Philly LGBTQ Community Turns Out En Masse to Thwart Tiny Group of Westboro Baptist Church Protesters

What was expected to be a large demonstration by the Westboro Baptist Church protesting LGBTQ members entering the Mazzoni Center instead became a huge pride block party. As previously reported, local LGBTQ organizers planned to host a Great Wall of Love demonstration intended to peacefully guard people from the potential insults hurled by the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. At roughly 1 p.m. outside of the Mazzoni Center at 801 Locust street, fewer than 10 Westboro Baptist Church protesters were met by a crowd of around 2,000 LGBTQ members and allies who carried various signs calling for equality and love.

“They were not ready for all the love we slayed them with,” said Joan Carson. Carson, 29, is a DNC visitor who heard about the event on social media. “I’m not from here, but it’s clear that Westboro Baptist Church’s hate for queer people is nationwide.” Read more »

DNC NEWS: HRC Staffer Will Be First Openly Transgender Convention Speaker

Photo by Jared Brey

Photo by Jared Brey

On Thursday, Sarah McBride will be the first openly transgender person to speak at a Democratic or Republican national convention.

Sarah McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, will be the first transgender convention speaker for a major American political party. “I’m honored for this opportunity to share my story and to be the first transgender person to speak at a major party convention,” McBride said in a press statement. “People must understand that even as we face daily harassment, tragic violence, and an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ political attacks across the country, we are real people merely seeking to be treated with the dignity and respect every person deserves.” McBride — also a Trans United for Hillary steering committee member — will speak on Thursday, the last day of the DNC, on issues pertaining to the recent triumph, obstacles, and policies affecting the transgender community. The DNC has seen the highest number of openly transgender delegates — 27 — it has ever had. This increased visibility of transgender representation at the DNC is in stark contrast to what’s been called the GOP’s most anti-LGBTQ party platform in history at last week’s Republican National Convention. The current DNC proposed platform calls for comprehensive nondiscrimination laws, active opposition of anti-LGBTQ bills, combatting anti-transgender violence, and a more global call to action for LGBTQ equality.

Today, members of the community will peacefully block Westboro Baptist Church protesters from picketing the Mazzoni Center.

Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial anti-LGBTQ group, plans to protest transgender individuals who frequent the Mazzoni Center. As word began to spread that they were making an appearance in Philly during the DNC, local organizers banded together to plan a “Great Wall of Love” to peacefully shield the protesters from disturbing the LGBTQ individuals who seek mental, clinical, and social support at the facility. “We plan to shut down hate with love,” said Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans activist who helped to organize the event. “We the organizers of the Great Wall of Love want to show the world our community is made up of love that isn’t what every community church and family is made up of.”

The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. outside Mazzoni, at 809 Locust Street. Organizers are informing those who plan to participate that this isn’t a counter-protest to Westboro Baptist Church, and therefore they do not encourage participants to directly engage with the insensitive remarks that are likely to be made. Mazzoni Center, local city officials, and the Philadelphia Police Department has been informed of the event, but are not actively involved with the operations of it.

The Ultimate LGBTQ DNC Guide

Democratic National Convention is from Monday, July 25 thru Thursday, July 29.


National Legal Panel
2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
National Museum of American Jewish History (Dell Theater)
101 South Independence Mall East (5th and Market streets)

The Equality Forum hosts a conversation around LGBTQ laws and policies with a panel of legal experts and activists fighting for equal rights. SCOTUS marriage equality plaintiff Jim Obergefell will be in the room to sign copies of his book, Love Wins. This event is free and open to the public. Read more »

TOP PICKS: The Best LGBTQ Events This Weekend

Since 1998, the Philly Dyke March has been an opportunity for self-identified dykes to gather, march and rally.

The Philly Dyke March is celebrating its 19th annual gathering, march and rally.


15th Annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference
June 9th-11th, 2016
Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St.; all ages.

Hosting one of the most prolific trans health conferences in the world, the Mazzoni Center is helping to put on three full days of programming focused on the health and well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as their families, friends, allies and providers. Read more »

TOP PICKS: The Best LGBTQ Events This Weekend

Stro Productionz is back with another installment of Beards N Queers this Friday night.

Stro Productionz is back with another installment of Beards N Queers this Friday night.


Beards N Queers Celebration
9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, 200 South 12th Street; over 21.

Stro Productionz returns with another all-inclusive event, hosted by Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca, that celebrates beard culture, fresh cuts, unique styles, fashion, and individuality in the Gayborhood. Don’t miss the giveaways and best beard contest. Please note that free entry will be given to anyone wearing Timberland boots, so no need to worry whether you’ll be able to get in. More details at Read more »

TOP PICKS: 5 Unique LGBTQ Events This Weekend

Young Advocates of Philadelphia presents a night of swing dancing for a great cause.

Young Advocates of Philadelphia presents a night of swing dancing for a great cause.


The Eric Jaffe Show!
7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tavern on Camac, 243 South Camac Street; over 21.

World ukulele champion Eric Jaffe returns with his monthly cabaret. Enjoy a no-cover night of Philadelphia’s best singers and musicians, featuring Sapphira Cristal, Dan Callahan, and more. Read more »

ACLU and Mazzoni Center Join City in Filing Brief Against SEPTA

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mazzoni Center joined the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations in filing a brief last Thursday to the State’s Supreme Court, asking to overturn the Commonwealth Court’s August 7 ruling in favor of SEPTA. That ruling indicated that SEPTA was not subject to Philadelphia’s city ordinance which bans discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more »

Mazzoni Center: Court Ruling on SEPTA Doesn’t Add Up


We’ve been carefully following Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s decision late last Friday that claimed that SEPTA did not have to follow Philadelphia city ordinances which prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. Yesterday afternoon, SEPTA issued their official statement on the matter, which claimed that:

“The case concerned one governmental entity’s authority over another based upon the statutory scheme overlaying both of those governmental entities. The central question of the case was whether that statutory scheme authorized the City to apply the FPO to SEPTA. SEPTA’s motion had nothing to do with protections afforded or not to the LGBTQ community.”

Read more »

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