Current Affairs

Report highlights endemic racism in ‘gaybourhood’

January 24, 2017
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A new report has pointed to serious problems with racism and transphobia in Philadelphia’s gay village.

Women, minorities and transgender people have felt unwelcome and unsafe in Philadelphia’s LGBT neighborhood for decades, according to a city report issued Monday.

Black LGBT people in the city say they have been IDd at clubs, have to wait for drinks for longer, and have to meet strict dress codes that ban athletic wear, Timberland boots and hooded sweatshirts.

Now the the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has suggested neighbourhood wide training is needed to overcome racial bias.

It’s also recommended venues hire more diverse staff to overcome racism issues felt by many in the area.

it comes after the owner of gay bar ICandy in Philadelphia made headlines following being caught on camera using racial slurs.

Since the footage of Darryl DePiano was released racial tensions in the gay neighbourhoods in Philadelphia have boiled over and LGBT residents are calling for action.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney has now spoken out publicly about the community’s racism.

“It is maybe not as palpable as it was, but it’s still there,” said the mayor.

“We need to do everything we can as a government to hold it up.”

Businesses will now need to show best practice ordinance within 30 days of the report, and undertake training on implicit bias.

“In every movement, change starts from the community,” said Rue Landau, the executive director of the Commission on Human Relations.

“We want you to know: We heard you, thank you, and the time for change is now.”

The news comes after BlackLivesMatter activists banned LGBT police officer from partaking in Pride Toronto.

There have previously been protests in Philadelphia’s gaybourhood, centred around bar ICandy, to draw attention to allegedly racist policies the bar supports.

Ernest Owens, editor for Philadelphia Magazine’s G Philly section, has written frequently about racism in the Gayborhood, which he said he also experienced.

“When hip-hop songs came on, people slapped my butt or called me ‘Hot Chocolate’. Very quickly, I was reminded that, even in that space, no matter the fact that I was gay, I was also black.”

The Black and Brown Workers Collective have issued a list of demands to the city.

Primarily, the group have called for Nellie Fitzpatrick, the department’s director, to be replaced with a black transgender woman who many believe would be a better representative of the LGBT black community.

Fitzpatrick, a white lesbian who was appointed in 2015, said she is committed to resolving the issues.

“Whether happening at the front door, at the bar, or behind closed doors, none of it is acceptable.

“If there’s one place that should be a sanctuary, it’s the Gayborhood, and it isn’t right now.”

More: America, black lives matter, Darryl DePiano, Gayboorhood, LGBT, Philadelphia, US, US

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