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Philadelphia Gay News LGBT NEWS SINCE 1976 | VOL. 43 NO. 33 | AUGUST 16-22, 2019| Family Portrait: Aleksandr Dissan

LGBTQ Mental Health: Road to wellness



Bryn Mawr College named most LGBTQ-friendly


Midwifery Today, a quarterly magazine for midwives that was founded in 1986, is taking on hot water after booking a Lancaster County venue for an upcoming conference that allegedly bars LGBTQ speakers from presenting at the event. Nearly 4,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the publication to move the location of the “Sharing Birth Culture, Growing Midwifery Skills” conference, scheduled for April 15-19 at Camp Andrews in Holtwood, Pennsylvania. Signers are also requesting the magazine diversify the speaker lineup by adding more presentations from people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. All but two of the conference’s schedule speakers are white women and none are



Nearing midwifery conference in Lancaster County allegedly bars LGBTQ speakers


Dayton shooter’s brother misgendered in media

LGBTQ, said Ray Rachlin, the president of the Pennsylvania Association of Certified Professional Midwives who started the petition on Monday. Discussion topics at the event include “Respect in Midwifery” and “A Day on Trauma and Healing.” “This kind of discrimination in the midwifery community is unacceptable,” Rachlin told PGN. “We want to let Midwifery Today know that the future of midwifery is not conferences that ban gay people and have almost exclusively white speakers, and we are not standing for this kind of discrimination, especially in my home state.” With the slogan “introducing urban youth to Jesus,” Camp Andrews is a Christian campground for youth and adults that also offers facility rentals for retreats. “All guest groups shall honor Biblical standards of conduct,” the organization’s policies and procedures state. “This includes, but is not limited to refraining PAGE 5

Indie candidate’s timing an issue time to make a bid for the general election. However, Alvarez has contended her former fellow candidate didn’t make the withdrawal deadline. Sherrie Cohen, an out lesbian, is runDuring a three-hour hearing Monday ning for a seat on City Council as an in City Hall, presided by Common Pleas Independent candidate in the general elec- Judge Abbe F. Fletman, a representation after having relinquished her primary tive of the Republican City Committee run as a Democrat. joined with Alvarez to have Cohen’s name But Deja Alvarez, a trans woman of removed from the ballot. color who lost her priStill, Cohen said she’s mary Council bid, said optimistic Fletman will Cohen violated deadline rule in her favor. procedure and should be “The law is clearly precluded from running. on my side,” the candiCohen, 64, sought to date said after the hearrun as a Democrat in ing. “I followed the law the May 21 primary, but completely. My timdropped out of the race ing was perfectly legal. in April after her former Everything I did was campaign manager made proper.” negative comments Cohen — daughabout Alvarez’s ancestry ter of late Philadelphia during a Trans Day of Councilman David Visibility celebration. Cohen and, like her Alvarez ran as a SHERRIE COHEN father, known for Democrat for an at-large Council seat. social-justice advocacy — unsuccessfully Had she won, she would have been the ran as a Democrat for Council-at-Large in first openly trans member of the municipal 2011 and 2015. governing body. “I’m seeking to educate the public that Of Council’s 17 seats, seven are at-large, this is an option to not vote straight including two reserved for non-Demo- Democratic on Nov. 5,” she said. “Instead, crats — which Republicans have held. vote for me as an Independent for an Cohen aims to fill one of those posts as at-large seat. Then vote for other candian Independent in the Nov. 5 general elec- dates of your choice.” tion. Cohen said the controversy with Alvarez In an interview with PGN, Cohen main- wasn’t the only reason she chose to drop tained she withdrew from the primary in out of the primary. PAGE 20 BY TIMOTHY CWIEK

Rainbow House: Stockholm’s ‘safe haven’ for LGBTQ older adults BY LAURA SMYTHE Special assignment: PGN went to Stockholm for Pride and to learn about LGBTQ issues in Sweden. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ranks Sweden among the most LGBTQ-friendly European countries. But some older adults remember living in a time — until

1979 — when the country’s National Board of Health and Welfare labeled homosexuality a mental illness. “It’s now a good [political] situation in Sweden, but of course there are people who are low educated and have prejudices,” said Jane Jansson, a retired trans woman in Stockholm. “I don’t want to live with them when I am 85 or 90 years old, so it would be safer to live where people from the LGBT community live.” Jansson is one of about 200 on the waiting list for an apartment at

Regnbågen, Sweden’s first elderly home specifically for LGBTQ people ages 55 and up. Opening in Stockholm in 2013, Regnbågen or “Rainbow House” homes 34 residents in 28 apartments at reduced costs compared to units in the rest of the city. A 484-square-foot Regnbågen apartment costs tenants 670 euros per month, while a 645-square-foot unit runs about 840 euros per month, REGNBÅGEN, SWEDEN’S FIRST ELDERLY HOME FOR Regnbågen founder Christer Fäller LGBTQ PEOPLE, IN STOCKHOLM’S LADUGÅRDSGÄRDET told PGN. As of 2017, PAGE 19 NEIGHBORHOOD. Photo: Laura Smythe



Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

Resource listings

LGBTQ lawyers raise the bar

Legal resources • ACLU of Pennsylvania: 215-592-1513; • AIDS Law Project of PA: 215-587-9377; • AIDS Law Project of South Jersey: 856-784-8532; • Equality PA: equalitypa. org; 215-731-1447

• Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations — Rue Landau: 215-686-4670 • Philadelphia Police Liaison Committee: 215-7603686; • SPARC — Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition: 717-920-9537

• Office of LGBT Affairs — Amber Hikes: 215-686-0330;

Community centers • The Attic Youth Center; 255 S. 16th St.; 215-545-4331, For LGBT and questioning youth and their friends and allies. • LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania; 3907 Spruce

St.; 215-898-5044,

• Rainbow Room: Bucks County’s LGBTQ and Allies Youth Center

Salem UCC Education Building, 181 E. Court St., Doylestown; 215-957-7981 ext. 9065,

• William Way LGBT Community Center 1315 Spruce St.; 215-732-2220,

Health and HIV testing • Action Wellness: 1216 Arch St.; 215981-0088, • AIDS Healthcare Foundation: 1211 Chestnut St. #405 215971-2804; • AIDS Library: 1233 Locust St.; • AIDS Treatment Fact line: 800-6626080 • Bebashi-Transition to Hope: 1235

Spring Garden St.; 215769-3561; • COLOURS:, 215832-0100 • Congreso de Latinos Unidos; 216 W. Somerset St.; 215-7638870 • GALAEI: 149 W. Susquehanna Ave.; 267-457-3912, galaei. org. Spanish/English • Health Center No. 2: 1720 S. Broad St.; 215-685-1821

• Mazzoni Center: 1348 Bainbridge St.; 215-563-0652, • Philadelphia FIGHT: 1233 Locust St.; 215-985-4448, • Washington West Project of Mazzoni Center: 1201 Locust St.; 215985-9206 • Transgender Health Action Coalition: 215-732-1207

Other • Independence Branch Library Barbara Gittings Gay and Lesbian Collection: 215-685-1633 • Independence Business Alliance; 215-557-0190,

• LGBT Peer Counseling Services: 215-732-TALK • PFLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Philadelphia): 215-572-1833 • Philly Pride Presents: 215-875-9288

MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LGBTQ-PLUS JUDGES VISIT THE LIBERTY BELL. The ongoing battle for LGBT parental BY MICHELE ZIPKIN rights as they relate to the marital status PGN Contributor of parents was a prominent topic this year at the Family Law Institute, one of several In its highest attendance to date, the venues of discussion among lawyers who Lavender Law Conference took place in practice in a particular area of law. Philadelphia for the first time since 2002. “Family law is different from state to Orchestrated by the LGBT Bar Association, state,” Palmer said. “There’s a lot of varithe conference is a three-day series of panel ability around the country on how parendiscussions, networking events and the larg- tal rights are determined. We’ve all been est minority career fair for LGBT-identified encouraging people to get second parent legal professionals across the country. adoptions, but we did have a lot of disPresentations ranged in subject matter, cussions around the different cases around from proper vocabulary for gender nonbi- the country where parental rights are chalnary and intersex lawyers, to reproductive lenged.” rights for LGBTQ people and even environSome of those cases in Pennsylvania mental law. involve same-sex married couples where The need for a cultural change in legal one spouse has given birth, and although settings was a common thread that pervaded the name of the other parent is on the child’s many of the panel discussions at this year’s birth certificate, the nonbiological parent conference. may find that, in the event of a divorce, their “Changing how we think about things, parental rights are challenged because they how we represent, for example transgender did not legally adopt their child. issues, pronouns, how to stand in solidarity,” “It’s so difficult right now when you have said James Vandermark, a bankruptcy and states that have completely opposite statutes tax lawyer and chair of the Gay and Lesbian and laws,” Palmer said. “In one state, surroLawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP.) “I gacy is legal and regulated by statute, and in think those were overarching themes in a another state it’s criminalized.” lot of the courses and the conversations at Palmer would like to see more states pass the conference.” the 2017 Uniform Parentage Act, “so that The issue of freedom of religion versus we can have more laws that include LGBT nondiscrimination laws also came up fre- families, same-sex married couples and proquently during the conference. tections for families who conceive through “It’s going to be chipping away, especially assisted reproductive technology,” she said. the employment nondiscrimination issues,” Palmer received the 2019 Leading said Amanda Dougherty, real estate tax Practitioner’s Award, honoring her as an lawyer and vice chair of GALLOP. “That’s attorney who has improved the lives in going to be something that’s impacted in the LGBTQ-plus community due to “outterms of how lawyers who practice in the standing” legal work. Her partner Lee area, how much work they have, and also in Carpenter, professor at Temple’s Beasley terms of any backlash that people face; law School of Law, spoke on a few panels, students coming out of law school are going including Advocating for LGBTQ-plus to be cognizant of where they’re practicing Issues in Law Schools. Gloria Melunis, because of the policies.” another Philadelphia lawyer recognized for As a lawyer practicing in the areas of her excellence, was included in the Best assisted reproductive technology, adoption LGBTQ-plus Lawyers Under 40. and family law litigation, Philadelphia judiBoth Palmer and Judge Daniel Anders cial candidate Tiffany Palmer is the director noted the panel Turning Crumbs into of the Family Law Institute as part of the Wedding Cake: What We Can Learn from the LGBT Bar Association and the National Historic Role of State Courts in Relationship Center for Lesbian Rights. Recognition, led by Nan PAGE 17


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

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LGBTQ Mental Health: The long road to wellness BY VICTORIA A. BROWNWORTH PGN Contributor Third in a three-part series on mental health “They say coming out is a continual process,” said Terence Nelson. “I guess I really didn’t expect I’d still be doing it at my age, but in a way, it gives me purpose — educating a whole new group of people about who is gay and what that means. Especially at this age.” Nelson was talking about coming out as gay in an assisted-living facility and as a person who lives with depression. At 77, In May of this year, Nelson moved into a Center City assisted-living facility “just in time for Pride month.” His partner of 22 years died two years ago and Nelson’s health has been “shaky” since. “I didn’t want to leave our home,” he said, “but it felt less and less like home without James in it.” Nelson began researching queer-friendly assisted-living facilities after James was diagnosed with cancer for the two of them, but then James died suddenly. In the initial months after his partner’s death, Nelson said it was comforting to be surrounded by memories, but then it became a source of pain. “I just kept seeing our life together,” Nelson said. “The one we no longer had. It felt like every day I was losing James all over again.” Nelson said depression and anxiety “began to take over each day.” He would go to an early mass at the church off Rittenhouse Square where he and James were parishioners and spend time with friends, “but then at home it was always the same. A kind of darkness I had never experienced before, and it scared me. I was beginning to feel suicidal.” Nelson decided he needed to be in an atmosphere with other older people “and be part of a regular community that was right there, that I could just wake up in the morning and it would be there, waiting for me.” He wanted to get back to living, “instead of feeling like death was inevitable and looming.” More importantly, he wanted to be somewhere that could provide him with treatment

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for depression. “ I needed to be somewhere I could get some therapy for what I was feeling and be around other people who had experienced it,” Nelson said, adding, “Now that I’m here, I feel like I am living again. It’s better for me to be here, surrounded by purpose and companions than to be home, thinking about all I had lost, rather than how much more there is left.” Teresa Theophano works with older adults at Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) as a clinical social worker. SAGE is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization dedicated to LGBT older adults and aging. Theophano said many LGBTQ people deal with the kind of feelings Nelson was having. “Depression, anxiety and social isolation are not uncommon among LGBT older adults,” Theophano explained. “But seeking services doesn’t always feel safe for the aging population.” Theophano said there is a focus on youth in LGBTQ mental health, particularly with regard to death by suicide. In May, she attended an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention conference on LGBTQ issues and “among the symposia, only one was on older adults. All of them were about youth.” According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the National Institutes of Health, the highest death by suicide rate in the U.S. is among men over 60, and the numbers increase with age. While older adults make up only 12 percent of the population, they represent 20 percent of those who die by suicide. Younger people may attempt suicide more often, but older adults plan their suicides more carefully and choose more deadly means, with nearly 90 percent using guns or suffocation. When New York City therapist Bob Bergeron died by suicide on New Year’s Eve in 2012, a dialogue began surrounding issues of aging and depression in the gay male community. Bergeron was handsome,

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accomplished, respected in his field and at the pinnacle of his career with a new self-help book on gay male aging soon to be published. His family was supportive of him as a gay man; he had an active social life, was at the gym every day working out and was known to friends as being “relentlessly cheerful.” When Bergeron didn’t show up for a series of appointments with his clients, alarms sounded. He was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. A suicide note and all his financial details were carefully arrayed for whomever found him. The New York Times wrote a detailed story about his death in March 2012, interviewing his friends, family, clients and publisher. The story, with numerous photos of a youthful-looking Bergeron, ran not in the news or even health section of the paper, but in the fashion and lifestyle section. Theophano explained, “While being out as LGBT and living with a mental health condition can be challenging at any age, elders who came of age in a repressive and oppressive social environment may be all the more reluctant to seek care.” She added, “This is exacerbated by the presence in their lives of family members, including caregivers, who may not be LGBT affirmative.” Affirmation remains fundamental to mental health, but accessing support and therapy often needed to address depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions is not simple for LGBTQ people. Mental health advocates assert that homophobia and transphobia can present daily cause for psychological trauma and exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Anna Kiesnowski is a licensed social worker and supervises the Gender-Affirming Services program at Mazzoni Center. Kiesnowski said, “LGBTQ mental health services in general and TGNCNB [transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary] services in particular are viewed as specialty care, and it’s really not.”

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She said the goal has to be to expand services everywhere to be inclusive and competent in care for LGBTQ people with mental health care needs. Services like those at Mazzoni need to be incorporated into all facilities and programs that address mental health, Kiesnowski said. Theophano agreed with this assessment, noting, “Providers have to be mindful of issues that come along with being older, or with youth, or with multiple marginalized identities, TGNCNB — anyone on that spectrum.” She said, “more people are coming out as TGNCNB” and “there is so much trauma embedded for queer people.” For older LGBTQ adults, Theophano said providers must “pay attention to what informs their experience. Threats of fear and intimidation can be lasting. It hasn’t been that long since people could be arrested just for not wearing the three articles of clothing ascribed to their gender.” Constant roadblocks make it hard for LGBTQ people to access mental health care, but work is being done to make it less arduous, said Kiesnowski. “Geography is a challenging barrier,” she said, noting that people often drive as many as eight hours to get to therapy appointments at Mazzoni because of the “dearth and scarcity of programs and services, particularly with regard to gender-affirming and queer-affirming care.” One of the things Mazzoni does, Kiesnowski explained, is “vouching and vetting outside referrals. Contacting therapists to check out their trans and queer competency.” She said, “finding trans-competent therapists” is especially challenging. “Trans- and queer-competency goes beyond knowing pronouns and the TGNCNB words. It means understanding the underlying trauma and being able to address that fully.” Kiesnowski sees programs like hers at Mazzoni as both innovative and modeling for others. “We can do this everywhere,” she said. “We really can create programs and train therapists to offer the kind of care everyone needs.” n Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of interviewees.

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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


from the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, firearms, explosives, profanity, secular music and videos, and immodest clothing, and refraining from practicing or condoning sexual activity outside of the relationship of marriage between a man and a woman.” The petition features screenshots of a conversation between Midwifery Today founder Jan Tritten and midwives from the region in a Facebook group for the conference. After group members inquired about the absence of LGBTQ speakers from the event’s lineup, Tritten responded, “Sorry all but in this venue we can’t. Though it is a secular conference our venue is in a Christian retreat center with guidelines that are opposed to this.” A group member replied, “Gotcha. Then we can’t be there. Sigh…,” and Tritten wrote, “Sorry. Perhaps another time. This is a very unusual venue for us but so reasonable in price and they give us so much.” In recent years, the midwifery profession has emphasized providing inclusive healthcare to marginalized communities, including queer people and folks of color. The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives offers free membership to people of color and LGBTQ individuals. The American College of Nurse Midwives previously released a statement supporting “efforts to provide transgender, transsexual and gender-variant individuals with access to safe, comprehensive, culturally competent health care,” citing that up to “one-fourth of gender-variant people avoid healthcare services due to concerns about discrimination and harassment.” At Rachlin’s West Philadelphia practice Refuge Midwifery, founded in 2017, midwives work with many LGBTQ-identifying patients and train other healthcare providers on evidenced-based reproductive care for trans patients. The petition states the upcoming conference does not reflect the profession’s inclusivity. “Choosing a venue with these policies send [sic] a clear message to LGBTQ midwives that we are not welcomed at Midwifery Today’s conference and that our voices do not matter (not to mention any midwife that has have had [sic] sex outside of heterosexual marriage or midwifed for parents that weren’t legally married, who also may be in violation of the venue’s morality clause),” it reads. Midwifery Today declined to comment to PGN, instead referring our reporter to the publication’s website. An event page on the magazine’s site previously read, “Jan is currently out of the office dealing with family issues. We did speak with representatives of the venue and all are welcome. We will post a statement next week,” but has been deleted since PGN’s screen capture on Thursday. Representatives of Camps Andrews did not respond to multiple requests for comment. “Discrimination is not the future of midwifery,” Rachlin told PGN. “Centering the needs of midwives of color, LGBTQ people and marginalized communities is what midwifery is about and also where midwifery is going.” n

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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Lehigh Valley Pride celebrates Stonewall, artistic queer roots

LEHIGH VALLEY PRIDE 2018 BY LAURA SMYTHE This weekend marks the 26th annual Lehigh Valley Pride festival, which features the theme “Millions of Moments of Pride” — mirroring this year’s WorldPride theme that commemorated Stonewall 50. The Allentown celebration, slated for Aug. 18 from 12-6 p.m. at the locale’s Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, is organized by the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. Crowds of about 5,000 are expected. “There’s just so many moments of Pride in so many communities since the Stonewall riots,” said Adrian Shanker, executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan Center. “We’re going to help everyone make more moments this year that they can be proud of.” For the first time in the festival’s history, in lieu of an opening ceremony, the celebration will kick off with a Pride rally that commemorates Stonewall and centers on “hot button issues” impacting the queer community, including immigrant and trans rights, LGBTQ nondiscrimination, the importance of registering to vote and protecting people from gun violence, Shanker added. “We’re excited that we’re using the 50th year of Stonewall to frame elements of what Pride has always meant to our festival in Allentown,” he told PGN. Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine and Shawn Bausher, former President of the organization Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley before it merged with Bradbury-Sullivan Center, will star as Pride grand marshals. Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong and Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell will join the festivities, and Congresswoman Susan Wild is scheduled to speak on stage. Lehigh Valley Pride will feature two stages for entertainment, expanding from previous years which used one. In addition to local artists, headliners include drag performers Silky Ganache and A’keria Davenport, from

Photo: Courtesy Adrian Shanker

season 11 RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Emma’s Revolution, a lesbian folk duo from California. “[Their] music is really about keeping justice in the world, and we’re also bringing them because it’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” Shanker said. “We wanted to highlight music as a form of protest.” More than 150 vendors, including local nonprofits, retailers and artists, will appear at the event. One percent of total revenue from the celebration goes to the Solidarity Fund at InterPride, an organization dedicated to facilitating Pride events around the world, including in countries with less progressive LGBTQ rights. The most unique aspect of Lehigh Valley Pride, Shanker said, is its emphasis on arts and culture. An “artist promenade” showcases the work of local LGBTQ visual artists. A live artmaking competition spanning the event’s six-hour duration features five artists painting refrigerators with unique designs, vying for the crowd-selected winning piece that will score the frontrunner a $500 prize. The family-friendly event also offers spaces for teens and youth. Activities for youngsters include two drag queen story hours throughout the day, and those younger than 12 years old gain free admission when accompanied by a parent. For Shanker, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s goal is to offer something at Pride for everyone. A sign language interpreter will be stationed at each stage throughout the day to aid accessibility, and the festival will offer a designated alcohol-free social space. “I hope that people take away that we can have a celebration of queer art and culture, and then, by doing so, we can celebrate what’s best about our community,” Shanker said. “That’s the things that make us unique as queer people: our history with drag, the unique musical forms in our community, the visual artists that provide representation of our community that sometimes isn’t always seen and that we can do so in a way that is fully inclusive of people with disabilities and older adults.” n


Philadelphia police to undergo increased LGBTQ competency training

Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

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Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) currently has immediate opening for advertising sales position available for an energetic, self-motivated individual with outstanding communication skills. MEMBERS OF THE PHILADEPHIA POLICE LGBT LIAISON COMMITTEE ATTEND AUG. 8 MEETING AT KENSINGTON STOREFRONT. Photo: Laura Smythe BY LAURA SMYTHE In 2020, every police officer in Philadelphia will receive LGBTQ competency training, Sergeant Nicholas Tees announced last week at a Philadelphia Police LGBT Liaison Committee meeting. While recruits and detention unit staff are already trained, the renewed effort will focus on educating in-service officers, including those who have been on the force for years, Tees said. The knowledge is important for both LGBTQ officers and those not yet out, as well as the city’s LGBTQ community, he added. “One of the things we recognize is that officers who have more time on, they may not have had the training the recruits have,” Tees told PGN. “So no matter what, if you just came out of the academy, or you have 25, 30 years on the job, you’re going to go through that training.” Gathered under the El subway line on Aug. 8 at Kensington Storefront, a public art-making space that organizes programs for those experiencing homeless, addiction or trauma addiction, the Philadephia Police LGBT Liaison Committee convened for the group’s monthly meeting. Members include representatives from Philly social service organizations like Prevention Point, the Department of Behavioral Health and disAbility Services and Philly Pride Presents. Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan serves as the police department’s LGBTQ liaison, supported by Inspector Altovise Love-Craighead and Tees, an out gay man. The department will meet with New York City officers to learn about LGBTQ competency training and use the information to help inform Philadelphia’s methods, Tees said. The Philadelphia Police LGBT Liaison

Committee, co-chaired by local activists BJ Jones and Deja Lynn Alverez, advises police on issues impacting Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community and provides support to queer people who want to bring crimes to police attention but may feel afraid to do so. The group played a role in developing the police policy directive governing officers’ interactions with trans and nonbinary individuals that was released this summer. About 15 percent of LGBTQ people have avoided calling the police because of fear of discrimination, according to a November 2017 report conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The likelihood of this more than doubles for LGBTQ people of color. More than one-quarter of queer people say they or an LGBTQ friend or family member has been unfairly stopped or treated by the police, the report continues. The LGBT Liaison Committee, which is in the process of developing a charter to govern the group’s proceedings, also printed resource cards listing emergency numbers for LGBTQ people in need of various services. Local organizations listed include the Philadelphia WOAR hotline, Mazzoni Center, the Attic LGBT Youth Center and the LGBTQ victim advocate at Center City Crimes Victim Services. The emergency numbers have been added to the police dispatch system, Tees said, in an effort to encourage police to connect members of the community calling for help with applicable resources. At the meeting, committee members also discussed the impact of the recent Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference and the ongoing functions of Operation Save Our City, an organization devoted to ending local gun violence. The next LGBT Liaison Committee meeting takes place Sept. 12. n

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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Bryn Mawr College named most LGBTQ-friendly in U.S. BY SUZANNAH CAVANAUGH PGN Contributor

“Regardless of how much validity you attribute to the Princeton Review’s methodology, this one-dimensional method of measuring inclusion is far from the complete picture,” said Fullerton. Fullerton, writing in 2017, disclosed that while Lehigh University has appeared on the LGBTQ-unfriendly list three years running, the ranking does not consider Lehigh’s institutional services, like gender-inclusive restrooms, and a “highly-trafficked” safe space for LGBTQ-plus students and allies, or the college’s efforts to improve. Krivitsky said Bryn Mawr’s ranking may not accurately represent trans students’ experiences.

When it comes to inclusivity on campus, Bryn Mawr College is the new number one. According to The Princeton Review’s annual ranking of college campuses, released this month, Bryn Mawr College, situated at the Western cap of Philadelphia’s Main Line, earned its spot at the top of LGBTQ-friendly schools in the United States. “I mean, I can’t say it’s surprising,” said Francesca Krivitsky, a recent graduate of the class of 2019. “People definitely have a view of Bryn Mawr as being very LGBTfrendly and that’s definitely something that I thought about when I was 18 and applying to schools.” The ranking, included in the Princeton Review’s “The Best 385 Colleges: 2020 Edition,” draws from the opinions of 140,000 students who attended the considered colleges during the 2018-19 school year. Krivitsky, who is gay, said she chose Bryn Mawr, in BRYN MAWR COLLEGE ENTRANCE “I don’t want to speak for others, but part, to find a like-minded community. “It was definitely the first time in my life I’ve seen other students, specifically trans I had so many gay friends, trans friends, students, because the article came out, which is unique. …It’s definitely a place saying this doesn’t super reflect me; I’ve where you feel somewhat safer to explore had negative experiences here. So, I think certain things and be more open just that’s definitely important to mention,” said because of how many students there are Krivitsky. “It’s not a gay paradise.” “I did hear people saying, ‘At the same around you who are also openly LGBT,” time, it is one of the places I did feel safe, said Krivitsky. The Princeton Review rates colleges by just because there were other students category, analyzing everything from “aca- around me that were going through the demics” to a school’s “social scene” through same things that I was,” added Krivitsky, voluntary student responses to 80 ques- referring to negative experiences. In an attempt to foster a more inclusive tions. Students formulate answers along scales — “strongly agree” to “strongly dis- campus, Bryn Mawr, a historic women’s college, expanded its admissions policy agree” or “excellent” to “poor.” Quality of life for LGBTQ students, a in 2015 to include all eligible applicants section that stamps outlying colleges as who identify as women, whether cis, trans, either LGBTQ-friendly or unfriendly, is intersex or those who do not identify determined by student answers to a sin- within the gender binary. gle statement: “Students treat all persons Bryn Mawr’s expensive LGBTQ proequally, regardless of their sexual orienta- gramming also includes Spectra Sexuality and Gender Education, a collaboration tion and gender identity/expression.” Essentially, the LGBTQ ranking is a between the student body and Pensby litmus test, a trait that’s been called into Center for Community Development and Inclusion focused on promoting a camquestion. In the article, “Deeply Flawed Ranking: pus-wide understanding of gender and sexThe Princeton Review ‘LGBTQ-Friendly uality as identities existing on a continuum. and Unfriendly List’ Does a Disservice to The university additionally offers a genProspective LGBTQ-plus Students,” writ- der and sexuality studies major, featuring ten for the website Campus Pride, Chelsea courses like “Gender and Science.” Fullerton, the Director of Pride Center for Bryn Mawr placed in two additional Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity categories of The Princeton Review’s at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, dis- 2020 Edition. The private liberal arts colputes the scope of the list’s ranking system, lege ranked number one for “Most Active especially considering the weight it’s given Student Government” and number two for by the media and prospective students. “Most Beautiful Campus.” n


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Advocacy group responds to NJ mayor’s condemnation of proposed statewide LGBTQ curriculum BY SUZANNAH CAVANAUGH PGN Contributor A South Jersey beach town has made national headlines — not for its pristine shoreline, but rather for its mayor’s controversial diatribe. Barnegat Township Mayor Alfonso Cirulli, a Republican, called on those attending a township committee meeting last week to demand the reversal of a state law mandating that public schools teach LGBTQ history. He then called the LGBTQ political movement “an affront to almighty God.” “The government has no right to teach our kids morality,” Cirulli said at the meeting, according to local media. “Now is the time for the righteous to stand up for their rights.” Public response was swift, if dismissive. Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, worked closely with Barnegat School District throughout the past year to implement transgender student guidance and equated Cirulli’s comments to idle talk. “The mayor doesn’t have any jurisdic-

tion over the curriculum and he’s really schools by January, with input from two just playing politics here, and we’re not Barnegat School District educators. The new curriculum, to be implereally interested in elevating his profile,” said Jon Oliviera, director of communi- mented in all New Jersey public middle and high schools, will cover the social, cations and membership at GSE. The advocacy group released a state- political and economic contributions of ment following Cirulli’s comments: LGBTQ people. In a 2017 National “You cannot opt out School Climate of LGBTQ-inclusive Survey, the Gay, curriculum just like Lesbian and Straight you cannot opt out of Education Network science or Black hisfound that schools with tory simply because inclusive curricula of ill-informed regularly experienced or close-minded lower rates of bullying, personal beliefs. harassment and intimiLGBTQ history is dation among students. a part of American Since 2011, Barnegat history, and to hide School District has or misrepresent who, enforced the Antihow, and why we are Bullying Bill of Rights here today means SCREENSHOT OF MAYOR Act, which requires students would oth- ALFONSO CIRULLI the adoption of harasserwise be learning ment- and bullying-prevention policies fiction.” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a that protect students from attacks on Democrat, signed the curriculum bill into their gender, sexual orientation, gender law in January, with the mandate to take identity and expression, among other effect in the 2020-21 school year. GSE factors. Given the school district’s track record plans to launch pilot programs in select

for inclusivity, said Oliviera, “we’re not surprised at all that the superintendent has committed to faithfully implementing the law.” In a letter posted Aug. 7 to the Barnegat School District’s website, Superintendent Dr. Brian Latwis assured constituents that he would act in the best interest of students and uphold state education guidelines. He added he would advocate for the individuality of each of his students and enforce an “inclusive educational program.” “At this time we have not been provided with specific direction on changes to implement. However, regardless of what we do, I want each of you to know that Barnegat Schools will do everything we can to navigate challenges and difficult situations with sensitivity to all members of the Barnegat family,” wrote Latwis. The law makes New Jersey only the second state in the nation to implement the LGBT-inclusive curriculum; California was the first. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a similar bill. Cirulli formerly served as an assistant school principal. n

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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Creep of the Week

D’Anne Witkowski

Candice Keller


Trans community mourns, bears the brunt of violence Fourteen Black trans women have been killed in the U.S. this year, including the most recent death of Pebbles LaDime in South Carolina on Aug. 4. This means all trans women who have been violently murdered in 2019 were Black. Locally, our community continues to mourn Tameka “Michelle” Washington, whose suspected murderer awaits trial. One trans man, Jordan Cofer, was among the nine victims killed by his sibling in the recent mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, meaning a total of 15 trans folks have died so far in 2019. Last year, at least 26 deaths of trans people due to fatal violence were tallied, and the majority of those killed were Black trans women — 80 percent. Violence against the trans community is not slowing down and those most affected are trans women of color. Not only are these women dealing with transphobia but also racism, classism and sexism. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found 38 percent of Black trans people live in poverty, compared to only 12 percent of the U.S. population and 29 percent of the trans population overall. Making matters worse, seeking aid from law enforcement is not always a safe option for Black trans women. In a 2015 survey, the National Center for Transgender Equality found that one in

five Black trans women reported being physically or sexually assaulted by a police officer, while one in three said police assumed they were engaging in sex work, simply by being in public. Even our community has begun using phrases such as “identity politics” and “oppression Olympics,” forgetting or ignoring statistical evidence that shows when a person sits at intersections of oppression, they— and in this case, she — is more affected by systemic inequity and failures. Trans folks have suffered at the hands of the Trump administration with policies banning them from the military and a May 22 proposal that would deny transgender people experiencing homelessness equal access to shelter, among others. While certain Trumpian policies affect the LGBTQ community at large, many are directed solely at the trans community, and some more specifically impacting trans folks experiencing poverty. Trans visibility and excellence is soaring in arts and media, such as with MJ Rodriguez’s recent win at the Imagen Awards — Best Actress for her role in “Pose.” But legislatively, at immigration detention camps and prisons alike, trans folks — specifically trans women of color — are still suffering at levels disproportionately greater than the rest of us. n

Back to back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, and by the time you read this, that list will probably have to be updated. Because mass shootings are basically an everyday occurrence in the United States. And we’re becoming dangerously numb to it all. And every time, people rush to blame something, anything other than guns. Video games and mental illness are popular. But Candice Keller, a Republican state representative from Ohio, has some other ideas. After the shooting in Dayton, she wasted no time pointing fingers. “After every mass shooting, the liberals start the blame game,” she wrote on Facebook. “Why not place the blame where it belongs?” Oooh, on guns? Or the rise of white supremacy and misogyny in American society coupled with guns, guns everywhere as far as the eye can see? Not quite. Keller, who is endorsed by the NRA, continued to list who and what is at fault, beginning with, “The breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage and drag queen advocates).” That is number one on her list. LGBTQ people. According to Keller, mass shootings are caused by families like mine. Mass shootings are the fault of transgender people and the allies who advocate for them. It is almost laughable, but Keller isn’t joking. The next thing on her list is “fatherlessness.” She really and truly sees two women married to each other as more threatening than guns, which are specifically designed for one purpose: to kill. I’m not saying that fatherlessness is never a problem. It most certainly is and a big reason is this country’s mass incarceration problem, which of course hits Black and Brown families especially hard due to racist policing practices. But I somehow doubt that’s what Keller is trying to get at. In fact, Keller includes “disrespect to law enforcement” to her list of shame, which she blames on Obama. She also blames “the relaxing of laws against criminals (open borders),” which of course means immigrants, stoners (“the acceptance of recreational marijuana”), and “professional athletes who hate our flag and National Anthem.” Oh, and not to mention “snowflakes who can’t accept a duly-elected President.” Granted, “duly-elected” is a stretch, but that aside, this president stokes hatred every single day trumpeting his own racism at rallies, on Twitter and in comments to reporters. There is absolutely a correlation between white supremacy and violence, and white supremacy is being championed at the highest levels of government. We have a racist president. He tells us every day.

And yet Republicans like Keller view Trump as if he were hand-selected by God. And the media, by and large, seem oblivious to the real threat Trump poses to American security. Thankfully, some people are more than willing to call him out; it’s just that these people are not Republicans who are sticking with their man, as awful as that man is in every way. Reporters asked Beto O’Rourke, who is running to be the Democratic nominee for president, about how Trump could make things better post-shootings. “You know the shit that he’s been saying,” O’Rourke responded. “I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the f---?” Yes, what the f---, indeed. Trump loves to rail against the media, but the fact is they’ve been normalizing him since day one. And he is not normal. Elizabeth Warren, who is also running to be the Democratic nominee for president, responded to Trump blaming mental illness by tweeting, “White supremacy is not a mental illness. We need to call it what it is: Domestic terrorism. And we need to call out Donald Trump for amplifying these deadly ideologies.” And they are deadly. Trump and the Republicans who support him have emboldened white supremacists whose very ideology is one of violence. You can’t, after all, make America a country where only white people are welcome without violence. The very idea that white lives are more important than Black or Brown lives is dehumanizing. And once people are dehumanized, violence is that much easier to justify. “Did I forget anybody?” Keller ends her Facebook post. “The list is long. And the fury will continue.” It sounds like a threat. And it is. As long as Trump is president, as long as people who don’t see LGBTQ people as human are writing laws, as long as racists are running the country, the fury has only just begun. In America we are at war with ourselves. And we can’t seem to decide what is worth more: people’s lives or people’s guns. So, if you’re feeling helplessness in the face of so much ugliness and violence, replace it with fury and direct that fury toward the ballot box. We must elect people who value live people over live rounds. All of our lives depend on it. n D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Wishes granted A very well deserved congratulations to the William Way LGBT Community Center for securing a $1 million grant from the state of Pennsylvania that will allow for an upgrade to the building that has been patched up since the community first purchased it way back in 1997. It’s a new phase and a new start for the center. Wiliam Way has had


Mark My Words Mark Segal

many new beginnings and helping hands since purchasing the current building. First, construction was achieved thanks to a $300,000 grant from Congressman Tom Foglietta. Then, funds to finance an elevator amounted to about $450,000 by my count. Government grants are an important part of any civic project, and, like other communities, we deserve

to have our civic projects funded. It’s called economic equality, something the Independence Business Alliance knows all about. The John C. Anderson Apartments — LGBTfriendly affordable senior housing — would only be a pipe dream if it were not for government funds. Still, it’s a crowded and competitive field out there and hard to secure funding, which means William Way should be congratulated for winning. In every effort, there has to be a cheerleader who believes and over-

comes obstacles, who perseveres through challenges. In this case, it is WWCC’s Executive Director Chris Bartlett. He steered the ship through rough waters and always maintained his demeanor. He shows true leadership and vision. Now it is time for the community to come forward because this is only phase one. Much more is necessary for us to achieve Bartlett’s vision of a building that not only operates and functions but also is the heart of the community. Now is your opportunity to get involved. n

Gwendolyn Ann Smith

A battle won, but the war rages on Gavin Grimm, at long last, has won his case. When Grimm was in his second year at Gloucester High School in Virginia, he came out as a trans boy. As soon as he opted to use the boys’ restroom, the Gloucester County School Board decided to require all changing rooms and bathrooms “be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility.” Grimm refused to use the girls’ restroom, as well as a broom closet that had been juryrigged into a restroom. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, Grimm sued the school under Title IX. For the uninitiated, Title IX is part of the Education Amendments of 1972, a followup to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As written, Title IX is as simple as it was groundbreaking: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama administration issued guidance clarifying that transgender students were protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX, and that trans students needed to be treated in a way consistent with their gender identity when it came to their time in school. This, of course, led to a lot of the arguments targeting trans students and helped

elevate right-wing attacks on transgender rights. In addition, the DOE, under the Trump administration, has been eroding 2010 protections. Last year, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declared Title IX doesn’t give trans students access to restrooms aligned with their gender identity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been trying to go a step further, declaring that sex is determined at birth and, in effect, halting recognition of transgender people’s gender identity on a far wider scale. Grimm’s case has gone back and forth. Initially dismissed by Judge Robert G. Doumar, who also declared that being transgender is a “mental disorder,” the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Doumar’s ruling and sent the case back to district court. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually stayed the Fourth Circuit and even decided to take up the case — but changed its stance in early 2017, citing DeVos’ new position on trans students and Title IX. The Gloucester County School Board eventually sought to dismiss the case, which was denied by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen. She also declared that, in spite of the DOE and SCOTUS, Grimm had a valid claim under Title IX. Last week, with Grimm requesting a summary judgment, Allen awarded him fees, expenses and a token dollar for damages. More importantly, Allen issued a permanent injunction that requires the school board

to update Grimm’s transcripts to reflect his gender identity. This is a very big deal. Even in the era of President Donald Trump and his rabidly conservative administration doing all they can to strip away the rights of transgender people and other populations, we have at least one solid victory. This is the second win in recent weeks, if you recall: I also wrote about the obliteration of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 with a victory in Carcaño v. Cooper, all but sticking a fork in the anti-transgender “bathroom bill” that ended Gov. Pat McCrory’s career and cost the Tar Heel State roughly $400 million in jobs and investments. Yet while we can and should celebrate these victories, we also cannot be complacent. The next battle is on the horizon. On Oct. 8, SCOTUS will hear three related cases that could devastate LGBTQ rights for decades to come, quickly quashing any joy we might feel in the wake of Grimm’s win. The contention in Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC is that Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who sought to transition on the job and subsequently was fired, was discriminated against on the basis of her sex and that terminating her violated Title VII. Title VII, in short, does for employment rights what title IX does in schools. If lost, this case, coupled with Zarda v. Altitude Express and Bostock v. Clayton County — both of which are tied to sexual-orientation discrimination as a form of

sex discrimination under Title VII — could effectively strip LGBTQ people of any hope for federal protections. And the current makeup of the SCOTUS bench should frighten us. All of this comes at a time when transgender people have largely been stripped of being able to serve in the military, based on the flimsiest of arguments — and yet accepted by this Supreme Court. DeVos and the DOE are also taking another stab at things, with their Office of Civil Rights looking into Connecticut’s treatment of transgender athletes, claiming quite the opposite of the Obama administration by using Title IX to claim cisgender girls are facing sex discrimination if transgender girls are allowed to compete with them. The Trump administration, with the support of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been busy installing very-conservative federal judges across the country. As their numbers swell, it is highly likely we will see more and more challenges against our rights — some of which, in this climate, we are likely to lose. This is why we need to be ready to fight for new leadership for 2020. So, while Gavin Grimm won his battle — and may have helped protect every other transgender student — the war is far from over. n Gwen Smith encourages you to support the ACLU and be ready to vote next year. You’ll find her at

Tell us what you think Send letters and opinion column submissions to:; PGN, 505 S. Fourth St., Philadelphia, PA 19147; fax: 215-925-6437.

Please include a daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, style and space con­sid­er­ations.


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Sweden offers direction on gender-inclusive child rearing BY LAURA SMYTHE Special assignment: PGN went to Stockholm for Pride and to learn about LGBTQ issues in Sweden. After Marie Tomičić separated from her son’s father, the two made a typical Swedish parenting decision: joint custody, cycling the child between each household every other week. But Tomičić ran into trouble when reading children’s books with her offspring. The only ones she could find featured a mom, dad and child living together under one roof. “I just hated to read to him because the thing is, when you read, it’s like you mirror. When you never see yourself in those books, it does something to you because you’re not included in the world,” Tomičićsaid. “Something tells you your way of living is ‘outside,’ it’s not the normal way.” Tomičić was inspired to launch Olika Publishing, a company that produces children’s books full of gender-neutral and inclusive characters that challenge gender norms. Created in 2007, Olika, which means “different” in Swedish, has released 150 children’s books for kids up to age 12. The company aims to normalize characters that are LGBTQ, gender nonconforming or otherwise defying gender stereotypes by integrating them into its books without focusing the stories on their identities, Tomičić said. In one book, “Kivi & the Monster Dog” the main character uses the gender-neutral Swedish pronoun “hen,” but the story focuses on a child adopting a dog for her birthday. Another, “We Wash the Car,” follows a family with lesbian parents washing their car, but the story doesn’t focus on the LGBTQ relationship. “We have two moms washing the car together with this kid, but it doesn’t say anywhere that this is a book about two moms. It’s just a book about washing the car,” Tomičić said. “We normalize. We try to make the norm bigger so that what is previously seen as ‘different’ and ‘outside’ can come into the norms.” Girl characters in literature and films are often portrayed as passive, emotional and careful, with reactions described as “upset,” “sad” or “torn apart,” Tomičić added. They are often seen playing at home and following rules. Alternatively, boy characters are written as active, strong and courageous, get “angry,” “irritated” or “frustrated” and are viewed as adventurous and playing outside. When Olika started, studies of Swedish literature showed 70 percent of characters followed these traditional gender norms,

MARIE TOMICIC FOUNDED OLIKA PUBLISHING, A SWEDISH CHILDREN’S BOOK COMPANY CHALLENGING GENDER NORMS AND QUEER REPRESENTATION. according to Tomičić. Since then, the numbers have dropped to a 50-50 split in children’s books. Olika isn’t alone in Swedish efforts aimed at child-rearing in a more gender-inclusive and identity-accepting way than other countries. Stockholm resident Linda Wainwright Höckerfelt is a member of Proud Parents of LGBTQ People, an organization that supports parents and youth through the coming out process. Wainwright Höckerfelt’s 22-year-old son told her he was gay when he was 15. “People put their kids in the closet,” she said. ”If you’re more open minded from the beginning, then they don’t have to come out. It’s, in general, more awareness of the community [in Sweden].” Sweden’s first gender-neutral and inclusive preschool, Egalia, opened in 2010. Other schools followed suit, including many government-funded institutions. Teachers avoid using gendered pronouns, instead opting for “hen.” Offered books don’t contain gender stereotypes, and children are encouraged to pick any toy desired. In a 2017 Global Early Adolescent Study, researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found gender stereotypes are typically established in adolescents across the globe by age 14. These norms result in consequences for girls including leaving school early, depression and increased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, it indicates. In Sweden, parents and teachers work to raise kids “more like human beings,” Wainwright Höckerfelt said. When her son was young, he wanted a stroller. So she bought him one. He put his toy cars in it and pushed it around. PAGE 20


News Analysis

Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

Victoria A. Brownworth

Dayton shooter’s sibling continues to be misgendered by media In the days following the Dayton, Ohio mass shooting on August 4, many news outlets said that among the victims of shooter Connor Betts, 24, was his sibling, identified in reports as Betts’ sister, Megan Betts, 22, allegedly the first victim in the shooting. A statement to media from a spokesperson for the family read in part, “They ask that everyone respect the family’s privacy in order to mourn the loss of their son and daughter and to process the horror of [these] events.” But Betts’ sibling was a trans man named Jordan Cofer, who was out to friends and on his college campus at nearby Wright State University. Cofer’s social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr all show Cofer living his life as a young man. This makes headlines like the USA Today story “Dayton shooting: Gunman killed his sister but was the ‘sororicide’ intentional?” harder for those who knew and loved Cofer for who he was. Several of Cofer’s friends reached out to media in the days after his death to explain Cofer’s identity. On Aug. 7, Cofer’s friend Elizabeth Blackburn wrote a piece about him for Medium, noting, “Jordan’s brother, Connor Betts, robbed him of the opportunity to be remembered as he lived. As he wrote on his Tumblr bio, he was a trans man with ‘a loving heart and way too much work to do.’” Blackburn said, “Today Jordan is incorrectly memorialized in countless news stories featuring high school prom photos taken from his mother’s Facebook page. His name was Jordan, and he was studying earth and environmental sciences and sang in the school chorus.” On August 8, HRC wrote about Cofer, quoting an unnamed friend of Cofer’s who said, “He identified with he/him pronouns to people he trusted and knew would support him. Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint. He tried to give the best to everyone.” Yahoo News was the first mainstream outlet to publish an account of Cofer’s identity Aug. 8, but the story was run in the lifestyle section, rather than in news. Gillian Branstetter, Media Relations Manager for the National Center for Transgender Equality explained to PGN that misrepresentation of trans persons is all too common in the media. She said, “Using the right name and gender of a transgender person is crucial in life or in death. Doing otherwise not only negates a personal and crucial aspect of their identity but can effectively erase their existence as a

transgender person.” Still on August 13, ABC led its World News Tonight national news broadcast with a story about Connor Betts and his sibling. Both the reporter and anchor David Muir referred repeatedly to Betts’ “sister, Megan” with numerous photos that did not depict Cofer’s gender identity. Branstetter said it’s incumbent upon journalists to thoroughly check identities. “Transgender people are not always out to everyone involved in their life or connected to them personally,” she explained, “making questions like these very common ones to ask after the death of a transgender person — no matter how that person died. Transgender murder victims are often first identified on social media which, after all, is content created by that person, often with their photo and identity plain to see.” Because so many trans people are rejected by their families and 1 in 10 has experienced violence from a family member because of their gender identity, Branstetter said reporters and news media should be aware and “reports from friends and community members should be given significant weight by journalists and advocates, particularly when such reports conflict with names being used on official documentation or in police reports.” HRC noted that Cofer’s murder is “the 14th known case in which violence took the life of a transgender person in 2019.” HRC stated that Cofer’s death “is a tragic reminder that ending the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S. is integral to the fight for LGBTQ equality. When our communities are targeted — from schools and nightclubs to movie theaters and shopping malls — LGBTQ people, millions of whom live in communities across this nation, are also at risk.” Honoring transgender victims in death is integral to affirming trans lives, Branstetter asserted. “As transgender people, our identities are put into question throughout our lives, making it all the more important we respect the dignity and self-determination of those lost to violence,” she said. Cofer’s friend Blackburn said, “The dead deserve to be recognized for who they were in life. Far too often when a young LGBTQ person dies, they are not afforded the dignity of an accurate public record. “The duty to tell their truth falls to their lovers, friends and confidantes. Thankfully, Jordan was much loved.” n

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The ongoing fight for LGBTQ equality In a time when equality for the LGBTQ- marriage in our country,” Rep. Chu said in a statement. plus community is a distant dream, a few The PRIDE Act also gives a facelift U.S. lawmakers are pushing legislation to the long-outdated tax code written to that aims to prove America is willing to represent all American families. The act fight not only for LGBTQ equality but changes the wording of the law, eliminatalso for LGBTQ lives around the world. ing words like “husband” and “wife” and The introduction of two new bills — Promoting Respect for Individuals Dignity replacing them with more inclusive language like “spouse”, “they” and “married and Equality Act (“PRIDE Act”), which couple.” This simple change acknowledges would act as a form of reparations for same-sex couples, making them part of the the financial harm unjust tax laws caused rule instead of the exception. prior to marriage equality and The bill, which was passed Greater Leadership Overseas unanimously by the House of for the Benefit of Equality Act Representatives, now heads (“GLOBE Act”), which would to the Republican-led Senate. protect LGBTQ individuals Speaker of the House Nancy from discrimination internationPelosi urged the Senate to pass ally — look to bring the U.S. the bill quickly: “Advancing the and the world closer to equality PRIDE Act is a critical step in for LGBTQ individuals. bringing our nation closer to The American family is fulfilling its founding promise changing. The U.S. tax code that all are created equal. As has long given married couwe celebrate this important ples tax breaks, incentive to success, House Democrats will file taxes jointly and the right to drive progress for to keep a little more of their Angela continue all Americans, making clear hard-earned money. But with Giampolo that liberty, justice and equality the passing of the Defense of are America’s guiding princiMarriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, ples — not bigotry or discrimination.” the federal government legally defined The PRIDE Act follows another marriage as “a union between one man and pro-equality bill introduced late last year. one woman as husband and wife,” leaving The GLOBE Act seeks to put the U.S. at same-sex couples not only paying more in the forefront of the fight against discrimtaxes every year but also concretizing in law that their unions and families were not ination on a larger level by protecting LGBTQ individuals from intolerance and recognized as true marriages and families. violence and punishing those responsible Since the repeal of DOMA and the for it around the world. legalization of same-sex marriage, sameIntroduced by Rep. Dina Titus of sex couples have enjoyed equal treatment Nevada, the GLOBE Act would protect under the U.S. tax code but what about all individuals who are victims of unjust treatthose years we paid much more than our ment and cruelty because of their sexual heterosexual counterparts? When we won marriage equality, the IRS allowed married orientation and punish those who inflict such atrocities. This includes ensuring couples to jointly file taxes retroactively victims have access to asylum and refugee for up to three years where they had preprograms and imposing sanctions on those viously filed as individuals. However, the responsible for acts of hate. Joint Committee on Taxation estimates In a time wheb being gay is punishthat same-sex couples who were married able by the death penalty in several counin the 10 states prior to federal recognitries and LGBTQQ activists are hunted tion were unable to claim approximately and murdered, some in the U.S. are tak$67 million in tax refunds charged for ing a stand. According to the chair of which they were ineligible due to unjust the Council for Global Equality Mark tax laws. Sixty-seven million dollars only Bromley, the GLOBE Act “[a]ffirms that captures the harm suffered by people in countries that persecute their LGBTQI citthe 10 states recognizing marriage equalizens share neither our values nor the comity prior to federal recognition; I wonder mitment to democratic principles that is in what would the amount would be if they our country’s strategic interests…” were able to calculate the tax refunds For far too long and in far too many not collected in the other 40 states where ways, the U.S. has failed to protect the marriage equality was not legal, like the rights of LGBTQQ people at home and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? abroad, under the Trump Administration. The PRIDE Act aims to right this This bill, in relevant part, will include the wrong. The act, introduced by California following in an effort to reverse the impact Rep. Judy Chu and Michigan Rep. Andy the Trump Administration has had on our Levin, would give same-sex couples the right to refile previous years’ taxes and lay rights: • Permanent creation of a special envoy claim to moneys that they were forced to for LGBTQ human rights at the U.S. pay because their marriages were not recState Department; ognized by the U.S. government. “This • Establishment of an interagency group bill corrects injustices in our laws that failed to recognize the reality of same-sex within the U.S. govPAGE 20

Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

How do you measure a year? At 6:36 p.m. Aug. 7, 2018, Jackson the entire room. It was surreal and a Anthony Colletta burst moment neither of us will his way into the world. ever forget. He was screaming, covAt 6:36 p.m. Aug. ered in gook and perfect. 7, 2019, Ashlee and I were While Ashlee lay on straddling Jackson’s head the operating table with and legs on the living room who knows what going floor, singing “Happy on under the blue sheet Birthday” frantically at the that covered her from the top of our lungs, trying in neck down, we gave him vain to distract him from his first kisses, cried and his daily goal of putting tried awkwardly to figure his hands in his dirty diaout the best way to hold a per as we change him. His newborn, simultaneously 22-pound self had just gotterrified of how tiny his ten home from having a 5-pound, 4-ounce body birthday dinner comprised Jen Colletta seemingly of his entire seemed — all while marveling that someone so weight in mac and cheese small could command the attention of and ice cream. Though not so small

Family Forward

anymore, he still commanded the room — in yet another moment neither of us will forget. While Jackson changed immensely between his day of birth and his first birthday, Ashlee and I did as well — both as parents and as people. Looking back on the seemingly mundane moments that collectively fueled those transformations has shown me there are countless ways to measure a year: … in numbers One way to get a broad picture of the past 12 months is by crunching some numbers. Here are some stats on Jackson’s first year: • 2,555 diapers used ($843.15) • 2,190 bottles of formula eaten

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($1,690) • five different variations of formula tried • 10 clothing sizes grown out of • 16 pounds, 12 ounces gained • nine inches grown • eight teeth broken through • 2,533 photos taken … in awkward conversations In reality, there should be few differences between the parenting experiences of LGBTQ and other types of parents. However, the former likely has to contend with frequent awkward conversations, which we’ve certainly racked up in Jackson’s first year. We’ve lost count of the number of “Who’s the mother?” lines we’ve gotten when out together as a family — most strangers have sheepishly apologized when we answer “both,” though we have gotten a few responses that make it clear the well wisher isn’t on board with our parenting setup. Even our own family and friends have gotten tripped up; at least three times, people close to us have asked what color eyes I have or what color hair I had as a baby, to compare to Jackson’s. I take those laughable moments as a great sign that our loved ones see us equally as his parents. PAGE 17

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… in milestones In the last couple of weeks, Ashlee and I have looked back on the photos and videos from this past year with awe. With just a few clicks, we can see him grow from a wriggling, skin-andbones infant who slept 23 hours a day to a chunky, boisterous toddler running (literally and figuratively) all over our house. Each step on that journey was punctuated by a milestone that we both eagerly anticipated, and later bittersweetly wished we could take back. From his first smile in October to his first laugh on Thanksgiving, those moments marked a real turning point, when our boy started to learn how to express himself and connect with us. When he started Army crawling this spring, we urged him on, laying next to him on the floor and, practically overnight, he picked it up and went zooming from one end of the house to the other — necessitating us digging out the baby gates we got for our shower. The same went with walking, which he started doing last month. After a few nights of standing more steadily on his own, he took his first hesitant step one night and, within a week, was strolling by himself across the floor. As he reached each milestone, it changed his routine. In the early days, he woke up every hour or less throughout the night and would only go back to sleep if he was held; once he got the hang of self-soothing in his own crib, he started sleeping for 11 solid hours, awakening (usually with a song) around 6 a.m. As a brand-new infant, he would often nap six or seven times a day; now, we’re lucky if we get one. With each step of his eating evolution, we were often hopeless, as he’d dramatically gag and cough any time a piece of solid food touched his tongue. Now, he can wolf down an adult-size portion of pasta and still be hungry for seconds. LAVENDAR LAW from page 2

Hunter, Bennett Klein, Beth Robinson and Matthew Skinner. “It traced the recognition of LGBT rights from crumbs, meaning minor things like domestic partner benefits to marriage equality,” Anders said. Robinson was one of the lawyers responsible for obtaining recognition of the first civil unions in the U.S., which at the time occurred in the state of Vermont. “It kind of went full circle with her from an advocate to an arbitrator,” Anders said. At this year’s “Gayla,” which was very well attended, members of GALLOP and co-organizers displayed mementos from the last time the conference took place in Philadelphia in 2002 — like an enlarged conference program showing committee-meeting minutes from when GALLOP was in charge of planning the conference, and a newsletter announcing the very first LGBT Bar career fair. At the time, Palmer,

Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

… in personality We started to get hints that Jackson might be a tad more cautious and anxious than other little ones his age when he was a few months old. We noticed he was cranky around crowds, prone to screaming at loud noises, and he started being much more decisive about who he would allow to hold him. Yet at home on his living room rug with his moms and his toys, he’s

As he gets more comfortable in his skin and his skills, we’re also seeing he has a mischievous side. The other night, he was laying in my lap before bed, sat up and swept everything off a side table with his arm and cackled; then, he reached for the only remaining item — a large glass of water — and, as I scrambled to stop him, turned and poured it on me, laughing himself sick. It wasn’t amusing in

on fire — singing, dancing and laughing. Seems we could have an introvert! Though like other characteristics, that may be prone to changing. When Jackson was about six months old and began getting more mobile, he started off cautious — he’d peer over the edge of the couch and then crawl back or hold onto the furniture for dear life before even thinking about trying to pull himself up. Now, however, he crawls about 100 miles per hour, leading with his head and ramming into anything in his way and has tried multiple times to head dive off high surfaces.

the moment, but the difference between that devilish and highly aware version of Jackson and the little peanut we brought home is eye opening, and a bit funny.


… in confidence Just as Jackson’s confidence has flourished, so has ours — and, in turn, so has our level of chill. In the beginning, everything was new and we were terrified of messing up, while competing advice only complicated matters. The less novel everything became and the more we could see for ourselves that

we were able to get Jackson from Point A to Point B healthy and happy, the less stressed we became about possible challenges. Early on, we were terrified to even hold him, or to wrap his blanket too tightly. The other day, he tumbled headfirst off the couch with a thud, and we just nodded in his direction to confirm he was OK before he went speed crawling away. An outside walk used to involve 20 minutes of prep time — layering his clothes, wrapping him in layers of blankets, packing a variety of toys. Recently, when I was pushing him in his stroller, a passing driver asked for directions and commented on how beautiful the baby is — little did he know, Jackson wasn’t wearing pants and had Cheerios stuck to his knee. Times have changed! I also grew more secure with my own capacity to connect with Jackson. When he was born, I barely knew how to hold a baby, let alone to soothe him or make him laugh. However, the more I’ve gotten to know him, that apprehension has evaporated. Even though he can’t talk yet, he’s quite adept at conveying what he’s feeling, what he wants and what he likes and dislikes. I’ve learned he waves his hands in the air when he’s done eating and turns around and puts his arm out when he wants you to follow him. He loves the song “Wheels on the Bus” (and I’ve made up more nonsense lyrics than I can count to keep a smile on his face) and any type of random and exaggerated motion, prompting countless dance parties that more than once have been spotted by neighbors. Looking back on Jackson’s first year has seemed like watching a film in fast-forward — with each of the memories we made unwittingly shaping him into the toddler he is today. At the end of the reel, we have a strong, smart and happy boy and a love neither Ashlee nor I knew was possible — which, in the end, may be all you really need to measure to know you’re on the right track. n

Carpenter, David Rosenblum and Cletus ference, it was such a stark change since Lyman were on the planning committee. 2002,” Vandermark said. “The Philly presence was strong for Like the LavLaw conference, the sure,” Dougherty said. International Association of LGBTQ-plus Some of these keepsakes served as Judges, which took place in conjunction reminders of with LavLaw how the conthis year and of which Anders ference has is president, expanded in the last 17 experienced an years. One unprecedented of the docnumber of uments indiattendees. Over cated that 50 judges were 30 recruiters in Philadelphia attended the for the conferconference ence and the in 2002, annual meetand now the ing of judges. conference Membership has over 200 LAVENDER LAW GAYLA Photo: Gallop Facebook increased fourrecruiters. fold since “Just the dramatic growth of the con- Anders became president two years ago.

“Whenever you have more engagement, it leads to better results,” Anders said. At the Judicial Education Institute, which consists of “judges teaching judges,” Anders explained, Judge Mike Jacobs, the only openly bisexual judge in the world, led a discussion about transgender, nonbinary and bisexual-identified people as related to proper pronoun use, and various legal matters that may come up surrounding those identities. In addition to legal education and discussion, members of the association also enjoyed a couple of cultural outings, including a tour of Independence Hall. “We left feeling energized,” Anders said. “Particularly there were two judges who want to expand our judicial education not only for us, but also contact the state courts across the country and say, ‘Here’s programs we’ve done, you might find them helpful to your own judges in your state.’” n


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


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International France ponders giving lesbians, single women access to IVF Single women and lesbians in France won’t have to go abroad to have children anymore under a proposed new law that would give them access to medically-assisted reproduction for the first time. French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has presented a draft law on bioethics that includes expanding the eligibility for treatments such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, or IVF. French law currently restricts assisted reproduction to infertile heterosexual couples. The assisted reproduction bill is sure to prompt strong debate next month in parliament, where Macron’s centrist party has a majority. It comes five years after mass protests against same-sex marriage in France, which was legalized, and as Macron’s popularity has slipped due to yellow-vest protests

over his economic plans. With the proposed bill, the French national health care system would cover the cost of assisted reproduction for all women, under an age limit yet to be set, for four rounds of treatments for each pregnancy. The bill also allows sperm donor anonymity to be lifted on demand by donors’ children when they reach 18, instead of the strict donor anonymity that now exists in France. The proposed law would not lift the French ban on surrogacy. The law would keep babies and mothers from running afoul of the French legal system and give them access to the country’s generous health care system. The changes were a key demand of French LGBT rights groups after France legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

uality is transferred to unborn children if a pregnant woman has anal sex, a comment that has no basis in science. Prodromou said the bishop’s remarks “insult the dignity and injures the reputation” of many citizens and should be retracted. He said Cyprus’ human rights commissioner also considers the remarks discriminatory. The bishop was speaking at a June lecture, citing what he said were an Orthodox saint’s views about homosexuality.

Cyprus criticizes Orthodox bishop for insulting gays

Tens of thousands of spectators lined an Amsterdam canal to watch a parade of decorated boats during the Dutch capital’s LGBT Pride festival. Organizers said 80 boats officially took part in the canal parade on Aug. 3, including ones representing Dutch police, the military and an undertakers’ organization. Ahead of next years’ summer Olympics in Japan, a vessel representing Tokyo’s LGBT community participated, too. The annual parade was the highlight of Pride Amsterdam, which ended Aug. 4. The theme of this year’s nine-day festival was “Remember the past, create the future.”

An official said the Cyprus government is “greatly troubled and dismayed” by an Orthodox Christian bishop’s comments on homosexuality, which he said needlessly stirred up social tensions on the Mediterranean island nation. Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said July 30 that Morphou Bishop Neophytos’ remarks clash with Cyprus’ laws protecting the rights of all its citizens. The bishop claimed that homosex-

town, Fäller said. The Regnbågen apartthe average apartment rental in Stockholm ments fill the top three stories of the eightcosts upwards of 1,163 euros or $1,300, floor building, which is part of a complex per a quarterly survey by property rental containing other units for elderly people ages 65 and older, as well as a nursing site Qasa. Regnbågen was funded by Micasa home. Also in the Regnbågen building is a Fastigheter, a property managing company owned by the Stockholm City Council that library, gym, cafe, hair salon, garden and is oriented toward providing housing and roof terrace, where project tenants regularly host social care for seniors. activities, like Fäller’s vision for barbeques. the project stemmed “Some of the from his work as tenants which a supervisor at have been living Stockholm’s Garden quite a lonely life of the Senses, a therand a little bit apeutic greenscape separate, and the for the elderly and tenants here come people with disabilfrom different ities. parts of Sweden, “I thought, well, they have got new I really want to do friends, a sort of something for this new life,” Fäller elderly group, for told PGN. “They the group that I myself belong to,” A 484-SQUARE-FOOT REGNBÅGEN travel together Fäller said. “So…I APARTMENT COSTS TENANTS 670 and they have lunch together, started to think EUROS PER MONTH. and it’s really about what happens when you have no family, and I thought, been socializing, very much in a very, very positive way.” what can I do?” On an average day, tenants are seen It took Fäller a few years to get his plans moving and for Regnbågen’s location to walking their dogs or shopping together. If become available, but the building was a person isn’t noticed out and about in the complex for a day or two, Fäller is the first worth the wait. The spot in Stockholm’s Ladugårdsgärdet to receive calls from concerned neighbors, neighborhood is ideal for the project prompting a neighborly check-in. “That kind of caring for one another, you because of its proximity to the city’s downSTOCKHOLM from page 1

Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

LGBT pride parade in Amsterdam features boats as floats


Like pride events around the world this summer, the Amsterdam event came 50 years after a police raid of a gay bar in New York, the Stonewall Inn, set off riots and catalyzed the modern gay rights movement.

Lebanon music festival cancels show after Christian pressure Organizers of a multi-day Lebanese music festival said they are cancelling a planned concert by a popular Mideast rock band whose lead singer is openly gay. The move comes following calls by some Christian groups for the performance to be scrapped, calling the band’s songs an insult to Christianity. The concert by Mashrou’ Leila has been at the center of a heated debate about freedom of expression after church leaders set off a storm of indignation. The calls were followed by online threats suggesting that the concert would be stopped by force. The group was scheduled to perform in the coastal city of Byblos on Aug. 9. The organizers issued a statement July 30 that said they were forced to stop the show “to prevent bloodshed and safeguard peace and stability.” n

can last a little bit longer singlehanded,” Similarly, 34 percent of LGBT older Fäller said. adults fear re-closeting themselves when Regnbågen was among the first of seeking senior housing, SAGE found. Half a growing number of homes for older of the national LGBT population lives in LGBTQ adults opening around the world. states without laws prohibiting housing Philadelphia’s own John C. Anderson discrimination against them. Apartments, a living community for In Stockholm, the “Rainbow House” LGBTQ adults ages 62 and up, opened in offers a uniquely accepting abode for 2014. elderly people who in their lifetimes expeThe Philly location occupies six floors rienced being “classified as criminal and and offers 56 sick,” Fäller said, one-bedroom units as well as marstarting at $637, ginalized groups each with overwithin the LGBTQ sized windows. population in The building also Sweden, like trans includes a collecfolks. tion of LGBTQ art, “Their history a community garmakes it more den and luxury finimportant for them ishes. to find a safe haven Similar housing like this,” Fäller situations exist in said. “And really, other states includthey are doing that. ing New York, I can see it with M a s s a c h u s e t t s , CHRISTER FÄLLER, REGNBÅGEN FOUNDER my own eyes and California, Florida I feel very pleased and Oregon. British organizations are seek- and happy for them.” ing a London location at which to open the For Jansson, the sense of community country’s first LGBTQ elderly home less reaches even further. The residence allows than a year from now. residents to live as they are: normal. According to SAGE, a national advo“I am an LGBT person, but more than cacy and services organization for LGBTQ that, I’m an ordinary person, so I want elders, 48 percent of older queer couples to live with ordinary people,” she said. have experienced housing discrimination. “That’s the most important thing really, but As the baby boomer generation ages, the … you have things in common with LGBT group predicts there will be 7 million people, so it’s easy to live with and talk LGBTQ elders in the U.S. by 2030. with [them] when you are older.” n


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

Media Trail Restaurant to pay $40,000 in pact over gay server’s harassment A Virginia restaurant operator has agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve a lawsuit that claims its employees routinely harassed a gay server with homophobic epithets and taunted him about his sexuality, according to Washington’s Top News. A federal judge on Aug. 8 signed off on the settlement between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Mejia Corp., which does business as El Tio Tex-Mex Grill restaurant in Gainesville. The commission’s September 2018 lawsuit claimed restaurant employees also harassed the gay server’s heterosexual friend, a busser, based on their friendship. The settlement calls for the server and his friend to split the $40,000 payment from the

COHEN from page 1

“It was one of the factors that contributed to my decision to leave the race. But the overall reason was that I didn’t see a path to victory. So I withdrew from it.” A victory for Cohen, as she noted, also would be groundbreaking, as City Council never had an “out” LGBTQ member.

OUTLAW from page 15

ernment tasked with responding to attacks on LGBTQ people outside the U.S.; • Authorization of sanctions against those who commit anti-LGBTQ human rights violations abroad and a requirement that the U.S. State Department must report on those violations in its annual human rights report;

SWEDEN from page 12

While efforts like this seem “basic,” Wainwright Höckerfelt said, allowing children to grow up authentically is as simple as offering kids options, like choosing from a “smorgasbord” of toys


company. The agreement also bars the restaurant from engaging in or condoning sex-based harassment of any employee. An attorney for the company didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Aug. 10.

Virginia transgender bathroom case: Judge favors ex-student

case goes to an appeals court that oversees Maryland, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

to, which tracks state policies.

Transgender athlete policy is California city denies permit subject of civil rights probe for Straight Pride rally

A judge in Virginia has ruled that a school board’s transgender bathroom ban discriminated against former student Gavin Grimm. The Aug. 9 ruling by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk is among several across the nation favoring transgender students who faced similar policies. The Gloucester County School Board’s policy required Grimm to use girls’ restrooms or private bathrooms. The judge said Grimm’s rights were violated under the U.S. Constitution and a federal policy that protects against gender-based discrimination. The issue remains far from settled. A patchwork of differing policies governs the nation’s schools. But Allen’s ruling will likely strengthen similar claims made by students in eastern Virginia. It could have a greater impact if the

ABC News reported the federal Office of Civil Rights has launched an investigation into Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender high school athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify. The investigation follows a complaint by the families of three girls, who say they were discriminated against by having to compete in track against two athletes who are biologically male. They say that violates Title IX, the federal law designed to ensure equal athletic opportunities for females. The Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law that says students must be treated in school according to the gender with which they identify. Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according

The Los Angeles Times reported a Northern California city has denied a request to hold a so-called Straight Pride rally at a park. Modesto city officials on Aug. 9 denied an application by the National Straight Pride Coalition for an Aug. 24 event at Graceada Park. Organizer Don Grundmann estimated 500 people would attend. The group says it supports heterosexuality, Christianity and white contributions to Western civilization. Opponents argued the rally would promote hatred of LGBTQ people and minorities. City spokesman Thomas Reeves said the permit request was denied over safety concerns, because the group lost its liability insurance and the parks department determined the event wasn’t consistent with park use. However, Reeves says the city would allow the rally at a downtown plaza if the group proves it has insurance by Aug. 13. n

“I’m seeking the support of the LGBTQ community because I think this is a great opportunity to succeed in electing one of our own,” she said. Cohen added that Council needs progressives. “I am a lifelong Democrat. But my candidacy [as an Independent] is an electoral strategy to get more progressives on

Council. We progressives should not be conceding two of the seven at-large seats to Republicans.” In an interview with PGN, Alvarez questioned Cohen’s honesty. “I oppose how Sherrie lied to the community and said that she dropped out of the race to heal the community. That was an outright lie. She dropped out because

she came up with a plan to run as an Independent because she wasn’t getting the support as a Democrat,” said Alvarez. “I don’t want to attack her as a person, but I don’t want her on City Council,” she added. “I don’t want dishonest representation.” Fletman’s ruling is expected in the next few days. n

• A nondiscrimination policy codified in all U.S. foreign assistance programs to ensure inclusion of LGBTQ people in all U.S. funded programs; and • Permanent establishment of LGBTQ identities as a “social group” for the purposes of claiming asylum in the U.S. Titus’ bill has support from 52 cospon-

sors and many civil rights organizations. While the introduction PRIDE Act and the GLOBE Act are small steps, and potentially politically motivated given the upcoming elections, they play a significant role in our fight for equality. It shows that the new wave of politicians are attempting to honor this country’s diversity and provide long-overdue justice to countless same-sex couples across the country who

have been denied benefits and privileges during a time when this country shamefully denied our existence as well as reinstituting the United States as a country that not only cares about human rights but is willing to act to protect the rule of law. If nothing else, the simple act of introducing these two bills show that (some) legislators are taking the fight for equality seriously. n

at daycare. “Getting dressed up, trying different roles, being police if you’re a girl, princess if you’re a boy, there’s no way to fuss about that,” she added. Tomičić told PGN she hopes to see

Olika continue to grow and publish up to 40 books per year. Additionally, she’d like to see books offered to a wider-ranging age group. “Sometimes, as we hear here, ‘Olika’ can be tricky, there’s a lot of fear,”

Tomičić said. “You can always detect fear, and that is why we try to make Olika something positive. It’s not dangerous, it’s just different. We are different and that is OK, we can still live side by side.” n

Reporting via Associated Press


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019








New project centers QTPOC art and performance BY A.D. AMOROSI PGN Contributor When someone’s mission is radical healing and brilliant growth, it’s time to take notes. Briyana D. Clarel’s The Starfruit Project moved to Philadelphia in 2018 from Austin, Texas and crafts LGBTQfocused writing workshops, blog hubs and performance classes centering on queer and trans people of color. “I started dreaming up The Starfruit Project two years ago, weaving together my interests in healing, theater, writing and community building,” said Clarel, a Princeton University graduate who majored in sociology and minored in African American, Latin American and urban studies — and who is working toward a master’s degree in fine arts with a focus on theater for youth and communities and gender and sexuality studies. The name for Clarel’s initiative came simply. “Stars are brilliant and fruit grows,” said the queer nonbinary artist, writer, performer and educator. “Using the word ‘starfruit’ felt right for an initiative centering on brilliance and growth. Plus, I love the fruit.” The Starfruit Project is a mobile intelligence unit run solely by Clarel but with support from others in their circle. “My work is not to heal anyone, but to offer creative and artistic tools that may aid in their journeys of healing and growth,” they explained. This summer, Clarel directed a series called “Creative Writing Prompts” with questions to energize writing, such as “How do you nourish your soul?” and “What are you growing through?” Each set of prompts also had corresponding visual components offered on Instagram (@thestarfruitproject). “I aim to create prompts that work well for journal entries, poems, paintings and whatever else folks can dream up. Most of all, I offer starting points for introspection,” Clarel said. “I hope the reflections that emerge will help guide people along their journey.” Building on the popularity of its writing prompts, Starfruit will offer a theater program as part of Free Fringe Philly called

“Non-linear: Works-in-progress by Black LGBTQ artists” Sept. 23 at Vox Populi. Cocurated by Ang Bey, a storyteller, playwright, director and teaching artist from Southwest Philadelphia, and Clarel, the program is still open for submissions but closing soon, on Aug. 22. The Starfruit Project defines art broadly and welcomes entries of choreographed poems, monologues, sketches, TV pilots, 10-minute musicals, one-act plays and any other performance art. If work is accepted, Starfruit can help find performers, secure rehearsal spaces and provide feedback. Much sooner — on Aug. 17 — Starfruit will host a healing station at Qunify’s cookout at Malcolm X Park. “At events, I set up a table with interactive activities for people to engage with, including writing prompts and affirmations,” said Clarel. “People can engage in the moment or take something home for later. I appreciate the opportunity to bring these

offerings to people out in the real world and not just online.” Clarel has demonstrated an unbridled passion for their artistic outreach with involvement in The Queer Bazaar, QT Noir Arts Festival and Asian Arts Initiative’s International Womxn’s Day Event. In addition, The Starfruit Project has interviewed

Shanel Edwards, Mugabi Byenkya, Tarik Daniels, Jackie Torres, Melissa Benbow and Javetta. “This past Sunday, I hosted a QTPOC clothing swap at Radical Therapy Center. I really love swaps as a way to give clothes a new life, find a new treasure and connect with new people,” said Clarel. Everyone is welcome to Starfruit, they said, as “anyone can use the arts as tools for reflection and expression.” It’s also why the project offers so much online and utilizes social media: to be more accessible and wide reaching. “I hope The Starfruit Project will grow and blossom into a platform with a strong voice, impactful offerings, working in close collaboration with other artists and creators,” said Clarel. “I’m planning to offer more workshops, both in person and online. I also plan to create more spaces for black queer and trans performance artists to share their work and create together.” n For more information, visit thestarfrui project. com. BRIYANA D. CLAREL Photo: James Jackson, Illustration: Ash Cheshire based on photo by Axel Jenson



Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Enjoy this two-day food festival featuring Borgata’s star-studded roster of celebrity chefs, including Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Schulson, Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian along with Special Guest Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and more. There are classes, wine tastings, demonstrations and culinary treats to satisfy every palate.

– T I C K E T S O N S A L E A U G U S T 16 – F R I D AY, N O V E M B E R 8 & S A T U R D AY, N O V E M B E R 9




November 8 at 4PM 4PM • Gypsy Bar

November 8 at 6 6PM PM – 10 10PM PM Wolfgang Puck American Grille

November 8 from 7 7PM PM – 9 9PM PM Moneyline Bar & Book




November 8 at 7 7PM PM • Borgata Buffet

November 8 at 7 7PM PM The Wine Bar at Marketplace Eatery

November 8 at 7 7PM PM Izakaya by Michael Schulson

Chef Brian Perry

Executive Chef Thomas Biglan


November 8 at 8 8PM PM • Immersion Pool


Executive Chef Aram Mardigian

Chef Luca Bizzari


Executive Chef Thomas Biglan

Chef Partner Michael Schulson


Chef Jeffrey Maldonado

Executive Restaurant Chef Amador Campos

November 8 at 8 8PM PM • Old Homestead Steak House

November 8 at 8 8PM PM Level One Cocktail Bar & Lounge



November 9 at 10 10AM AM • The Metropolitan

November 9 at 11 11AM AM

Chef Jeffrey Maldonado

Executive Chef Thomas Biglan

November 9 at 9:30 9:30AM AM • Immersion Pool



November 9 at 11:30 11:30AM AM • Bobby Flay Steak

November 9 at 11:30 11:30AM AM Angeline by Michael Symon



Iron Chef Bobby Flay

Chef Jie Min Situ

November 9 at 12PM 12PM Noodles of the World


Executive Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois November 9 at 1PM 1PM Event Center — Studio One

Iron Chef Michael Symon

Executive Chef Thomas Biglan


November 9 at 11:30AM 11:30AM •Wolfgang •Wolfgang Puck American Grille


November 9 at 11PM PM • Long Bar

November 9 at 11PM PM



Chef Brian Perry

November 9 at 3PM 3PM • Gypsy Bar

November 9 at 2:30PM 2:30PM • Bobby Flay Steak





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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019




Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Local celeb debuts new novel

Guide to the Gayborhood

BY A.D. AMOROSI PGN Contributor

The Philadelphia Gayborhood is roughly centered at Locust and Camac streets. Look for the rainbow street signs at intersections and remember to be aware of your surroundings wherever you go. Boxers

1330 Walnut St. boxersphl Sports bar with a TVs, pool table, brick pizza oven, sports specials

1316 Walnut St. 215.546.8888 Festively lit women-owned bar complete with a “beer” pong table

1221 St. James St. 215.735.5772 After-hours private club; membership required

202 S. 13th St. 215.545.1893 Includes attached Walnut Street bars Rosewood and GloBar


m <—


206 S Quince St. 215.627.1662 Levi Leather men’s bar; pool tables, second floor sports; basement has enforced dress code

Chancellor St.



St. James St.

m Locust St.

Manning St.


Quince St.


11th St.


Latimer St.

12th St.


Camac St.

13th St.



The Bike Stop

Walnut St.


Juniper St.


Toasted Walnut Woody’s

m Spruce St.


Pa. bars close at 2 a.m. unless they have a private-club license. Please drink responsibly.

Cypress St.

Writer’s Block Rehab William Way 1342 Cypress St. 267.603.6960 A cozy, comfortable bar and lounge perfect for escaping the norm

Frankie Bradley’s

LGBT Community Center 1315 Spruce St. 215.732.2220 A resource for all things LGBT

1320 Chancellor St. 215-735-0735 Resaturant, dance club, live performers and entertainment


1220 Locust St. 215.546.6660 Relaxing corner bar, easy-going crowd, popular for happy hour and window watching

Tavern on Camac


West of Broad Street The Attic Youth 1705 Chancellor St. Center Stir Lounge

215.732.2700 Fun two-bar lounge, DJ in the back, regular poker games and specials

U Bar

255 S. 16th St. 215.545.4331 Safe space and programs for LGBTs age 16-23 weekday afternoons and evenings

255 S. Camac St. 215.545.8731 Piano lounge with upstairs dance floor; Tavern restaurant below is open late.


225 S. 12th St. 215.925.1166 Fine-dining restaurant and bar, outdoor seating, piano in back room


254 S. 12th St. 215.964.9675 Three floors with a dance floor,, drag shows, lounge and rootop deck.

Bar X 255 S. Camac St. Bar and dancefloor

Twenty years ago, Philadelphia native Tony Sawicki crafted, wrote and produced “Under the Pink Carpet,” one of the first weekly television news programs to highlight LGBTQ-plus arts, nightlife and culture. What started locally on Philadelphia’s WYBE MiND TV eventually moved to New York City on WNYE-TV and became a national hit. Because of his show’s success, Sawicki was given entrée into the world of Hollywood entertainment. His new book, “Danny Smashed,” shows an intimate knowledge of Tinseltown, as it follows protagonist Danny, a complicated, conflicted and controversial gay celebrity down a path filled with success and failure. PGN: How did the success of “Under the Pink Carpet” affect your life? TS: Under the Pink Carpet was the ultimate learning and growing experience of my career. When I first started producing that show, I was a young 30-something who was interested in creating shock and awe television that would get attention. I was not conservative, and I wasn’t afraid because I really didn’t know any better. And so we broke many boundaries and are now credited with a lot television firsts. “Under the Pink Carpet” debuted before “Will and Grace,” “Queer Eye,” or “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” At that time, the real gay subculture had never been portrayed in the mainstream. We broke barriers. We were the first TV show in history to feature a drag queen reporter, Clover Honey — the audience loved, loved, loved her. We were the…first to question disco legend Donna Summer about her controversial comments on the gay community. “Under the Pink Carpet” was, ultimately, a great accomplishment for me. We gave tremendous exposure to LGBT artists, and we also brought an unsanitized version of the gay subculture into people’s living rooms. As a result, we are now recognized as helping to pave the way for mainstream acceptance of the gay lifestyle as portrayed in mass media. I’m very proud of that. PGN: After “Pink Carpet,” what did you do? TS: After “Pink Carpet,” I pro-

duced a series called “Urban Animals,” which was an educational show on PBS that ran for three years and focused on animals in city environments. I am now in production on my first scripted television series, a screwball comedy, “City and the Beast.” Beginning next month, episode one of “City and the Beast” will be distributed across multiple connected television platforms (Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TV and Sony TV). It is a hilarious show about an aging hippie guitar player who inherits a goldfish rescue. Be prepared to laugh your ass off. I also have a recurring role in director Phil Scaringi’s “Admit One,” which is a “Park and Recreation” style show that streams on Amazon Prime. I play a kooky, eccentric theatre owner. PGN: The title of your new book is “Danny Smashed.” Who is Danny? TS: The thing about Danny is that, like most stars, he is an enigma. On one hand you feel as though you know him, but he is complex and mysterious, and he is guarded. You always want to know him more deeply, to unpeel the onion on this flawless looking, yet highly flawed protagonist. When the book is over, even though the story is all tied up, you want to understand him more. Everyone who reads this book is galvanized by the character and tells us, “I want more Danny. I want to know more about him. You have to do another book,” which is already in the works. The other thing about Danny is that we have been very careful to avoid putting his face on the book’s cover or in advertising artwork. We don’t want people to have a preconceived notion of what he looks like. We want each reader to be able to picture him in their own way. PGN: Tell me about writing with a partner, Gregory Mantore? TS: While a television series starts as a fairly solo experience, it quickly escalates into a group effort. Writing a book with just one other person is actually a smaller and more intimate endeavor. We write mostly over speakerphone, hammering out plot, developing characters and creating dialogue. The creative duality has its pros and cons. The pros are that two heads are better than one, and each one of us brings different backgrounds and experiences that, combined, make the story stronger PAGE 30


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019



Currey Cook

From L to R: Zach Wilcha, Johnathan Lovitz, Brenton McCloskey and Dan Holmes


From L to R: Sander Saba, Adrian Lowe, Tiffany Palmer and Lee Carpenter

From L to R: Nishan, Sharita and Mary

Alex Deering and Nellie Fitzpatrick


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

entertainment listings

THEATER & ARTS The Art of Collage and Assemblage Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition of mixed-material works from contemporary artists through Sept. 2, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100. Harmonious Motion An exhibition of fluid art by Kelly Munchel, through Sept. 8 at Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. 22nd St.; 215-772-1911. Herbert Ferber: Form into Space Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition featuring sculptures and related drawings that Herbert Ferber (1906-91) created during the 1950s — the artist’s most creative period, through Aug. 18, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-7638100. The Impressionist’s Eye Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition featuring the works of Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Vincent van Gogh and others, through Aug. 18, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100. Mimi Imfurst Presents Drag Diva Brunch Mimi Imfurst and special guests perform 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 17 at Punch Line Philly, 33 E. Laurel St.; 215-606-6555. Passages MUSE Art Gallery presents a solo exhibition of paintings by Jean Plough, through Sept. 1, 52 N. Second St.; 215-6275310.


The Producers Bucks County Center for the Performing Arts presents the hit musical comedy written by Mel Brooks about a downon-his-luck Broadway producer trying to make a flop that becomes a smash hit, through Aug. 18 at Delaware Valley University-Life Sciences Bldg., 700 E. Butler Ave., Doylestown; 215-297-8540.

Tommy Davidson The comedian and actor seen on “In Living Color” and on Comedy Central performs Aug. 23-24 at Punch Line Philly, 33 E. Laurel St.; 215606-6555.

Queer Americans: Who We Are William Way LGBT Community Center hosts an exhibition featuring the THEY’RE dynamic works BACK(STREET): of three queer Mega-selling boy band, Backstreet Boys, are artists, through back on the road this summer in support of Aug. 30, 1315 their new album “DNA.” The guys bring their Spruce St; dance moves and love songs to the area, 8 215-732-2220. p.m. Aug. 17 at Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. For more information or tickets, call 215-336-3600

Rachel Feinstein The comedian and actress seen in “Crashing” and on Comedy Central performs through Aug. 17 at Punch Line Philly, 33 E. Laurel St.; 215-606-6555. Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South Philadelphia Museum of Art presents a collection of textile art, sculpture and paintings acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation through Sept. 2, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100. (Still) Life in Motion Jed Williams Gallery presents an exhibition representing the interplay between painting and photography, through Aug. 20, 615 Bainbridge St.; 267970-5509. GET LIFTED AND SHAKEN: Eclectic rocker, Lenny Kravitz, will get live and loud when his Raise Vibration Tour shakes up Philadelphia, 8 p.m. Aug. 22 at The Met, 858 N. Broad St.; For more information or tickets, email

Venus An exhibition of new watercolors by Britni Houser through Aug. 30 at The Fine Art Galleries at BradburySullivan LGBT Community Center, 522 W. Maple St., Allentown; Yoshitoshi: Spirit and Spectacle Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition featuring the brilliant colors and spirited lines of Yoshitoshi, the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print, through Aug. 18, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215763-8100.

MUSIC Alice Cooper and Halestorm The hard rock bands perform 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd.; 856-365-1300. Common The rapper performs 8 p.m. Aug. 16 at The Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 E. Allen St.; 215-309-0150.

Marsha Ambrosius The R&B singer performs 8 p.m. Aug. 16 at TLA, 334 South St.; 215-922-1011. Hammer’s House Party MC Hammer, Kid ‘n Play, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Biz Markie and DJ Kool perform, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215-546-7900. Jonas Brothers The band performs 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.; 215-3363600. Dinosaur Pile Up The rock band performs 8 p.m. Aug. 19 at The Foundry, 29 E. Allen St.; 215-3090150. Beck and Cage the Elephant The alt-rock bands perform 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd.; 856-365-1300. Tame Impala The alt-rock and pop musician performs, 8 p.m. Aug. 23 at Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215-546-7900.

NIGHTLIFE TREAT. YO. SELF: A Parks and Rec Drag Show Leslie, April, Joan Callamezzo, John Ralphio and Mona Lisa Saperstein perform, 9 p.m. Aug. 17 at The Victoria Freehouse, 10 S. Front St.; 215-543-6089. Satanic Dance Party Horns up, 9 p.m. Aug. 21 at Tabu, 254 S. 12th St.; 215-9649675. The Jukebox Review Morgan Morgan Morgan hosts the musical drag show, 8 p.m. Aug. 22 at L’Etage. 624 S. Sixth St.; 215-592-0656.

OUTTA TOWN Aerosmith The classic rock band performs 8 p.m. Aug. 16-18 at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa Event Center, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J.; 609317-1000. Squeeze The alternative rock band performs 8 p.m. Aug. 16 at Xcite Center, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem; 888-588-7279. John Fogerty The classic rocker performs 8 p.m. Aug. 17 at Xcite Center, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem; 888-588-7279. Gimme Shelter The Rolling Stone documentary is screened Aug. 18-19 at The Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge St., Phoenixville; 610917-1228. Big Head Todd and The Monsters and Toad the Wet Sprocket The alternative rock bands perform 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at Xcite Center, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem; 888-5887279. Hanson The band performs 8 p.m. Aug. 22 at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington, Del.; 202-730-3331. Boyz II Men The R&B group performs 8 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa Event Center, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J.; 609-3171000. Amaluna The Cirque du Soleil circus arts show raises the big top through Aug. 25 at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks; n

NOTICES: Send notices at least one week in advance to: Out & About Listings, PGN, 505 S. Fourth St., Philadelphia, PA 19147 fax: 215-925-6437 or e-mail: Notices cannot be taken over the phone.


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019

“Totally, irrefutably, in-your-face queer.”

MTV makes queer dating a reality queer, kind and strong; Remy is sexually liberated and protective; Amber dives headfirst into love but guards her heart and stands her Totally, irrefutably, in-your-face ground. queer: It’s what makes the eighth But, as Remy said, “some of us season of MTV’s reality series “Are are not what you would want to You the One?” groundbreaking — maybe represent you, and that’s and utterly fabulous. fine, but we’re real people, and we While there have been attempts exist and deserve to be seen, and we at queer-ish dating shows before, deserve to express how we feel.” nothing comes close to the newest Kai is hard to sympathize with season of this series. This is queerduring the nine episodes currently ness through a queer lens, offering available, as his and Jenna’s relaa range of gender presentations and tionship grows unhealthy. Nour’s identities. bullying of Paige and possession of To wit, in one of the first epiAmber go too far, and Jonathan’s sodes, contestant Kari says, “I have misguided attraction to Justin is no idea if I’m going to be attracted cringeworthy and borders on obsesto a male or a female. I’m attracted sion. to both genders. I’m ambidextrous.” Still, this isn’t one of those pointThe premise of the show has con- and-stare exploitative series in testants — 16 this season — blindly which queer contestants are being trying to find their perfect matches, made the examples. Rather, it’s a which have been algorithmically display of humanity, good and bad. chosen in advance. If all eight perIn a culture that shows out-of-confect matches are discovered, $1 trol straight people on TV 24/7, the million is given to the contestants to queer contestants of “Are You the split among themselves One?” are hardly outrageous: They Because all 16 contestants in actually seem normal within the season eight are open to dating a milieu of reality TV. person of any gender, creating eight And the series has all the things matches is significantly more comexpected from a relationship reality plicated, with unlimited pairing pos- series, from hookups to cat fights. sibilities. The intensity occurs when contesLike all relationship shows, “Are tants reveal their inner workings and You the One?” features its share reflect on lived experiences. of fixation and misplaced passion. Kai talks about being trans-masBut, for LGBTQ-plus folks, season culine nonbinary and how he (who eight also presents a great deal of also uses they/them pronouns) didn’t honesty: We know people like these feel confident in his body before contestants. We are these contestransitioning. Basit, also nonbinary, tants. talks about being in love with love. After years of straightness, we get Danny reveals some experiences to watch friends — or ourselves — that bring him — and viewers — to experience relationship drama. tears. And, as contestant Danny put it: Of course, some scenes elicit eye “If you have a reality TV show that rolls and set teeth on edge — but includes the entire spectrum of, like, this is MTV. Queer-relationship guru racial, sexual and gender identities, Dr. Frankie Bashan gives everyone you’re gonna have a really interestadvice on how to avoid the pitfalls ing show!” of bad relationships, providing some The range of fluidity is impressive calm after tumult. with queer, polyamorous, bisexual, Season eight of “Are You the pansexual, nonbinary and trans folks One?” opens a door into a queer showing visceral queer desire. The new world and invites viewers into contestants also include several intimate moments and times of bisexual men — not just bisexual chaos, inevitably fulfilling the purwomen. pose of reality TV. n Many of their backstories are “Are You the One?” airs 9 p.m. familiar to the queer community: bullying, closeted attractions, small- Wednesdays and also can be streamed. The show’s website featown claustrophobia. It feels personal in the way straight reality pro- tures links to GLAAD, The Trevor Project and other LGBTQ essential grams must feel to straight people. resources and advocates for the A majority of the contestants are bi-plus community. likable. Basit is beautiful, genuine,



Justin Amber

Kai Basit

Kari Brandon



Max Jasmine

Nour Jenna






Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Piazza Pod Park brings variety to No. Libs

With summer winding down, opportunities for being outdoors are waning. If you want to spend time in the sun (and shade), there’s no better place to do it than recently opened Piazza Pod Park, 1075 Germantown Ave., which brings open-air culinary excitement to Northern Liberties. Part park, part food court, part civic-gathering area, the expansive outdoor space is home to food trucks, art installations, mobile bars and retail stores that appeal to varied and adventurous tastes. While it’s impossible to visit all of the great places to grab a bite or a drink in


out once visit, do yourself a favor and try anyway. Take in the environment while there — a large robot sculpture towering over the affair and a DJ that provides a constant soundtrack of feel-good music. Did we mention that parking is free and plentiful and the restroom trailers onsite are nicer and cleaner than any public bathroom should be? If it all seems like too much for you, we’re here to ease your worries and give you a few places to start. University City’s Dim Sum House is at the Piazza with Lil’ Sum Sum, the restaurant’s first major expansion. Serving up favorites from its dim sum menu, you will find amazing pork soup dumplings ($6), fried chicken mushroom dumplings ($5) and shrimp siu mai ($6). Tiki Tako is in center of the action with Asian-inspired tacos and colorful island cocktails to wash them down. Tako’s East-meets-West gameplan works well as the Bang Bang shrimp tacos ($12) are irresistibly crunchy, sweet and spicy, while the crispy pork Chinatown tacos ($10) and tender, tangy and juicy. Another crave-worthy standout is Empanada Box, infusing fried Latin-style pastries ($5 each, 3 for $12) with influences from different cultures. The most alluring and effective offerings come in different shades of Americanized pig-out

1980s star headlines BY LARRY NICHOLS The Schultz-Hill Foundation is gearing up for its annual fundraiser, headlined this time by a favorite 1980s pop performer. “We’ve Got Tonight: An Evening with Sheena Easton,” Aug. 23 at Resorts in Atlantic City, will celebrate the foundation’s 17th year — and with a big draw. Easton may be unfamiliar to millennials but she was an ’80s megastar who, at age 60, remains active onstage and on the small screen. The Scottish singer-songwriter and actor registered on American radar in the early ’80s with chart-topping pop song “9 to 5 (Morning Train),” James Bond theme “For Your Eyes Only” and duet “We’ve Got Tonight” with country star Kenny Rogers. She won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1982. The quintessential squeaky-clean pop star broke out of that mold by the mid-

’80s with high-energy dance pop and R&B, including the hit “Strut” and the salacious “Sugar Walls,” written by Prince and banned in some markets for its suggestive sexual lyrics. The controversy didn’t slow Easton’s success. She jumped into acting, appearing on TV shows like “Miami Vice” and “Highlander: The Series,” all while performing on world concert tours. Gary Hill, who established the Schultz-Hill Foundation in 2002 with partner and fellow philanthropist John Schultz, described Easton as a consummate performer who still maintains a busy schedule between singing and acting. “She just finished doing Tokyo, Japan and Manila. So now she’s flying back to the States to do some California and Florida dates, then she’ll be with us,” he said. “I believe we’re the only show she’s doing on the East Coast other than

By Larry Nichols fare, including the New Yorker, which is stuffed with pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing and the Frontera mac and cheese, filled with chorizo, cheddar, jack cheese and pickled jalapeno. At the Piazza, you’ll have a hard time skipping dessert with so much to tempt your sweet tooth. While other bakeries at the park wind down or close in the afternoon, French Toast Bites by Lokal Artisan Foods is waving its breakfast-food flag all day and into the evening. Even on the hottest of days, owner Charisse R. McGill is one of the happiest and energetic vendors you will meet at the Pod. French toast bites ($7) are fried golden brown, dusted with McGill’s famous sugar and cinnamon blend (available for purchase separately) and offered with optional dipping sauces — maple, caramel or chocolate. You can add a nice skewer of savory bacon to the indulgence for $3, and it will be worth every penny. Mama Maria’s Homemade Italian Ice offers a frozen sweet-treat experience with unique flavors mixed with real fruit chunks. While chunk-less flavors are available, why not live it up? We recommend trying the amazing BeBananaz Water Ice. Offered only at Pod Park, this banana and caramel flavored concoction with chocolate chips inside and topped with granola is luxurious. Another

if you go Piazza Pod Park 1075 Germantown Ave. Mon.-Thur.: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.: 7 a.m.-midnight Photos: Kory Aversa

water ice flavor combo worth trying is the Beach Please, blending watermelon, coconut and strawberry to perfection. This sounds like a lot of food, and it is, so make sure to get to the Pod Park soon because the days are only getting shorter. n

arts’ fundraiser Connecticut.” Hill said the money raised from this event will fund the nonprofit arts foundation, based in South Jersey, for the y e a r and raise awareness for its various community efforts, including offering scholarships to students in the arts and free concerts for seniors and youth. “This is the only [fundraising] event. We do one a year

Sheena Easton

to fund all the programs. So we’re not out there asking every other day for money. It’s always a major entertainment event.” Most of the foundation’s outreach and future plans involve LGBTQ-plus organizations, Hill added. “We already support many gay causes through a charity we run. We’re looking at possibly doing some work with the Stockton University Safe Space. At the end of the year, we’re making a commitment to that Safe Space area, which we believe will be very beneficial to the LGBTQ community, particularly for educational purposes,” he said, describing Stockton’s Safe Zone Project, a series of workshops that address concerns, issues, misunderstandings and lack of information regarding the LGBTQIA-plus community. “We’re very inclusive and diverse.” n For more information or tickets to the Schultz-Hill Foundation’s “We’ve Got Tonight: An Evening with Sheena Easton,” visit


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019



Aleksandr Dissan: A queer and charitable S-P-I-R-I-T to a whole different culture. Coming from France, being gay wasn’t a big deal. You weren’t treated like, “Ew, you’re gay,” you were just another person who happened to be gay. Not the same here, so I had to find my own way, and I found cheerleading at a young age. I was a gymnast first and then started cheer. It became my obsession and I’ve been doing it ever since. PGN: So you spent your formative years in France. Were you in the city? AD: I grew up in Nice, which is in the French Riviera on the coast of France at the Mediterranean Sea; so I went from beaches in Nice to beaches in California.

With all the disheartening news streaming 24/7, its time for a little pick-me-up. Who did I call to give that to us? Philly Cheer Elite. They’ll not only pick you up, they’ll toss you in the air and do a spin. Founded in April 2019, Cheer Elite’s vision and mission involves inspiring love, awareness and unity in the LGBTQ community and to “use cheerleading, dance and volunteerism to inspire the community through charitable contributions to organizations assisting our communities.” With a large group of LGBTQ community members and allies, the group is committed to celebrating queerness and supporting organizations that care for our community. So let’s make a little noise for founder and head cheerleader Aleksandr Dissan. PGN: What made you want to celebrate being queer? AD: I’m from Los Angeles, and I used to cheer with an LGBT-plus team there. For me, we can change the environment around us just by being who we are and showing our pride. I mean, who doesn’t love cheerleaders? PGN: I know I do! When my nephew came out to me, I was the biggest cheerleader of all. I told him, “It’s great being gay! We have our own clubs; we have our own magazines and newspapers. We have movies and music and campgrounds. We even have our own parades!” AD: Yes, it’s so important to have things that are ours exclusively, safe spaces. And with the cheer team, we feel like we’re doing good in the community. We want to support and encourage the groups and people who have lifted this community for so many years and spread joy. PGN: I understand that you’re originally a California boy? AD: Yes, Huntington Beach. Well, I was originally born in France. We moved to California when I was 10 years old. So it was definitely life changing getting used

PGN: I’d guess the beaches in Nice were a little nicer. AD: Oh, 100 percent. It’s nicknamed “La Belle” meaning “the beautiful,” and it was, but I have to say, I do love my beaches in Laguna Beach. PGN: When did you come out? AD: Well, I’ve always known I was gay, but I think I officially came out at 12. In France, there wasn’t a need to label it, but here everyone’s into titles. I told my mother, and it didn’t go over too well. She’s actually from a small farm town in Mexico and was very religious. PGN: Wait, how did we go from Mexico to France to LA? AD: [Laughing] I call myself a Frenchxican. My mother is Mexican, and she met my father, who is French, in California. They married and moved to his hometown in France. After they divorced, we moved back to LA where she raised us as a single parent. She is a Seventh Day Adventist, and they’re pretty hardcore and closed-minded. Her response when I came out was, “You’re gay? Well, let me go put some lipstick on you!” I was like, “What? No, that’s not what it means!” Then she grabbed a poster she had of some singer she was crazy about and said, “So I guess you love him too!” and I had to say, “Uh no, we have different tastes in men.” So we then went into a don’t-ask-don’t-tell mode for a few years until I got tired of it and came out again at 18, and this time she threw me out. So I got a job and went to college on my own and still tried to reach out to her because, you know, she’s still my mother. She finally kind of came around to the idea of me being gay but just didn’t want to see it. So we had a sort of truce, and I moved back home for a minute, but then I got a job at a hotel in Las Vegas and was able to move out again. I stayed there for a few years and then became a flight attendant about five years ago, which I’m still doing today. It brought me to New York and now Philly, and I’m loving it!

PGN: Fabulous! What school did you go to? AD: Well, my father went to USC, so I went to UCLA. [Laughing] I took it to the man! PGN: With multicultural parents do you speak any other languages? AD: I speak six languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and American Sign Language. My little brother is hard of hearing, so I learned ASL. There’s also a big Deaf LGBT community in Philadelphia that I’ve gotten involved with; they’re amazing. PGN: How many siblings do you have? AD: I have four brothers. My poor mother, it’s not that she hates us, but she’s just always wanted a daughter, and she kept pushing out boys. She’s said, “I love you guys, but I really would like at least one girl!” But no, not even a grandchild. My older brother has two sons, and his wife just found out she’s pregnant with another boy! PGN: Let’s go to the friendly skies, I saw you in a video about the secrets of flight attendants…? AD: Oh my gosh, you saw that. No! Don’t judge me. I got roped into doing that after a long flight from Brazil. I was exhausted and looked haggard. It was fun though. PGN: So tell me a secret. AD: Don’t drink anything made with onboard hot water in it — coffee, tea — just say no. And don’t walk around the plane barefoot, it’s just gross. For you and us. PGN: What’s the craziest thing you’ve encountered? AD: Nothing really outrageous, I have been blessed with a booty and for some reason straight women seem to think it’s OK to grab or slap my butt, so I have to stop and explain that it’s not okay to touch or grab me just because I’m your gay pal. People in general just lose their common sense when they’re traveling. PGN: What’s your best celebrity encounter? AD: Oh my gosh, I met…well, I’ve met a lot of people, but the best was my idol, Gal Gadot. You may know her as Wonder Woman. I’m literally in love with her, so to have her on my flight, I went crazy. That woman was even more beautiful in person than on the screen, and she wasn’t even done up. It was a redeye, so she was totally casual, and still, she was perfection! Part of me has to hate her for it, but she’s a true goddess and the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She was in first class, and I was working business and the purser was kind of mean and wouldn’t let me even slip into first class to take a peek at her. I was dying. How could I be on the same plane as Gal

Gadot and not even have a chance to see her? Then they asked me to bring some plates to the front. I knew they wanted a stack but purposely only took a few so that I’d have to make a few trips. On the first trip, as I went past her, I glanced down and whispered, “I love you!” On the way back from the second trip, Gal Gadot grabbed my hand. My heart dropped, literally. I thought I was going to faint. I was speechless, and I don’t usually get star struck, we get a lot of celebrities on board, but she’s just…everything. Anyway, I ended up helping her with her cell phone, and then when the purser came over, she tried to embarrass me by saying, “He’s such a big fan, he said he loved you in Superwoman!” You should have seen the stare that I gave her, like, “Superwoman! Really? How dare you insult Gal Gadot!” But she was so sweet, she just turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, I understood.” Then she put her arm around me and said, “We’ll take a picture now” and made the purser take about five pictures of us! I was done from that moment on. PGN: That’s amazing! Now to the cheer team — who comes up with the cheers? AD: That’s pretty much me. I just founded the team in April, and we’ve been going strong ever since. We started out with five people, and now we have 23. Right now, I do the dance choreography, come up with the cheers; I designed the uniforms and logo and do all the social media. We’re now an official nonprofit too. We performed at the Pride parade in Philly; we did the New Hope Pride parade; we were at both the gay pride and the trans pride flag raising events at City Hall, and the Franklin Institute invited us to their first Family Pride day and the pride after hour events in June. Family Pride day was incredible. We worked with the kids and taught them tumbling and cheers. We’ve just been so honored that so many organizations have invited us to participate in their events. We’ve accomplished a lot in three months. There’s been so much interest that we’re holding new clinics and tryouts this month. PGN: Do you have to be able to do full splits and double somersaults in the air to participate? AD: No, no. We have all skill levels; we want to be very inclusive. We do the clinics to give people a chance to check it out and get their feet wet and for us to get a feel for them. We’re more looking for people who fit with the group’s spirit and attitude. I call the group a family. We’re a family of volunteers and first and PAGE 30 foremost,


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


NOVEL from page 24 and more realistic. The cons are that we are also best friends in real life, and when we disagree, it can become contentious. There has been an evolution of our creative process, and, as we move forward, our collaboration has become more intuitive. PGN: How did you decide to include Philadelphia’s “Gayborhood” in the book? TS: Part of the focus in the story is about how an unrelated group of dissimilar people, and their lives, can intersect and converge. The “Gayborhood” in Philadelphia is character driven, and it is the place in the story where an interesting, colorful and amusing bunch of characters live and work. As the Philadelphia story opens, these characters are individually preparing for “Rainbow Ball Weekend,” a celebration of LGBT pride that has filled the city with anticipation

Q Puzzle

Megan Says Across

1 Label on a lemon that isn’t a fruit 5 Where women cohabitate 10 Ending with Pride 14 Tomato variety 15 Name on a bomber 16 1847 Melville travel book 17 Start of a quote from Megan Rapinoe 20 Caesar salad option 21 Cause of AIDS, and others 22 Org. for bears 23 Classic sports cars 24 School for Rev. Spahr 27 More of the quote 29 More of the quote 30 Ebenezer’s exclamation 33 Angular opening 34 Engage in vote-swapping 36 Abbr. on a Froot Loops box 37 Sheik’s land, in song 39 Lang. of the von Trapps 40 Intercourse while surfing? 42 “___ to My Window” of 33-Down

PORTRAIT from page 29 we’re a nonprofit. For me, I want people who bring a positive attitude and can get along with others. When we all love each other and are having fun, everyone will want to work hard and do what it takes to become the cheer team we want to be: a team that can spread love and encouragement to people in the LGBT community. 43 Mardi Gras costume components 45 Former Time film critic 46 “M*A*S*H” cross-dresser 48 Rita Mae Brown’s “Riding ___ “ 50 Unsettle 51 Rear on board 52 End of the quote 59 Banana stalk 60 Flaming queen’s activity? 61 Trireme propellers 63 Roz portrayer on “Frasier” 64 Nuts 65 Couture magazine 66 Baldwin’s “The ___ Corner” 67 Lesbian family’s anonymous “dad” 68 Advice from Richard Simmons


1 Diva’s piece 2 Like spilled seed 3 Apple Store buy 4 Younger daughter of Michelle 5 It comes with a pink slip 6 Amos’s sidekick 7 Lesbian opponent of Wade 8 Mt. sign 9 Top 10 Adjustment for Catherine Opie

11 Respondents to 911 12 Shoe bottom 13 Plugs and such 18 On the whole 19 Hosiery pattern from Barrie’s land 24 IHOP serving 25 Swashbuckling Flynn 26 Beach of a White Party 28 Samantha not of “Bewitched” 29 Operates properly 30 Fayetteville fort 31 Foucault’s final word 32 Guitarist Eddie Van ___ 35 Second pitches for Copland 38 John ___ Hickey

41 Sporting body art 43 Howard Ashman’s little one 44 William, who played with George Takei 47 Pump purchase 49 Frequently, to Whitman 52 Ellen and Anne, once 53 “The Way We ___ “ 54 Cube designer Rubik 55 Healthy ___ ox 56 Denial for Nanette 57 South Pacific island 58 First name in detective stories 59 Sweaty place 62 Get hard

PGN: Speaking of love, do you have a significant other? AD: Yes I do. His name is Austin, and he’s phenomenal. Since the day we met, we’ve been inseparable. Well, except for the time I spend away for work. [Laughing] That probably helps because it gives it a chance to miss each other, and he works from home doing computer tech stuff, which is cool because when I have international flights, he can come with me if he wants. All he needs is Wi-Fi and he can work anywhere. It’s great. PGN: I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up your acting career. AD: Oh God! Where are you finding this? I wouldn’t call that acting; it was awful acting, awful everything. I was really young and had been doing some modeling. This director messaged me and

and excitement. Each character has a different level of involvement and a different motivation for being a part of this event, but all of their lives collide in an explosive scene that takes place when controversial gay icon Danny Smash makes a scheduled appearance there. To me, the Philadelphia Gayborhood is the best gay enclave of any city that I’ve ever experienced. The vibe is totally unique. It is peaceful yet infused with energy; urbane, yet totally charming; sophisticated, yet friendly; steeped in history, yet completely current…. It’s even got one of the last standing independent gay book shops in the country, Giovanni’s Room, which incidentally was one of the first bookstores to carry “Danny Smashed.” The Philadelphia Gayborhood is a picturesque place to live, work and visit. Plus they have an awesome and inspiring Pride Weekend. It’s the ideal setting for a story, especially one that has a definitive LGBT component. n said that he liked my look and wanted me to audition for a role, and I mean who wouldn’t want to be flown out to become an actor. They had a decent budget at the start, and he was making six films, but as time went on, he started losing the finances, which resulted in people quitting or not doing their jobs properly. But I’m the kind of person if I start something, I’m going to finish it. He was really nice too but super stressed as things were falling apart. By the end, I was also kind of just walking through it. He didn’t finish the films but joined pieces from each movie to make one film, so it was really disjointed. You can’t really tell what’s going on, but kudos for him to making something out it. I just wouldn’t recommend watching it! PGN: Most people are afraid of flying, what’s your biggest fear? AD: Leaving this world without making a difference. I’ve had a few close family members die in the past year, and it woke me up. I knew I needed to do something to bring some good into the world before it’s too late. It’s why I started the nonprofit, Philly Cheer Elite, to cheer on the good in the world! n For more information on Philly Cheer Elite, visit


Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


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Philadelphia Gay News August 16-22, 2019


Profile for The Philadelphia Gay News

PGN Aug. 16-25, 2019  

“The Philadelphia Gay News is the nation’s most award-winning LGBT publication, and the largest LGBT media outlet in the region.”

PGN Aug. 16-25, 2019  

“The Philadelphia Gay News is the nation’s most award-winning LGBT publication, and the largest LGBT media outlet in the region.”