Stephen Kulp elected to Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors
Stephen Kulp, a gay, Asian American lawyer who practices insurance defense, was elected to the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association on Dec. 13, 2021. He also serves as chair of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association. The Board of Governors, Kulp said, serves to make sure that the members of the Philadelphia Bar Association adhere to the organization’s bylaws, that they uphold resolutions passed by previous boards, that they serve bar association members, and that they perpetuate the organization’s mission.
“One of the most important roles that I am looking to fulfill during my term is to further and advance the board’s resolution and the bar association’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Kulp said. “We will also be considering other important considerations that impact the legal community first and foremost, but then also things that impact society as a whole, such as issuing resolutions on DEI.”
DEI is not just an issue specific to the legal profession, Kulp pointed out, and he acknowledged that there are people who work in the legal field who don’t necessarily practice law. Kulp worked multiple jobs prior to becoming a lawyer, including as a file clerk, a paralegal and a law clerk.
“Oftentimes, because it’s my lived experience, especially if you’re young and navigating your future career in the legal industry, it can be terrifying,” Kulp said. “Being openly gay is one thing but then as a conspicuous minority, [you may think], ‘am I being judged, am I being perceived differently?’”
Kulp is not the first openly gay person to be elected to the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Board of Governors, and for that he looks to those who helped pave the way for people like him.
“I see Reggie Shuford, I see Larry Felzer, I see other folks who have really made me feel more comfortable about living my authentic life and taking it directly into the profession,” Kulp said. “There’s no hiding.”
Franny DiCicco sworn in as mayor of Folcroft
On Jan. 3, 2021, Franny DiCicco, former executive director of Philly Pride Presents, was sworn in by Judge Dan Anders as mayor of the Delaware County borough of Folcroft.
“I do want to thank Judge Anders for swearing me in as well as newly elected officials of Folcroft,” DiCicco said. “This made my becoming mayor even more special and personal.”
DiCicco has lived in Folcroft for six years and is passionate about her community. “I love the people in [Folcroft],” she said. It’s a nice feeling that people voted for me. Folcroft is really diverse, so I fit right in.”
DiCicco told PGN that she had had a rough couple of years due to the passing of her former husband Les Harrison in 2020, and the dissolution of Philly Pride Presents in 2021 due to community backlash. “I [went through] everything I went through and I still somehow am mayor,” she said.
Although all Delaware County boroughs are run by councils, the mayor has the power to command the police and fire departments, break tie votes in the council and veto council decisions, DiCicco said. As mayor, she will also be involved in dedications and celebratory community events, like block parties and holiday festivities.
“I promised that I would be a mayor that would be more visible,” DiCicco said. “I’ve always been about unifying. I’m going to be inclusive and I am community-conscious.”
She said that she has been asked to consider organizing a Delco Pride parade, and is thinking about going ahead with it.
DiCicco commented on the borough of Folcroft becoming a little more progressive in recent years; she is the borough’s first woman mayor, and a couple members of the LGBTQ+ community sit on the council. “That’s kind of exciting to see how a big small town is growing and becoming accepting.”
Separation of Burd Events and Tabu Philadelphia
As of Nov. 6, 2021, the drag and burlesque events company Burd Events and Tabu Philadelphia ended their relationship. For roughly one year, drag performer Icon Ebony-Fierce was in charge of booking shows at Tabu as part of Burd Events, a decision that came after the 2020 Town Hall forum that Icon and drag performer/producer VinChelle organized to call out racist actions and practices within Philly’s LGBTQ nightlife scene, including at Tabu.
A statement from Burd Events published on its Facebook page reads in part: “We as a company have enjoyed our time and the ability to create new content for the City of Philadelphia and our LGBTQIA+ family. The greatness we see in our communities’ performers amazes us more each day and every time they hit the stage. We appreciate the support of our community during our time with Tabu Philadelphia and hope to see continued support for both businesses.”
Icon told PGN that the split was sudden and resulted in their loss of employment both with Burd and Tabu.
On Nov. 6, 2021, Tabu personnel posted on the bar’s Facebook page: “Pleased to announce that Tabu will be hosting all its own events again…watch out for what’s coming next Philadelphia.”
Icon Ebony-Fierce to resurrect Phreak N’ Queer
Shortly after Burd Events and Tabu separated, Icon Ebony-Fierce announced on their social media that they would be reviving the production group Phreak N’ Queer, which would encompass one-off shows and a weekend-long festival in summer of 2022. Icon wrote on Instagram that Phreak N’ Queer would have a “mission of redefining subculture, and bridging the gaps of communities within a larger alternative scene.” They put out a call encouraging QTBIPOC Philadephians to apply to be part of the committee to curate the festival.
“I want the festival to encompass everything that has to do with queer art, queer wellness and queer community,” Icon told PGN. “It’s not going to be just drag shows, I want the festival to have events that center on disability justice, yoga, spiritual wellness, poetry, dance, live music, bands and of course performance art. I want the festival to encompass everything art and queer community.”
DJ Evil V, a trans woman and activist, created Phreak N’ Queer in 2011. It manifested as a multiday festival throughout the city featuring queer and trans performers of color who did drag shows, played music and brought healing spaces and other kinds of art to the public. “This event is going to go back to the kind of events that we used to do 10 years ago where it was sliding scale events that was for every queer person in Philadelphia, not just one type of queer person,” Icon said. They envision the festival to be for “a queer person who’s sober and wants to watch a play, a queer person who just wants to listen to live music or a queer person who wants to connect with other queer people to focus on spiritual wellness and fitness. I want this to be a festival for all of us, not just some of us.”