The city is facing its worse financial crisis in its history. This will affect all communities, including the LGBT community. There are literally dozens of organizations in our community that receive funding from the city. And they should. After all, we are taxpayers and deserve the same level of city services as any other community. And as partners in the city, the question should be: Are the cuts to the LGBT community equal to others?
So I called Mayor Nutter to ask just that question. “It is painful to make cuts to services to the LGBT community,” he said. “We’ve had a great working relationship for over 25 years. These cuts are very painful to make but they’re in line with other communities. Our first responsibility to all — including the LGBT community — is to protect as best as possible funds for health, safety and welfare.”
Nutter also mentioned endangered youth and pointed out that The Attic, the city’s LGBT youth center, is an organization the city must continue to fund.
He continued, “While we have to cut funds to such groups as the Mummers and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, we’ll continue to support core services in all communities and that includes the LGBT community. [Openly gay director of health and opportunity] Don Schwarz and [Mayor’s LGBT liaison] Gloria Casarez will assure that the LGBT community has a seat at the table.”
So it all boils down to trust. I trust the mayor, but wanted to take the temperature of other community leaders. Some have had their funding partially cut, others completely cut, and it seems almost to an organization that this community understands and supports the mayor’s efforts. Here’s a handful of the numerous responses I received.
From Jane Shull of Philadelphia Fight, whose funding was partially cut: “We very much appreciate the mayor’s continued support of AIDS Education Month. We realize he is in a difficult position and he should know we are willing to work with him in any way needed to assure that essential services remain in place.”
From ’Dolph Ward Goldenburg, executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center: “Mayor Nutter faces tough and unenviable decisions in balancing the city’s budget. These decisions have unfortunately affected every community in the city and, while each cut is painful, he does not appear to have favored one community over another. I believe the sign of a good leader is making difficult decisions when you lack the financial resources to make popular decisions.”
From Bill Gehrman, president of the Independence Business Alliance: “As the LGBT chamber of commerce, the Independence Business Alliance is looking for opportunities to work with the mayor and assist LGBT businesses through these tough times.”
And from Chuck Volz, senior adviser for Philly Pride Presents, which will not receive any city funding this year: “Philly Pride fully appreciates the budgetary crisis currently facing the City of Philadelphia and Mayor Nutter, and we support his even-handed approach in curtailing funding. Although we will be affected, we stand committed to organizing PrideDay and Outfest on our own until the city regains its economic footing.”
Mr. Mayor, it seems that we in the LGBT community are taking the long view, and we are proud to be working with you to put the city back on track.
Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].