DeShields made great strides last year to bring greater LGBT awareness to the hospitality industry.
DeShields, the senior director of corporate relations at Temple University’s School of Tourism & Hospitality Management and a board member of the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus, led a discussion on LGBT sensitivity at one of the nation’s largest conferences of hotel brands this past fall, the first time the topic was addressed by that segment.
DeShields, along with other local and regional tourism officials, also participated in the first-ever panel discussion of the LGBT market at the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education conference in Puerto Rico.
Glassman has served since 2003 as chair of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, successfully upholding the state’s nondiscrimination law while working to enhance protections for LGBT residents.
As the state’s highest-ranking openly LGBT official, Glassman has worked with LGBT agencies to press for state measures like the LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination and hate-crimes bills.
He’s served as an advisor to the numerous local municipalities that this year considered LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances, speaking at the hearings for many of the measures, and was also a vocal opponent of the eventual shuttering of the Lancaster Human Relations Commission.
Despite contending with deep budget cuts, Glassman has successfully navigated the agency through high-profile cases such as the bullying and harassment incidents at South Philadelphia High School.
Jason Landau Goodman
Landau Goodman emerged last year as a strong LGBT activist.
The University of Pennsylvania student was the prime organizer of the effort to pass an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Lower Merion. He first proposed the idea to council in 2009 and created Equality Lower Merion to unite the LGBT community behind the measure, which passed in December.
Landau Goodman was also named the youth coordinator at Equality Pennsylvania, where he oversees the Student Network Across Pennsylvania, which brings together LGBT and ally college communities.
Healthcare worker Kaufman made another run for the Pennsylvania House last year and, although she was unsuccessful, she navigated her second successful campaign as an openly LGBT person.
Kaufman was present at a bevy of LGBT events throughout the year and went door-to-door every day for months, explaining her fiscal conservative/social progressive position to the largely conservative residents of Chester County, and providing a realistic and tangible understanding of the LGBT community.
State Rep. Cohen (D-202nd Dist.) made LGBT history last year when he spearheaded Pennsylvania’s first civil-union bill.
Cohen introduced the bill April 22 along with 32 cosponsors.
While Cohen acknowledged that it would take time to fully advance the measure, he said the effort would help to raise awareness about same-sex couples’ lack of rights and begin the discussion on how to remedy the civil-rights issue.
The bill died in the Judiciary Committee, and Cohen has said he will re-introduce the measure this session.
State Sen. Leach (D-17th Dist.) introduced his marriage-equality bill in 2009 and spent last year campaigning for the bill and the LGBT community.
Leach participated in numerous LGBT community events throughout the state last year and became a spokesperson for marriage equality both in the LGBT and mainstream communities. He spoke on the issue at the State Capitol in February during the Freedom to Marry week and debated National Organization for Marriage head Maggie Gallagher in Harrisburg in March.
Although he lost his bid for reelection in November, former U.S. Rep. Murphy (D-7th Dist.) was victorious in helping to win a 17-year-long gay-rights struggle.
Murphy led the effort in the U.S. House to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which was won in the final days of the session.
Murphy took over the repeal effort from former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who left Congress in the summer of 2009. When he came on board, the repeal bill had 140 cosponsors and, throughout the past year, he was able to garner bipartisan support from a total of 192 cosponsors.
President Obama signed the repeal bill into law in December.
The LGBT community lost a strong ally last year with the retirement of Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Tiano.
Tiano served as the liaison between the LGBT community and the police department for 12 years.
Last year Tiano and the Police Liaison Committee oversaw the production of a new LGBT training DVD for police, and presented the LGBT-sensitivity program for the first time to new officers who previously served on other forces.
During his tenure, Tiano served as the liaison to numerous communities and, upon his retirement, several were tapped to handle his diverse slate of responsibilities.
ACT UP Philadelphia
Activist group ACT UP made numerous headlines last year as it staged vocal protests to urge more resources and attention for the homeless epidemic among the HIV/AIDS community.
The organization published a report last summer on the state of local HIV/AIDS housing, finding a 30-percent jump in the number of people on the city’s waiting list for housing funded by Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS. The group presented the study to the mayor’s press secretary in June and met with the mayor in November, after which they organized a mock funeral outside City Hall to demonstrate the lives that could be lost due to the growing waiting list.
Boy Scouts LGBT Working Group
Throughout the legal debate between the city and the local chapter of the Boy Scouts on the organization’s antigay policy, the Boy Scouts LGBT Working Group has remained a major player.
The group, comprised of, among others, out attorneys Andrew Chirls, Arthur Kaplan and Abbe Fletman, has worked to protect the LGBT community’s interests throughout the discussions, which peaked last year with the federal trial.
The Scouts’ policy of disallowing gay members puts the organization’s use of city property at odds with the city’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, and the working group has advocated for a solution amenable to the LGBT community.
LGBT Womyn of Color Conference
The second annual LGBT Womyn of Color Conference brought enhanced visibility and empowerment to the local sexual-minority female population.
In its second year, conference organizers established the Elements Organization to head October’s conference and future events.
The conference offered workshops, film screenings and a performance by Grammy-winner Dionne Farris. The event brought in women from across the country and solidified itself as a yearly tradition, with the Elements Organization leading community-building efforts throughout the year.
LGBT Elder Initiative
The city saw its first-ever summit on LGBT senior issues in the fall, as gay seniors discussed the unique issues addressing the community and brainstormed tangible solutions to the disparities they face.
The summit, held at the William Way LGBT Community Center in October, was conceived by the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly and drew participation from an array of local LGBT and mainstream agencies. The event featured presentations by aging experts and community members such as Heshie Zinman, Fred Bostwick and Tyrone Smith.
The event used information provided through the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund’s senior-survey initiative, which polled local elders throughout the summer on their needs.
Contributors plan to create a follow-up report based on the recommendations from the summit and continue to work to meet the needs of the community.