PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia LGBT History Month tradition turned hostile when protesters took over the annual pride flag raising ceremony inside City Hall Sunday.
The ceremony started out with song and dance, but it soon turned to shouts and dismay after a coalition of community groups interrupted the event to express their frustration over what they said is a longstanding culture of racial discrimination in the Gayborhood.
“Why did it take for a video to go public for anyone to get involved in the racism in the gay community?” asked one of the protesters. “There’s been racism in the gay community of Philadelphia for many years now.”
Tensions within the gay community remain high since last week, when a three-year-old video surfaced of i-Candy owner Darryl Depiano using a racial slur to describe African-American customers. Depiano issued a public apology, but demonstrators said they want change at the top.
On their list of demands is that Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, steps down.
At one point, Mayor Jim Kenney and Fitzpatrick left the room, but the mayor did return to address protesters’ concerns.
“The stories of discrimination and hatred that we’ve heard in recent weeks are heartbreaking and unacceptable,” he said. “And shows the difficult challenges that racism and discrimination pose to all communities.”
Ernest Owens, editor of G Philly for Philadelphia Magazine, said gay people of color are simply calling for representation.
“There needs to be more diversity in the community, there needs to be more diverse stakeholders weighing in on the issues in the community,” Owens said. “I think that overall, more everyday people should be invited to a seat at the table.”
In response to these concerns, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is holding a public hearing on racism and discrimination in the LGBTQ community on October 25th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Liberty Resources, 112 N. 8th Street, Suite 600.