The shifts in our local LGBT community are somewhat of a microcosm of what’s happening on a national level right now.
Granted, we’re not embroiled in a Russian scandal (as far as we know!), but both locally and nationally, people are grappling with shifting priorities, learning how to be allies and finding new ways to work productively with people of varying interests. At the broader level, millions were moved to action by Trump’s election while closer to home reports of overt racism motivated an effort aimed at shedding light on and rooting out decades of institutional racism.
To that end, the city now has its first-ever Commission on LGBT Affairs. Though plans were reportedly in motion for the advisory panel before calls began growing for city attention on diversity and racism in the community, the city clearly listened in its formation of the group: Of the 23 members, at least 13 are people of color. Trans and bisexual members were sat, as were people of varying ages and socioeconomic statuses. The members represent a range of industries, experiences and, doubtlessly, points of view.
The city pledged that diversity would be top of mind in the selection process for the commission and followed through on that mandate.
This week also saw the ouster of Nellie Fitzpatrick as director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, a position that will now be filled by Amber Hikes. The city attributed Fitzpatrick’s departure to the need for a more “outward-facing” director.
Hikes brings a depth and breadth of experience that will be a boon for the office and the community. She said that among her priorities is combatting racism — which some critics contended Fitzpatrick did not do.
Fitzpatrick should be commended for what she accomplished during her tenure. From serving as a resource to community members in crisis to pressing for successful policy changes, she was able to secure tangible successes for our community.
We wish Nellie well in her new endeavors and welcome Amber back to Philadelphia and to her new position. Like all big transitions, this marks an exciting new opportunity for our community, and we look forward to the changes that will continue to come.
The shift in leadership and establishment of the commission reflect an evolution. These changes are not endpoints, but rather building blocks in an ongoing effort, one that has been growing, changing and refocusing for decades.
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