This post was written by Erik Larson, Deputy Director for the Office of LGBT Affairs
As 2021 comes to a close, the Office of LGBT Affairs is celebrating 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 2022 and beyond.
Co-Hosted Foster Parent Recruitment Events with Philadelphia Family Pride and Philadelphia Department of Human Services: LGBTQ+ youth in Philadelphia are in need of LGBTQ+ and other affirming foster parents. This event discussed the basics of becoming a foster parent and heard experiences from current and former foster parents and participating youth.
Co-hosted a Health Justice Discussion in partnership with William Way LGBT Community Center: The Office of LGBT Affairs and William Way Community Center hosted a film screening of Black Lungs/Black Lives and facilitated a community conversation on health justice in the Black community.
Developed a Guide for How to Support Black Trans Lives: Executive Director Celena Morrison authored a blog post on the importance of fully recognizing Black culture and engaging in open dialogue about the contributions of the Black community. Critical guidance was provided specifically on how to support Black Trans Lives.
Celebrated Women’s History Month by Honoring Our Executive Director: In honor of Women’s History Month, Executive Director Celena Morrison was featured by 6abc News in their ‘Our America: Women Forward’ series.
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 hosted a virtual flag raising streamed live on our social media platforms.
Welcomed Erik Larson as Deputy Director: The Office of LGBT Affairs was excited to welcome Erik Larson as the new Deputy Director. Prior to being named Deputy Director, he supported the Office of LGBT Affairs as Coordinator where he participated in the implementation of several initiatives including LGBTQ+ expansive policy reform.
Co-Hosted a Community Conversation about the Covid-19 Vaccine: The Office of LGBT Affairs partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Mazzoni Center, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Bebashi, and Philadelphia Fight to host a virtual community Q & A conversation. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies had the opportunity to get their questions about the vaccine answered.
Supported Community Vaccination Efforts: The Office of LGBT Affairs joined the Mazzoni Center at community vaccination events in neighborhoods across the city to ensure community members had access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
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.
- Raised the More Color More Pride Flag at City Hall
- Partners throughout the city lit up the sky with Pride
- Upgraded street signs in the Gayborhood with the Trans and More Color More Pride rainbow stripes
Observed Disability Pride Month: July is Disability Pride Month, a chance to honor each person’s uniqueness as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. The Office of LGBT Affairs highlighted the City of Philadelphia’s efforts to be inclusive to people of all abilities through advocacy and education.
Updated the “Coping during COVID 19” Resource Guide: As our city continues to grapple with the effects of the global pandemic, our Office continues to support the community with resources and information. In July, we shared the new-and-improved Resource Guide, including information on affirming:
- Assistance for renters and housing access.
- Job skills development.
- LGBTQ+ inclusive employers.
- Childcare services, pre-K schools, aftercare programs.
Observed Mural Arts Month: In celebration of mural arts month the Office of LGBT Affairs attended the ‘We Are Universal’ mural dedication. The mural celebrates Philadelphians from the transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming communities. Created by Kah Yangni, the mural features text collectively created through a workshop with Morris Home residents. Images used were inspired by photographs taken of Morris residents by Angel Edwards.
Observed LGBT History Month: The Office of LGBT Affairs recognized LGBT History Month with historical marker dedication to the civil rights leader and activist Gloria Casarez (1971-2014). Unveiled on the North Apron of City Hall, the historical marker details Gloria’s contributions to the Latinx and LGBT communities. In addition, Gloria Casarez was the first Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs. During the dedication honoring Gloria Casarez, we raised the More Color More Pride flag in honor of National Coming Out Day and LGBT History Month.
The Office of LGBT Affairs also celebrated 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.
Observed Transgender Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance: The Office of LGBT Affairs raised the trans flag and lit Boathouse Row to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance and the ending of Transgender Awareness Week. While we celebrate transgender people and lift up and take action around the issues impacting the community, the murder of trans people is a crisis that cannot be allowed to persist any further. There is much work to be done in the pursuit of full equality, respect and justice for all of us.
Co-hosted ‘Supporting Trans Communities’ with DBHIDS and PHRC: The Office of LGBT Affairs partnered with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities and the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission to host Supporting Trans Communities: A Forum, an event centering the voices of trans community members in Philadelphia. Individuals shared their experiences directly with service providers, policymakers, and other supporters, and offered their perspective on how systems can best serve individuals and communities.
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.