As 2020 comes to a close, the Office of LGBT Affairs wanted to celebrate some of the positive moments our communities experienced this year despite the overwhelming challenges we continue to face. Our office will continue to create opportunities to elevate the voices of LGBTQ+ community members and foster an inclusive environment for all LGBTQ+ Philadelphians in 2021 and beyond.
Participated in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service with the Commission: Members of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs and the Office of LGBT Affairs spent Martin Luther King Day of Service volunteering at MANNA for the third year in a row. By joining together, the Commission, the Office, and other groups of volunteers assisted in the preparation and delivery of over 1,200 meals to folks in the Philadelphia area living with chronic illnesses.
Celebrated Black Philadelphians Making History for Black History Month: Black History Month is about celebrating and honoring the triumphs of Black individuals and communities, while also recognizing the generations of Black people who have faced and continue to face systemic and structural oppression. In recognition of Black History Month, the Office of LGBT Affairs highlighted the experiences of Black LGBTQ+ Philadelphians who are making a difference in communities across the city today.
Co-Hosted Foster Parent Recruitment Events with Philadelphia Family Pride: LGBTQ+ youth in Philadelphia are in need of LGBTQ+ and other affirming foster parents. We worked with Philadelphia Family Pride to help connect interested foster parents with DHS staff, current foster parents, and participating youth.
Welcomed Celena Morrison as Executive Director: The Kenney Administration was excited to welcome Celena Morrison as the Office’s new Executive Director this year. Her background in community engagement and service delivery made her a perfect fit for the Office of LGBT Affairs. During a year when Philadelphia’s trans communities have experienced immense loss, having a Black trans woman leading our team has been incredibly important.
Observed Trans Day of Visibility: March 31 is Transgender (Trans) Day of Visibility, an annual, internationally-celebrated holiday dedicated to transgender people. The celebration honors the work they’ve done, the losses they’ve endured, and the successes they’ve achieved. In recognition of the holiday, the Office of LGBT Affairs shared 10 ideas for how to support trans people in your community today and every day.
Created the “Coping during COVID-19” Resource Guide: In this time of uncertainty, it is critical that all information on COVID-19 comes from a trusted source. That is why the Office of LGBT Affairs developed a resource guide for members of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ communities navigating COVID-19 and its impact on the city. Included in the Office of LGBT Affairs’ guide is information on:
- How to get the latest updates on COVID-19 from the City and State.
- Free food for students, individuals, families, and older adults.
- Health care resources—including details on COVID-19 testing.
- Housing supports.
- Economic and legal resources.
- How to access COVID-19 materials in languages other than English.
Observed Pride Month: Every year, June marks an important opportunity to honor the resilience of the many intersections of our LGBTQ family, to celebrate our right to love who we love, and to be who we are as our true, authentic selves. Just as last June marked the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, June 2020 marked a significant milestone for our LGBTQ communities—the 50th anniversary of the first Pride as we know it today.
The celebration of Pride has changed over many years, and in that way, this year was no different. We adapted to a global pandemic, faced continued racial injustice head-on, and experienced historical and systemic oppression which has become more pronounced due to rhetoric and policy at the national level—all while also feeling the pain and hardship of collective grief and loss.
This year, we honored and uplifted the voices of those within our community who continue to be most marginalized: transgender and non-binary individuals, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, elders, youth, and those who live at the intersections of these many complex identities. Check out some of the ways our Office celebrated, observed, and commemorated Pride Month 2020:
- Observed #SolidarityPridePHL
- Raised the More Color More Pride and Trans Pride Flags at City Hall
- Celebrated the Supreme Court victory concerning workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals
- Celebrated Juneteenth
- Hosted a Community Grief Session
Observed BIPOC Mental Health Month: July is formally recognized as BIPOC Mental Health Month (also known as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month). In honor of the national recognition, the Office of LGBT Affairs hosted a community conversation in partnership with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services’ Diversity Equity and Inclusion Team to discuss mental health for those at the intersection of race, culture, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
Observed Welcoming Week: During Welcoming Week (September 12-20, 2020)—a time for Philadelphians to celebrate and join in solidarity with immigrants and refugees throughout the city—the Office of LGBT Affairs focused on elevating the experiences of LGBTQ immigrants. In partnership with the Office of Immigrant Affairs and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services’ (DBHIDS) Diversity Equity and Inclusion Team, we hosted a community conversation on LGBTQ Immigrants and Coalition Building. Panelists shared their experiences of intersectional identities, grassroots organizing and community development, and advocacy for equitable representation and resources.
Observed LGBT History Month: The Office of LGBT Affairs recognized LGBT History Month with a social media campaign celebrating the many LGBTQ holidays and observances throughout October, including National Lesbian Day, International Pronouns Day, Asexuality Awareness Week, and Intersex Awareness Day. The Office also raised the More Color, More Pride flag at City Hall to commemorate National Coming Out Day on October 11.
Observed Trans Day of Remembrance: On this year’s Trans Day of Remembrance, we recognized the painful losses within our trans communities of color and were reminded that there is much to be done in the pursuit of full equality, respect, and justice for us all.
Co-Hosted LGBT Tobacco Free Events: This free two-part series discussed the tobacco industry’s targeting of LGBTQ communities and communities of color, promoted cessation resources, and identified ways to change cultural norms around tobacco use.
Participated in the LGBT Elder Initiative 10 Year Anniversary: The Office of LGBT Affairs joined the LGBT Elder Initiative in celebrating its 10-Year Anniversary commemorating a decade of work in support of our LGBT older adult communities in the Greater Philadelphia region. Executive Director Celena Morrison participated in the virtual speaker series “LGBT Aging Advocacy” to discuss local, state, and federal policy priorities to support LGBT elders.
Co-Hosted a Holiday Meal at William Way LGBT Community Center: The Office of LGBT Affairs will partner with the William Way LGBT Community Center’s Annual Holiday Dinner to provide free meals to-go for community members on December 25.