PHL Diversity celebrates anniversary, LGBT inclusion 

People who visited Philadelphia in January for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference may have noticed a large amount of rainbow flags at the nearby Reading Terminal Market. PHL Diversity worked with the market’s general manager to make LGBT visitors feel welcome.

“For people who might be coming from more conservative places than Philadelphia, [the flags] gave them a greater sense of welcoming in this location,” said PHL Diversity Executive Director Greg DeShields. “For someone who is not familiar with the area, it allows them to be that much more familiar and that much more comfortable while they’re here.”

PHL Diversity, formerly known as the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has made strides to create a friendly environment for visitors during LGBT-related conferences.

“What we have done over the last year is further position the interpretation of an LGBT traveler to not just be here for leisure but to also be here for meetings and conventions,” DeShields said. “When you think collectively about a group that comes to Philadelphia from San Francisco, Atlanta or New York, they’re spending dollars from another area, which is genuine economic impact.” 

DeShields added that LGBT travelers will pay hotel rates, ensure that food servers are employed and spend money at retail establishments. According to a statement, visitors booked more than 20,000 nights of hotel rooms.

“I think that has been one of the most significant contributions that we made to our LGBT community — to further underscore the economic value of what LGBT travelers bring to their destination.” 

PHL Diversity also assisted with conferences for GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality and True Colors Fund’s 40 to None Summit. Leaders from both organizations participated in a panel discussion at PHL Diversity’s 11th-annual Business Opportunity Luncheon in February. The leaders spoke about their respective organizations and what their conferences would offer.

Additionally, DeShields noted that the organization also helped facilitate networking opportunities and resources for NLGJA and the Trans Health Conference. 

“I think it’s important for us to continue to cultivate and position Philadelphia as the most competitive city in highlighting the value of diversity that we have here,” DeShields said.

To celebrate 30 years, PHL Diversity has acknowledged the milestone throughout the year, including featuring organization co-founders Dwight Evans and A. Bruce Crawley on its podcast. 

The 2017 Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Annual Luncheon on Nov. 22 will cap off PHL Diversity’s anniversary celebration. DeShields said the event will feature a video highlighting the event’s history and evolution. 

Moving forward, PHL Diversity hopes to stage more inclusive events for the community. 

“We’ve had a great start in terms of engaging LGBT groups,” DeShields said. “I think the next thing for us is to ensure that we can get them to re-book and come back to Philadelphia.” 

The 2017 PHLCVB Annual Luncheon will be held 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 22 at the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.