In the middle of downtown Philadelphia is an enclave called the Gayborhood.
It's featured in the official Visit Philly tourism site, which notes that "the Gayborhood lays in the heart of Midtown Village and distinguishes itself with 69 rainbow street signs throughout the area. You’ll also find fun rainbow crosswalks at 13th and Locust streets."
But for Gayborhood bars, recent days have not been so beautiful.
A video surfaced in September in which the owner of ICandy, a Gayborhood bar, uttered the N-word. Protests followed. The bar's owner, Darryl DePiano, apologized — but it was too late.
Notably, ultra-liberal Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney — champion of Philly's controversial soda tax — boycotted ICandy and the Gayborhood after issues came to light and hasn't returned since, Philly.com reported.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney discusses a report on racism in the city's Gayborhood on Monday at City Hall in Philadelphia. (AP/Errin Haines Whack)
After the city's Commission on Human Relations held hearings, it released a report Monday saying there's racial tension and discrimination in the Gayborhood — and that most of its businesses are owned by cis-gender white males who favor white male customers, Philly.com said. Most vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, and physical violence are transgender women of color, the outlet added, citing the report.
The verdict? The commission is requiring 11 bars and two nonprofits to undergo fair business practice training within 90 days and implicit bias training within 120 days, Philly.com reported.
Bars that don't comply could face punitive damages and fines, the outlet said, adding that those receiving city money could have their contracts suspended or terminated.
“Racism in the LGBTQ community is a real issue. It’s a real issue in our entire society, not only just in the LGBTQ area or in the Gayborhood,” the mayor said, Philly.com reported. “We need to do more to address it here in Philadelphia. We will do whatever else we need to do to see that the recommendations are adopted. And that possibly could include eliminating organizations who won’t change their ways by limiting our participation in their work financially.”
The bars ordered to undergo training are ICandy, Woody's, Voyeur (Mayfield Social Club), Tabu, UBar, Tavern on Camac, Knock, Stir Lounge, Bike Stop, Boxers and Franky Bradley's, the outlet reported.
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The study also found questionable employment practices at two of the largest LGBTQ social service agencies, the Mazzoni Center, a health-care provider, and Philadelphia FIGHT, an AIDS service organization. Employees said that African Americans had trouble moving up in the organizations and that the boards of the nonprofits did not reflect the diversity of the people served. Employee handbooks and policies in some cases were cited as lacking information on how someone could report a complaint, the commission found.
The Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr., a former mayor of Philadelphia who sits on the board of FIGHT, said he was shocked to see the organization named in the report. He said he was skeptical about the thoroughness of the vetting process.
“Philadelphia FIGHT is probably one of the most diverse organizations in the city,” Goode told the outlet. “I do not believe anyone could write that who investigated, who read the personnel plan, who knew what they were talking about.”
Nurit Shein, CEO of the Mazzoni Center, told Philly.com that every employee at the organization will undergo an intensive two-day training session on racism, discrimination and social justice.
In October, Kenney himself faced problems over the issue as activists wanted more done. When Kenney tried offering handshakes to some of the activists, they refused — and the mayor headed elsewhere.
(H/T: The Daily Wire)