Year In Review
Dec 27, 2012 | 1259 views | 2 2 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Coming and goings

Nellie Fitzpatrick, D.A.’s Office: The District Attorney’s Office brought on its first LGBT liaison, Helen “Nellie” Fitzpatrick, at the beginning of the year. Fitzpatrick is a prosecutor who has worked in the city’s Municipal Court division and its Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. She was tasked with opening up lines of communication between the D.A.’s Office and the LGBT community.

Ralph Godbolt, The Colours Organization: In the spring, the organization named Ralph Godbolt, a professor at Cheyney University, as its new executive director, following last year’s sudden death of director Robert Burns. Godbolt, an ally, teaches in a master’s of public-administration program and has a background in nonprofit management.

Chris Alston and Jeremy Taylor, Philadelphia Black Gay Pride: Chris Alston stepped down as president of PBGP after the agency’s June event, and Jeremy Taylor took over the post. Alston helmed the organization for six years, and Taylor began volunteering with PBGP in 2009 and joined the board the following year.

Dr. Marla Gold, Drexel University: Dr. Marla Gold, dean of the Drexel University School of Public Health, announced in the summer that she would leave her post in 2013. Gold, the only out dean at a public-health school in the nation, took on the position in 2002, as the fledgling school was in a tough financial spot, and went on to lead it to become a fully accredited, internationally recognized entity. She plans to spend more time with her wife and kids and will remain on Drexel’s teaching staff.

Deputy Commissioners Stephen Johnson and Kevin Bethel, police LGBT liaison: Deputy Commissioner Stephen Johnson, who served as the police department’s LGBT liaison for about two years, announced his retirement from the force in November after a more-than 35-year career. He went on to become the chief of police in Coatesville. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel, a 26-year veteran and head of the force’s Patrol Operations, volunteered to take over the LGBT liaison role.

Rick Piper and Frank Baer, 12th Street Gym: Longtime 12th Street Gym owner Rick Piper announced in the spring that he was selling the business to general manager Frank Baer, effective by the end of the year. Piper bought the gym in 1995 and undertook major renovations through the years and, during his tenure, membership nearly tripled. Baer has managed the venue for 14 years.

John Moeller and Samantha Giusti, Delaware Valley Legacy Fund:

At its annual TOY celebration in December, LGBT grantmaking agency Delaware Valley Legacy Fund announced that Samantha Giusti, former manager of nonprofit Women’s Way, would be its new executive director. Former DVLF director John Moeller stepped down in June, and Mark Dann was brought on as interim executive director.

Anniversaries Abound

Second-parent adoption: Pennsylvania saw 10 years of legal protections for same-sex parents this year. On Aug. 20, 2002, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could not be barred from petitioning for second-parent adoptions, which allow the biological or legal parent to incorporate a joint parent with equal rights.

Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus: The chorus marked its 30th anniversary year with a number of performances to pay tribute to the milestone. It opened the anniversary season with holiday caroling late last year — how it got its start — and undertook the final chapter of a trilogy piece in March and an anniversary concert in June, during which it performed a specially commissioned anniversary work.

Equality Forum: The multi-day LGBT education and awareness-raising festival marked its 20th year in 2012. This year’s gala dinner moved to the American Museum of Jewish History and included appearances by out MSNBC anchor Thomas Robert and Houston mayor Annise Parker. The celebration included a profile of Israel, which drew international guests and dignitaries, but also some local protestors.

Gay Community Night at the Phillies: Even though the Phillies didn’t have a winning season, the team’s 10th annual Gay Community Night was a success. Several-hundred LGBT guests attended the Aug. 28 game against the New York Mets, which was kicked off by a performance from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and a first pitch from event founder Larry Felzer. The Phillies ultimately lost, bringing its Gay Community Night to a dismal 1-9.

Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus: The organization that works to promote Philadelphia as an LGBT travel destination marked a decade in operation this year. The group was founded in 2002 by a number of local community figures and with the backing of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. PGTC held a 10th-anniversary party in November to mark its accomplishments and preview its upcoming agenda.

AIDS Library: Philadelphia FIGHT’s AIDS Library celebrated 25 years of innovative education in 2012. Founded in 1987 by John Cunningham and Heshie Zinman, the library is the only HIV/AIDS lending library in the nation. Supporters gathered to pay tribute to the library and its founders, staff and volunteers at a reception in September.

Penn LGBT Center: The University of Pennsylvania’s hub of LGBT activity marked 30 years this fall. The LGBT Center was founded by current director Bob Schoenberg in 1982, partly in response to safety concerns for LGBT students, and has since become the focal point of Penn’s active LGBT community. The center also marked 10 years in its current location. A reception was held for the campus community and allies in October.

In Memoriam
Angelo Becker, 46, died March 30 of skin cancer. Becker was a bartender at Uncles and 12th Air Command and most recently worked as a server at Chops, a Main Line restaurant.

John Bell, 64, died Sept 12. Bell was a longtime HIV activist and prison advocate and helped create Philadelphia FIGHT’s TEACH Outside initiative. He was also an activist with the local chapter of ACT UP.

Dr. Charles Bergengren, 64, died July 16 of unknown causes. Bergengren taught art history at Cleveland Institute of Art for more than 20 years and was a member of the American Folklore Society, Vernacular Architecture Forum and the American Gravestone Society.

Aaron Bradley, 28, died March 2 of an infection related to kidney failure. Bradley was a senior at Rutgers University and a former member of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus.

Catherine Burgi-Rios, 55, died Sept. 21 of leukemia. Burgi-Rios was an advocate for LGBT rights and worked for 11 years as an operating-room nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Martin Donohue, 49, died Aug. 24 of unknown causes. Donohue was a longtime UPS driver who brought the case that resulted in the first conviction for sex abuse of an Archdiocesan priest.

Ray Duval, 74, died Oct. 14 of a heart attack. The former house manager of the Prince Music Theater was an activist for underprivileged communities and theater expert.

Michael J. Fox, 30, died of blunt-force trauma after a June 22 robbery in his South Philadelphia home. Fox formerly worked at Woody’s as a barback and aspired to be a hair stylist.

Kathryn Furano, 47, died in February of ovarian cancer. Furano was former co-chair of the Philadelphia LGBT Task Force and was involved in the organization throughout the 1990s before moving to California.

Eddie Long, 44, died Nov. 14 of unknown causes. The Norristown native was a founder of the Keystone Boys of Leather and worked as a technician for ElectroScience Labs.

Michael McGonigle, 53, died Nov. 9 of a heart attack. McGonigle was a film lecturer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, previously worked for Theatre N in Wilmington, Del., and volunteered for QFest.

James Moritz, 74, died Oct. 12 of unknown causes. Moritz was a former music teacher and served as choir director for Philadelphia’s Friends Select School until 2000.

Harry Nixon, 68, died in March from a short illness. Nixon was a bartender who worked at Key West until 2009 and, prior to that, The Westbury and Tavern on Camac.

Joseph Reale, 57, died Jan. 17 of a heart attack. Reale was a manager for the Lancôme counter at the Moorestown Macy’s store, where he worked for more than two decades.

Dennis Rubini, 72, was found in his apartment March 23, having died of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Rubini taught history at Temple University from 1969-99.

Kenneth Sipos, 72, died July 28 of cancer. Sipos, a member of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and volunteer for QFest, Gay BINGO and AIDS Services in Asian Communities, held a number of positions in the city’s real-estate department.

Dr. Mark Ratkus, 65, died Feb. 14 of complications from a stroke. Ratkus was an economics professor at La Salle University since 1973. Ratkus, a longtime member of LGBT Catholic group Dignity, formerly served as faculty advisor for a student group that raised awareness of gender and sexuality issues.

Dr. Phillip Reeves, 52, died March 17 of complications from a stomach ulcer. Reeves was a Center City psychiatrist and a musician who served as Frank Sinatra’s lead string player.

Ed Schwartz, 69, died Nov. 29, likely of a heart attack. Schwartz was a former member of Philadelphia City Council and the husband of Philadelphia FIGHT executive director Jane Shull. He founded the Institute for the Study of Civic Values in 1973.

Arlen Specter, 82, died Oct. 14 of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Specter was Pennsylvania’s longest-serving U.S. senator and a longtime ally of the LGBT community. n

— Compiled by Angela Thomas

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 31, 2012
in addition to the losses listed in last weeks paper, let's not forget DENNIS RUBINI of Temple University (March), ALLEN L. FISCHER an accomplished cyclist and member of Team Philadelphia (March), and MAURICE SENDAK celebrated author and supporter of the Rosenbach (May).

December 28, 2012
RE: Anniversaries abound............

It was also the 10th Anniversary of Philadelphia including transgender people in the Fair Practices Ordinance.