In looking towards the future, it is important to recognize the emerging leaders among the seasoned network of LGBT people in the region who will continue to carry the LGBT-rights movement into the decades ahead.
PGN has identified 20 LGBT people from the ri-State area whose body of work is already impressive — and whose potential is just as promising. At the end of the year, when the community looks back on the work that was accomplished in 2013, it is likely that many of these figures will be integral in those successes.
Philadelphia native Torres has delivered on his goal of serving the public.
Torres, 28, has worked for city government for about four-and-a-half years, currently serving as assistant managing director for administration in the Managing Director’s Office. He has also been president of the board of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative for nearly two years.
After earning his bachelor’s in applied communication in 2006 from Temple University, he lobbied successfully to turn his nine-month fellowship in the Managing Director’s Office into a full-time position.
Among his city hats, Torres coordinates Global Philadelphia, the city’s language-access program.
“We want to make sure that our city services, across all departments, are accessible to people who don’t speak English,” Torres said. “I feel I’ve made a solid impact through Global Philadelphia, making sure folks who need to interact with the city are able to be served in their own language.”
He also manages the Managing Director’s Administrative Services Unit, a title that comes with tasks such as writing the office’s budget.
Torres joined GALAEI’s board in January 2011 and was appointed president a few months later.
“We’ve seen some challenging times but it’s been great to see GALAEI grow and to be part of the renewal of an agency that is continuing to grow,” he said. “I’ve been able to help [executive director] Elicia [Gonzales] work towards our mission and reinvigorate GALAEI as an agency.”
Having feet both in the nonprofit and government worlds has further diversified his understanding of public service.
“I’m probably going to stay in government for a time, but I definitely see my life’s work focusing on public service, whether that’s in government or at a nonprofit,” he said.
Former Philly resident Wegman is back in town — and so is her popular lesbian mixer.
Wegman, 47, moved back to Philly, where she spent the better half of the last decade, in 2011, after a two-year hiatus in San Francisco, and in December of that year resurrected Sam’s Philly Mixer, a social outing for lesbians and allies that she previously operated for about two years.
She launched the party at neighborhood watering hole Dark Horse, whose staff suggested the idea.
“I didn’t really consider myself a party-starter, but my experience within the community wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for; I wanted a place I could go to just hang out and feel warm and welcome, not really the club environment,” she said.
Wegman, a native of Columbus, Ohio, said the mixer immediately flourished, especially with the aid of social-media sites like MeetUp.com.
When Wegman, who works as director of sales operations at Accenture Life Sciences in Wayne, came back to the city, the demand was still there for the event, which she said has seen remarkable growth in its second incarnation.
Sam’s Philly Mixer is held the second Thursday of the month at Dark Horse and attracts a diverse group of lesbians and their friends for drinks, food and personal and professional networking. Wegman said it also gives her the opportunity to give a shout-out to and fundraise for local agencies, such as she has done for Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, whose board of directors she recently joined.
The last mixer drew about 75 guests, and Wegman recently launched a similar mixer in the suburbs, is in the process of starting one in Rittenhouse Square and is in talks for a weekend event as well.
“I’m very proud of it and proud of the success it’s had,” she said. “It’s the greatest compliment when people come up to me and say, ‘This is like nothing I’ve ever attended.’ I wanted this to be something different, and to have it just feel like you’re hanging out at a friend’s house. There’s no cliques. Real friendships develop. And it’s great to see.”
Dawe is using his experience in the nonprofit sector to bring enhanced LGBT leadership to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Dawe, 31, has served as executive director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Rainbow Alliance since 2004 and has vastly expanded the agency’s reach within that time.
The Lehman native holds a bachelor’s in computer science and marketing from Mansfield University, is a Certified Fundraising Executive and is taking graduate classes in nonprofit administration at North Park University.
NEPA Rainbow Alliance is the only fully incorporated agency dedicated to serving the LGBT community in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The organization does not have a physical headquarters but provides resources similar to a community center in a mobile format.
Shortly after the group launched in 2004, it undertook a comprehensive-needs assessment of the local LGBT community.
“We have since moved all of the identified needs off the top-10 list,” Dawe said. “And that’s given us the chance to look into the next level of needs.”
For instance, Dawe said the agency previously worked to make the community aware of legal resources if they faced discrimination; now, the group, which is also undertaking a new effort to diversify its funding sources, is working closely with Equality Pennsylvania to pass local ordinances that ban LGBT discrimination.
“We have an increased focus now on getting to the root of some of the problems,” he said. “We’re going to be really looking at the root causes of problems like LGBT homelessness in our region and staying heavily involved in antibullying initiatives in our schools. We’re moving from treating the symptoms to treating the cause.”
Aagenes quickly made a name for herself in Philadelphia — and across the state.
Aagenes, 24, is district director for Rep. Brian Sims, and serves as executive director of GO! Athletes, which works to empower LGBT student athletes.
The Bucks County native graduated from University of Pennsylvania with a major in gender, culture and society and a minor in Hispanic studies.
After graduating in 2010, Aagenes, who identifies as bisexual, worked as a clinical research assistant at the Adolescent HIV Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and joined Sims’ office in January.
“I manage our Philadelphia office, overseeing constituent services, fostering and building organizational relationships and directing community outreach and engagement,” she said. “Although it’s only been a few months in this new position, I absolutely love my job, the people I work with and the constituents I am able to service each day.”
She was named executive director of the GO! Athletes in April, and has since joined the GLSEN Sports Project Advisory Group and taken part in panel discussions at the 2012 Nike LGBT Sports Summit and NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Summit. Aagenes also serves on CHOP’s Connect to Protect Housing Committee, which advocates for LGBT homeless and runaway youth.
With so much under her belt already, Aagenes said she’s often asked what her next venture will be.
“I am excited for future projects, challenges, opportunities that will direct me in my career plans. In the meantime, I am very happy with my life in Philadelphia and will do the best I can to make a difference right for the local and national LGBTQ community.”
Clayton, Del., native Remy is ready to take the trans arts scene by storm — starting with a new art gallery.
Remy, 28, is the director of advertisement and design for LynchPin Creative Marketing, and has lived in the city for nearly a decade.
The Moore College of Art and Design graduate is gearing up to open his own Gallery Kinetic next month.
“I live in Northern Liberties and it was something I wanted to do for the community. It will offer a spotlight on LGBT emerging artists. They don’t have to pay a fee to be in a show and they will get 100-percent commission in sales,” he said.
Remy has also worked on trans-specific campaigns with Hollaback Philly, which fights against street harassment, and is the founder of the largest transgender-resource website, Blitztrans.org.
One of his greatest accomplishments, he said, is MixTape, an event that featured live performances to raise funds for locals to undergo gender-reassignment surgery from Dr. Karen Rumer.
“It is a great feeling knowing that people came out and raised $5,000 for surgeries. I helped three transgender men have top surgery in the past year,” he said.
Remy, who describes himself as an artist first and a designer second, has had his artwork shown throughout the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania area, and said he ultimately hopes to have his own artist loft for LGBT artists to have an affordable place to both live and work.
“I have advanced so far in my art that I want to help give others that opportunity as well,” he said. “In schools, the art programs are just dying, and if I can give them that opportunity in a space that has high traffic, then I will do that.”
Love has a background in the arts but has dedicated the past several years to improving the health of LGBT youth.
The Ventnor, N.J., resident has served as a health educator with South Jersey AIDS Alliance since 2008, where he focuses on HIV testing and counseling at its drop-in center, Oasis. Love, 31, also runs the organization’s MPowerment program for LGBT youth of color.
“The main focus is to provide a supportive environment for these young people so that they don’t feel isolated,” he said. “We want to give them a place to go to with questions and concerns regarding everything from sexual health to their future to their self-esteem.”
The Montclair University theater major came to the Alliance after living in New York City for several years, where he performed in several off-Broadway productions. He also worked on initiatives that sought to bring arts education and dance to lower-income communities.
Love spearheaded MPowerment’s National Coming Out Day celebration on Steel Pier in Atlantic City in the fall, one of the capstones of his youth work, he said.
“We had a great deal of support from the community and were able to host this event with a shoestring budget. People really enjoyed themselves and were able to come together in a place that’s often not very supportive of this community,” Love said. “There aren’t many places in this area if you’re looking for a community. So that made it even better, to see all these people who brought their family members and we had this huge supportive environment.”
Love said he’s eager for MPowerment to continue to reach more young people in need.
“I see the project growing, being a place of hope and of light for people,” he said. “I want young people to understand that there is a space for them to come and be who you are, ask questions, get information and feel safe. That’s my hope: to make this even bigger and bolder.”
After attaining a bachelor’s degree in sociology and public health in 2011 from Boston University, Bucks County native Foster returned to the area to put his studies right into practice.
Foster, 25, is now a Philadelphia resident and a prison medical case manager at ActionAIDS, a position he’s held since 2011 that allows him to work with HIV-positive inmates and those recently released from the Philadelphia Prison System.
During his time in Boston, he did HIV outreach and testing and said he learned how to effectively deliver positive results to clients and help them navigate their next steps.
“It was a logical fit to move into this work, working with people who’ve already been diagnosed and now working to get them into care, into housing, all the things that they need to be healthy,” Foster said.
He was recently promoted to oversee a staff of care-outreach specialists.
Foster’s community work began when he was a teen: He became involved as a participant in Bucks County’s Rainbow Room, and went on to volunteer for the agency at events and as a peer counselor. During a break from college, he joined Rainbow Room’s staff as an education assistant.
Once he moved to Philly, Foster joined the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, where he has performed as a soloist and is a member of the select ensemble, Brotherly Love.
Foster said his LGBT and HIV/AIDS work has solidified his passion for his current career track.
“Every position I’ve had, when I look back on it, has led me further and further into social work,” he said. “I’m really proud of the work I’m doing now with Action AIDS. These clients who are coming out of incarceration, especially with HIV, don’t have a lot of support; some had families disown them because of their sexuality, because of their status, because of their criminal history, so having the support that we can give them is really important. And I love being able to provide that.”
The Community College of Philadelphia has a new LGBT presence on campus, thanks in large part to Cooks.
Cooks, 35, is a native of New Jersey who first moved to Philadelphia at age 19 and returned in 2007. She attended Pierce College, studying business administration, for two years before transferring to CCP, where she majors in liberal arts with a concentration in philosophy and a minor in psychology.
A member of the academic honors list and the Student Leadership Society, Cooks launched the campus’ gay/straight alliance in the fall.
“There was not a group in existence and, as a student and a member of the LGBT community, I felt that it was important for people of the trans experience and all people in the LGBT community to have safe spaces on campus,” she said.
She has also facilitated the TransWay group at William Way LGBT Community Center, volunteered at the center’s front desk and been involved in its peer-counseling program. Cooks has additionally served on the planning committee of the Trans-Health Conference and last summer facilitated a trans-support group at The Attic Youth Center.
In December, she launched her own consulting company, Making Our Lives Easier, LLC, to offer quality resources and information for underrepresented populations.
Ultimately, Cooks said, she’s eager for the trans community in Philadelphia to gain streamlined access to programs that meet its needs.
“A lot of things are available to gays, lesbians and bisexual people, but I really feel like the trans community needs unity and togetherness in its programs, so hopefully at some point in the future we can have something here in Philadelphia, one centralized location that caters to all of the needs of the trans community.”
Philadelphia native Schonewolf is a self-described food blogger who can’t cook. Thankfully, his success at event planning is better than his culinary skills.
Schonewolf, 31, runs the blog Josh Can’t Cook, which he began in 2010 to record his ventures with food.
Schonewolf graduated with a degree in communications from Temple University in 2005. He can also be seen at Tavern on Camac and Stir, where he occasionally bartends.
The blogger has held a number of charity events for LGBT organizations in the Philadelphia region, including a drag ball where all proceeds went to The Attic Youth Center. Schonewolf is also hoping to develop a concert in the springtime for LGBT performers in the area.
“One of my biggest accomplishments has been growing and nurturing my relationships with the LGBT community in Philly,” he said. “I hate when I find out that individuals in the LGBT community are bashing each other. We are all from the same community and we need to find a way to work with each other.”
Schonewolf said he ultimately hopes to turn his blog into a television show and has already been approached by several channels and filmed pilots for the Food Network.
He is also working on developing his own event company with another well-known Philadelphia event planner.
“People think we hate each other, so we decided to start our own company together,” he said. “I want to try and have cute events for the LGBT community that are cool and are food-related.”
Cheatham has been in Philly for about three years and has already made major strides for LGBT equality both locally and beyond.
Cheatham, 27, is the creator of the IDentity Kit, which offers resources and information for LGBTQ Christian youth.
She launched the project last year as a small booklet, and it has since blossomed into a much larger print publication and a 10-week workshop series that is quickly taking off.
Cheatham, a ghost writer who earned her master’s in creative writing from Antioch University last year, saw religion-based homophobia firsthand in her own life — and in her cross-country trip last year as a SoulForce Equality Rider.
“I was raised in a very conservative household and when I came out as a lesbian, I learned a lot about LGBTQ culture and it was a very new experience. And then being in those spaces with SoulForce where we collectively were standing up for our identities in these conservative spaces was very eye-opening,” she said.
The IDK Project explores those issues further.
“There’s a disconnect between the LGBTQ lexicon and what exists in some religions and religious language,” she said. “So in creating the kit, I found that I have to explain those lines there. And that then morphed into the workshops, whose curriculum coincides with what’s in the kit. It’s grown tremendously.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of the project, she said, has been the Kit to Teen campaign, which allows donors to sponsor the delivery of kits to youth in need.
While Cheatham, who has served as a peer counselor at William Way LGBT Community Center and volunteered at Giovanni’s Room, has conducted the workshop series with The Attic Youth Center, she said she plans to expand the series and the kit to new audiences in the coming years
“I’d really like to see it take off. It’s in its infancy now and I hope to write a kit for clergy and another for Jewish youth. And I want to segue that into doing workshops for public schools, who often don’t know how to treat these kids or who don’t understand what it really means to be religious and to be LGBTQ. And I’d also like to work with private Christian institutions. Many of them think they don’t need something like this, but they definitely do.”
The transgender flag soared high over Drexel University on Transgender Day of Remembrance this past fall, largely a product of the work of alum Deuso.
Deuso, 32, earned her bachelor’s in biological sciences and chemistry in 2003 and, last year, her master’s of business administration in pharmaceutical management from Drexel.
In addition to leading the way for trans inclusion on Drexel’s campus, Deuso, who identifies as intersex, has worked as a lean deployment analyst at a local Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company for about four years, where she focuses on enhancing operational excellence by maximizing productivity and minimizing resource output.
She also serves as the company’s gender-transition liaison, working with trans-identified employees to navigate their workplace transitions. She also works to advance education initiatives both in and outside the company and for two years has sat on the trans advisory committee of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.
At her workplace, she spearheaded the creation of guidelines for workplace transitions, transforming a brief document into a 17-page guidebook.
“It’s very comprehensive and focuses more on working with the other employees and management than on the trans individual themselves,” she said.
She also worked with the company’s benefits group to expand its trans-related health coverage from items such as gender-reassignment surgery and hormone therapy to breast augmentation, laser-hair removal and facial procedures.
“I think I’ve been able to help remove some of the fears and stigma that trans employees have about transitioning on the job,” she said. “Before I transitioned, there had been I think five or six employees here who were ready to come out, but nobody had the courage to. But by going through and making these new guidelines and making the changes that needed to be done, I wanted to show other people that you can transition on the job, that you can make changes without feeling stigmatized for being who you are. I think that opened a lot of doors for other people.”
McIntyre, 25, is looking to revitalize the lesbian party scene in Philly.
The Cherry Hill, N.J., resident and her business partner last year launched a monthly women’s party, Pulse, that has seen rapid growth.
“We wanted to start Pulse Events to bring the community together and do something together and not something ordinary,” she said. “We wanted to embrace the community.”
McIntyre attended Rowan University, where she majored in political science and Spanish. She plans to attain her master’s degree and ultimately work in the criminal-justice sector of the federal government.
“I speak Spanish and Portuguese fluently and would love to use those language skills in order to work with the criminal-justice system,” she said. “We are disconnected from each other in this world, so I hope to create more diversity in the future.”
McIntyre said she was extremely proud of the Pulse party held in November, which benefited Hurricane Sandy victims.
“The DJs worked for free and the photographer worked for free. It was great to be able to do that,” she said.
McIntyre said Pulse will continue to develop this year with new outreach, partnerships and fundraisers.
“I would like to start getting larger and having a collaboration with another event in Philly. I would also like to expand and branch out beyond Philadelphia and have day trips or a Pulse ski weekend and bus girls from the Philly area. I definitely want to do more with what we make at Pulse and donate to things such as the It Gets Better campaign,” she said.
Dietz was well on his way to joining out Rep. Brian Sims in victory in November, but lost by a slim margin. However, that has not stopped him from pursuing further political outlets.
Dietz, 37, is a Millersburg resident who earned his bachelor’s in mechnical engineering from Penn State University.
Dietz is vice chair for the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats, and is currently organizing a Harrisburg vigil for the Supreme Court hearings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 later this month.
He is also president of the Borough Council in Millersburg, an unpaid elected position.
“It is a huge part of my life and through that, I have some experience in writing grant requests. I try to help out where I can,” he said.
Dietz said that although he did not win against incumbent Rep. Sue Helm, his campaign for state representative was one of his most rewarding experiences.
“It was one of my proudest moments to have been able to do that. It was such a wonderful experience and I met so many people along the way, and to be a gay person in rural Pennsylvania running for office at the state level and doing pretty well was wonderful,” he said, noting that several people came out to him along the campaign trail. “A lot of people said it was important that someone from Central PA was putting themselves out there and running for office and making LGBT issues a part of the conversation.”
Dietz said he plans to continue pursuing a career in public service.
“I am definitely still interested in running for higher office and we will see how things play out down the road,” he said. “In the meantime, I plan to continue to be active in the Millersburg nonprofit community and lend my knowledge where I can to try to continue to boost economic development in the area and basically make it a better place to live.”
After benefiting from the programs at Youth United for Change as an adolescent, Ginyard wanted to give back to the agency.
Ginyard, 28, joined the staff of the youth organization in 2004 and currently serves as a youth organizer. The North Philadelphia native and South Philadelphia resident, who attended Edison High School and Community College of Philadelphia, got involved as a youth member when he was 13.
“I wanted to come back to work here because I got so much out of it when I was young,” he said. “My passion and energy has been around building the youth voice and changing policies that hurt our youth.”
Last year, he helped lead a YUC campaign to shift the school district’s student code of conduct to ensure maximum benefit for students — and to amend the code’s language on student uniforms to be cognizant of gender-nonconforming students.
Seeing the individual impact of YUC on youth has been a rewarding payoff, Ginyard said.
“I’ve been able to watch their growth over the last nine years and see them succeed and that’s been incredible,” he said.
Ginyard also sits on the grantmaking committee of social-justice funder Bread & Roses Community Fund and is vice president of the Alpha Nu chapter of Kappa Psi Kappa Fraternity and the organization’s Mid-Atlantic regional director.
Ginyard said he’s eager to use his work at YUC to press for reforms for LGBT youth.
“We talk a lot about marriage and HIV/AIDS, which are very important of course, but we still have so many young people who are being kicked out of their homes with nowhere to go, being kicked out of school, being bullied,” he said. “We have to bring these issues to the forefront and build a society that uplifts these young people and treats LGBTQ youth like all other youth.”
Northeast Philadelphia native Adams understands how to balance multiple projects at the same time.
Adams, 26, who has worked as the director of convention and event sales for Public House Investments for four years, co-chaired and planned the recent Human Rights Campaign Gala while working full-time on Public House’s newest investment, Pennsylvania 6, set to be opening soon at 12th and Chestnut streets.
Last year, Public House donated food to a Mazzoni Center fundraiser and is sponsoring a team in the City of Brotherly Love Softball League, initiatives Adams helped spearhead.
Adams also operates his own event-planning company that specializes in off-site hospitality receptions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
“It has been a passion of mine to allow tourists to experience the city in a fun way,” he said.
Adams said he hopes to stay in Philadelphia and continue to advance LGBT tourism here.
“I see myself growing the tourism here in Philly and opening up new spaces. I am ultimately looking to get involved in bringing gay tourism into the city. I see myself continuing to grow the community here and be a resource for entertainment.”
Adams said his LGBT work has been fueled in part by the backing he’s seen from his family and friends.
“I always had support from everyone when I first came out, which gave me the motivation to get involved with HRC. So many people haven’t had the luck I have.”
For many LGBT youth in the city, López has become a very familiar face.
The queer 25-year-old is the MPACT youth coordinator at Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative, where she manages much of the agency’s youth programming and conducts one-on-one counseling and coaching with LGBT youth of color.
López is a native of Puerto Rico who moved to the area about six years ago. She attained her bachelor’s in sociology in 2010 from Bryn Mawr College.
She began working at GALAEI about a year-and-a-half ago and is one of the founding members of Raices Latino Pride Philadelphia, a collective launched about two years ago for LGBT Latino artists, activists and others to bring awareness of and resources to the LGBT Latino community.
A poet herself, López said she plans to ultimately pursue her master’s in fine arts in creative writing and enter the teaching field.
Her experiences so far have shown her how gratifying youth work can be, she said.
“I’ve been able to really connect with the LGBT Latino youth I’ve done a lot of my work with,” she said. “With the one-on-one work, I’ve gotten to see them become empowered and celebrate who they are. I’ve seen these youth grow in their own exploration of their identities and that’s been a great opportunity for me.”
Gender exploration is often a key theme in her own poetry, and López said she plans to keep that focus in her future endeavors.
“I definitely think that sexuality and gender issues will always be prevalent in work that I do.”
Frohman is using her talents as a poet to inspire young people to find their own talents.
The queer 27-year-old has lived in Philadelphia for five years and has served as program director at the Philly Youth Poetry Movement for the past three.
A native of New York City, Frohman earned her master’s degree in education from Drexel University.
She ranked in the top 15 at last year’s Women of the World Poetry Slam and in the top 10 at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam.
Also last year, she was selected as a recipient of the Leeway Transformation Award, which honors women and trans artists striving for social change, which she said marked one of her proudest moments.
And it is her work with PYPM that remains one of her continual sources of pride.
“What drives me is working with the young people and getting them to find the value in their voice by exploring issues through poetry,” she said. “I get to see their confidence and their self-esteem increase as they become aware of the power of their voice. I’m bearing witness to their evolution and their growth and that’s what keeps me going and makes me feel most alive.”
Frohman, who this year is publishing her first chapbook and a CD, performs at a wealth of college campuses and other educational settings, often discussing issues relating to sexuality and gender.
But, she said she values the chance to bring her ideas to audiences that may need an LGBT education.
“I want to continue to perform in spaces that need to be challenged,” she said. “When I’m in spaces that I know the majority of people don’t identify the way I identify, and I talk about LGBT issues, I think those are very important opportunities. A number of people have come up to me after performances and we had an exchange and a debate and I think they left with important questions to consider.”
Next month’s Philadelphia Black Gay Pride festival is themed “New Beginning,” a fitting title for the first PBGP under new president Taylor.
Taylor, 31, took over as president of the agency last summer after several years on the group’s board and as a volunteer.
The St. Louis, Mo., native moved to Philadelphia about 10 years ago for training as a lung specialist at University of Pennsylvania, where he was ultimately hired as a respiratory practitioner about five years ago.
“I was an asthmatic child and I got to interact with people in this field so that drew me onto this path,” he said. “I always wanted to help people. I think gay people can sometimes get jaded because we have a lot of things against us, but I think I see things different than most. I don’t look at life the same as most people.”
That optimistic outlook has helped him navigate the challenges of balancing his work and his new role at the helm of PBGP.
“It’s a lot of work. [PBGP] is like a fulltime job and I work at a full-time job, so it’s been difficult. And when you have someone who’s been the backbone of an organization for so long leave and someone new take over, things are going to fall through the cracks, but I’m doing my best to make sure we get everything done. And I’m having a great time doing it.”
Taylor said he’s striving to make PBGP more financially stable, and to introduce new programs and focuses, in the coming years, a process that has already begun.
“Sometimes things look grim in terms of money for 501(c)(3)s all over the country, but I think we’re going to be opening some new doors and some new ideas for ourselves,” he said, noting that he’s looking to incorporate a new health focus into PBGP. “There’s unfortunately still a very big need for HIV work but that’s not only it. I think we need to be talking about the other things that affect the community, like breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, obesity. I want to see PBGP being pivotal in speaking about health issues in general that are affecting the LGBTQI community.”
Ippolito wears many hats — including as a counselor, psychology professor, festival organizer and filmmaker.
The Florida native, 43, has lived in Philadelphia for about a dozen years and holds a master’s degree in social work and a doctorate in psychology.
Ippolito is the founder of Gender Reel, a film and performance festival he started three years ago with a few others to make the transgender and gender nonconforming community more visible in the Philadelphia area.
Ippolito, who began his transition 11 years ago, has also helped organize the Trans-Health Conference, which he co-chaired.
“I can’t take all the credit because it was a collaborative effort, but I would say having been involved in the Trans-Health Conference and having seen it grow has been an accomplishment in my personal life,” he said.
For now, Ippolito is focusing on the 2013 Gender Reel and is ready to take the event to the next level — and to develop his own film career, including his documentary on trans elders, which is expected out later this year.
“I’m looking to turn Gender Reel into a production program. My goal is to continue to make documentaries and media programs that are pertinent to the queer community as a whole. I want to look at issues that are not looked at enough.”
Jason Landau Goodman
Landau Goodman’s name has become synonymous with the local LGBT youth movement.
The 23-year-old Lower Merion native is founder and executive director of the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition, an undertaking while he pursues his master’s in urban spatial analytics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Landau Goodman said PSEC was founded under a simple idea that youth in Pennsylvania could make a change and contribute to the LGBT community.
“We had to fight for a space to have our own voice and now that we have it, we are moving forward with several very important projects including legislation and building a community of young activists,” he said.
Landau Goodman, who will graduate this August, said his experiences with PSEC have affirmed his commitment to the LGBT-youth movement.
“It is really hard work and it is hard speaking up for marginalized voices, and when a young person tells me that we helped them find their voice, and in that process, helped save their lives — it is those moments that make it worthwhile and make this work so important,” he said. “We are defined by the moments that help us effectively help young people.”
Goodman said PSEC is continuing to grow with more affiliates and an even stronger voice in Harrisburg and across the state.
His own path is not as defined, he said, although he knows he will continue to have a community focus.
“I am confident that I will be involved in LGBT community advocacy and social-justice advocacy. I think for me and for many young people, we are not just helping the LGBT community, but we are working on all issues impacting young people. I will be involved in community issues for the rest of my life.”