Best of LGBT Philadelphia 2015

Best of LGBT Philadelphia 2015

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The votes are in!

Our fifth-annual Best of LGBT Philadelphia has been our biggest and (we think!) best yet. We recorded our most-ever votes and saw a number of new winners, as well as welcomed several returning winners — including one that has won all five years!

The folks listed below all provide valuable services to our community and often don’t get enough thanks for their hard work. Your votes of confidence are surely meaningful to them, and encourage us to keep bringing back this effort year after year.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who voted. PGN is a community newspaper, so we love opportunities that let our community’s many voices be heard.

Without further ado, dive in and see who PGN’s readers chose as the best of the best this year ­— and read, in their own words, why they’re thankful.

Unsung Hero

Chris Bartlett

Many thanks to the readers of PGN who voted me Unsung Hero for this year’s Best of LGBT Philly. Though I don’t feel that my work has been unsung, it’s a true honor to be so acknowledged by the community I love so much.

I share this award with the committee who organized the “Speaking OUT for Equality” exhibit at the National Constitution Center, and especially John Cunningham, who thought of the exhibit and did more than anyone else to make it happen. I also want to acknowledge a number of my inspiring ancestors: Barbara Gittings, Gloria Casarez, Lois Lax, Dominic Bash, Arnold Jackson, Kiyoshi Kuromiya and Eric Rofes. I do my best to live up to the incredibly inspiring examples that they provided.

I also thank my colleagues at the William Way LGBT Community Center, who work 365 days a year to make sure that there is a welcoming home for LGBT people in all of our diversity. I consider myself part of a movement for LGBT liberation that started centuries ago and that will continue into the future — we LGBT people are key visionaries, creators, innovators and we make our city better by all of our hard work.


State Rep. Brian Sims

Thank you very much for this recognition and the opportunity to serve you. It’s hard to believe the amount of progress we have made over the last few years. We still have a lot of work to do, including passing the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. I hope you will join me in bringing full equality to the Commonwealth. Again, thank you for this acknowledgement. It is sincerely and deeply appreciated.


Jim Kenney

Jim Kenney is a lifelong Philadelphian and the city’s current Democratic mayoral nominee. During his 23 years as a City Councilman-at-Large, Jim was a leading voice for Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community. In the early 1990s, he introduced legislation to provide benefits to life partners of city workers. In 2013, he fought to provide additional benefits and protections to transgender citizens.

Late last year, Jim introduced and passed hate-crime legislation that gives LGBTQ Philadelphians the broadest such protections in the country. As mayor, Jim will continue to make sure that equality is not just a buzzword, but a way of life in Philadelphia.


Jason Landau Goodman

Thank you for honoring the critical LGBTQ youth advocacy that I am humbled to help lead in Philadelphia and throughout our state. As the founding executive director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, I have fought to advance freedom and justice for young LGBTQ people. As the principal lobbyist for PYC, I have worked tirelessly for the dignity of LGBTQ youth, particularly those facing discrimination and violence in schools, homeless shelters and foster care. With PYC’s new headquarters across from the State Capitol in Harrisburg, we have been able to be a stronger force in Pennsylvania government than ever before.

This year I marched from Selma to Montgomery, journeyed to Salzburg, Austria, and will have traveled nearly 40,000 miles throughout Pennsylvania in the work to create a better state for LGBTQ people. We have positively impacted countless lives and will continue to be a beacon of hope for the thousands of LGBTQ youth in every part of our state.

This work is rarely seen or appreciated. I am forever grateful to all those who support our efforts. One of my greatest hopes is that future generations of young leaders will be more clearly heard and respected because of our actions.


John James

Thank you, PGN readers, for this honor.

Want to live a long and healthy life? Much is happening now in biomedical research on the aging process, toward learning how to slow aging and repair some of the damage already done. I’m developing a new online newsletter  — — to explain this fast-moving medical and scientific work to the interested public.

I published AIDS Treatment News for 20 years, and now will use that experience to report on progress against another deadly and so-far-incurable disease: aging.


Bar Staff

Bar Food


Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar was created to be Philadelphia’s very own sports bar that catered to not just the LGBT community, but our allies as well. Commended as one of the first spaces and atmospheres designed to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable, Tabu has been focused on our customers and providing them with exactly what they requested: a great space with great drinks at great prices. We are thankful to have the best staff and customers because that is what has made us the best bar in Philadelphia, with the best bar food. We have continuously worked to improve for our friends, and 2016 will be no exception.

Non-Gayborhood Bar


Stir is honored to receive the award for best Non-Gayborhood Bar.

Leaving the comfort of the Gayborhood and crossing Broad Street is a daunting task, but we have been able to find our niche in a small alley in Rittenhouse Square. Stir continues to be the Cheers for the queers. It is a neighborhood bar that brings people together in a comfortable setting.

Our staff is amazing and goes out of their way to make old and new faces feel right at home. We wouldn’t be here today without the continued support of our loyal customers, whom we now call friends. You can follow our Stir Lounge fan page for the latest posts on events for the fall, and be sure to stop in for one of our daily happy hours to try one our cocktails off the new fall drink menu.


LGBT Theme Party

Stimulus Productions

In 2009, Stimulus founders Morgan Levine and Amber Hikes were disappointed by queer women’s nightlife options in Philly and decided to create their own events. In May of that year, Stimulus Philly hosted its first party at Stir Lounge and welcomed 150 diverse attendees. Almost seven years and many venues later, Stimulus parties are bigger than ever! The Stimulus ladies attribute the success of Stimulus to the welcoming atmosphere, exciting themes and refreshing diversity at each event.

Hundreds of LGBTQ people of different races, gender presentations and backgrounds come together each month for one purpose: to have an amazing time! Stimulus founders Amber and Morgan would like to thank the Stimulus staff, Stimulus family and PGN for making Stimulus Philly the 2015 Best LGBT Theme Party! Join them at their upcoming events: Back to School Sept. 18 and the Black & White Party Nov. 20 at Voyeur Nightclub, 10 p.m.-3:30 a.m.

Dance Club


The whole staff at ICandy would like to extend our gratitude to Philadelphia Gay News and the voters in the community who have honored us with the award for best Dance Club this year!

It’s part of our mission to keep improving and bringing something new to the neighborhood’s nightlife every single year. This year our big project was the renovation and opening of a state-of-the-art dance floor, a space to present great DJs and innovative shows on a regular basis, where everyone in the community can feel comfortable letting loose and having fun. Nothing could make us happier than knowing that our efforts have paid off with a great experience for our patrons. It’s you — our guests, our neighbors, the people who make this neighborhood the vibrant, rich and involved community that it is — that makes what we do worthwhile. This honor adds just a little more energy to our commitment to keep changing, keep improving and keep serving you. We can’t wait to see what’s next, together.

With love from everyone here at ICandy, both on the floor and behind the scenes, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy Hour


America’s gay sports bar, Boxers PHL, is the premier gay-owned and operated sports bar happily nestled in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. The concept of a gay sports bar might come as a surprise, but take a moment to think about it, and it begins to make perfect sense: A chill, relaxed setting where everyone can come together — male, female, gay, straight, black, white, Asian or Latino — and share a good time. Boxers PHL has become a destination, with its fundamental focus on supporting local sports leagues and sports fans. It has also become the go-to institution to watch the sweet eye candy behind the bar working shirtless and in the signature brand’s boxer shorts. There is really no other place like it in Philadelphia!

From the moment you walk in, you are always guaranteed a hot mix of sexiness and a good time. Their happy hour is second to none, seven days a week from 6-8 p.m., with brick-oven pizza, beer on tap, a pool table and many plasma screens for you to enjoy.

After work or after the game, Boxers PHL is the place for gay sports leagues and fans to meet. Stop by and be debriefed on what Boxers PHL is all about.


Fine Dining


The staff and management of Knock would like to thank everyone who voted for us! We know that we are only as good as the last meal we served, so we work hard each and every day to make sure our customers leave satisfied.

A special thank you goes to Louis Torres, our executive chef, for also making this possible. Through his leadership and culinary skill, he works to ensure quality and consistency for you, our clientele.

If you haven’t tried Knock for a while, you may want to come and dine with us. Try our small plates to share, from delicious ahi tuna to homemade turkey sliders, or choose from our fresh ample salads and savory entrées.

See you at Knock!

Place for a Date

Tria Café

Tria knows that sometimes it’s the environment that creates a romantic evening. (And you thought it was mutual attraction and common interests!) Without televisions, live music, karaoke or Monopoly boards, Tria makes it easy to give your date some well-deserved attention, and our award-winning wine and beer menus can help smooth out your rough edges. And since we all know that love creates unusual appetites, our beverages are complemented by our Euro-American menu of snacks, salads and paninis. Oh, and cheese. You do not want to forget the cheese! Nothing says “I love you”(or “I’d like to love you”) like wine, beer and cheese. And with Tria’s reasonable prices, even if you’re on a nightmarish blind date set up by “well-meaning” friends, at least the check won’t keep you up at night.

Tria Wash West has been proudly serving the Gayborhood since 2007, and we’re looking forward to many more years of watching Tinder profiles turn into real human beings at our bar, and lifelong partners celebrate their 247th quiet evening at a window table.

Thank you, PGN readers, for your support and integration of Tria into the community.

Coffee Shop

Cafe Twelve

Cafe Twelve is a locally based café and espresso bar serving varieties of organic and fair-traded coffee, chai and teas. If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet teeth, you can indulge in any of its house-baked cookies, scones and muffins or can swing by the establishment for heartier breakfast and lunch fare.

Food and drinks are just the start here. Cafe Twelve offers plush, comfy couches, friendly staff and free wifi, making it an excellent spot to kick back and relax or do some Gayborhood people-watching.

Neighborhood is the name of the game at Cafe Twelve, as the store invites the diversity of people from the area to meet, study or just stay relaxed by sipping coffee and enjoying the calm music in the background — all at a fair price.


Green Eggs Café

Green Eggs Café has three locations, including one in the heart of the Gayborhood at 212 S. 13th St. The eatery serves breakfast, brunch and lunch — offering unique twists and daily specials that take the meals to the next level, like with its red-velvet pancakes, pumpkin-overload French toast or kale, bacon and mushroom frittata.

The café is committed to serving high-quality food at a low cost, buying fresh and locally. It is also a strong proponent of environmentally sound policies, recycling all paper products, aluminum, glass and plastics; composting all food and organic waste; and using only biodegradable take-out containers.

You might not find green eggs on the menu, but you will find green practices.

LGBT Event


In 1990, Philadelphia was the first city to have a National Coming Out Day event.

This year, 2015, is the 25th Anniversary of OutFest, the largest NCOD event in the world, and the largest LGBT event of the year in Philadelphia, attracting more than 40,000 — which makes our fifth consecutive win in this category even more meaningful!

Every community group participates and every business does something special. It has the look and feel of an old-fashioned block party, only gayer!

Join us in the Gayborhood for OutFest, which falls this year on National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11!

LGBT Fundraiser

Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Fall Ball

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus presents its fourth-annual Fall Ball Masquerade Fundraiser Oct. 17 at Loews Hotel Philadelphia. The theme for this year’s black-tie-optional event is Carnaval. Presented by Geno’s Steaks, festivities include live and silent auctions, dancing, an open bar and our sexy Ball Boys. Performances include the Brasilian duo, Minas and our own select ensemble, Brotherly Love. The VIP reception will include a performance by New York’s Brazilian dance company Casa Brazilia, and special hors d’oeuves.

More than 300 civic, business and community leaders from the Greater Philadelphia area are expected to celebrate and raise money for PGMC. This year, we are pleased to announce that Jim Kenney, Democratic candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, and Dr. Russell Harris and John Casavecchia serve as our Honorary Committee co-chairs. Pennsylvania Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr., state Rep. Brian Sims, City Councilmen Bill Greenlee, Mark Squilla and David Oh, as well as Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, are among the members of the Honorary Committee.

For information and tickets, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LGBT Nonprofit

Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus entertains audiences, supports communities and fosters acceptance through exceptional musical performance. Since 1981, the PGMC has steadily increased its visibility in the LGBT community and among Philadelphia arts organizations. The regular subscription season includes concert productions in December, March and June. In addition, the chorus performs at cabarets, fundraisers and other community events throughout the year. Our select ensemble group, Brotherly Love, also performs at concerts and community-outreach events throughout the year. We strive to be leaders in the LGBT community and a resource to the wider community.

Working alone and in partnership with organizations that share our values, like The Attic Youth Center and ArtReach, we seek to break down the barriers of prejudice and ignorance.  We deliver a program with Philadelphia area schools through our community-outreach program, promoting music and cultural awareness and fostering acceptance and tolerance among youth.

Learn more or become a part of PGMC’s Signature Circle at Call 215-731-9230 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LGBT Nonprofit

Mazzoni Center

Mazzoni Center is Philadelphia’s home for LGBT health and wellness. Our goal is to provide quality and comprehensive health and wellness services in an LGBT-focused environment. We offer a continuum of care to ensure that the LGBT community and others in Philadelphia have access to the essential services in every area of life: from primary health care and case management, to counseling and behavioral-health programs, to LGBT legal services and beyond.

We’re always looking for feedback from patients and clients, so we can improve upon our services. The common thread that emerges from many of our patient stories is a feeling of sincere, personal attention to their individual needs. We think that makes us stand out.

We work hard to communicate respect and dignity for each person that comes through the door.

LGBT Sports Organization

Stonewall Sports

This has been a big year for the LGBT community in Philadelphia and for Stonewall Sports-Philly. We’ve been proud to be a part of it and are honored to be named the best LGBT Sports Organization in our city for the second year.

Stonewall Sports is fundamentally about building community, and anyone who has been around town on a Sunday knows that we’ve built quite a large and close-knit one. More than 1,000 players have worn a Stonewall uniform since our first games last June and we’ve given out thousands of dollars to local charities. For LGBT Philadelphians of all ages, living in our city is significantly better today than it was less than two years ago, and that’s in large part because people feel more connected. We run sports that anyone can play, because we want everyone to feel a part of this. It’s been a year of amazing growth and we couldn’t be more excited to continue to support and enhance the LGBT community here in Philadelphia.

If you haven’t yet, come out to a game and join us afterwards on Sunday. For many of us, it’s been life-changing.

LGBT-Owned Business

Swiger Photography

Swiger Photography is so honored to again be your best LGBT-Owned Business!

As a company dedicated to capturing whatever shape your family takes, we know how important it is to have beautiful images to remember those moments by. From parents expecting their first child, to the cast of a show at Tabu, to birthdays, graduations and everywhere in between, to starting your new life with the one you love, Swiger Photography hopes to be the company you choose to be a part of your family.

In almost six years, we’ve photographed more than 120 weddings, 70 families, 100 events and 90 individuals and we’d love to have you be a part of a wonderful family of clients who come back again and again!

In the last year, Swiger Photography has been able to partner with parties and events in our community like Sleepover.The Party, Dining Out for Life, BASH Events and Pulse, as well as collaborate with Ash.Events to produce the first-ever all-LGBT-styled wedding shoot here in Philadelphia. This event allowed for so many wedding creatives to come together and show three unique ideas of how lesbian couples can look on their wedding day, but more than that, it fostered an idea that when we as an industry and community come together, #lovewins.

We’d like to thank our amazing group of clients, friends and family who voted for Swiger Photography the last two years. Without you and your constant support and love, this wouldn’t have been possible. I’d also like to thank my incredible wife, Jordan. It’s because of you I have the name Swiger for this business. You’ve been to hundreds of shoots and meetings, supported this dream and cheered me on when I lost sight of what I was doing in the first place. I couldn’t do what I do without you or ask for a better person to have by my side. 

If you are in need of a photographer, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit our website at or like us on Facebook to see what we are up to!

Non-Bar Hangout

Wiliam Way LGBT Community Center

Many thanks to the PGN for this wonderful recognition! We work very hard to make our space welcoming, engaging, stimulating and accessible for all members of our many communities. We’re open 365 days a year — even in blizzards, heat waves and papal visits — providing warm smiles and wifi, counseling and card games for all who come through our doors. From Loft 23 — our weekly game and discussion night for friends in their late teens and 20s — to Mornings Out — our boisterous senior men’s social group — there’s a place for everyone here. The coming months will see even more activity in our space: a trans mentorship program born out of our successful weekly TransWay group, more programs for exploring the lives of LGBTQ people of faith and new LGBTQ-focused art exhibits (our gallery is open every day and always free).

Stop by any time. We can’t wait to see you!

Drag King

Timmy Tenderloin

I have been performing as Timmy Tenderloin since winning Mr. Philly Drag King and Mr. Philly Gay Pride 2013. It is such an honor to be the recipient of the Best of LGBT Philly award for Drag King.

This community is amazing and I would be nothing without the fierce people who have helped me on my journey. Drag and performance have been such a positive outlet for me, as well as an unmeasurable vessel for my continuing self-discovery. As a person who is clean and sober, my gratitude continues to grow with humble realities like this. Liberty City Kings Drag and Burlesque have been there from the beginning and I am so proud to perform with them every first Saturday of the month at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar.

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me and for all the people who continue to support me at shows and events. I love you all so much. The community’s continued support at shows and events is what most fills my heart with joy and thankfulness. Don’t forget to be yourself and dance like everyone is watching!

Drag Queen

Brittany Lynn

I really want to thank my Philadelphia LGBT community for its constant support in what has been nearly two decades of fun and work. Together, we have broken down so many barriers separating the different communities here in what was once considered “our little gay bubble.” With your support, I have marched with a brigade of drag kings and queens at the very front in the city’s biggest parade on New Year’s Day, broke the Guinness Book of World Records for most drag queens on stage in one show at one time, been cited by City Council for my work with our local government and have raised thousands of dollars for such amazing charities as MANNA and City of Hope.

Your belief in me and my abilities is what drives me to keep doing more for our city.

PGN gave me my first adult job, as the editorial assistant for an amazing publication that is still at the top of its game and set the standard for my career in helping to enrich the lives of my gay brothers and sisters. In a time where gay marriage has been legalized, we have the gay flags on our city streets and the Pride flag raised at City Hall, please realize how lucky we are to live in a city like Philadelphia.

Thank you!


Carl Michaels

DJ Carl Michaels plays fun and funky music for a broad variety of audiences, but has most notably been a fixture in Philly’s LGBT nightclubs.

He fuses dance music from across the spectrum to cater to the melting pot that is Philadelphia’s LGBT community. Carl has been a consistent supporter of the community, donating his services for a variety of events benefiting Mazzoni Center, MANNA, William Way LGBT Community Center and more.

You can find Carl at venues around the region including Voyeur Nightclub and Paradise Asbury Park.

For more information, check out or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Burlesque Act

Liberty City Drag Kings & Burlesque

We are thrilled to receive the first PGN Best Burlesque Act award!

Our mission is to produce fun, sexy, thought-provoking and fabulous performance art that blends, bends and blurs gender lines, satire and politics from a place that is sex-positive, body-affirming and gender-aware … as well as downright fun.

As the most diverse performance troupe in Philly, we feel it is vital for our stage to reflect the different bodies, sexualities, kinks and genders in our diverse communities. A strong Glitter Family value we also hold is to give back to our community. Each of our monthly Vixens & Vagabonds Queer & Kinky Cabarets (every first Saturday) raises money for local organizations. This year alone we have raised nearly $5,000 for our community. We hope you will join us later this fall at our ninth-anniversary show, Tricks & Treats, showcasing our best numbers from the past year!

We would like to thank our longtime sponsor Sexploratorium/Passional and our performance home Tabu for all their support. Lastly, thanks ’n’ spanks to our fans. We love what we do and we love to do it for you! We are Philadelphia’s Genderfuck Royalty!

Place to Visit in Bucks County

The Raven

Established in 1979, The Raven has become a New Hope institution, attracting both residents of the bucolic Bucks County town and visitors passing through.

The multi-faceted bar, restaurant and hotel offers top-notch service and entertainment year-round. In the summer, guests can enjoy Sunday brunch followed by a dip in the pool, and in the winter, the venue is decked out with holiday cheer. Special events include cabaret shows, drag performances, tea dances and more.

The Raven’s eclectic menus offer something for every diner while the extensive wine list adds the perfect touch to any of the many choices. The beautifully crafted oak-paneled walls, friendly bartenders, colorful guests, fabulous music and the best drinks in town have made the bar at The Raven a must for travelers from all over the world.

Come up for the day or the weekend and see all that The Raven and New Hope have to offer.

Spot to Shop on the Main Line

Suburban Square

Open-air malls stuffed with the hippest shops and boutiques are a dime a dozen, and they are slowly putting their more cumbersome enclosed brethren on the endangered species list. But Suburban Square really stands out from the pack, thanks in large part to its bucolic suburban setting. The Square also eschews the usual eatery chains for more upscale dining and its own Farmers Market, featuring the best meats, sweets and produce to be had in the area. Fresh threads and fresh cuisine are an unbeatable combination.

Consider your credits cards maxed out. 

Beach in New Jersey

Asbury Park

Immortalized by the music of Bruce Springsteen, revitalized by its growing LGBT community and immensely blessed by the fact that it is not the setting for “Jersey Shore,” Asbury Park is the friendliest place to be found on the coast.

Asbury offers an eclectic mix of entertainment, energetic nightlife, arts, shopping and traditional summer beach activities for those vacationers unwilling to leave the state of New Jersey. Forget what you see on TV. The real Boardwalk Empire is Asbury Park. 

Bar/Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach

Blue Moon

For almost 35 years, Blue Moon has been giving the good people of Rehoboth Beach the best of fine dining seven days a week, as well as the live entertainment ranging from cabaret and karaoke to drag divas and dance parties. Loyal customers and new fans of the eatery are constantly drawn to Blue Moon’s three-decade tradition of excellence, which hopefully will continue for years to come.

Whether you want to fuel up for the weekend with a delicious brunch or get the night started with a gourmet dinner, good food and good times in Rehoboth Beach always get started at Blue Moon.


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