Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Interview With Me

I was honored recently to be interviewed for Dee Ann Palmer's mystery site. I'll see if I can get the text and place it here.

Here's De Ann's site: http://www.deeannpalmer.com

The Interview may or may not be archived.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Indigo Ball

I attended the Indigo Ball on Friday, the 6th. What an event! A fundraiser for the William Way GLBT center here in Philly, this black tie party is something I don’t think I’ll miss in the future. Of course, this was a special one for me, so it was even more meaningful and wonderful but that doesn’t change the fact that this event is something not to be missed. It was elegant and spectacular. The venue – the ballroom in the Hyatt Bellevue is dazzling.

I was one of the guests of honor this time around. The Center is celebrating thirty years – not just thirty years of existence (because it is actually a little longer than that) but thirty years of having some sort of physical facility. This is no mean achievement – we are one of the few major cities that has a bricks and mortar center. And it is ours (no mortgage) and it is large (26,000 square feet).

Why was I there as an honoree? I was one of the Founders. More than thirty years ago a small band of us got together, formulated a plan, and got a lawyer. We did our homework and in 1975 put together incorporation papers. I was one of the persons who signed that document. There were five of us and pretty much I’m the only one left. One other person may still be with us but no longer lives in Philly. Others came along in those early days and during this 30th Anniversary celebration (which is scheduled to last a year) the Center is honoring those who lit the fire and kept the flame burning. After helping to found the place, I became the first co-director and then the real work began.

So, as two of the earliest pioneers I and Arleen Olshan were invited to the Indigo Ball and duly recognized. There were representatives from the eras of the 80s and 90s who kept the center going through some interesting times.

I was a kid back then, in college and wanting to change the world. And that, as it turns out, is just what we did. I’ll be telling that story.

The celebration at the Indigo Ball and the recognition we received felt good – for a lot of reasons. Not just because we were remembered and our contribution acknowledged but because we could see that what we started so long ago was flourishing. The building, named the William Way Center (after an activist who was instrumental in getting the building and whom I knew) is magnificent and getting better each day. It houses programs – some of which stretch back to the early days, like peer counseling, and some that are new like Way Gay U (with lots of course offerings). It houses a library which was a dream of mine and of others and for which materials were collected even before we had our first physical location on Kater Street. And, it is in the heart of the gayborhood – this is so important. It rises as a symbol and remains as a home for all of us right where many of us live, where many gay businesses are located, and where GLBT events are held.

The 1970s were heady days and those of us who lived through them will tell you that they were also filled with fear and fun and frenetic activity. We were in the process of building a community – Stonewall galvanized us and then it was up to us to build on that. And so we did. From time to time I’ll tell more of this story. It’s something I’m working on in any event as part of a memoir.