Here’s the Official Transcript of PCHR’s Gayborhood Racism Hearing

We highlight some important and thought-provoking testimony from October’s Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations hearing.

Part of the overflow crowd that attended the October 25th Human Relations Commission hearing. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Part of the overflow crowd that attended the October 25th Human Relations Commission hearing. | Photo: Sandy Smith

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) has released the official transcript (PDF) of its October 25th Gayborhood racism hearing. The historic event was attended by hundreds of community members from the public and private sector, veteran activists, Gayborhood event producers, performers and more. The 120-page document contains all of the public testimony.

The transcript, embedded in full below, is worth a close read. Here are some highlights:

Michael Hinson, former LGBT liaison under Mayor John Street:

“The Human Relations Commission should test businesses to gain better understanding of the extent of discrimination that may be taking place and offer remedies, including penalties for discrimination actions found. And that a non-city hotline should be made available to solicit additional information about discriminatory practices taking place in our communities. The data from this hotline can be used to shape the future training for government private organizations and businesses throughout the City.”

Hazel Edwards, the only out transgender youth commissioner for the City of Philadelphia:

“Far too many nonprofit structures in the City rely on black and brown youth for funding and yet do not hire us. When black and brown adults are given positions in these nonprofits, they’re often entry level, underpaid, tokenized and fired within the first few months. Even as a client, I walk into these nonprofits that claim to support me and yet the leadership doesn’t reflect me. The programming options only reflect the parts of me that are well funded through the City. We receive subpar care for our physical and emotional health, yet for so long black and brown members of the LGBTQ community felt that we had to stay silent for the protection of a larger community. Far too long we have been silent about nonprofit structures built to support us that actually diminish us.”

Tyrone Smith, community leader and long-time activist:

“This Commission, the commission for gay and lesbian issues was put together by Wilson Goode when he was our mayor. So we have the vehicles to take this thing to its end. And so we have got to get more involved. You know, I’m old. I’m in my 70s, and to have to confront this again in my life when I have lived through the dog-biting days, when I have lived through the two bathrooms, I’ll be damned if I want to see it again. I have faith in the youth in Philadelphia who are black and brown that this will end.”

Ernest Owens, editor of G Philly:

“Talking about racism was not political enough to a lot of these people. And when I began to report on it and try to, you know, bring other people to the table, there were government agencies that called my employers and said they were concerned about my position. They found me divisive and they used these forms of intimidation to attempt to silence my voice and addressing these issues to the public. My First Amendment right was silenced in addressing these issues. Many people who are not here today try to speak to their employers and try to speak to government agencies and they feel like they cannot because of their jobs.”

Asa Khalif, Black Lives Matter PA president:

“I want to put you racist bigots on notice. iCandy, you already should pack. We are going to hit you economically. We are going to hit you — you’ve seen the video. You know damn well we don’t care about going up into your space. You said you didn’t want any niggers? Well, the niggers are coming and we’re going to continue to boycott you, we’re going to continue to protest you until you pack your shit and get the hell out of our community.”

Antoine Johnson, public relations professional:

“I have to say this, this is very important. Nellie [Fitzpatrick, whose leadership of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs has been the subject of protests] is a very good friend of mine, and the attacks that have been put upon Nellie as a person who came to this office are outrageous. This woman is for this community, everyone in this community. She runs to help us. You may not see it, but she’s working. If you believe in God, you may pray every day, but your blessings are happening in his time and he’s doing the work, but you may not see the work being done. And I think she is 100 percent behind closed doors working for this community.”

Kemar Jewel, local black gay performer and advocate:

“In 2016, sweatpants, track pants and other athletic attire have become everyday attire for folks. For me, athletic wear has become engrained in my style, my presentation and how I express gender identity, and also let us be clear, God created black people and black people created style. And I just feel like trying to police queer people is just going against what these spaces were originally for and it needs to stop now.”

Stro Kyle, Gayborhood event producer:

“There is a deeply-rooted issue beyond just racism but actual dilution. The fact that it’s taken 40 years to even get to this hearing proves that. If the Gayborhood gave queer people of color the opportunity, they would realize just how strong and resilient we are, how much volume we bring outside of what’s in our wallets, our pants and our blood samples.”

Dominque London, co-founder of the Black & Brown Workers Collective:

“The BBWC has been organizing against racism in the Gayborhood since February of this year. We know that systematic racism is not just restricted to the bars, but also extends to the workplaces of black and brown LGBTQ folk. Often after these long work days and racist micro-aggressions in the workplace, happy hour happens in these racist bar establishments. Our call to action frames the issues of systematic racism in workplaces for LGBTQ black and brown people in the Gayborhood.”

PCHR Gayborhood Racism Hearing Transcript, 10/25/16 by PhiladelphiaMagazine on Scribd