Op-Ed

I was appalled and embarrassed to read that activists had bullied our gay and transgender police officers into stepping down from their formal role as grand marshals of Philly Pride. After the Greater Philadelphia Gay Officer Action League was invited to lead the parade, a Change.org petition circulated protesting the “impact” that inviting the group will have on the “accessibility and safety” at Pride — as if the gay and trans cops are going to drop their banners and start bashing skulls. Because we all know that simply being a police officer means you can never be trusted not to commit arbitrary acts of violence. The Liberty City LGBT Democrats piled on: due to the “important conversation” going on about police violence, “the invitation to GOAL sends the wrong message.” I’m sure Liberty City Democrats did feel quite “important” chiming in on this “conversation,” though it’s clear that they’ve drawn a conclusion on the matter far and away from that of most LGBT people in the city — and probably not even representative of most LGBT Democrats, a group of which I am not a part.

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*The below letter was sent to Philadelphia City Council on behalf of Philadelphia Family Pride, Equality Pennsylvania, William Way LGBT Community Center and Philadelphia FIGHT in support of the Sugary Drinks Tax.

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Any inmate who has taken a trip to Philadelphia’s State Road House of Corrections knows exactly what the terms “pumpkin patch” or “pumpkin suits” mean: They refer to the orange jumpsuits all inmates are required to wear, and when all of us are gathered together on a cell block, we look like a pumpkin patch. My soul flinches when I hear people talk about the popular Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” because, on the show, prison looks exciting, adventurous and integrated. However, if you ask any African-American who has been to a correctional facility in the United States, orange has always been black.

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Following the success of the Keystone Pride Conference on March 20, Philly Pride has listed all Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley events on our webpage (www.phillygaypride.org/keystone-pride-calendar).

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of The COLOURS Organization, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that has provided social-justice initiatives, community-building programs and HIV/AIDS related services to Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons since 1991.

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While rancor and posturing drives most of today’s political discourse at both the national and state levels, those of us in the real world are focused on the economic realities of growing our businesses, serving our clients and, in my case, nurturing my latest digital enterprise while writing another book.

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Republicans and Democrats may continue to spar over the budget in Pennsylvania, but they have come together to pass medical marijuana. In a true spirit of bipartisanship, legislation that would help bring relief to tens of thousands of children, adults and senior citizens suffering from the effects of serious medical problems passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives overwhelmingly last week and — when enacted — will be the first time in the country a Republican-dominated legislative body has passed medical-marijuana legislation.

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The crimes committed against Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught on Sept. 11, 2014, were heinous. As a community, we have the right to be outraged. Kathryn Knott, Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams, all young suburbanites, came into our city and, on the outskirts of our neighborhood, these outsiders viciously assaulted two of our own while calling them faggots. This outrages me.

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The budget isn’t the only thing the legislature didn’t get done in 2015. Because of the never-ending budget impasse, almost every other issue that Pennsylvanians care about was not addressed. One of those key issues is discrimination. Most Pennsylvanians are shocked to learn that it is still legal in the commonwealth to be fired from your job, turned away from a business or denied an apartment just for being gay or transgender.

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