Portraits

One of the premises of this column is that everyone has a story to tell. Recently I was chatting with the bartender at Toasted Walnut and was surprised to find that she is actually a Grammy-credited music engineer, who’s working at the bar as she works on growing her own record label.

When Stephan Hengst and Patrick Decker lived in the small town of PoughKeepsie, N.Y., they looked around and noticed that, though there were a number of LGBT folks around, they didn’t really have a place to congregate. That led them to found Big Gay Hudson Valley, which provided community, entertainment, engagement and fun for the region. Luckily for us, they’ve recently relocated and are now bringing those community-building skills to Philadelphia.

Throughout October, PGN is celebrating LGBT History Month, so I thought I’d shed a little light on some history that’s recently come to light. “Bandstand Diaries: The Philadelphia Years” is a fun book filled with stories, facts and figures about the groundbreaking show. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the opening song, and our older readers will remember Dick Clark and the cast of regular dancers while millennials will at least know the host’s name from the New Year’s Eve celebration that still bears his name. What many won’t know is that the show had a definite queer bent even before the word was reclaimed.

Once upon a time, “AIDS” was a word that was feared by all, from the general population to health practitioners to emergency-service providers. Since the first AIDS case was diagnosed in 1981, more than 600,000 Americans have died of AIDS — more than all the U.S. combat deaths since the beginning of World War I.

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