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For 20 years, Tommi Avicolli Mecca was the face of gay-activist journalism in Philadelphia and a fixture in Philly’s nascent LGBTQ community. “I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless,” he said of his work as a journalist. “I wanted to tell the stories that weren’t being told and amplify the voices that weren’t being heard.”

At 68, Avicolli Mecca is still an activist — working for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ and other communities — focused on the housing crisis, poverty and homelessness. The road from Stonewall to now has been one of self-discovery for the gender-nonconforming queer writer and artist.

Part one of a two-part series

It was supposed to be a sex game. 

It turned into a rape. 

Terrell Johnson was only 20, his partner, Matt, 26, forced him to have sex against his will. It’s an experience that, even five years later, Johnson has trouble discussing with all but his closest friends. 

State legislators and members of the LGBTQ community and its allies held a news conference in Harrisburg this week to announce the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation, and to implore citizens and fellow legislators to support it.

House Bill 1404 and Senate Bill 614 would provide protection at work, in housing and in business services for LGBTQ people by adding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the state’s nondiscrimination law, which was originally written in 1955. The law still only covers race, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin and disability.

A Pennsylvania senator is among three U.S. legislators who introduced a bill to expand health services and resources for the older LGBTQ population. 

U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) authored the Inclusive Aging Act with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

 

Seven months after the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission became the owner of an LGBTQ-oriented historic marker installed near Rittenhouse Square, it remains to be seen whether its language will be revised to recognize contributions of the the early transgender community. Revisions may hinge on whether the city elects its first openly-trans City Council member in November.

Roberta Hacker grew up in a small, mostly working-class, largely Mennonite community in Telford, 50 miles outside Philadelphia.

At 17, she graduated from high school, six years before the Stonewall riots.

Armenian trans woman gets threats after parliament speech

A transgender woman, whose address to the Armenian parliament caused uproar, says she has received death threats and is avoiding leaving her home because of security concerns.

Lilit Martirosian, who founded the transgender organization Right Side, told parliament’s human rights committee recently that her group had recorded more than 280 instances of violations of transgender rights.

Two notorious right-wing operatives, Fox News pundit Jacob Wohl and lobbyist Jack Burkman, have been revealed as the masterminds behind a plot targeting Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg with a campaign to damage his standing in the polls.

Burkman and Wohl are alleged to have recruited gay Republican men in an effort to implicate Buttigieg of sexual assault. The plan was devised to help President Trump’s reelection campaign against the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., who has become a media sensation in just a couple months. Burkman and Wohl viewed Buttigieg as a threat to Trump’s chances.

Victory Fund, the organization dedicated to getting more LGBTQ leaders elected to public office across the country, rolled out 17 new endorsements for the 2019 election cycle — and five of those include candidates running in Pennsylvania.

The latest list of endorsees emphasizes individuals running in less-flashy local government races in parts of the country where LGBTQ representation is critically low, including Virginia, Mississippi, Indianapolis and central Pennsylvania.

Eugene Brown, an openly gay resident of the Brewerytown section, calls anti-LGBT bullying a “national crisis” that needs urgent attention. Brown, 30, said he was targeted for bullying numerous times as a student at Olney High School and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.

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