Change.org Petition Asks Kenney to Replace LGBT Affairs Liaison
A Change.org petition calling on Mayor Jim Kenney to replace Nellie Fitzpatrick, the head of the Office of LGBT Affairs, with Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca, a Latinx queer community leader, has garnered more than 100 signatures since being posted early Wednesday morning. The petition was created by Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, a member of the Black and Brown Workers Collective, which has repeatedly called for Fitzpatrick’s resignation over what the group terms her lack of credibility in addressing racism in city’s LGBTQ community.
The petition reads:
Louie Ortiz-Fonseca should be appointed to be the director of the office of LGBT Affairs in Philadelphia. The current director of that office has said herself that she isn’t a community activist and we know historically that people who have been in that position before have been from the community and have the ability to bridge communities together. We know that a person in this position needs to speak directly to intersectionality and address racial bias within LGBT spaces which the current director has been unable to do.
Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca is an award winning HIV activist and artist. For over 20 years, he has worked with influential nationally recognized agencies and has been an integral part of HIV prevention and youth development programming in Philadelphia. Since graduating from Lincoln University with a Master’s Degree in Human Services and Organizational Development in 2009, he has devoted his free time to working with grassroots queer agencies of color to strengthen their work with Latino gay men. He is the 2015 winner of the Hispanic Choice Awards for Creative Artist of the Year for his storytelling project The Gran Varones. Louie is currently based in Washington, DC where he supports the work of three school districts nationwide in providing more intentional and affirming support to adolescent sexual minority males.
I think it is time to appoint Louie to the office of LGBT affairs and this petition aims to accomplish that.
The LGBT Affairs role has evolved over the years. The city’s first LGBT liaison was Michael Hinson, a black gay community leader who founded COLOURS and was the co-creator of Philadelphia Black Pride. Hinson served during former Mayor John Street’s administration and was instrumental in getting LGBT legislation implemented in the city. Hinson was followed by Gloria Casarez, a Latinx community activist who had previously worked with organizations such GALAEI. Casarez served in the role until her death, in October 2014, at age 42. Fitzpatrick, a white lesbian, replaced Casarez after serving as an assistant D.A. and LGBT liaison for the District Attorney’s office.
“Louie would be an excellent choice for the LGBTQ Liaison for the City of Philadelphia,” said Christy Santoro in the petition comments.”I know Gloria Casarez, the city’s first person to have held this position and who was taken from us too soon, would have strongly endorsed Louie for this role as she was one of his mentors, colleagues and dear friends.” A commenter by the name of “Jayne Doe” said “I believe the LGBTQ communities need experienced peer leadership & someone who reflects community & understands intersectionality of race class culture sexuality gender expression/ ID etc …”
Ortiz-Fonseca has posted a statement on Facebook claiming that he is not interested in the taking up the position, though he has previously joined other social justice organizations in calling for Fitzpatrick to step down.
The Mayor’s Office and the Office of LGBT Affairs for comment have not returned G Philly’s requests for comment.
UPDATE: The Mayor’s Office sent the following response at 9 p.m. on Wednesday:
“We understand that there is a small core of activists who would like to see new leadership, but it is clear to us from last month’s PCHR hearing that the LGBT community is by and large pleased with Nellie’s performance. To that end, from this point forward, we will no longer be commenting on the leadership of the LGBT Affairs Office. Given the challenges the LGBT community and communities of color are facing as a result of the presidential election, the administration is spending its energy focused on how to ensure we maintain the gains and protections the LGBT community and communities of color saw under President Obama.”