Lately, traditional LGBT media in Philadelphia has fallen short of true representative coverage of events impacting the daily lives of gay folks throughout the Philly region. Yet, last week, over a hundred community members took part in an event whose mission was to simply pick up the slack where government, media, and community organizations have fallen short. Instead of putting on black ties and speaking politely about vacations worth more than the typical monthly salary of an LGBT individual in Philadelphia, community members came together to help one of their own, donating their time, efforts, and money toward a private cause.
At the Gayborhood’s de facto monument to raucousness, Venture Inn, scores of LGBT people gathered to watch Philadelphia’s best drag talent and to show that, in Philly’s gay community, the power gays wear pumps and the leaders are more likely to be waiters than to be accountants. And, instead of diverting precious resources into costly print media or other conventional marketing means for the event, organizers relied heavily on word of mouth, helpful Facebook posts, and Tweets. With an event that was called a smashing success by multiple attendees, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transmen, transwomen, and everyone in between sent a message that living the essence of LGBT pride is best achieved through cooperative community building and compassionate, commonsense action.
But why, in a time when most people are spending their time just trying to make ends meet, would bartenders, waiters, retail clerks, and small business owners use precious personal resources to help?
“Venture got involved because . . . it’s a karma thing. [Difficult times can face] anyone of us. And when you have the ability to help, I think you should. We used Facebook and word of mouth to promote the event. We made a point to be particular about the wording so people knew it was to help someone. 100% of the donations [went to the cause.] A silent auction was held, and a lot of businesses donated to the auction and raffle,” says Venture Inn manager Henry Brinton, perhaps best, and notoriously, known for his refusal to submit to heavy five o’clock shadow when rollerskating down Gayborhood streets in a dress.
And the performers?
“The show was made entirely up of Gayborhood workers and drag queens” who donated their time, talent, and hearts. Philadelphia LGBT community celebrities Brittany Lynn, Sandy Beach, Vanessa Sterling, Salotta Tee, Aeryanah von Moi, and Feressa the Electric Woman all took part in the event alongside Venture Inn staff and DJ Jimmy DePre.
“What you put out there comes around. And it just shows you that not everyone is a jerk off, shows these kids coming up what a little compassion can do,” says Brinton.
The fact of the matter is that this type of community action, of performers putting community ahead of themselves, of LGBT business owners contributing their resources, time, and spaces is what makes the LGBT community in Philly one of the best in the nation. Regardless of what internecine dramatics occur on Friday or Saturday nights, at the end of the day, we are all family as demonstrated by this event. And, at least to me, this proves that what makes the LGBT community great is its diversity, its inclusion, and its insistence, throughout history, that no matter what goes on, we still look out for each other.
When I asked Brinton if he felt anything more needed to be said about the event, his reply, in typical Venture Inn fashion, made even me laugh.
“Make me sound like I have a thick, full head of hair. And, to answer your other question, 9 inches.”
Venture Inn is located at 255 S. Camac Street in the Gayborhood. To share this article, permalink it via http://joshkruger.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/philly-a-gays