The William Way LGBT Community Center has consistently provided services and support for the LGBTQ+ community, from its first home at 326 Kater Street dating back to 1976 to its current home at 1315 Spruce Street. While the center has had a stable residence at the latter location since 1997, there is still room for improvement in modernizing and expanding the top-notch services it already provides.
Two weeks ago, PGN published a story about how the William Way LGBT Community Center received a $2 million allocation from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s City FY 2024 operating budget. These funds would support renovation opportunities via the center’s Build the Way campaign, which includes plans for a 10-story tower, accessibility improvements, expanded commercial rental and event space, a new cafe and catering kitchen, and more robust spaces for the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center and recovery programs.
In that same story, we also reported that Pennsylvanian politicians — Congressman Brendan Boyle, Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. John Fetterman — all recommended the center for Federal Community Project Funding (CPF) from the Appropriations Committee.
While the renovation project won’t be complete anytime soon (According to the Build the Way website, the timeline for the center’s move-in and grand opening won’t happen until May or June 2025), it is still a nice, feel-good story. After all, progressive leaders had our backs and the William Way LGBT Community Center would continue to provide its services for an even larger demographic very soon. Everyone lives happily ever after, right?
Not so fast.
Exactly a week after we wrote this feel-good happily ever after tale about the good kings and queens helping the LGBTQ+ community, the evil kings and queens decided the story wasn’t over. U.S. House Republicans voted in favor of Rep. Tom Cole’s (R-Okla.) en bloc amendment to remove three CPF submissions from the 2024 Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill. This included Rep. Boyle’s $1.8 million request for the center as well as two other LGBTQ+ community projects. In addition to Boyle’s request, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.) requested funding for a transitional housing program at LGBT Center of Greater Reading in Pennsylvania while Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) requested funding for LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc. to convert a former public school building in Boston into affordable housing units for seniors.
Out of thousands of CPF submissions, Cole chose to remove three that centered the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. And it passed 32-26. The villains in this story were not subtle in their approach.
Stories like this show us which politicians we should throw our support behind (Boyle, Casey, Fetterman, Houlahan and Pressley) as well as those we should call out (Cole and Rep. Andy Harris, the latter of which compared providing funds for an LGBTQ+ center to providing funds for a Ku Klux Klan project). However, it also shows we need to take action to save ourselves.
If we want to see the Build the Way project come to completion, we should visit buildtheway.org and click that “Donate” button. If every citizen in Philadelphia donated a dollar, it would almost be equal to Boyle’s $1.8 million request.
It sucks that our leaders can’t always be our knights in shining armor. For a community that is marginalized such as ours, it sucks even more that we have to continue fighting to hold space for ourselves. But together, we can build our own happily ever after and defeat the evil kings and queens. Time after time, we continue to fight against these oppressive figures and time after time, we win. The villains in this tale don’t just have a small group of knights in shining armor to combat. They have a whole army.