I have a confession. I come from a family of maternal packrats. My mother was/is a hoarder, just shy of us calling Dr. Phil on her (or better yet, Niecy Nash from “Clean House,” since we share a last name and all). Her mother was a “collector” and I fear I have some of the same tendencies. Especially in this day of going green, I get a knot in my stomach when I throw something away that I think someone else could use. Fortunately, I’ve found a way to end the cycle: PAT, otherwise known as Philadelphia AIDS Thrift. I decided to clean out at least a portion of my basement in the summer, but where to take my old cassette tapes and computer parts from the days before I went Mac? I felt slightly embarrassed, fearing they’d look at me with scorn, like the Main Line thrift store I tried last summer: “We don’t take Atari!” Fortunately, at PAT, a young man with a broad smile greeted me, and treated me like I’d just brought in my firstborn as a gift. “We can definitely put these out, I’ll find someone who could use them ...” He was so enthusiastic I came back the next day with another trunkload. Little did Adam Proctor know, he may have just ended my family curse. A real people person, Proctor embodies the bumper-sticker adage “Straight, but not narrow.” I spoke to the community ally about his work at Philly AIDS Thrift.

He holds many titles: Mr. Philadelphia, Master At Arms for the Philadelphians MC, Mid-Atlantic leatherboy 2008, founder of the Keystone boys of Leather, host of Laid Saturdays. But Stephen Mercer’s about to get a new title: husband. Mercer, aka boyshark, took the time to meet me one week before he exchanged vows.

We have some real-life heroes in Philadelphia, and the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund will honor them Sept. 25 at its third annual HEROES Party, a fundraiser recognizing leaders and allies of the region’s LGBT community. This year’s recipients — Gloria Casarez, the city’s director of LGBT affairs; the nonprofit group AIDS Fund; and the corporate awardee PNC Wealth Management — were chosen by members of the community who had attended prior Heroes events and with input from numerous community organizations. We took a moment to speak with Ron Lucente, a member of the Heroes planning committee.

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