Thursday, July 18, 2024



5 things we learned at Philly’s first LGBT State of the Union

Amber Hikes, director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs, introduces the LGBT State of the Union. June 1, 2018 Category: EventFeaturedMediumResults


Correction: Trans Equity Project is not ending, as previously reported, according to GALAEI Interim ED Francisco Cortes. (6/4, 3:17 p.m.)
Philadelphia is known for being first in many facets of history. It’s also known for being particularly supportive of its LGBTQ citizens.

Ahead of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, which kicks off today, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs hosted its first-ever LGBT State of the Union on Tuesday, May 29.

The event served as a town hall for the heads of Philly’s LGBTQ-focused organizations, including the Mazzoni Center, the Independence Business Alliance and Philadelphia Black Pride, to present their accomplishments and challenges of the past year and plans for the next year.

“Philly’s making history,” announced Office LGBT Affairs Director Amber Hikes, who’s been in the position since March 2017. “This event is the first of its kind that we’ve hosted in Philadelphia, and one of the first across the nation.” Here’s what else is new in Philly’s LGBTQ community, as announced during the event:

1. Mazzoni Center recently launched Philly’s first LGBTQ-exclusive Intensive Outpatient Program.

Tuesday was the LGBTQ community’s first public introduction to new CEO Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino, and she came bearing some good news: In addition to opening a new health facility in the past year, the healthcare org became the first in the region to offer an IOP substance abuse program for LGBTQ people. Holistic services include group therapy, after-care planning, psychiatric services and more.

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Mazzoni has spent the past year in the news amidst claims of racial bias and ineffective leadership. Gonzalez Sciarrino didn’t mention those tensions in her presentation, but in a breakout session afterward, she was confronted with an anonymous question about how she planned to tackle allegations that the nonprofit’s previous interim CEO, Stephen Glassman, had sexually harassed multiple employees. She has since called the allegations “deeply disturbing” and said they would be investigated.

2. GALAEI needs help to keep its Trans Equity Project going.

The Latino health and social justice org’s peer-based support program for trans individuals has had a tough few months, said Interim ED Francisco Cortes. Its funding has been cut in half, and despite active fundraising and a major contribution from The Philadelphia Foundation, GALAEI still needed to cut the program’s two coordinators from full-time to part-time. GALAEI kicked off a crowdfunding campaign for $15,000 to support the Trans Equity Project two weeks ago.

The nonprofit is also searching for a permanent executive director; Nikki López had taken over in September 2016 after longtime ED Elicia Gonzales’ departure.

3. William Way LGBT Community Center is getting a redesign.

Chris Bartlett. (Photo by Julie Zeglen)

The nonprofit is currently raising money for the renovation of its 175-year-old building at 1315 Spruce St., which it purchased in 1996.

Pro bono org Community Design Collaborative designed the project’s new look, which would replace the building’s rear but preserve its facade.

ED Chris Bartlett also said the center is expanding its archives program and recently received a grant so members of the LGBTQ community can bring their own records to the center to have them scanned and added to the archives.

4. Margaret Cho is headlining the 30th annual Philly Pride parade and festival.

Philly Pride Presents ED Franny Price said it took 20 years of asking to get the internationally known comedian to agree to appear, but she’ll be there on Sunday, June 10.

Price, who plans to retire soon, also encouraged community members to get involved this anniversary year: “Nobody is not welcome at our event.”

5. Attic Youth Center and DVLF are both celebrating 25 years in 2018.

The Attic began has served 20,000 LGBTQ youth in the past quarter-decade; in the same amount of time, DVLF (formerly known as Delaware Valley Legacy Fund) has granted out about $1 million to LGBTQ-serving orgs.

The former will celebrate with an anniversary gala on Nov. 3. The latter is celebrating by hiring a new executive director. (Full details are here, but hurry: Apps are due today.)

Attendees of the first LGBT State of the Union. (Photo by Samantha Madera courtesy of the City of Philadelphia)


Pride Month as a whole will feature block parties, film screenings, art exhibits, storytelling events and more. Here are five events we’re excited about from the city’s calendar:

“Queer Bodies” storytelling with First Person Arts

  • Sunday, June 3, 1 p.m.
  • bahdeebahdu (1522 N. American St.)

“In this workshop we will focus on the stories of Queers who have been historically forgotten by traditional beauty standards. Trans, fat, and disabled, all will be held up and celebrated through story. You will learn how to write a personal narrative and be individually coached by one of our StoryCoaches. After the workshop, ten people will be invited to participate as featured storytellers in a show to be held later in June.”

Philly Lights Up for Pride

  • Friday, June 8 to Sunday, June 10
  • Multiple locations

“The Philadelphia skyline goes rainbow for Pride Month. Witness The Ben Franklin Bridge, Boathouse Row, CHOP, PECO, and other buildings light up in the iconic rainbow colors through the weekend of June 8th-10th.”

Disability Pride Parade

  • Saturday, June 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • National Constitution Center (525 Arch St.)

The Office of People with Disabilities and Disability Pride have collaborated to include an LGBTQIA+ section in the Disability Pride Parade on June 16th. Come out and support our LGBTQIA+ siblings and neighbors with disabilities as they proudly march to City Hall and celebrate their intersecting identities!” 

Intergenerational Panel

  • Tuesday, June 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vine St.)

“Visit the Skyline Room of the Main Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on the evening of June 19th to engage in an Intergenerational Panel discussion on LGBTQIA+ community, history, identity, and what Pride means to folx from a multitude of generations.”

Philadelphia Family Pride and Arts Festival

  • Saturday, June 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Lovett Library Park (6945 Germantown Ave.)

“In partnership with the Mt. Airy Arts Garage and Philadelphia Family Pride, Mayor Kenney and members of City Council will gather in Lovett Library Park for the Philadelphia Family Pride and Arts Festival.”

See a full list of Pride Month events here.


Office of LGBT Affairs

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