Dalai Lama Cancels Trip to Philadelphia

Philadelphia was supposed to play host to another holy leader this fall, when the Dalai Lama came to town to accept the 2015 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center (NCC). It was announced over the weekend, however, that the 80-year-old spiritual leader has canceled his trip to the U.S. after he was advised by a doctor to lay low and rest over the next several weeks.

The cancellation was confirmed by a statement on His Holiness’s website:

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Finally, Hard Facts About the Dalai Lama’s Visit to Philly

Unlike the frenzy surrounding Pope Francis’s appearance this month, the vibe around the Dalai Lama’s visit October 26 and 27 is distinctly chill. So everybody can just stand down and no need for prep-the-bunker Pope-is-coming-to-visit provision shopping. In fact, His Holiness’s visit is so chill that many of the logistical details of his visit — he will receive the National Constitution Center’s 2015 Liberty Medal — are still being worked out. Vince Stango, chief operating officer of the National Constitution Center remarks that even the lawn ceremony, from 5-6 pm on October 26, “will be understated, reverential, but without a lot of splash.”

This seems to fit with the humble manner of His Holiness, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday while attending the Glastonbury Music Festival in England. (Singer Patti Smith led the crowds in the birthday song for him, after which he gave her a big hug).

The Dalai Lama will be traveling to Philadelphia with an entourage of about eight or nine people. The State Department coordinates his security with the Philadelphia Police, but he’s known for traveling about rather discreetly. According to Tony Boris, president of the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center, “He doesn’t have a Popemobile type of vehicle.” He will be staying at an undisclosed hotel somewhere in Center City.

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Cultural Alliance Hosts Free Old City Museum Crawl for Teens

Tomorrow afternoon, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance‘s STAMP program, an initiative to get young people out to Philly’s cultural attractions, will host an Old City museum crawl for area teens aged 14-19.

The day starts at the National Constitution Center (NCC) at 3:30 pm. From there, teens can venture out to explore participating museums in the vicinity, which include the African American Museum, National Liberty Museum, National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia History Museum and Independence Visitor Center.

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PHOTOS: Original Gay Pioneers Tour “Speaking Out for Equality”

This morning, the National Constitution Center, William Way Community Center, and the DMH Fund hosted a very touching private tour of their exhibit “Speaking Out for Equality” for several of the original “gay pioneers,” John James, Paul Kuntzler, Randy Wicker, and Ada Bello. William Way’s Executive Director Chris Bartlett provided a curated walk through of the moving collection at the Constitution Center, while James, Kuntzler, and Wicker gave insightful comments about the exhibit. We were there to capture some of the really wonderful moments of the event.

PHOTOS: Our Night Out at the National Constitution Center

The rain came down in sheets yesterday starting around 5 pm, but, as if Glinda the Good Witch was overlooking the National Constitution Center, the storm ceased at the start of last evening’s Our Night Out and held off until, ironically, the end of the event. The break in the weather certainly helped produce a robust crowd to support the William Way Community Center and Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. Guests were treated to lots of tasty nibbles, plus free admission to Speaking Out for Equality. We were on hand to capture some of the evening’s festivities.

Decision Day Rally Planned at National Constitution Center



The Greater Philadelphia HRC, along with other local LGBT service organizations, are planning a Decision Day Rally at the National Constitution Center in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court will issue their decision on marriage equality. The rally will take place on whichever day the Supreme Court issues their ruling: It could be this Thursday, Friday, or Monday.

The tentative agenda is as follows:

Approximately 10 am: Decision handed down

12 pm to 1 pm: Light snacks, review of opinion, media coverage, large screen Twitter feed

12 pm to 5 pm: Free admission to Speaking OUT for Equality

5 pm to 7 pm: Decision Day Rally on National Constitution Center lawn and (possibly) the lawn between Arch and Market Streets

Those who wish to follow and/or Tweet about the verdict and the rally are encouraged to use hashtag #DecisionDay.

Dalai Lama Will Receive Liberty Medal

ChameleonsEye | Shutterstock.com

ChameleonsEye | Shutterstock.com

The Dalai Lama will be the recipient of the 2015 Liberty Medal, officials announced today.

The medal is presented annually by the National Constitution Center to individuals “who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.” The Dalai Lama has long been an outspoken advocate of Tibetan independence from China, which is likely to frown on a high-profile American award being given to him: China has branded him a “separatist” and protested high-profile contacts between the Dalai Lama and American leaders.

A spokesman for the National Constitution Center could not immediately say if the center had consulted with the State Department or other government officials before deciding to give the award to Dalai Lama. Read more »

WATCH: First-Ever Drag Show at National Constitution Center

John Jarboe Drag

Yesterday evening, the National Constitution Center held a grand opening celebration for the opening of its first LGBT exhibit, “Speaking Out for Equality.” The event drew a crowd of about 600—everyone from State Representative Brian Sims, who looked dashing in his rainbow suspenders; Philly Pride’s Franny Price with purple hair a blazin’; and even the out owner of Geno’s Steaks Geno Vento.

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