BY BTL STAFF
Philadelphia – A group of protesters overtook Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s seventh annual Pride flag raising ceremony Oct. 9, demonstrating against alleged racism in the city’s LGBTQ community.
The ceremony is normally held outside City Hall but was moved indoors to the Mayor’s Reception Room due to rain. The flag raising coincides with the city’s annual OutFest.
The controversy began in September when an LGBT business owner in the section of Center City, commonly called “the Gayborhood,” came under fire for allegedly using racial and homophobic slurs.
Kenney issued a statement after the interrupted flag raising: “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.”
He continued, “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 city’s Office of LGBT Affairs also issued a statement Sept. 29 after receiving what it called “reports of discriminatory practices by businesses in the Gayborhood, and the use of racist and homophobic slurs against members of the LGBT community.” The city plans to hold a public hearing Oct. 25 about racism and discrimination in the community and has subpoenaed a number of business owners to speak at that hearing.
The protesters at Sunday’s flag raising argued that the Kenney administration and the Office of LGBT Affairs, helmed by former assistant district attorney Nellie Fitzpatrick, are in denial about racism in the city’s LGBTQ community and called for more to be done to combat it, according to an NBC10 photographer who attended the event. City officials and Mayor Kenney left the room to the protesters when they overtook the event.