Honoring LGBTQ+ leaders of Pennsylvania

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By Randy Tristant

Metro Philadelphia is honoring LGBTQ+ Power Players who empower and inspire change within the community. With input from our readers, our editorial team has curated a list of some of the most inspirational individuals who have contributed to the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. These individuals are not only leaders in their field, they are crucial to the progress made across Pennsylvania when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. From legislators to advocates, these Power Players are working hard to expand opportunities for all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The road towards more inclusive healthcare is still being paved, and some of our LGBTQ+ Power Players exemplify that. The list recognizes and honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of gender-affirming healthcare, and who have dedicated their careers to providing sex positive inclusive care.

Dr. Hussein Safa is the medical director of the Einstein Pride Program, the medical director of the TelePrEP Program, and an attending physician at the Immunodeficiency Center at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. He completed the Comprehensive HIV Care track during his residency at Montefiore Medical Center, which prepared him to provide full-spectrum HIV primary care.

Dr. Safa also provides gender affirming hormone therapy, and sex positive primary care for LGBTQ+ patients. When asked about what people and corporations can do to support the LGBTQ+ community year-round, he said: “[they can start by] donating and lobbying for issues that support the LGBTQ+ community, and not just displaying rainbow colors during Pride month. Showing support for the community […] will always mean more for the community than slapping a rainbow flag on a logo.”

A number of our LGBTQ+ Power Players are trailblazers in politics, changing the political landscape to become more inclusive and equitable. They’re leading the way for equality in government, advocating for policy decisions that promote equality and justice for all. One of these Power Players is Jonathan Lovitz, the senior vice president and public policy advisor at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. He is a nationally recognized advocate who has aided in the drafting and passing of more than 25 laws that opened economic opportunities to minority small business owners, including for LGBTQ+-owned businesses.

Lovitz was named one of the “40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40” by Business Equality Magazine because of his support of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and a “2019 Queer Icon” by The Advocate Magazine. He is also the co-founder of PhillyVoting.org, a site dedicated to voter registration in the Greater Philadelphia Area that focuses on engaging LGBTQ+ and Black voters. He shared his feelings, saying that “Pride is a powerful, positive act of civil disobedience. Simply being out, proud, and demanding your most basic rights is a profound statement. We should never take that for granted or treat the importance of it lightly. And most importantly, we cannot—we must not—ever hide.”

Bryan Buttler is a trusted communications and media relations consultant who has developed and implemented innovative diversity training initiatives. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Buttler has also become a respected facilitator and LGBTQ+ workplace policy consultant, providing invaluable insight to businesses seeking strategies to recruit and retain diverse talent. He is also an advocate for other social issues, and has supported We Make Events #RedAlert, a national initiative that aims to raise awareness about the impact that COVID-19 has on live events workers.

Buttler stressed the importance of assessing the company you keep when making political donations, and stated that “there are a series of radical anti-LGBTQ+ laws that are being proposed and, in some cases, passed in states. If an organization is donating funds to the politicians who are creating and voting for these laws, it is not only a bad ethical decision, but it is also bad business.”

LGBTQ+ leaders are a vital part of the nonprofit world. One such Power Player is Chris Bartlett. Bartlett is the executive director of the William Way LGBT Center, and has been a leader in LGBTQ+ community organizing for more than 30 years. He has served on the board of CenterLink, an international coalition of LGBTQ+ community centers, and led the national LGBT Leadership Initiative, the SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project, and LGBT Community Assessment.

In 2020, he was named Person of the Year by Philadelphia Gay News. “I was lucky to be part of a generation of activists who were mentioned and inspired by some of the first leaders of LGBTQ+ liberation,” Bartlett said, “including local activists Barbara Gittings, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Tyrone Smith, and Jaci Adams. Each of them in their own way taught me to care about communities, invest in new leadership, celebrate LGBTQ+ arts and culture, and most importantly, take care of myself. Community leadership is a marathon, not a sprint, so self-care is crucial.”

Metro Philadelphia’s list includes 90 LGBTQ+ Power Players, honoring them for their advocacy and activism across various industries.

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