Even I’m amazed at times at how far the LGBT community in Philadelphia has come, to lead the nation in showing how we can work in harmony to increase equality and build a first-rate city.
Last Saturday, my partner Jason and I were the guests of The Philadelphia Inquirer at the Academy of Music’s 167th annual Ball. The ball — a high-priced, high-society (read: upper-crust) event — is one of the last of its kind in the nation. It’s strictly white tie and tails for men and glamorous gowns and shoes for women.
The annual ball is a fundraiser for the historic Academy of Music itself and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I’ll skip the show — an incredible live performance by Hugh Jackman — and get right to the point. Even at an event at the pinnacle of U.S. upper-crust society, you not only see LGBT people, but you see them being very out. It was not uncommon to see, on one of the dance floors, LGBT couples … and not one of the upper crust gave a double look.
It made me look back and recall the African-American church-sponsored American Legion that honored the LGBT community, or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Girl Scouts issuing a statement at the height of the Boy Scouts discrimination hype that they do not and have never discriminated. When LGBT legislation is in City Council, it passes unanimously. All citywide political candidates, from both the Democratic and Republican parties, support marriage equality — and, by the way, I know it is not often, but this is a reason to applaud Republicans. Philadelphia Republicans are accepting of our community. In fact, Philadelphia is a city that celebrates its diversity, and you’d find it difficult to find anyone who does not support LGBT equality.
It would be easy to list so many other examples but, the truth is, I don’t have to. If you’re LGBT, you know it and I’m preaching to the choir. Human Rights Campaign rated us (with bonus points) more LGBT-friendly than New York City, Los Angeles and even San Francisco. And they surveyed 137 cities …
I’m a Philadelphia chauvinist. I love this city and I love our community. I’m so proud of what we have built, and I’m also proud of all those leaders who help a city learn to embrace our community and welcome us to build a great city.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at [email protected].