Person of the Year runners-up
by PGN Staff
Jan 03, 2013 | 1422 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ronda Goldfein

Among her work in 2012, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania executive director Goldfein spearheaded a discrimination case that drew national headlines and secured a successful outcome for an HIV-positive teen.

Goldfein led the case against the Milton Hershey School in Central Pennsylvania, which the previous year denied a 13-year-old Philadelphia boy admission because of his HIV status. The family consulted ALP, which filed suit in late 2011.

In the suit, filed in federal court, Goldfein argued that the boarding school, which educates underprivileged youth, violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Although the school reversed its ban on HIV-positive students and apologized to the teen this past summer, Goldfein continued to pursue the case.

In the fall, the school agreed to settle, paying the family $700,000.

Goldfein’s advocacy also has been integral in the ongoing Nizah Morris homicide investigation.

As chair of the Police Advisory Commission, a civilian-oversight panel, Goldfein has continued to press for transparency in how the case was handled by police and the District Attorney’s Office. She patiently addressed numerous concerns at PAC meetings about the lack of candor on the part of officials who say they’re conducting an ongoing criminal investigation.

The PAC is expected to release a report on the investigation in the coming months.

182nd District voters

Voters in the 182nd House District had a tough decision last spring but mobilized in force to elect Pennsylvania’s first out LGBT candidate for state legislature, Brian Sims.

Sims challenged longtime Rep. Babette Josephs, a strong LGBT ally, in a race that deeply divided the community. While some voters wanted to stand by Josephs, others were eager for new blood in the district, especially in the form of an out lawmaker.

Voters filled the room for the pair’s only debate days before the election, peppering them with questions. And when Election Day came, lines at many Gayborhood-area polling places were lengthy, impressive especially for a primary election that saw slight turnout elsewhere in the city.

The 182nd District eventually went to Sims, with just 235 votes separating him from Josephs.

While voters were asked to make a hard choice between two candidates with very pro-LGBT records and plans, they rose to the challenge and mobilized behind their favored candidate, engaging the LGBT community in the electoral process to an unprecedented degree. And, ultimately, they selected a candidate who set his own precedent in LGBT history.

Jaci Adams

Adams has long been a leader in the LGBT community, lending her personal experiences to help countless young transpeople.

Adams is an activist who focuses on both HIV and trans-health issues yet doesn’t preach from a podium; rather, she gets involved in on-the-streets, one-on-one outreach. When incidents arose last year, such as the murder of Kyra Cordova or the shooting of a transwoman in Northern Liberties, Adams was the go-to figure for many young trans people seeking information or guidance.

Adams is also a member of the LGBT Police Liaison Committee and participates in the body’s LGBT trainings for recruits at the Police Academy, speaking frankly and fervently about her experiences with anti-trans discrimination.

She has also emerged as a resource for those looking to understand the intricacies of aging in the trans community, and was one of several local subjects to participate in filmmaker Joe Ippolito’s forthcoming documentary on trans elders.

Stephen Carlino and Dennis Fee

Tavern on Camac and U Bar owners Carlino and Fee deepened their already-visible mark on the Gayborhood last year.

Carlino and Fee led the remodel of longtime Gayborhood icon Uncles, transforming the establishment, which they purchased in 2010, into U Bar, which opened in the fall. While the new venue retains some of the corner-bar charm of the former establishment, the pair gave the bar an updated look and feel, including full-length windows to open the spot up to the neighborhood.

In addition to implementing the needed makeover of the spot, Carlino and Fee have continued to be active community supporters. TOC sponsors teams in such sports clubs as the City of Brotherly Love Softball League and the Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League.

Councilman Jim Kenney

Philadelphia City Councilman-at-Large Kenney came out swinging for LGBT rights last year.

In December, Kenney introduced a sweeping LGBT-reform bill that calls on the city to, among other initiatives, offer an unprecedented tax credit for companies that provide domestic-partner benefits. The measure would also clarify the rights and responsibilities of the city’s life-partner designation, including inclusion in the city’s pension and survivor benefits for city employees.

In the summer, as protests spread in response to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to marriage equality and antigay donations, Kenney took to his own form of protest, firing off a letter to Cathy.

Kenney spared little in his letter, telling Cathy to “take a hike and take your intolerance with you.”

Earlier in the year, Kenney was also an outspoken advocate for the changing of the rating of the film “Bully,” which was given an “R” by the Motion Picture Association of America. Kenney also undertook a campaign to get thousands of local students to theaters to see the film, which documents the real-life impact of school bullying.

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