArts Festival.

Swift Shuker in a video promoting This Damned Body, which will premiere at this year’s FringeArts Festival.

The [redacted] Theater Company will present the first in a series documenting one person’s gender transformation at the FringeArts Festival from August 28th to the 30th. This Damned Body Is Carved Out of Meat is one of three theatrical components to document the life of transgender performer Swift Shuker, who is currently in the beginning stages of transitioning from a male body to an androgynous one (hence our use of the pronoun “they”]. This Damned Body will document Shuker’s life in real-time and chronicle their transformation. “We’re trying to reveal what is happening with Shuker’s body and emotions, the way they are interacting with the world and the way the world interacts with them,” says co-director and website designer Josh McLucas.

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LGBT Catholics Seek Meeting With Pope

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LGBT groups in America are seeking a meeting with Pope Francis during his trip to America in September.

“In a formal letter sent to Pope Francis at the Vatican, groups representing gay and transgender people, Catholics, and Hispanics said the church in America was in the midst of a ‘pastoral crisis over gay issues and asked to meet with him while he was in the United States,” the New York Times reports. Read more »

The Dick Cheney-ization of America

Vice-President Dick Cheney is joined by his openly gay daughter Mary, at right, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, left, as they attend church services in Washington, Monday, September 11, 2006. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Vice-President Dick Cheney is joined by his openly gay daughter Mary, at right, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, left, as they attend church services in Washington, Monday, September 11, 2006. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Back in 2004, then-Vice President Dick Cheney horrified conservatives when, at a town-hall meeting in Iowa, he came out in favor of gay marriage, a stance at odds with then-President George Bush, who at the time was advocating a constitutional amendment to ban such banns. “Lynne and I have a gay daughter,” Cheney announced, “so it’s an issue that our family is very familiar with. … With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to be free … ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.” Eleven years later, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

What happened in the interim? People like Cheney’s daughter Mary publicly came out and wrote and sang and talked about their lives, and the six degrees of separation Americans liked to pretend existed between them and homosexuality gradually vaporized, became five degrees, then four, then one. If you didn’t have a child or a parent or a friend who was gay, you knew someone who did—someone you were close to. The other nudged closer and closer until she was teaching your class and sitting at your Thanksgiving table and staying at your beach house. And even if you sort of didn’t get what those people did in their bedrooms, so what? They didn’t care what you did in yours. Read more »

PHOTOS: Sneak Peek at National Constitution Center’s First LGBT Exhibit

This Friday, the National Constitution Center (NCC) will debut its very first LGBT-focused exhibition: “Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights, and the Supreme Court.” The exhibit is running in conjunction with Pride Month and hat-tipping the 50th anniversary of the Annual Reminders, also known as the nation’s first LGBT protests, which happened in Philly outside Independence Hall.

Working in partnership with the archives at the William Way Community Center and a handful of other community leaders and organizations across the city, NCC has put together an exhibit that “chronicles the gay rights movement and the ongoing debate over how much the Constitution protects gay rights.” The exhibit will be filled with everything from historic garments and photos to picket signs from various demonstrations and memorabilia that bring to life Philadelphia’s role in the fight for LGBT equality.

NCC was kind enough to send us some sneak peeks of curators putting together the exhibit before it gets its grand opening this Friday:



The exhibit gets an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, June 5th, at 10 am. NCC has also planned a host of other panels, debates and discussions taking place throughout the next few months in conjunction with the exhibition. Learn more about that here. For a look at all the other ways Philadelphia is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Annual Reminders, check out our extensive roundup here. Happy Pride Month!

Philly Ranked Sixth Most LGBT-Friendly City in the Country

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

In anticipation of Pride month, consumer advocacy site NerdWallet has pulled together a variety of statistics and data to come up with their third annual list of America’s most LGBT-friendly cities. To get their results, they collected data from recent Gallup polls on LGBT population, FBI hate crime statistics, the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Municipal Equality Index, and HRC rankings on hospitals leading the way in LGBT health care equality.

After everything was tallied and crunched, Philadelphia found itself at No. 6 on the list, just behind Baltimore and ahead of Seattle and Salt Lake City. The top 10 are represented in this nifty infographic:

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Philadelphia scored particularly high in the municipal equality index part, with a score of 116. That number, NerdWallet says, tied San Francisco for the highest in its study. “Philadelphia scored high for its nondiscrimination and relationship recognition policies, LGBT services and relationship with the community.” More on their Philadelphia findings:

In the Philadelphia metro area, nearly 4% of the population identifies as LGBT. The FBI didn’t receive any reports of hate crimes related to gender identity or sexual orientation in the city for 2013. Philadelphia also tied for the highest score in the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index. In Philadelphia, the heart of LGBT nightlife is centered in what is nicknamed “The Gayborhood.” This year, Philadelphia is marking the 50th anniversary of the LGBT civil rights movement with a four-day celebration beginning July 2. The city is home to several civil rights, advocacy and LGBT youth organizations including the Bread & Roses Community Fund, the Spruce Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI).

What do you think? Did we get a fair score? Explore more data from the study, which details Philly and other cities, here.

Today is National Give OUT Day

Give OUT Day Rainbow Flag

Today, Thursday, May 21st, is Give OUT Day, a national, 24-hour campaign that rallies donors for LGBTQ-specific causes. Samantha Giusti, executive director of local nonprofit-championing Delaware Valley Legacy Fund explains more: “For 24-hours, the LGBTQ community and its allies from across the country will come together to raise critically needed funds to support the diverse array of LGBTQ nonprofits including community centers, arts groups, organizers, clinics, student clubs, sports leagues and more.” Last year, she says, 13,000 people donated to raise more than $1 million for over 500 LGBT causes nationwide.

There’s no denying that there are a plethora of worthy organizations all across the country that deserve our dollars, but, naturally, we’d like to see some of our local organizations rack up some serious cash, too.

By doing a simple search for “Philadelphia” on the Give OUT Day site, I found a handful of statewide non-profits set up to receive donations. Here they are (with links to their giving pages.):

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City Council Votes to Make Permanent the Office of LGBT Affairs

helen fitzpatrick

Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs Helen FItzpatrick at this week’s IBA LGBT Business Leaders Luncheon. | Photo courtesy of JPG Photography

This afternoon, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, which is currently headed by Director Helen Fitzpatrick.

But the move isn’t completely official yet. In order to pass, the bill requires a change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, which must be signed by the  Mayor and voted on by the public in the November general election. The ballot measure will read:

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Judge Throws Out Nebraska Lawsuit Against All Homosexuals [UPDATED]

See you in court, all of you. | Shutterstock.com

See you in court, all of you. | Shutterstock.com

UPDATE [5/7/2014, 11:48 am]: Looks like we’re safe, gays. A judge in Omaha has thrown out Nebraska woman Sylvia Driskell’s lawsuit against all homosexuals. Omaha.com reports:

In a strongly worded opinion, [Judge John Gerrard] said it is not up to the court to decide whether homosexuality is sinful.
Gerrard said Driskell lacked subject matter jurisdiction and cannot sue a class of unidentified defendants. Driskell did not set forth a factual or legal basis for a federal claim.

“The United States Federal Courts were created to resolve actual cases and controversies arising under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Judge Gerrard said. “A federal court is not a forum for debate or discourse on theological matters.”

ORIGINAL: A 66-year-old Nebraska woman named Sylvia Driskell has shared online a hand-scribbled, seven-page manifesto in which she states her intention to sue homosexuals. Yes, all of us.

The petition includes several Bible verses, and the claim that “homosexuality is a sin and that they —the homosexuals—know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in the closet(?)”

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Chaput Says Indiana Law Not Discrimination

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has joined a high-profile effort to defend a new Indiana “religious freedom” law that many observers say allows business owners to discriminate against gays, signing a statement decrying “acrimony and lies” surrounding the issue.

The statement, “Now Is the Time to Talk About Religious Liberty,” was composed along with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. They were joined by Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who has headed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Read more »

LGBT Protections Included in Proposed Amendment to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act [UPDATED]

Update [4/3/2015, 9:58 am]: From The Indy Star: “Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure aimed at removing fears that the state’s new “religious freedom” law would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.” More here.

Original: Good news: Lawmakers have proposed a fix to Indiana’s much-talked-about Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As you’ve likely read, the law had many worried that it would give businesses the right to discriminate against LGBT customers by allowing them to cite religion as a defense in court if they were sued by a private party. That all may change, though. New wording in the law “goes further than many observers thought it would, specifically including protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” says Huffington Post.

The language states that RFRA “does not authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member of the general public on the basis of … sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also says that a provider can not use religion as a defense in court if they are sued by a private party for denying services based on their sexual orientation or identity. Read the complete proposed change below:

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