Local News

The nation’s newest culture war played out on the grounds of a Philadelphia library last weekend, marking the first such local demonstration over a Drag Queen Story Time. 

A Christian group from Hanover clashed with community members outside the Free Library’s Lovett Memorial Branch in Mount Airy during an April 20 DQST  reading.

The Attic Youth Center has named an acting executive director and launched two investigations following damaging allegations that a minor was sexually assaulted on its premises and that former employees had experienced racial discrimination while working at the LGBTQ youth-serving nonprofit.

Attic board member Shawnese Givens stepped into the acting executive-director role, replacing Carrie Jacobs, who was immediately relieved of her duties when the accusations surfaced in early March.

Philly Black Pride and Woody’s are at odds this week after PBP claimed that the Gayborhood bar was throwing a PBP block party without the namesake organization’s consent. 

PBP President Le Thomas told PGN that AIDS Healthcare Foundation submitted a special-events permit to close part of 13th Street for a block party April 28 that would conflict with a party PBP is hosting around the corner, at Camac and Fawn streets. 

    On Wednesday, April 17, the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club held its election year endorsement meeting at the William Way Community Center. At that meeting, the LCDC voted on who to endorse in a variety of local races, including city council, city commissioner and various judgeships.
    The LCDC has spent the last several months researching the numerous candidates —a process that that included pouring over questionnaires candidates filled out delineating their positions on many of the issues important to the LGBTQ community. The last couple of weeks, the Club also hosted candidates’ nights, where the political hopefuls were invited to come and make their cases to the LCDC membership directly.
    This year, a record number of openly LGBTQ candidates are running for office, which made for some choices. While the Club perforce prioritizes openly LGBT candidates, being out does not grant a candidate a coveted LCDC endorsement automatically. The slate of issues LCDC inquires about is extensive, and one’s sexual orientation is only one factor considered. Also, prominent local politicians favored by the local Democratic Party organization are frequently passed over when the Club’s membership finds the candidate’s support of the LGBTQ community wanting.
    LCDC’s debate and voting process is private, open only to Club members, and not open to the press.
    One contest closely watched by the LGBTQ community was the battle between incumbent Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and challenger Lauren Vidas. LCDC endorsed Johnson over Vidas, in part, it was said, over concerns with the latter’s background as a paid lobbyist — a controversial decision that lead to a robust conversation among some of the Club's members.
    When asked about the controversial decision, Liberty City Co-Chair Alexander Olson said, “Our endorsement committee puts many, many volunteer hours into choosing who they believe the best candidates are for office in the Philadelphia region, and have decades of experience with this responsibility. After reviewing the record, they chose to recommend that the general body endorse Vidas given her strong credentials and record of service to the community. But our endorsement committee does not have the final say. Given that we are a democratic organization, we make sure all endorsements are reviewed and voted upon by the membership. The membership voted three-to-one to endorse Kenyatta Johnson for the seat.”
    In the crowded City Council-at-large race, endorsements went to Deja Lynn Alvarez who got the nod over out candidate Adrian Rivera Reyes. “Adrian and Deja both have powerful life stories that would empower them to have successful careers in City Council,” said Olson, explaining the rationale behind the decision. “That being said, Deja’s years of impassioned and effective service to the community are what pushed the endorsement committee in her direction,” she said.
     “We loved Adrian, and it was thrilling to have such a difficult decision before us, and are disappointed we did not have the ability to recommend more people. Although the organization did not endorse him, I will personally be voting for him.”
    Finally, for common please judge both out candidates, Henry Sias and Tiffany Palmer, were given endorsements — a decision that came without much controversy.

Here is the full list of Liberty City endorsements:

MAYOR: Jim Kenney

CITY COMMISSIONER: Lisa Deeley and Kahlil Williams

SHERIFF: Rochelle Bilal

COUNCIL AT LARGE: Deja Lynn Alvarez, Helen Gym, Erika Almirón, Derek Green, and Justin DiBerardinis

DISTRICT COUNCIL: Mark Squilla (1st District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), and Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District)


COMMON PLEAS JUDGE: Nicola Serianni, Wendi Barish, Anthony Kyriakakis, Henry Sias, and Tiffany Palmer


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week ordered the suspension of Dawn Segal’s law license for one year and a day.

Segal, an open lesbian, served as a municipal-court judge in Philadelphia for about six years until she was forced to leave the bench in 2016 due to improper conversations with another judge. The following year, she was permanently barred from holding judicial office.

Segal, 59, worked as a personal-injury attorney based in West Mount Airy after she was removed from the bench. The suspension of her law license goes into effect May 9.

Under state law, she can apply to the state Supreme Court for reinstatement. However, the reinstatement process is arduous and expensive, with no guarantee of success.

In a reversal of its decision, the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted to list a former bathhouse on the city’s Register of Historic Places.

This designation also is historic for another reason: It marks the first time that a building in Philadelphia will be listed, at least in part, because of a historical connection to the LGBTQ community.

The building once known as the Camac Baths sits on the southeast corner of Camac and Chancellor streets, between 12th and 13th streets, in the heart of the Gayborhood.

At the end of an overcast Friday afternoon, teens with rainbow stickers on their cheeks, advocate mothers with ‘X’s painted across their lips, city and state representatives filled with anger and pride, out principals and educators, and young LGBTQ student leaders gathered at the School District of Philadelphia Building for a welcoming party.

All were in attendance on North Broad’s District auditorium to usher in the long-awaited GLSEN Philly outpost (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and its organization devoted to creating safe and inclusive spaces in schools for LGBTQ students. The School District of Philadelphia may have taken powerful steps to codify all the rights of gay, transgender and gender non-conforming student into official district policy; GLSEN helps ensure those steps and safeties are enacted.

A protester allegedly set off a fire alarm and evacuated a college hall as a prominent speaker was addressing the public.

University of the Arts student Joseph McAndrew organized a campus protest April 9 when Professor Camille Paglia was scheduled to speak.

McAndrew, a nonbinary film-writing and television major, said Paglia had insulted the transgender community and sexual-assault victims many times, citing a YouTube video in which Paglia questions the validity of sexual assault victims who do not report crimes immediately. Paglia is heard saying, “If a real rape was committed, go freakin’ report it to the police.”

McAndrew said, “I find that she’s been able to go about being controversial with little repercussions, especially lately.”

 A family in Southwest Philadelphia is mourning the loss of an 11-year-old who they say died by suicide after he and his brother faced constant bullying at their school.

Phillip Spruill Jr., a fifth grader at Benjamin B. Comegys Elementary, ended his life April 5 in his Bartram Village home.

Spruill’s grandmother, Linda Lash-Smith, 56, told PGN that her grandson wasn’t a model student. He was a fighter. He had been suspended 15 times between November and March because he was involved in physical altercations on school grounds — but she said he had to fight to defend himself and his younger brother, who was harassed and threatened for being too “effeminate.”

“Now the only thing I feel about Philadelphia is it’s not safe.”

Those are the words of the longtime city man who was reported to have been attacked, sexually assaulted and robbed by two men outside the John C. Anderson Apartments, last Friday, April 12.

The alleged victim, a 69-year-old gay man who lives in the Anderson Apartments at 251 S. 13 St., spoke to PGN on April 17 in order to set the record straight on some reporting and offer more specific information.

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