Throwback Thursday: Chris Bartlett Remembers Philly In the Heat of 1990s AIDS Protests

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Outside City Hall in 1990, Chris Bartlett (left) and Dominic Piccirelli (right) hold a stretcher with a body at an ACT UP die-in. ACT UP die-ins were used to highlight the huge numbers of gay men still dying from AIDS due to government inaction. (Photo by David Acosta)

From time to time William Way Executive Director Chris Bartlett and I meet for a rummage through the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week we opened a box of photos from one of Philadelphia’s first gay news weeklies, Au Courant, to find a host of photos of Philadelphia in the midst of AIDS protests in the early- to mid-1990s. The above photo from the era, showing a young Bartlett protesting outside City Hall in 1990, hangs in the Archives. It’s one of Bartlett’s prized possessions. (Seriously, you should see him beam when he talks about it.)

Check out some of our favorite snaps from the bunch, with captions by Chris Bartlett.

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How to Find a Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil Near You

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Today is the last day of Transgender Awareness Week. Beginning on November 12th, the occasion was established to celebrate our transgender community, take action to improve the lives of trans people, and to remember those who have lost their lives to acts of anti-trans violence. That is what November 20th is all about, actually: Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day, as the Human Rights Campaign points out, that serves as a “solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice and also raises awareness of the constant threat of brutality faced by the transgender community.”

In an email sent out this morning, HRC laid out a handful of reasons why it’s important for us to take part in days like this.

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Throwback Thursday: William Way’s Fantastic Collection of Gay Pulp Fiction Novels

Every week William Way Executive Director Chris Bartlett and I meet for a rummage through the LGBT community center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, I got sidetracked by the the Archives’ fantastic collection of gay pulp fiction novels. These gems, with erotic, albeit kind of hilarious covers, and even better cover lines, were donated from community members over the years. Check out some of my favorites—or at least the ones that I could show—below: 



 

PHOTOS: Indigo Ball 2014

On Saturday night, the William Way Community Center hosted its annual, oh-so-stylish fundraiser Indigo Ball at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). As always, it brought out Philly’s best-dressed LGBTers for a night of dancing, cocktailing and mingling. Philly photographer Sammy Munsch was in the house, and she was kind enough to share some of her best shots from the evening.



Weekend Roundup: Gay Halloween Parties Begin, Sword Fights, and An Especially Busy Sunday Funday

FRIDAY

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Throwback Thursday: Early Transgender Activist and Co-Founder of William Way Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Every week I take a trip down memory lane in William Way Community Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, archivist—and author of The Gayborhood Guru—Bob Skiba shares photos of Tommi Avicolli Mecca taken in the 1970s and 1980s. Skiba tells me that “Tommi was an early activist here, one of the founders of the Gay Community Center (which later became William Way) and the Archives, and a trans activist.”



Philanthropy Friday: William Way LGBT Community Center

william way community center

Welcome to Philanthropy Fridays, where Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) Executive Director Samantha Giusti introduces you to a local LGBT non-profit in Philadelphia. This week, Michael Pomante explains the work he does at William Way LGBT Community Center, and (are you sitting?) hints at an winter-themed IndiGoGo party.  

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Michael Pomante at William Way’s Indigo Ball.

I am … Michael Pomante, development director, on behalf of the William Way LGBT Community Center.

William Way was founded in …  1974 as the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Philadelphia

One-sentence mission statement: The William Way LGBT Community Center encourages, supports, and advocates for the well-being and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities in the Greater Philadelphia region through service, recreational, educational, and cultural programming.

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Throwback Thursdsay: Remembering Lesbian Trailblazer Barbara Gittings

Every week I take a trip down memory lane in William Way Community Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, I met with archivist—and author of The Gayborhood Guru—Bob Skiba, who shared these photos of one of gay Philly’s biggest legends, the Mother of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement herself, Ms. Barbara Gittings, who you may be more familiar with as the woman who has her name on the street sign at 13th and Locust streets



PHOTOS: Scenes From The OutBeat Jazz Festival

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Elliot Levin, Rhenda Fearrington, and Lamont Dixon perform at the OutBeat Jazz Festival.

It was a totally triumphant Friday evening as the William Way Community Center kicked off OutBeat, what’s being billed as the nation’s first queer jazz festival. It was a winners-take-all night of amazing performances at two prestigious venues in the city: Philadelphia Musem of Art (PMA) hosted the Fred Hersch Trio as part of its “Art After Five” series (along with a VIP reception), and the Suzanne Roberts Theatre presented “Lush Lie: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn,” a co-collaboration between OutBeat and the Philadelphia Jazz Project. Read more »

OUTBEAT KICKOFF: The Nation’s First Queer Jazz Festival Opens Tonight with Dena Underwood

Dean Underwood, one of the performers at this year's OutBeat. (via the Dena Underwood Facebook page)

Dena Underwood, via the Dena Underwood Facebook page

It’s been years in the making and tonight it becomes a reality: The nation’s first queer jazz festival, OutBeat, opens, thanks to the efforts of the William Way LGBTQ Community Center. The four-day musical extravaganza takes places all throughout Philly, and features some of the nation’s most renowned jazz players, players who just happen to fall into the LGBTQ spectrum.

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