And the winners are … Best of LGBT Philly 2014

And the winners are … Best of LGBT Philly 2014

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The votes are in!

We at PGN couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s Best of LGBT Philly, our biggest-yet readers’-choice contest! Thank you to all who voted — from those who cast votes for just one category to those who voted in every single slot, we truly appreciate your participation. PGN is a community newspaper, thus we love opportunities that let our community’s many voices be heard.

And this year, that voice picked a number of first-time honorees, as well as backed return winners. We extend congratulations to all of the winners — the work you do for our community may not always get the credit it deserves, but take this award as an acknowledgment that our community appreciates your efforts!

LGBT Event


It’s easy to see why OutFest takes the top sport for the city’s best LGBT event.

The citywide celebration of National Coming Out Day has all the excitement of Pride (block parties, local performing artists, tons of nightlife) but without the sweltering temperatures and the frantic pacing. It also features a more diverse range of events and vendors. It doesn’t hurt that OutFest doesn’t have to compete with similar flashy, bigger-budgeted events in neighboring cities. Every city and their mother has a Pride Festival but OutFest is something that is uniquely Philly.

LGBT Fundraiser

Indigo Ball

William Way is the region’s LGBT community center, open 365 days a year. The Indigo Ball is the center’s major fundraiser, taking place each October. The ball is one of the largest LGBT events of the year, and brings together people from all over the region to celebrate and support the mission of the center.

In 2014, the Indigo Ball celebrated the William Way’s choices for Ally of the Year Mark Aronchick (marriage equality), Humanitarian of the Year Reggie Shuford (ACLU-PA), Lifetime Achievement Award John Dougherty (IBEW), Community Partner The Attic Youth Center and Corporate Partner Comcast. The center also gave a special award to longtime board member and William Way treasurer the Hon. Ann Butchart. Guests remembered and acknowledged longtime friend of the center Gloria Casarez.

To find out more about the ball or to volunteer, visit the center at 1315 Spruce St. or contact 215-732-2220 or

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 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 so 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. Just this month we were named a Leader in Healthcare Equality for the third consecutive year by the Human Rights Campaign — that’s a distinction we are proud to uphold, and that we work hard to keep earning every day.

LGBT Sports Organization

Stonewall Kickball

Stonewall Kickball-Philadelphia launched this past spring and its impact can already be seen across the LGBT community in Philadelphia. We’re now finishing up our second season and have leagues that play on Wednesday night and Sunday. This winter, look for dodgeball and volleyball leagues. We wouldn’t have made it off the ground without our initial sponsor, Tabu Sports Bar, and are incredibly grateful to Penn 6 and Stir for their support.

The past several months have been incredible. Our motto is “changing lives, one red ball at a time.” Anyone who’s been around the Gayborhood in 2014 can clearly see that’s been happening. The organization is expanding, but the goal remains the same. Anyone can play, anyone can be a part of an amazing group of people.

LGBT-Owned Business

Swiger Photography

Swiger Photography is the company dedicated to capturing whatever shape your family takes! From parents expecting their first child, to the cast of a show at Tabu, to the growing-up moments like birthdays and graduations and everywhere in between, Swiger Photography hopes to be the company you choose to be a part of your family.

When owner Amanda Swiger began her business, it was from the ground-up with no formal training and the camera she borrowed from a boss. Over the last five years, she has grown a business that now shoots more than 20 weddings and 45 portrait sessions a year. After planning her own DIY wedding to her wife Jordan, she realized she never wanted one of her brides to do as much as she did alone, and from there Ever After Brides was formed. Designed for the client looking for more than just wedding coverage, this division of Swiger Photography offers photography, planning services and a built-in BFF in both of the Mrs. Swigers!

Whatever your ever-after may be, and whatever shape your family takes, Swiger Photography wants to be the one to capture it all and to show what a difference their family can make for yours.


Dan Mangini

A million thanks to everyone who voted for me once again! Having recently departed Philly for Miami Beach to pursue my master’s of social work and to continue my work in the HIV/AIDS field there, this is the perfect farewell to me! Philadelphia has been my home for 31 years and I have spent the last nine years working diligently in the LGBTQ community to make a difference. I hope that I did just that and will carry forward all the memories, skills and wisdom I have gathered along the way. To everyone at UPenn’s HIV Prevention Research Division, including my mentor and supervisor, Annet Davis-Vogel, a million thanks for giving me the opportunity to take my passion to the streets and for your belief and constant support of my abilities. To my coworkers in the testing unit and my clients, I miss you all so much and your compassion and resiliency will inspire me the rest of my days. For everyone who voted for me, all my deepest gratitude and thanks. Your support makes my work so much more rewarding. Thanks to all the folks at PGN. I ask everyone to continue to know your status, get tested and to roll up your sleeves and join the fight to help us find a safe and effective vaccine against HIV by considering joining a clinical trial at UPenn. Healthy, HIV-negative adults, 18-50, are encouraged to see if you are eligible. Call 1-866-448-7366. Thank you again!


Kenny K. at Tabu

It’s four in a row for Kenny K., who picked up the Best of LGBT Philly award in the bartending category.

Kenny has been part of the Tabu team since day one, when the establishment opened its doors in March 2010. A native of New Jersey who lives in Queen Village, Kenny brought to Tabu a wealth of experience in the restaurant/bar industry, specifically a dedication to establishing individual relationships with his guests.

“I love my guests,” he said. “I chat with my guests and want to make them feel like they’re at home. If a customer is sitting there next to a customer they don’t know, I make sure they get to know each other. That’s what keeps the bar crowded and keeps people having fun.”

Kenny keeps in touch with his guests by sending out hundreds of texts a week to let patrons personally know when they can stop in to find him behind the bar: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. for happy hour Fridays; and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.

When guests do come in, he always tries to be friendly and outgoing, keeping the conversation flowing and even making up witty nicknames for patrons.

“I have a great rapport with our guests,” he said.

Kenny expressed gratitude for the readers and patrons who backed him for this award.

“Thank you for four years in a row,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without my guests and their love and continued support.”


State Rep. Brian Sims

I can’t tell you how honored I am to have been selected by the Philadelphia Gay News readers as Best Politician. My first term in office has been a whirlwind, but I feel like we’ve all taken this ride together. Many of you were with me at City Hall during my ceremonial swearing-in, many of you were crowded outside the very same building when marriage equality came to the commonwealth, and many of you stood with me as we rallied together against a savage attack on a loving couple in our community.

Everyday I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to represent this city in our state legislature. I appreciate every moment I have fighting for Philadelphia and its hardworking, engaged and diverse citizens. It is an honor and a privilege to represent you. Thank you for standing by me through this first term, and all the support you have given my staff and me. We’ve done so much together in two years, let’s continue to strive to do better.


City Councilman Jim Kenney

There are few awards I have received that mean more to me than this one. Thank you.

To borrow a line from the excellent new movie “Pride,” “when you’re in a battle against an enemy so much bigger, so much stronger than you, to find out you had a friend you never knew existed … well, that’s the best feeling in the world.” That was exactly how I felt when the LGBT community rallied around my first campaign for City Council in the early ’90s.

Long before that moment and ever since, I have fought opponents of LGBTQ equality (aka bullies with lobbyists) and proudly carried the “unlikely ally” banner as only a straight, cis male, Irish Catholic raised in South Philadelphia could. Public support for LGBTQ rights was not always what it is today. I have been laughed at, criticized by the media and even threatened with excommunication [from the Catholic Church] for my consistent position on equality issues. While this all pales in comparison to the daily struggles too many LGBTQ Philadelphians still face, I learned a valuable lesson while performing in drag for charity last year: When a friend is in trouble, nothing is more important than digging in your heels.


Bar Food

Happy Hour

Place to See a Show


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 they are what have made us the best bar in Philadelphia, with the best happy hour and the best bartender. As we move toward 2015, we have much more in store for everyone with new events and a whole new look!


Fine Dining


What can be said about this restaurant that hasn’t been said last year, or the year before, or the two years before that? Year after year, Knock remains a favorite among our readers when it comes to places to enjoy a good meal or an adult beverage. This longstanding Gayborhood institution knows how to maintain a delicate balance of keeping their menu upscale, yet exciting and accessible to the diners who flock there night after night to delight their taste buds.

Seriously, can you resist the urge to devour cinnamon chipotle-glazed shrimp or some wild-boar sausage? We sure can’t.

Place for a Date

More Than Just Ice Cream

More Than Just Ice Cream is a casual restaurant/dessert bar that has been serving the Gayborhood since 1975. We have a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and an eclectic staff that makes everyone feel at home. This makes it an ideal spot for a casual first date or date night with that special someone.

We recently hosted our first gay wedding party (congrats, Peter and Dennis!), who three years earlier also had their first date with us. We hope to be able to tell more “dates turned into marriages” stories in the future.

Coffee Shop

Café Twelve

Cafe Twelve is a locally based café and espresso bar serving varieties of organic and fair-traded coffee, chai and teas. They also make great handmade, customized breakfast and lunch sandwiches on artisan-bread choices, as well as house-baked cookies, scones and muffins.

Café Twelve is known as a quality and premier Italian-style coffee bar that makes customers happy by providing a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of comfy couches, friendly staff and free wi-fi.

In a nutshell, Café Twelve is a neighborhood café that 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 and participates in 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.

Weekly Theme Night

Double D Karaoke at Venture Inn

Venture Inn is a community bar, a friendly place to feel at home and feel safe. We are a corner bar where pretension and attitude isn’t needed, nor is it wanted. Venture has been serving the community for over 40 years and we plan on continuing this for the foreseeable future.

Our karaoke is fun, campy and inviting. Salotta Tee and Fanci Dismount do a wonderful job of including everyone; regardless of your singing level, everyone is included.

It’s a perfect way to start off your week.

Monthly LGBT Party


Morgan Levine and Amber Hikes founded Stimulus more than five years ago to provide queer women a new nightlife option. The first Stimulus party was held in May 2009 and drew 150 diverse partiers — and now, Stimulus parties top more than 500 guests each month.

Each Stimulus event has a unique theme and draws new guests every month. Its founders attribute the party’s success largely to the diversity of the event — LGBTQ and allies of all races, genders and backgrounds combine for a night of fun and socializing. Levine and Hikes would like to thank PGN readers for voting Stimulus the Best Monthly LGBT Party, as well as Stimulus staff and supporters who continue to make each party amazing.

Join them at the Back 2 Basics party, 10 p.m. Nov. 8 at Tabu, 200 S. 12th St.

Dance Club


It’s closing in on 3 a.m. You are a tad sweaty and tired, maybe a little bit tipsy and making questionable decisions. You might be doing some serious damage to your health but, damnit, so far you’re having the time of your life. The DJ just put your jam on and you have to make one last trip to the dance floor. If this sounds like your night on the town, chances are you are at Voyeur.

Size matters, especially if you are the biggest, best and sometimes most-notorious nightclub on the scene. Long after most clubs in the Gayborhood have closed for the night, Voyeur is still packed, thumping and pulsating with people keeping the party going until damn near the break of dawn. Other clubs try to keep up with Voyeur’s dizzying variety of events, their impressive roster of guest performers and the sheer intensity of a night out, but they are all just bi-planes buzzing around the King Kong-like presence of Philly’s premiere gay dance club.



SugarHouse Casino opened in September 2010 as Philly’s casino and is currently undergoing a $164-million expansion that will bring more amenities and more ways to win to the Delaware Riverfront property.

Located in Fishtown, a mile north of the Ben Franklin Bridge, SugarHouse offers beautiful waterfront views. With more than two-million visitors each year, the casino features 1,606 slots, 62 table games, a 24-table poker room, fun and unique dining options and free valet and self-parking. The casino also provides free transportation via its Sugar Express trolley from nearly two-dozen locations throughout the city.

In addition to hosting a variety of events each week, ranging from live-music Fridays and Saturdays to meet-and-greets with Philly sports legends, SugarHouse is also an avid community supporter, sponsoring some of the city’s greatest traditions, including the New Year’s Eve fireworks and the Mummers Parade.

SugarHouse employs more than 1,100 people — which will increase to 1,600 after its expansion — and for three consecutive years has been voted a “Top Workplace” by and a “Best Place to Work” in the Philadelphia Business Journal four years in a row.

Non-LGBT Hangout (TIE)

New Heaven

Whether you’re looking for takeout, dine-in or drinks, New Heaven is a great spot for all.

Located at 11th and Walnut streets, the restaurant boasts a menu that includes Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes. From sushi to crab Rangoon to General Tso’s chicken, New Heaven offers fresh food and top-notch service. And the prices make a visit even more enjoyable.

With the close proximity to the Gayborhood and Center City, New Heaven draws a diverse crowd, from couples to businesspeople to tourists, as well as many LGBT diners.

Dirty Frank’s

Known as the Cheers! of Philadelphia, Dirty Frank’s is an ideal locale for down-to-earth socializing, affordable drinks and eclectic patrons.    Despite the often-revolving door of Center City bars, Dirty Frank’s has been an icon at

13th and Pine streets for more than 80 years. While dress codes and expensive drinks are common throughout Center City, Dirty Frank’s prides itself on being different: You don’t have to break the bank going to Dirty Frank’s, and you can still have a fun night out of good conversation with old and new friends.

  The venue seeks to give back to the community — showcasing local singers and bands and displaying artwork from painters, photographers and everyone in between on its walls. While not specifically an LGBT bar, Dirty Frank’s welcomes drinkers of all stripes.

Drag King
Travis Luvermore
    I have been performing as a drag king/male illusionist in the Philadelphia area since 2011. My first performance was with the Bro-lesque troupe at Picasso, and I have gone on to perform at such venues as Beagle Tavern, Dave & Busters and with Sandy Beach at Venture Inn. I have performed an array of musical genres and in the illusion of Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks and Sir Elton John.
    I am so thankful, blessed and honored to be a recipient of the Best of LGBT Philly 2014 for Drag King. The drag community of Philadelphia has been so supportive in welcoming me into their shows. I am blessed by the support I have received by the wonderful queens, advocates and fans who have supported me. I have been performing in the art of drag/male illusion since 2008 when I was introduced to it in North Carolina. I had hoped that when I came back to my hometown that I would have a chance to be welcomed into the drag community, and I have received a very warm reception.
    I look forward to more opportunities to grace the stage in the Philadelphia area.

Drag Queen
Brittany Lynn

    The founder of Philly’s infamous Drag Mafia — titled the “hardest-working drag queen” from City Paper and called “one of the top faces of Philadelphia” by Philadelphia Weekly — Brittany has been seen all over the country since 1996. Brittany recently returned to the TV screen with her “Celebrity Hash Tag” show on the Scrapple Report, airing Friday nights. Two years ago, Brittany was asked to form the first all-drag brigade for the 2013 Mummers Day Parade. This past New Year’s Day, Brittany and her brigade were seen leading the parade, with the addition of drag kings and transwomen. For her work, the City Council of Philadelphia gave her a citation making March 15 Brittany Lynn Day. Brittany will lead the parade again in 2015.
    Brittany loves her charity work for PAWS, Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutritional Alliance and City of Hope and, on Dec. 12, she will host “Night of 100 Qweens” at the Trocadero to raise money for MANNA and Out Philadelphia Athletic League.

DJ 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.
    Michaels has been a consistent supporter of the community, donating his services for a variety of events benefiting Mazzoni Center, Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutritional Alliance, William Way LGBT Community Center and more. You can find him at venues around the region including Voyeur Nightclub and Paradise Asbury Park.
    For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Performance Group
Liberty City Kings Drag & Burlesque

    We are thrilled to receive the PGN Best Performance Group award for the third year! 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 Nov. 15 at Voyeur for our eighth-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!

Suburban Bar
The Raven

    Owner Scott DeWitt and partner/manager Armando Martinez would like to thank the LGBT community for voting The Raven favorite ’burbs bar. Whether you’re taking a day trip to New Hope or coming for a long weekend, The Raven is where everyone ends up and, not surprisingly, we’re often the primary destination for many people coming to New Hope.
    During the warmer months, Sunday brunch and an afternoon at the pool are among the most popular ways to enjoy The Raven for the day, but we also have many special events going on throughout the year. We just introduced our new Latin Night on the third Friday of the month, but we still have Lipstick Mondays the first and third weeks, our All-Male Revue on Thursdays and quite an array of singers and pianists every week. Come visit this fall and winter, stay the night and enjoy one of our special events.
    The holidays are also a great time to come to The Raven and New Hope because the decorations and holiday cheer are unmatched. We will provide the food for the annual holiday Bingo to benefit FACT Dec. 10, and if you come to New Hope to see “Plaid Tidings,” playing at the Bucks County Playhouse, you can expect to encounter many of the cast at The Raven.
    New Hope is PGN readers’ favorite day-trip spot and we look forward to seeing you in the near future!

Suburban Restaurant
Poe Bistro Lounge/The Raven

    The transformation of the previous Raven restaurant into the Poe Bistro Lounge has been enthusiastically embraced by the LGBT community and allies since it opened during New Hope Celebrates Pride in May.
    Poe is a uniquely appointed and comfortable dining space designed by Stephen Thompson, former president at Interior Design Force, Inc., and the new look and updated contemporary American menu have brought a fresh feel and a revitalized dining experience to this longtime favorite dining establishment.
    The seasonal lunch and dinner menus stretch the American cuisine boundaries, and the Sunday brunch is extremely popular and considered one of the best in Bucks County. Menu options are crafted to offer something for everyone across the spectrum of personal taste. Consistency in excellence is of course the most important ingredient in all dishes.
    Walk-ins are always welcome but reservations are strongly urged, as seating is limited to 100, which includes the patio and outdoor dining at the gardens. Dress attire is much like that of the rest of the resort, lounge, bar and pool — casual and even a little whimsical. Never more will dining at The Raven’s Poe Bistro Lounge be ordinary.
    We look forward to serving you soon, with the promise that you will have a delightfully memorable experience.

Suburban Day-Trip Destination
New Hope

    On behalf of the team at Visit Bucks County, the tourism office for Bucks, we thank the Philadelphia Gay News community for choosing New Hope as “Best Day-Trip Destination” in the Best of LGBT Philly readers’-choice contest.
    The eclectic community of New Hope is the gay-friendly centerpiece of Bucks County’s breathtaking countryside. This artsy village buzzes with creative energy, independent spirit and a sophisticated yet casual vibe. With its history deeply rooted in the LGBT community, New Hope became a popular hangout for performers, musicians and actors when it was “discovered” in the 1940s. This vibrant town is now a melting pot of diverse artists, quirky shops, a robust theater scene and a celebrated destination for LGBT travelers. Art galleries, antique shops, vintage clothing stores and deliciously exciting restaurants and bars, complete with live entertainment, attract visitors and locals to its lively street scene and cultural events all year long. Each May, crowds gather for a week-long celebration during New Hope Pride Week and Parade presented by New Hope Celebrates, featuring live musical performances, dance parties, picnics, art exhibits and a grand parade down historic Main Street. We hope to see you in New Hope soon!

Suburban Pride
New Hope

    New Hope Celebrates is honored and proud to be the winner of Best of LGBT Philly readers’-choice contest in the Best Suburban Pride category for 2014! Thank you to all of our sponsors, supporters, volunteers and board members who work all year to promote the diversity of New Hope through regular events and, of course, our annual Pride celebration that kicks off each Mother’s Day. New Hope Celebrates Pride is full of great LGBT events, the area’s largest parade, block party, vendor fair, theater, arts, history, shopping, charming accommodations, great dining, live music, fantastic entertainers, dancing and Discover New Hope’s original gay resort — The Raven.
    Download our app on iTunes or Google Play (New Hope Pride) and visit our website ( for information on other activities New Hope Celebrates is a part of — including World AIDS Day, events co-promoted with The Bucks County Playhouse; our LGBT history project (; art and bar crawls and other events. We look forward to seeing everyone for Pride, May 10-17, 2015! n


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