One of Us: Nellie Fitzpatrick

The city’s director of LGBT affairs chats about this month’s Pride Parade, her brief career in manure sales, and City Hall’s hidden secrets.

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Nellie Fitzpatrick, but my legal name is Helen Lamphier Fitzpatrick. Helen was my great-grandmother, and Lamphier was my other great-grandmother’s maiden name.

I am a … dog lover, proud wife to Tracie Palmer, and the director of the mayor’s office of LGBT affairs.

Philly became my home … in 2008, when I became an assistant district attorney. Florida, where I graduated from law school, was not the best place for a lesbian in a pantsuit to become a prosecutor.

I live in … a house with a very big furry family. Let’s just say I have a ridiculous number of cats and dogs, including Chihuahuas. All rescues.

The biggest challenge at my job … is the hours in a day. I need at least 50.

My undiscovered talent is … that I can sing a mean Axl Rose at karaoke.

If you’re pouring me a drink, make it … anything with bourbon.

The most beautiful spot in Philadelphia is … the Gayborhood. Seriously. We’re everywhere in the city, but the fact that the Gayborhood is right in the heart of Philadelphia — there’s something very beautiful about that.

I buy most of my clothes at … Banana Republic and Macy’s and the men’s section of H&M, which I call the little lesbian section.

Working in the D.A.’s office … made it possible for me to meet my wife. We met there. So that’s something positive.

I wanted to grow up to be … a million things, but high-school band director was a big one. I majored in music, and I was a member of the drum and bugle corps.

For dinner, let’s go to … Vedge. I was a vegan for a time, because my wife wanted to become one. These days, I eat as much meat as possible — like a rib eye with a side of bacon and a side of foie — but I still love Vedge.

During this month’s Pride Parade, I will be … marching with all the LGBT city employees, who are being honored as grand marshals. Last year was the first time that these employees marched in the parade.

If you really want to get on my nerves … you will find excuses instead of ways to get things done.

For my first wedding anniversary this month … we’ll be going back to Provincetown, where we got married.

What most people don’t realize about City Hall … is that there are nine floors, and there’s a lot of stuff in there. Ira Einhorn’s trunk is in the evidence locker on the seventh floor.

One game you will not beat me at is … flip cup, where you drink the beer and then flip the cup over. But anything sports-related, you’ll win, no problem.

My first job was … as a lifeguard, but I never saved anybody, except from bad sunburn. But when I was a kid in Jupiter, I had a pony, and I sold horse manure to the neighbors. “The finest organic fertilizer in all of South Florida,” I told them.

One junk food I can’t resist … is those Insomnia cookies. I can eat 10. It’s really bad.

Nearly 50 years after Stonewall … I’m proud to keep fighting. We’re quite a ways from true equality.

My parents taught me … that no truth is ever worse than a lie.

Published as “One of Us” in the June issue of Philadelphia magazine.