Is Midwood Investment & Development homophobic and racist? If you feel that those words are too strong, read on.
Here’s the short history of what has occurred. They buy the property of the former 12th Street gym, which has the mural of the late LGBT activist Gloria Casarez on its front wall. Part of the parcel also includes the Henry Minton House, a building that had been a major part of the abolitionist movement and the underground railroad which recused African Americans from slavery.
During months of discussions with both the LGBT and African American communities, Midwood was arrogant in those talks to save the mural or the building. Finally, as a last ditch effort and after much bad publicity, they agreed to a small compromise to use part of the 1% art, which the city requires of new developments, to have a mural and recognition of Gloria in the new courtyard of the new structure. The mural’s original artist as well as Mural Arts were both on board with the agreement. But apparently Midwood wasn’t finished causing grief for our community.
In what can only be called retribution against the LGBT community, two days before Christmas, Gloria’s mural was whitewashed. People watched as workers painted over every inch. There was no practical reason the whitewashing needed to happen. The reasons are purely personal: it is a personal attack from Midwood against us and our history.
Midwood Investment & Development erased LGBT history, they erased LGBT imagery from their promotion of their future development, they took away an important part of the gayborhood. By dismantling a symbol of our community, they are attempting to erase us and the neighborhood we built. Moreover, they did it two days before Christmas with no advance warning.
All of these steps are clearly homophobic. Look at the debates and discussions of other symbols that citizens wanted removed during these times of social justice. Even Confederate statues had more time, discussion, and respect given to them. A LGBT person’s honor didn’t mean a thing. Midwood didn’t even have the respect for our community by alerting Gloria’s wife. All Tricia could do was stand across the street and watch.
Midwood Investment & Development has been trashed for its homophobia, racism and lack of sensitivity from the Washington Square West Civic Association, the ACLU, GLAAD, and numerous LGBT organizations. Their homophobic act has made national news, as it should.
Midwood: make this correct. We know where all your buildings are in Philadelphia and New York.
To the LGBT community: if Midwood does not make things right, it is time for peaceful civil disobedience. In 1969, we made it clear that those who attacked us would never have our silence again. They will never be allowed again to keep us invisible. Stand up and fight back.