PGN’s top 5 stories of the year

Pete Buttigieg at Reading Terminal Market Photo: Kelly Burkhardt

1. “Pete speaks on LGBTQ history, historic campaign”

Democratic presidential candidate and out gay man Pete Buttigieg spoke exclusively with PGN in October about his campaign. The South Bend, Indiana mayor surged in the polls recently, joining the ranks of former vice president Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“There’s a lot more that we need to do proactively around issues like conversion therapy, protecting LGBTQ youth, attacking the AIDS epidemic, diplomacy around human rights, including the way we think about how we treat refugees, work for community-based programs,” Buttigieg said in the October interview. “There’s so many things that we need to do that I think each of us has an obligation to put forward a robust plan and not simply make it seem as though we think that the struggle was won when marriage equality came to the land or that the Equality Act is all we’ve got to do.”

2. “Pride float honoring Stonewall activists commemorates 50 years”

The Greater Philadelphia region exploded with Pride events this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The 1969 historic happening kicked off the nation’s gay rights movement when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City’s Greenwich Village. A 34-foot-long float outfitted in a rainbow of thousands of flowers and more than a million golden fabric eyelashes carried five Stonewall-era LGBTQ activists through Philadelphia’s Pride parade: Paul Kuntzler, John James, Randy Wicker, Susan Silverman and Mark Segal. The event was televised for the first time in its 31-year history by local network 6abc. 

“We’re all humans,” Pride attendee Brittany Howell said. “We’re all the same people, and it should just continue to be that way.” 

3. “2 years of union negotiations at Mazzoni Center ends in LGBTQ-inclusive benefits” 

Two years of union negotiations drew to a close for Mazzoni Center staff in September. Agreed-upon benefits include paid leave for gender-affirming surgeries, higher wages and a Labor-Management Committee to increase collaboration between staff and leadership and make best practice recommendations.

“We knew that to provide the care Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community deserves and maintain the community’s trust in Mazzoni Center, we needed to have a voice,” said Jay Alston, technology and data coordinator at the Mazzoni Center. “Now that we’ve secured that voice in our contract, we’re looking forward to partnering with management to better provide the quality care our patients and clients deserve.”

4. “PA to allow gender designation ‘X’ on driver’s licenses” 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced in July that it will offer a gender designation of X on driver’s licenses beginning in 2020. The change is especially important because as of next October Pennsylvanians will need REAL ID-compliant identification, which requires a gender designation, to board domestic commercial flights. 

“It helps in every aspect of our lives,” said Brenda Klitsch, staff attorney at Mazzoni Center. “Getting a drink. Going to the doctor. Being stopped by police. That gender option on that ID card will benefit everyone who has it and needs it.”

5. “Philadelphia Police Department issues progressive trans, nonbinary policy” 

This summer, the Philadelphia Police Department overhauled its guidelines on law enforcement interactions with transgender and nonbinary people. The new directive is touted as one of the most progressive in the country. It mandates police to transport and house trans people in custody separately from other incarcerated individuals when possible, and to allow trans people to choose the gender of the officer searching them.

“For too long, our transgender and nonbinary siblings have faced humiliating, hurtful and even violent treatment during their interactions with law enforcement,” said Amber Hikes, former executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. “While this issue is not unique to Philadelphia as a city, we are committed to continuing to address this issue head-on and alongside members of the trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming communities.”