Portraits

As any regular reader knows, I love this city. I’ve lived here long enough to remember when we were a punchline to a W.C. Fields joke and am pleased to have seen the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection grow from a place where your biggest culinary decisions were Pat’s or Geno’s to a highly regarded hub for top chefs and restaurants. We are a thriving metropolis that has been host to both the RNC and the DNC as well as countless festivals and major events. This month we put another feather in our bonnet (sorry, I’ve been watching the “Downton Abbey” marathon) as we host the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference. This marks the 27th year for the event, which is considered the premier political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBT social-justice movement. With an expected attendance of thousands, the event promises daylong institutes, trainings in the Leadership Academy, workshops for faith leaders and organizers and much more. All in all, there will be approximately 250 workshops and caucus sessions; four keynote plenary sessions; worship gatherings; film screenings; meetings; receptions and social events; and a multitude of opportunities for attendees to meet with and learn from each other.

This upcoming year is going to usher in challenges for most of us. Will we retain hard-fought rights under a (gulp) Trump/Pence administration? Will we see our friends or loved ones deported? Will we be forced to choose between a trip to the doctor and shoes for the kids? Will there be border patrols monitoring the Burger King bathrooms to make sure that we have the proper genitalia to enter?

Kwanzaa begins Dec. 26 and runs until Jan. 1.

It is a celebration that honors African heritage in African-American culture and is based on seven core principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). This week’s portrait, Meg Onli, embodies several of those principles.

Gary M. Kramer loves movies. The prolific freelancer is a contributing writer to alternative queer weeklies including, Gay City News in New York City, The San Francisco Bay Times and our very own PGN. His work also appears on the websites Salon, Slant, Bomb and Cinedelphia. He has authored, edited and contributed to several books, including most recently “The Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” As one reviewer noted: “Gary Kramer notices things I never caught, making me want to go back and watch the films again.”

Jermel Johnson is the first African-American male principal dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet. He made a name for himself early with his impressive jumps and high energy. Johnson has performed several leading roles, including as principal in George Balanchine’s “Square Dance” and Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which led to Pointe Magazine naming him one of their standout performances of 2013.

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