Philadelphia’s queer people of color have fought racism for years. Now the city is paying attention.
- When you’ve been shut down, you get loud,“ Amber Hikes, executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said to raucous applause at a crowded town hall meeting in the William Way LGBT Center in May. "I am here for kicking down the door if the door needs to be kicked down.”
- “Civil disobedience is in our blood,” she added.
- Hikes was only two months into her new job, and her very first conversation with the city’s LGBTQ community about inclusiveness in LGBTQ spaces was standing room only.
- Attendees represented a vast swath of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ residents: Queer and trans people of color were present; some people were in wheelchairs; others had canes.
- The meeting was more than a simple introduction between Hikes and the community she serves. After a series of racist incidents in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ spaces, Hikes assured those present that her administration would hear their concerns and work to make the queer community’s spaces inclusive.
- Queer Philadelphians of color had been trying for some time to bring attention to racism in LGBTQ spaces, particularly in the historical Gayborhood.
- The area, by some accounts the first official gay enclave in America, is small — only about six blocks by seven blocks — and abuts downtown Philadelphia and its City Hall. Rainbow street signs are mounted at its intersections. Read more (6/28/17)