(Photo via twitter.com/whitat200)
Four days ago, a petition was launched asking the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) to paint the Walt Whitman Bridge the colors of the Philly Pride Flag.
I co-created this petition along with Whitman at 200, a year-long project organized by the Penn Libraries Kislak Center that aims to reassess the poet Walt Whitman’s contributions to American life. Our petition, which was designed to be bold and grab people’s imaginations, did just that. And frankly, our idea is getting way more attention than I truly ever thought it would.
Now, while there are a lot of LGBTQ-supportive eyes on this, I’d like to work to leverage that attention to create some more immediate good.
With my work and my blog, Streets Dept, over the last eight years, I think a lot about the value and effects art can have in our city’s public spaces. One thing I say a lot is that I don’t think marketers would spend billions of dollars every year on outdoor advertising if it didn’t have some profound effect on the ways we think, feel, and behave.
By painting or lighting the Walt Whitman Bridge the colors of the inclusive Philly Pride Flag as we advocate with our petition, we reason that we’d not only be recognizing and honoring the lived experience of the bridge’s namesake as well as his contributions to queer representation in American literature, but also celebrating current and future generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans in a gigantic, monumentally public way in one of the U.S.’s biggest cities.
In its first few days, the petition has received over 1,200 signatures of support as well as some thoughtful criticism. And as we wrote in the petition itself, we are realistic that any actual implementation of this idea would need to be much more considered and include many more people and community partners — including, of course, the DRPA.
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Whatever the fate of our petition or any possible version of painting (or lighting) the bridge that might come from it, this would be a years-long process. While we have the imaginations of so many, however, there is now the ability to hopefully leverage the attention we’ve earned into action by offering anyone interested and able a list of local LGBTQ organizations and nonprofits that you can donate to or volunteer for right now (if you don’t already know and support them).
These are organizations and nonprofits that offer wide range of services and support for our region’s LGBTQ community. I’ve created this list over the past day with some crowdsourced help from individuals on social media, who I’ve thanked below.
Whether you like our bridge idea or not, these are all more-than-worthwhile organizations to receive your time, money or both as they work daily to support our area’s LGBTQ community. Follow the links below to understand more about the work of each organization and opportunities to support them. Please note that if you don’t see a “donate” or “volunteer” section on any of their websites, you may still call them to see how you can help out!
This recovery house and transitional shelter for the LGBTQ community is open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, and available to anyone regardless of ability to pay.
This place calls itself “the only residential recovery program in the country specifically for the transgender community, provides a safe, recovery-oriented environment in which people are treated with respect and dignity.”
This nonprofit creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth “to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community, and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society.”
The longest-running housing program for LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia provides housing education, case management and rental assistance to LGBTQ youth.
CHP provides an array of services for homeless young people, including a clinic, staff to help with going to college and finding a job, and one-to-one support to help young people plan, stay on track, and achieve their goals. CHP’s housing policy is trans-friendly and its staffers are trained to support LGBTQ individuals.
This org has been providing community-building and health and wellness services specifically for the Black LGBT community in Philadelphia since 1991.
This queer Latinx social justice organization writes: “We are unwavering in our commitment to the advancement de nuestra familia through leadership and economic development, sexual empowerment, and grassroots organizing.”
WOAR has a mission is to “eliminate all forms of sexual violence through specialized treatment services, comprehensive prevention education programs, and advocacy for the rights of victims of sexual assault.” WOAR provides free anyone who has experienced sexual violence.
This org is a “grassroots direct-service and peer-based advocacy organization of: women, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and trans people in Philadelphia’s sex trade, providing women and femme-centered services with a focus on women working and living in the street economies in Kensington.”
This nonprofit’s Community Health Centers “provide culturally competent comprehensive primary care, and state of the art HIV primary care to low income members of the community, along with research, consumer education, advocacy, social services and outreach to people living with HIV and those who are at high risk, including family members, communities with high rates of HIV, formerly incarcerated persons, and young people at risk; and access to the most advanced clinical research in HIV treatment and prevention.”
This org provides quality comprehensive health and wellness services in an LGBTQ-focused environment.
This org welcomes the LGBT community of Philadelphia and its allies every day of the year. “From social groups, networking events, and counseling and support services to art exhibitions and cultural experiences, the Center consistently strives to provide new and innovative programs for the LGBT communities of Philadelphia.”
This nonprofit provides free legal assistance in civil matters for low-income residents of Philadelphia, including issues that have a particular impact on LGBTQ+ individuals such as workplace discrimination, LGBTQ+ youth who are facing homelessness, public benefits and medical assistance issues, and more.
This grassroots, inside/outside prison advocacy organization works to address the needs of transgender people in Pennsylvania’s prisons, “building a movement for gender self-determination, racial and economic justice, and an end to the policing and imprisoning of our communities.”
This org has a mission to “ensure access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania. We pursue this mission by advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable students,” including LGBTQ students.
This org provides “opportunities, access and resources to LGBT professionals and allies in the Greater Philadelphia area” while promoting economic development, growth, diversity and leadership in the region.
Thank you to Generocity and the following people, who all helped me create this list: Rebecca Kenton, Jen Cleary, Frank Sherlock, Mijito Rico and @noahsnoseknows and @sc0wll on Twitter. If you have suggestions of organizations or nonprofits that we may have missed, please comment!-30-
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