Last spring when I was covering Jim Kenney’s LGBT Equality Bill, I visited the councilman’s office in City Hall to learn more about it. During our conversation, I noticed he kept deferring to his young assistant in the corner, particularly when I asked about the many components extending rights to Philly’s transgender community. The assistant’s name was Chris Goy, 26, and what I later found out is that he was the driving force behind creating the bill, the person who hit the streets to talk to locals about ways to make Philadelphia better when it comes to offering all-inclusive LGBT rights, the person who wrote the entire thing — all 35 pages of it.
The Allentown Morning Call reports: “Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey broke with the majority of his party Monday evening by voting to move forward with legislation that would ban workplace discrimination against gay employees. … The vote underscores a narrative Toomey is building ahead of his re-election campaign: He’s bullish on economic issues but is softer on social issues like guns and gay rights.”
In August, NJ governor Chris Christie signed legislation banning “gay conversion therapy” for use on minors. Now parents in the state are challenging the ban in federal court.
On Friday morning, I saw the unsurprising headlines exploding all over social media: “Governor Corbett compared gay marriage to incest!!!”
I was about to share one such story on Facebook, along with a comment to the effect of: “Just one more reason for us to hate on Governor Corbett.” I’m not a fan of the 46th leader of our state.
But then I decided to watch the video for myself. And it’s just not that simple. Read more »
A western Pennsylvania school board won’t let a studentwho was born female but identifies as male run for homecoming king.
The Richland School Board didn’t rule on Kasey Caron’s request Monday night, but simply let stand an earlier decision by school administrators which leaves the 17-year-old senior on the ballot for homecoming queen.
Kasey’s mother, Kathy Caron, says she’s disappointed by the decision. Kasey says, “My heart sunk a little.”
The 2013 Miss’d America competition will be held at 8 p.m. (Saturday) at the House of the Blues at Showboat Casino Hotel. This year’s event, which has a circus theme, is presented by the Greater Atlantic City Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Alliance and the Schultz-Hill Scholarship Foundation.
The event draws female and celebrity impersonators from throughout the country to compete in a night designed for fun and to raise money for local charitable organizations, Miss’d America co-founder Gary Hill said.
“It’s a different kind of venue and show,” Hill said. “It’s a lot of fun and has a lot of energy. It works with the Do AC (promotion) of having something different in Atlantic City during the off- season.”
During Miss’d America’s early years, there were rumors that the Miss America Organization — then led by local attorney Leonard C. Horn — was considering legal action to prevent the drag show from taking place, or at the very least force it to find another name.
Cross-dressing gay men poking good-natured fun at the gold standard of beauty pageants? On the very same day that pictures and television footage of the newly crowned real queen were being printed and aired?
Not in their backyard.
But some attorneys said that little apostrophe probably made a big difference in creating enough of a separation between the names that the public wasn’t likely to confuse them.
In a press conference this afternoon at the Attic Youth Center, Philly State Rep. Brian Sims and Luzerne Rep. Gerald Mullery announced plans to introduce a bi-partisan bill that will make it illegal for Pennsylvania mental health providers to perform gay conversion therapy on minors. The bill is similar to one recently introduced in the State Senate by Anthony H. Williams. If passed, Pennsylvania would become the third state to pass such a law, following in the footsteps of New Jersey and California.
During the conference, Sims said:
“It’s been 40 years since the American Psychological Association excluded homosexuality from being classified as a mental disorder, and the APA has published studies showing that patients younger than 18 suffer from a multitude of harmful effects associated with this so-called therapy, including withdrawal and suicidal thoughts. It’s time to protect Pennsylvania children from this quackery that can inflict years of harm for those who manage to survive it.”
You’ve no doubt seen adaptations and derivations of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet many times, both on screen and on film. But you’ve probably never seen it done the way that Philadelphia’s Curio Theatre Company is set to do it: with Romeo and Juliet as lesbian lovers. Read more »
Josh Middleton at our sister blog, G-Philly, has the scoop:
A few weeks ago I reported on a petition that called on City Council to sever Philly’s sister-city tie with Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth largest municipality that voted last year to enact a heinous law banning “LGBT propaganda.” Though more than 1,300 voters signed up to persuade City Council, Mayor Nutter is actually the only person who can break ties with a sister city, and last month a spokesman from the Mayor’s office announced that he wouldn’t do it, because, “Severing ties would cut off communication and would be counterproductive. … Ending our sister-city relationship with Nizhny Novgorod would sever our ability to support their LGBT community today and in the future. It would also invalidate 21 years of work that would likely never be repaired.”
This wasn’t a good enough answer for some local LGBT advocates, including Councilman Jim Kenney, who penned the following letter and sent it to Mayor Nutter last night:
Dear Mayor Nutter,
I am deeply troubled by the actions of the Russian government to blatantly target its LGBTQ citizens for outright discrimination and criminal punishment for violating “a ban on homosexual propaganda,” whatever that may be!
I am equally troubled that our Russian Sister-City, Nizhny Novgorod, was one of the first cities in Russia to enact this abhorrent law that is a complete and total violation of the human rights and dignity of LGBTQ citizens.
I believe that we — as a cradle of liberty and a beacon to the world for freedom of expression and human rights, cannot sit idly by without expressing our indignation and opposition to this clear and direct targeting of LGBTQ citizens in Russia.
As such, I would ask you to join me and other members of City Council in severing our Sister City relationship with Nizhny Novgorod — as well as expressing Philadelphia’s opposition to this clear violation of the human rights of LGBTQ citizens throughout Russia.
While I disagree with your spokesman’s stated position that “severing ties would cut off communication and would be counterproductive,” I would ask you to reconsider and join with me in supporting our efforts to send a strong and direct message to the Russian government that Philadelphia will not tolerate or remain silent while LGBTQ citizens are targeted for abuse, discrimination and criminality.
Have we not learned from our recent history, that silence often times equals death? We can not and should not — and I for one — will not remain silent.
In reminding you that one of the main tenants in our Sister City program is to “educate our citizens about the world and its diversity and promote tolerance and mutual understanding among nations,” I ask that you reconsider your decision and move quickly to sever ties with Nizhny Novgorod.
Jim F. Kenney
I’m all for Philadelphia’s once-groundbreaking gay tourism campaign, known as “Philadelphia — Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay.”
Since its debut a decade ago, the initiative from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism & Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) has been largely responsible for a huge boost in gay tourists visiting the city.
And Philadelphia was recently named one of the country’s best cities for gay travel by Travel & Leisure. Fabulous!
But I can’t say I’m a fan of the GPTMC’s newest gay tourism commercial, which I first saw on Bravo the other day. (The GPTMC tells me that the ad will air on the LOGO, Bravo and Style channels and will also be shown online at OutTraveler.com, Advocate.com and Out.com.)
Back in August, the New York Times announced that the GPTMC was set to unveil the new TV spot, starring drag queen Miss Richfield 1981, a midwestern native popular on the Provincetown drag circuit.
According to the Times, GPTMC head Meryl Levitz “said the new commercial, to be unveiled at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention in Boston in late August, recognizes both the 10th anniversary of Philadelphia’s campaign, and the recent gains in gay rights across the country.”
Well that all sounds marvelous. Unfortunately, the ad doesn’t do either.
There is no mention of the fact that it’s the ten year anniversary of our award-winning gay tourism campaign, which has become a model for other cities around the country. (Would it have hurt to highlight the Travel & Leisure honor?)
And there is no mention of the recent gay rights victories in the United States, unless you’re going to take the position that having a drag queen running up the “Rocky steps” is somehow a “look how far we’ve come” message, which would just be dumb.
Philadelphia has a vibrant, expansive gay scene and plenty of gay-friendly tourism and restaurant options. (Have you heard about the two lesbians who own an entire street?) But the commercial barely celebrates any of that. It paints a very narrow picture of the city, and if not for the iconic landmarks included, this could easily be a promotion for Pittsburgh or Milwaukee.
Instead of showcasing our awesome city and its gay friendliness, the commercial showcases Miss Richfield 1981. But hey, we can’t blame her for that. You stick a drag queen in front of a camera, and we all know what is going to be the center of attention.
Watch the commercial here and decide for yourself:
At least the old ad had a surprise ending:
And I’m not the only one who is not a fan of the new commercial. YouTube commenter “Super Flan” had this to say:
There is a difference with being gay welcoming and liking drag queens. Odd choice to “celebrate” with a clown-ish cartoon and stereotypes. So. you have a bell, Independence Hall, Rocky and restaurants? Is that Phila? Why is it gay friendly or more importantly why should I visit Philadelphia? Appreciate the outreach, but does not tell me anything about why I should visit.
To which someone from the GPTMC responded in the YouTube comments section:
Hi Super Flan, thanks for checking out the commercial. The concept follows our original, ten-year-old campaign – “Philadelphia: Get Your History Straight & Your Nightlife Gay” – it starts with history and follows up with nightlife. Drag is part of Philadelphia’s gay community but the goals of commercial are really to showcase Philadelphia’s attractions, history, nightlife and dining– and hopefully give the viewer a chuckle along the way.
Miss Richfield has been a great partner of ours for a while, and she is a champion for Philadelphia. And while we can’t fit everything into a 30 second commercial, we do hope you’ll check out our website to find out even more about why you should visit.
Still, GPTMC, you could have done better. Much better.