October 09, 2016
A group of local protesters interrupted Philadelphia's 7th annual Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall on Sunday morning amid an intensifying conflict over alleged discriminatory practices among nightclubs and bars in the Gayborhood.
The event was scheduled to mark the start of OutFest, a block party celebration of National Coming Out Day. Demonstrators from the Black and Brown Workers Collective, Black Lives Matter, The Gran Varones and the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice took over the ceremony to demand that Mayor Jim Kenney address questions of racism hovering over local establishments.
The protest comes in the wake of a heated forum on racism held Thursday night at the William Way Community Center, organized following the revelation of a three-year-old video that showed iCandy nightclub owner Darryl DePiano using the n-word to refer to his black patrons.
In addition to prompting multiple protests and a public apology over the past few weeks, the disturbing video led to a series of subpoenas issued by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations requiring Gayborhood bar owners to attend a public hearing on October 25 to address racism and discrimination in Philadelphia's LGBTQ community.
“We invite all members of the LGBTQ community to come out and share their stories, as well as their recommendations for change,” said Rue Landau, Executive Director of the PCHR. “We believe this hearing will allow us to fully understand the scope of the issues and to develop recommendations to help remedy any systemic failures.”
In response to Sunday's protest, Mayor Kenney issued the following statement:
As I have said previously, there is no denying that racism and discrimination is an issue within the LGBT community. The Gayborhood should be a sanctuary for all in the LGBT community, but sadly not everyone is welcome at some of its institutions, and until real steps are taken to address racist dress code policies or other instances of institutionalized discrimination, I will not go to those institutions.
Discrimination in the Gayborhood and across the city is not something that one person or one office can be expected to solve on its own – it’s on all of us – and I hope the hearing that the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is holding on racism in the Gayborhood will start to move that ball forward. I intend to be there to do my part in ensuring that it does, and I encourage all others that are invested in change to attend as well.
The Outfest celebration otherwise continued as planned in the area of 12th and 13th Streets near Locust and Spruce Streets.