Diversity, racism and progress in the Gayborhood discussed at Town Hall

Members of the LGBTQ community voiced their grievances with the perceived lack of diversity in the Gayborhood at a town hall held at the William Way Center Wednesday night.

“I constantly walk within these elite institutions that I don’t feel like welcomed at,” said 23-year old film student, Isaiah Freeman. “When I tried to apply for jobs at gay bars in Philly … I feel like I have to question if it was because I’m black that I didn’t get hired.”

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Such experiences are what prompted the town hall after community members of color shared similar stories to the press on the Gayborhood’s predominately white nightclub scene. Topics ranged from racial profiling at notable bars such as Woody’s, Taboo’s, I-Candy, and Boxers PHL.

D. D’Ontace Keyes, chief creative officer of Philadelphia Black Pride, was one of the speakers who shared their thoughts on this issue.

“When I first spoke about it, I was in a state of surprise that such a lack of progress was happening in our community… as one who have worked with many of these establishments to collaborate on events, I was disheartened to personally realize many who I thought were allies weren’t,” Keyes said. “I helped put this town hall together to try to discover new allies from this dialogue and produce a tangible plan of action that can bring about change.”

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“I’m interested in seeing what can be done about the over-pricing on specific themed days and possible liquor license discrimination,” said Nellie Fitzpatrick, City Council Director of LGBT Affairs. “I’m hopeful that this incredible event creates a needed space not only in Center City, but all throughout Philadelphia.”

“We need to come together more to share these thoughts…people don’t understand how these microaggressions are literally impacting our health with mental and physical stress,” said Shani Akilah Robin, a program coordinator of the Youth Health Empowerment Project. “Our community have a right to these feel safe and secure in spaces that claim they are about inclusion and diversity.”