ACT UP Philadelphia Supports the Call for Nellie Fitzpatrick to Resign

The AIDS coalition has joined the Black and Brown Workers Collective and the Gran Varones in calling for the director of the Office of LGBT Affairs to step down.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

The AIDS coalition ACT UP Philadelphia has signaled its support of a call by the racial justice group Black and Brown Workers Collective for the resignation of Office of LGBT Affairs director Nellie Fitzpatrick over her office’s handling of racial issues in the Gayborhood.

Jose de Marco, lead organizer of ACT UP Philadelphia, sent the following statement to G Philly:

ACT UP Philadelphia has always and continues to fight the social injustices that generate new infections of HIV that is glaring affecting communities of color, especially queer and trans communities of color.

Racism, poverty, homelessness, stigma all intersect and generate HIV and incarceration. These issues are far beyond a rainbow flag that ignores these issues while queer and trans youth are homeless and forced into a life of sex work in order to survive. To tell us racial progress is slow and steady obviously is from a privileged perspective and negates the lived truth of many queer and trans people of color. It is shockingly insulting.

We are not welcome in establishments that proudly display rainbow flags but that pick and choose what people they welcome. This is done by racial profiling of Black and Latinx people that come to these clubs to be in a safe and welcoming space.

Nellie Fitzpatrick is a white woman with privilege that produces blind spots that perpetuate and maintain systems of oppression in the gayborhood of Philadelphia. She does not understand intersectionality injustice issues. Worse, she has done nothing but paid lip service after the obscene racism and flagrant use of the “N” by club owners have been made public.

ACT UP Philadelphia is calling for her to realize she has been ineffective as the Mayors Liaison to the GLBT community. We, as queer persons of color understand that when “leadership” does not understand or address the intersections of social justice issues this has a deep impact on the safety of queer people of color. Philadelphia needs a liaison for all queer people not just privileged white gay people … but all of us! Whether we wear Timberland boots or ballet slippers. Whether we live in Suburban station at night or a new gentrified condo. We are all queer and need to feel safe on queer spaces.

The Gran Varones, a Latinx queer group, is also backing the resignation call. Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, the organization’s founder, sent the following statement to G Philly:

“As a project, we stand with all black and brown people fighting to be heard, to be seen and to be free. That means demanding that obstacles are moved from out of our way. Because of that, we stand with and by Black and Brown Workers Collective.”

The Office of LGBT Affairs did not return requests for comment on these latest calls for the director’s resignation. But in a recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fitzpatrick is said to have “no intention of resigning, and has long worked to address racism in the gay community.”

“This has to be seen as a critical, critical, critical challenge that we are facing,” she told the Inquirer’s Aubrey Whelan. “Marriage equality was one perfect example of how our community can organize, but gains like that lose their meaning if we do not respond with the same passion when LGBT people of color are denied their basic rights.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon, the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice issued the following statement of solidarity:

Black and Brown Workers Solidarity Statement

The Philly Coalition for REAL Justice stands in complete solidarity with, the Black and Brown Workers Collective, and their struggle to end the racial discrimination within the Philly Gayborhood. Specifically, with the resignation of Nellie Fitzpatrick and their list of demands, as follows:

  • We declare and agree that the office of LGBTQ Affairs must compensate Black and Brown LGBTQIA community members who are advising the office on issues of racism in the gayborhood.
  • We declare and agree that there needs to be other stakeholders at the table to discuss racism in the gayborhood other than Philly Black Pride as they are not a reflection of the entire Black & Brown LGBTQIA community’s interests.
  • We declare and agree that there needs to be Black and Brown LGBTQIA housing insecure youth, youth who engage in sex work and youth who are not represented in major organizations at the discussion table as they are disproportionately impacted by a racist gayborhood.
  • We declare and agree that the office of LGBTQ Affairs needs to formally name intersectionality as it pertains to Black and Brown LGBTQIA identities and that this makes us more vulnerable in LGBTQIA spaces

The divestment from racist spaces that perpetuate the violence of covert discrimination against black and brown people in public bars like ICandy, is the beginning of a complete overhaul of issues impacting the LGBTQIA community, which is, often left out of the narratives pertaining to the movements fight when addressing white supremacy and it’s oppressive structures and this should have been addressed by Nellie Fitzpatrick long before the video release.

The Philly Coalition for REAL Justice is an intersectional group that addresses all forms of racial, economic, and legal injustices. We believe in the complete and total liberation of all black and brown people that have been subjected to the marginalization (often doubly marginalized) and systematic disenfranchisement at the hands of racist governments, including that of Philadelphia. Police violence and murder, domestic violence and murder; housing and employment discrimination; street and sexual harassment, are a few of many issues that are not subjected to the hetero or cis identified community; and the LGBTQIA community are our comrades that have too, led and began some of the most historic movements in this country, and the Coalition acknowledges and supports their work.

Nellie Fitzpatrick is not qualified for the position of heading the office of LGBTQIA Affairs; she’s unfit because she is silencing the voices of those mostly affected when addressing transphobic and homophobic issues and profits at the expense of poor people’s pain. Nellie Fitzpatrick does not represent the LGBTQIA members in the Coalition and has failed those of that community who have sought refuge in the Gayborhood when having not been accepted by their peers, and for those sole purposes, she must go. There is white supremacy in the LGBTQIA community and we know this because the demographic of who gains equal opportunity access to business, housing, and lead positions are disproportionately white, primarily in the nonprofit sector.

The Black and Brown workers struggle is the entire Black Liberation Movements struggle and the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice stands with them arms linked and fists raised.