Articles for the Month of June 2013

The 18th Annual Alternative Prom Philadelphia 2013


The 18th Annual Alternative Prom Philadelphia 2013

Rolled in with a roar, The 18th Annual Alternative Prom Philadelphia donned a glittery Las Vegas theme and welcomed over 100 LGBTQ youth and allies to Houston Hall at University of Pennsylvania Saturday, June 21st. This yearly event offers LGBTQ youth an opportunity to attend Prom as an alternative to Proms held by non-affirming schools. The Prom Planning Committee has welcomed LGBTQ youth for 18 years, affording the Alternative Prom Philadelphia the title of longest running alternative prom in the nation. This years prom was organized by GALAEI and the Bseen Bheard Board along with help from Temple University Interns, all of whom serve and offer resources to the LGBTQ youth year round.

Las Vegas was a lofty and ambitious theme to tackle. However, this year the prom was as successful as any held before. I had the fortune of experiencing first hand the magic of Alternative Prom as both a youth and this year as an adult chaperone. Upon arrival at 7pm, the doors sprung open. The youth immediately filed into a formal dinning area where dinner awaited them on table tops draped in glitter, playing cards and dice. Following dinner, youth were lead into an upper floor auditorium to begin the nonstop dance party. Well, the party did stop at 11:00 PM but only after three hours of well scheduled and planned entertainment. Balloons, inflatable dice, chocolates wrapped in gold foil and flashing lights greeted the youth as they  walking into a  stately room filled with music and Attic Youth performers. The DJ gave way to a personality plus MC, Nefretari Sloan who energetically introduced performers from the Attic Youth Center and GALAEI.  Prom ended on a couple high notes,”The Wobble” and finally with a circle enclosed Voguing battle. The youth blew up the room from Box Dips & Cat-Walks to Clicking, proving that years may pass but somethings never change.

Philly Pride Day 25 Years Strong.

imagePrideBikesPrideAttic2Amber Hikes

Sunday, rainbow flags, glitter & several pounds of confetti sugared Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. More than 160 groups participated in the Philadelphia Pride Day Parade as well as the accompanying festival at Penn’s Landing.

Appropriately themed, “25 Years of Pride,” the 2013 Pride Day Parade welcomed the LGBTQ community and its straight allies to celebrate 25 years of the parade. The Lesbian and Gay Pride of the Delaware Valley Inc., now known as Philly Pride Presents hosted the first official Pride Day Parade in 1989.

The Parade began at 13th and Locust Streets. The procession trailed down Market Street entertaining sidewalk audiences and lastly a judging stand near Fifth and Market Streets. Performing groups included the winners of “Best Theme,” The Attic Youth Center with a theatrical takeoff on Alice in Wonderland, along with the Liberty City Kings drag and burlesque troupe doing their rendition of “Going to the Chapel” and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus singing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”

Larry Felzer and Amber Hikes served as the grand marshals with Jim Julia as Friend of Pride.

In perfect pride form controversy followed as the event’s Celebrity Grand Marshal was Omarosa Manigault, the reality TV star – and minister – who was famously fired by Donald Trump on NBC’s The Apprentice. Omarosa, known for her keen business mind and sharp tongue, to many appeared a less than savory choice. However, much of the public is not aware of Omarosa’s long time support of the LGBTQ community over the years.

Franny Price, Executive Director of Philly Pride Presents, recognized that Omarosa was a great advocate of LGBTQ community and youth in particular, thus felt she was a perfect fit for Philly’s Grand Marshal. Price said, ” Omarosa ‘s presence at the Parade was powerful and meaningful. She was not about self-promotion but rather the promotion of the Attic Youth and the community.”

Gloria Casarez, a parade judge & Director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, presented Oberon Wackwitz, an 18-year-old member of the Attic Youth Center, attended the Pride Parade celebration for the first time & was selected as the 2013 parade youth grand marshal for his community activism. Also recognized, Carrie Jacobs, Executive Director of the Attic Youth Center, was presented with an Award for her work with the Attic and her leadership in the community. The Attic has provided LGBTQ youth with a sense of community while developing programs and services to counteract the prejudice and oppression. The Attic Youth Center will soon be celebrating its 20 years of of service to the LGBTQ Youth Community.

The 2013 Pride Day Parade was a uniquely special experience said Jacobs, “this particular pride was amazing because one of our Attic Youth, Oberon Wackwitz, was elected grand marshal.”

Young Wackwitz shared that this Pride was very special because it was his very first Pride Day Parade. He then addressed the Pride Day crowd with warmth and stated, “I know my gay history, and I know we haven’t been as loved as other groups,” Wackwitz said. “The parade is a symbol of how far we’ve come, and what we’ve pushed and fought for. It’s about our acceptance and our rights.”

Jacobs also heralded Omarosa for sincerely reaching out to the Attic youth. Omarosa visited the Attic Youth Center early Sunday morning before the Parade and made genuine connections with the youth. Jacobs recalled, ” Omarosa was amazing, she danced and laughed with the youth and really listened to our kids. Watch out Omarosa, you may just find yourself with new and kinder reputation.

Salvation Army Store Collapse in Center City Philadelphia

imageimageThere were 6 fatalities reported and 13 confirmed survivors pulled from the rubble of the building collapse at 2136 Market St., where a Salvation Army Store once stood. Mayor Michael Nutter gave a statement confirming the investigation is still active and ongoing. The Mayor assured residents that all precautions were being taken to secure the area, rescue survivors and find out the true cause behind the collapse.  Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey confirmed there was no explosion. There is some speculation the collapse was the possible result of demolition of 2134 Market St. next door to the Salvation Army Store location. At 10:30 AM, allegedly the building structure next door to the store fell onto the store causing the collapse, thus trapping shoppers and workers beneath the debris.

Philly Comic Con


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imageCelebrated by its outwardly exuberant fans this week, Philly welcomes into town the annual Comic Con presented by Wizard World. Every year the most committed super hero, SyFy, fantasy, zombie, anime and comic fans gather to erase the limitations of imagination. Philly Comic Con, the residential Geek Fest, kicks off the summer with long lines that zig zag throughout the top floors of the Philadelphia Convention Center filing in ticket holders from 9am to Nightfall.  The day begins with crowded escalators that lead to tightly managed ticket lines. Then,  finally a cocktail of relief and excitement mix as a Welcome  banner displayed overhead can be seen. Next stop, tshirt huts to purchase Star Trek memorabilia followed by costume clad children and adults alike clamoring to snap forbidden photos of celebrities. This event is an unapologetic celebration of Geek, Freak and Fantasy chic for the entire family.  The outrageous costumes alone are well worth the $35-$55 general admission price.  This events runs through Sunday, June 2nd. So get your Batman mask and wallet ready (POW BANG BOOM) or simply locate your Star Trek Indicator to beam yourself over to the Philly Comic Con.