Portraits

The film “Watermelon Woman” was a fictional tale about a filmmaker who becomes intrigued by a character actress she comes across in several old movies. She comes to find that the actress was a lesbian and involved with the leading lady. This week’s profile, Joseph Eckhardt, stumbled across a similar fantastical story but, in this case, it’s all real. And it’s magnificent.

Well, I’ve just seen a rare sight. Was it a glimpse of a UFO? Our president-elect saying something presidential? (I said rare, not nonexistent.) Me in running shorts? No, I just saw a Yelp review for a business that was 99.9-percent all positive comments. In this day and age of snarky remarks, that’s quite a feat.

As we celebrate the New You in the New Year, I decided to shed a little light on a local LGBT business. Open City Healing Arts is a wellness practice that embraces body and mind to help clients achieve maximum potential. Founded by Laura Hawley, the practice combines acupuncture and psychotherapy to help patients integrate the mental and the physical. And it seems to work; the testimonials on her page made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

When I worked at Sisters, I’d hear the usual grousing people do in this city and I’d always warn, “Philadelphia is one of the few cities with a lesbian bar open seven days a week with a bar and dance floor. Some day this might not be here and then you’ll wish you’d been more supportive!”

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?

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