Darius McLean works as director of the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center at William Way LGBT Community Center, and runs the center’s Empowerment Programs including senior programming, peer counseling and the wellness program. Hiz work through the trans resource center consists of facilitating job readiness services, wellness and safe sex programming, orchestrating fundraising efforts for trans and nonbinary community members and creating welcoming, educational spaces for queer and trans, Black and indigenous people of color. Also through the trans resource center, he started a video podcast earlier this year called “Straight Talk,” where he and guests discuss issues pertaining to Black LGBTQ+ communities such as the intersection of race and gender identity, trans visibility and liberation and much more. More of McLean’s work in 2021 includes moderating a panel discussion at the Trans Wellness Conference composed of other trans community leaders; organizing a private Trans Day of Remembrance event for residents of Philly’s trans recovery center Morris Home and speaking at the virtual forum Supporting Trans Communities, among other community initiatives.
Nhakia Outland is founder and president of the Philly-based sex education, advocacy and fashion nonprofit Prevention Meets Fashion (PMF). Outland’s background in social work and sex education informs her work through PMF: using clothing as a conduit for teaching sexual and reproductive health to Black and LGBTQ+ communities, and facilitating social justice initiatives and gender advocacy. Outland offers a wealth of programs through PMF, including a clothing donation service for Black and LGBTQ people; a sex education program that explores topics like human development, healthy relationships and gender roles; a speakers bureau that trains individuals in the art of sharing their narratives in public and getting paid properly and other programming. In 2021, Outland organized a condom fashion show that included sexual education presentations from orgs including BrownGirl Space and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. She also put together a series of thrifting events that encouraged community members to shop at local, minority-owned thrift stores and educated the public about the history of thrifting, environmental justice and clothing poverty, in addition to organizing other community events.
ACT UP Philadelphia
The Philadelphia chapter of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) continues to fight to eradicate HIV transmission, proliferate HIV awareness and ameliorate access to care for people living with HIV. As one method of achieving those goals, ACT UP members organize civil actions to demand better affordable, permanent housing solutions in Philadelphia, as well as systemic change from the City government, particularly the Office of Homeless Services (OHS). According to ACT UP, safe, affordable housing would stem COVID-19 infections and drug overdoses as well. ACT UP organizers have done considerable work around housing in 2021: they organized a series of peaceful actions outside of Mayor Kenney’s Old City condo to voice their demands; they are working with Reclaim Philadelphia as part of the National Homes Guaranteed Campaign, which focuses on tenants’ rights; they organized an overnight teach-in at City Hall in collaboration with the National Union of the Homeless, which offered education sessions on the history of homeless occupation movements, skill and resource-sharing and civil actions; they disrupted Philadelphia’s holiday tree lighting ceremony at City Hall in continued efforts to hold Mayor Kenney accountable for failing to allocate proper budgetary funds toward affordable housing; and they formed a small team of people with lived experience of homelessness to regularly negotiate with OHS regarding improvements and additions to its services and shelter system.
PGN staff writer Tim Cwiek has been writing for PGN since 1976. For the last 19 years he has covered the case of Nizah Morris, the Trans woman who was killed shortly after receiving a courtesy ride from the Philadelphia police. Cwiek has written 216 articles on the Morris case since 2002, and he has continued to investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding her death. This year, led by Cwiek’s work, PGN filed a motion in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court seeking copies of the District Attorney’s withheld records on the Morris case. While Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Joshua Roberts ultimately sided with the city, thus preventing the withheld records from being released, the hearing — documented by Cwiek — still helped return the spotlight on the case in which many advocates have called for greater transparency from city law enforcement. Cwiek’s work on the Nizah Morris case in 2021 also highlighted the state’s Criminal History Record Information Act, which allows law enforcement to withhold records in cases that are deemed under investigation. Groups including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have called for the law to be re-evaluated.