OPINION: Complicity and the Gayborhood

Last Wednesday, June 14th, was just an odd day. Not only was it the birthday of our current president, but also a reminder that progress is a journey full of unfortunate setbacks.

One such setback occurred at a book signing for a black gay media colleague of mine from New York at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse. The evening affair, which opened with a Q&A followed by a meet-and-greet, was packed mostly with black LGBTQ community members who came to hear a first-time author offer perspective on writing a collection of personal essays that explore self-discovery, resilience, and cultural empowerment. Such themes resonated with a crowd of people who have themselves experienced the power of fighting for survival and inclusion while facing discrimination and erasure. Read more »

Philly’s Pride Flag to Get Two New Stripes: Black and Brown

Image of new Pride flag via its designing company, Tierney.

Multiple sources closely connected with Thursday’s First Annual Pride Kick-Off at City Hall have confirmed to G Philly that the city’s Pride flag will add black and brown stripes below the traditional six-color rainbow layout. The new permanent design will be, from top to bottom: black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: First Annual Pride Month Kick-Off at City Hall

The First Annual Pride Month Kick-Off is at City Hall on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The event will reveal a new city Pride flag.

For its festive inclusion and momentous engagement, this week’s LGBTQ Event of the Week is the First Annual Pride Month Kick-Off at City Hall. The Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs want you to come out for a “celebration of resilience, diversity, and strength of our Philly LGBTQ community.” The event will feature performances by Wordz the Poet Emcee, Kaleia Brown, Denice Frohman, and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. Expect to hear remarks from the mayor and the major unveiling and raising of a brand new Pride flag that will be flown in the city. The event starts at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 8th, at City Hall. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Read more »

“It Was an Ambush”: Behind the Vote That Ousted Sharron Cooks as LGBT Commission Chair

Sharron Cooks | Photo taken by Kelly Burkhardt

The Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, a 23-member advisory board announced in October 2016 after several intense months of revelations about racial discrimination in the Gayborhood, convened its first meeting on March 16th at City Hall. This inaugural gathering served as the formal introduction of Amber Hikes, a black queer woman newly appointed as the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, to the diverse body of volunteers who would help her advise Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration on the pressing needs of Philadelphia’s LGBT community.

It was during this meeting, which kicked off with commission members taking the floor for two minutes apiece to present overviews of their lives and work, that Sharron Cooks, a black transgender advocate and new member herself, noticed something potentially troubling. She felt that another member, a white cisgender woman, was “taking up too much space” — essentially framing discussion of diversity and inclusion around her own experience rather than that of people of color. Cooks said nothing, but noted that, unlike other members, the woman eventually spoke for five minutes longer than the allotted time. Read more »

Sharron Cooks Announces Resignation From LGBT Commission After Being Voted Out as Chair

Sharron Cooks | Photo taken by Kelly Burkhardt

After having made history as the first transgender person ever to chair a city commission, Sharron Cooks was removed as head of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs on Tuesday night in a 13-3 (with 3 abstentions) vote during an emergency meeting. G Philly was sent documentation from the meeting that raised concerns surrounding Cooks’s social media interactions with members of one of the commission’s committees.

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“Pop-Up Love Party” Counters Anti-Trans Bus’s Philly Stop

Sharron Cooks guiding people away from the anti-trans bus | Photo by Jennifer Bryant

Sharron Cooks guiding people away from the anti-trans bus | Photo by Jennifer Bryant

On Saturday, the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, in collaboration with GALAEI, Trans-health Information Project (TIP), Attic Youth Center, William Way, ACLU, Mazzoni Center, and other community organizations, held a “Pop-Up Love Party” to protest the anti-trans “Free Speech Bus Tour” that was scheduled to appear. The National Organization on Marriage (NOM) has been driving across the East Coast for several weeks in a striking bright orange bus with transphobic messages and images, which has been met with protestors and vandalism. Read more »

Sharron Cooks Becomes the First-Ever Transgender Person to Chair a City Commission

Sharron Cooks | Photo taken by Kelly Burkhardt

Sharron Cooks | Photo taken by Kelly Burkhardt

The Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs finished its internal election for board leaders this week, and G Philly was notified on Thursday that transgender advocate Sharron Cooks was elected as chair, along with out rowing coach Libby Peters as secretary and community activist Jason Evans as treasurer. In this role, Cooks becomes the first transgender person ever to chair a citywide commission in Philadelphia. Read more »

Office of LGBT Affairs to Host “Pop-Up Love Party” to Counter Anti-Trans Bus

Philling Our Streets With Love at Hate Speech Bus Tour! is this Wednesday, March 29th.

Philling Our Streets With Love at Hate Speech Bus Tour! is this Wednesday, March 29th.

The Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, in collaboration with GALAEI, Trans-health Information Project (TIP), Attic Youth Center, William Way, ACLU, Mazzoni Center, and other community organizations, are planning to host a Pop-Up Love Party to peacefully counteract the anti-trans “Free Speech Bus Tour” coming to Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Over the past month, the National Organization on Marriage (NOM) has been driving across the East Coast in a bright orange bus with transphobic messages such as “It’s Biology: Boys are boys … and always will be. Girls are girls … and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all.” Read more »

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