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.  

indigo copy

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

outbeat jazz festival

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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OutBeat, the Nation’s First Queer Jazz Festival, Heads to Town This Week

Terri Lyne Carrington

Terri Lyne Carrington

Our sister blog, G Philly, has presented lots of coverage on OutBeat, the nation’s first ever LGBTQ jazz festival, that’s playing right here in Philly this upcoming week. However, this event isn’t just for those who fall in the LGBTQ spectrum: it’s a major musical fest for jazz lovers that is bringing some of the best musicians in the genre to our city. Read more »

Stolen Natalie Hope McDonald Painting Found at John C. Anderson Apartments

The painting in question, titled "We Only Had Silence," raised $600 for William Way Community Center.

The painting in question, titled “We Only Had Silence,” raised $600 for William Way Community Center.

Last week I told you about a big gay art heist in the Gayborhood. A painting artist Natalie Hope McDonald donated to the William Way Community Center’s annual Homecoming auction was hijacked. We’re happy to report today, however, that the painting has been found.

William Way Executive Director Christopher Bartlett confirms that the painting was indeed stolen, and recovered in good condition from the John C. Anderson Apartments. Apparently someone tipped him off to its whereabouts via social media. “Once we told them there would be no repercussions, they told us where it was located,” he tells me. The Center will not be pressing charges.

“We’re just thrilled that we were able to find the painting. Now we’ll be able to follow up with the buyer, and the sale will benefit the Center.”

He tells me the bidder offered $600 for the painting—no small chunk of change for our LGBT community center.

I reached out to Hope McDonald for a comment: “I’m glad the man who rightfully won the piece can have it. And that the Center can benefit.” 

Cue: sigh of relief. All is well again in our little gay art world.

SEXx Philly to Demystify The Stigma of Blowjobs, Hookup Culture, More

SexX

Did you know May is National Masturbation Month? Although you won’t find any cards at Hallmark to commemorate the holiday, you can celebrate in a way that won’t leave a mess!

This evening, GALAEI, Sex With Timaree, and the William Way LGBT Community Center present the first annual SEXx Philly Conference from 6PM-9PM. It’s essentially a TEDx-style event that’s meant to break the stigma behind talking about sex in public places.

“We need to continue to have safe, accessible, and fun spaces to have honest conversations about sexuality,” said Elicia Gonzales, the event’s co-coordinator and Executive Director of GALAEI. “In a society that is plagued by sex-negativity, we wanted this event to bring communities together to have intentional sex-positive conversations.”  Gonzales and her co-coordinator, Timaree Schmit, aim to build that type of safe space at the event.

Attendees can expect to hear renowned speakers from across the nation chat about everything from senior citizen sexuality, blowjobs, webcam models, and the “power of bottoming.”

All attendees who want to take part in the event at the William Way Community Center (1315 Spruce Street) must be over the age of 18. Tickets, which are on a sliding scale of $5 to $10, benefit GALAEI and William Way; snacks and beverages will be available.

For more information, visit the SEXx website.

Philly to Host America’s First LGBT Jazz Festival

Drummer Bill Stewart is among the national acts playing at OutBeat, America's first queer jazz festival.

Drummer Bill Stewart is among the national acts playing at OutBeat, America’s first queer jazz festival.

Put your jazz hands up! Thanks to a grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, William Way Community Center is set to make history when it hosts America’s first queer jazz festival, OutBeat, this summer. A press release sent out this afternoon offers a hint at what to expect during the four-day festival, taking place September 18-21 in venues across town.

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