Clay Cane is a New York City–based award-winning journalist, author, television personality, documentary filmmaker, and CNN.com contributor. Cane is the creator and director of the critically acclaimed original documentary Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church. We chatted with the Philadelphia native on his career, identity, and debut memoir.
Raquel Evita Saraswati is a Muslim queer activist who has worked in various interfaith communities and serves as an appointee to the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs. We chatted with her on advocacy work and what it means to be a femme womanist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Muslim activist and writer, focusing primarily on issues related to the rights of women and girls in Muslim-majority societies and communities. I do direct intervention work and support organizations focused on combatting gender-based violence, including honor-based violence, forced and child marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM), in all communities and cultures where those crimes occur. I’ve been blessed to be published both domestically and internationally, and to have had the opportunity to lecture in North America and Europe on issues like gender-based violence and minority rights. I’ve been interviewed by networks like the BBC, France24, Voice of the Cape (South Africa’s Muslim radio network), Al-Jazeera and others, and in publications like The Root, International Business Times, and Salon.
I’m also a vegan (for 21 years now, and I love to cook for anyone who will let me), a master bargain hunter, a partner, a cat mom, a lover of words and loud, busy cities, and a muhajjaba – a woman who covers her hair. Read more »
Ashley Coleman is a queer businesswoman, bartender, and events producer in the Gayborhood. The outspoken entrepreneur chats with us about being a woman of color in the performance scene, Gayborhood racism from the inside out, and how the community can really come together. Read more »
Julie Chovanes is the executive director of Trans-Help, a legal service provider for trans individuals. The lawyer and trans rights advocate talks to us about seeking justice for the late Nizah Morris, participating the PCHR Gayborhood racism hearing, and what the city can do to better serve the LGBTQ community. Read more »
Terrell Green is local performing artist and educator. We chat with the out creator about his current artistic aspirations and his upcoming one-man show, which debuts on MLK Day in the Gayborhood.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Philly Jawn, born and raised in South Philly! I am a fan of public schools, attending McCall Elementary and Central High School (267!). I’ve been an actor since my adolescence, and it has been theater that has taken me around the world: to Marymount Manhattan College in NYC, Oxford University in England to study Shakespeare performance, to doing puppetry on the streets of Ireland. And now, back home to Philly to teach literacy and sexual health education to youth, using theater. Theater and God have been good to me. I’ve gone from that confused little boy walking the halls of Philly’s public schools to now walking those same halls as a contractor, there to teach art. I’ve turned my passion into a giving and full career! Last year was good, and this year is starting off great. I am teaching and doing great work in the community with PHMC, Attic Youth Center, Arden Theatre; writing and performing my one-man show, nabbed a two-year teaching artist fellowship with the Philadelphia Theatre Company. My life’s chant: “No one can deny your hard work!” Read more »
Le Thomas is the president of Philadelphia Black Pride. We got to chat with the leader on what’s new with the organization and what the community should expect from their upcoming meeting with LGBTQ stakeholders on addressing Gayborhood racism.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am usually very laid back unless I am dancing — then you get to see a different side of me. I’m very big on giving back — I feel like that’s what we were put on this earth to do — so sometimes I can overextend myself, but I love to help in anyway that I can. I learned that from my mother.
What has it been like leading Philly Black Pride lately?
It’s been a little different. Any time members of the organization move on to follow their own aspirations, there is a readjustment that has to happen. Other board members step into different roles, so there is a learning curve there that you have to allow them to adjust to. Once that happens, we look at what’s going on and how effective can we be in lending our voices to the community. Read more »
Dante Austin, 24, has been an openly gay deputy sheriff officer with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office for nearly three years. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on being a part of the Greater Philadelphia Gay Officer Action League (GOAL) and on his new role as LGBT liaison for the Sheriff’s Office.
What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you when they first see you in your uniform?
When I was 17 years old, I enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and was honorably discharged this past February. Having served in the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I knew I was not going to allow myself to be closeted in my law-enforcement career. I’ve been open about my sexuality from my very first interview with the Sheriff’s Office, and I made sure to stay “out” throughout my career. With law enforcement and the military being so masculine-driven, it’s not exactly the easiest thing to “come out” for most officers. I know what it’s like to be closeted, and have that fear of “coming out.” I also know what it’s like to take that step out the closet and then be ostracized for it. Although I had a rough time with the military, I’ve felt very comfortable here at the Sheriff’s Office. Being confident in my authentic self is so important, and I hope to see other officers do the same. Read more »