Tuesday, April 12

Article: Philly’s Gay Samaritan!

Philly’s Gay Samaritan
March 2016
written by: Lucas Borschell, Angelica Owens, Jabrea Reid and Christian Williams of the Gender Benders Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center

On March 30th, 2016, from 4-5:30pm, we, the WERQ/Radio Podcasting Youth Media Making Interns at The Attic Youth Center, had a private press conference with Nellie Fitzpatrick, the City’s Director for LGBT Affairs in Philadelphia. The conference took place in the Mayor’s Office of City Hall. The purpose of this meeting, curated by our internship facilitator, TS Hawkins, was to help us develop strength of character, as well as to learn how to utilize our voices from a high profile figure in the world of rainbows. She was also happy to answer any questions we had about what the office does, how it works, and about things we can do to have a voice in our daily lives.

Some of the discussion topics that were tossed around had to deal with the accomplishments of the office, such as Directive 152; which lays out what an officer is to do upon confronting a transgender person. When asked about her involvement within the police force, she told us it was because she previously was a prosecutor as an Assistant District Attorney in the city. During her time as a DA, she says she handled many abuse cases, including ones involving infants. She is now using that experience as a driving stimulus for work in the police force, even setting up GOAL (Gay Officers Action League) and helping those LGBT in the police force with coming out. Though, this is not the extent of her ambitions, as there are plans for proclamations to the city as well as to improve acceptance of LGBT in our school systems. She even offered herself as a resource to us. We feel that her perseverance to help those who are abused or discriminated is an inspiration, and should be present in all walks of life. “Change comes from within” she says, and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

We also wanted to learn more about her and how she got to this position, so we inquired about what challenges faced her in becoming Philly’s Director for LGBT Affairs. “Properly moving forward and keeping to goals was a challenge” she says. Nellie didn’t even know if she would be able to keep the position as Director past the last year of Mayor Nutter’s final term. Though they voted to keep the office permanently, Nellie is still shown to be persistent by doing as much as she could that year to make an impact regardless of how long she would hold office. Which is a great goal for work ethic, if you think about it.

Later in the conference we discussed the condition of our schools in regards to LGBT, as well as what we can do about it. Nellie says that school is a very big project, and has to be done right. To accomplish this, she says that impact is key, and it has to impact both students and teachers. Eight out of ten LGBT youth say they’ve felt severe isolation, which makes this all that much more important to face head on. Youth are too often made to advocate to be themselves in school, which takes away from time they could use focusing on graduating. Nellie says, “Graduating is a student’s full time job, not educating educators on how to educate them”. No statement has ever been so true!

Overall, our conference with Nellie Fitzpatrick had us engrossed in discussion and left us feeling more informed, comfortable, and motivated. We’re so happy to have had this opportunity to speak with another person like us reassuring us that politicians understand the struggles of LGBT youth in society. Through speaking with her, we have a new sense of power in our schools with demanding our needs. We have gained more motivation with informing others on the issues LGBT face in school and in politics. We have become role models for other youth around the city knowing that they have other people backing them up!

Article: Inqueery with Nellie Fitzpatrick

Inqueery with Nellie Fitzpatrick
March 2016
written by: Jack Kleiner, Damien Walker, Lanier Bradshaw & Adrianna Branin of the K.N.D. Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center

On March 30th, the Attic Youth Center W.E.R.Q/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Interns gathered at City Hall to meet the Director of LGBTQ Affairs, Nellie Fitzpatrick. We had a private press conference with her and was given the chance to ask questions plus share concerns about the LGBTQ community. We settled in easily and quickly, immediately feeling comfortable in her presence; this was anything but a run-of-the-mill political interview. We had a blast picking her brain about different areas in the law and legal rights of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Nellie shared apprehensions she has seen throughout the community and her future plans for the community.

As queer youth, we felt it was important to sit down with one of the queer representations we have in Philadelphian politics, and we were not disappointed. One of the questions brought up by fellow intern Lucas Borschell was, “I’ve noticed that a lot of your work is focused on the police force, and I wanted to know why?” In response, Nellie stated that she began working as a defense attorney for sexual assault victims, some even infants. This past motivated Nellie and helped her do her part in improving the judicial system. Nellie explained that she, along with Joe Mason, are in the works of collaborating with the police force to help LGBTQ officers find acceptance in G.O.A.L; the Gay Officers Action League, a national organization which brings together LGBTQ police officers.

Our interview with Nellie wasn't just about the hard hitting questions, she also took time to answer personal questions such as “when you were younger, did you have trouble coming to terms with your LGBT identity?” As honestly as she could, Nellie responded, “It was just kinda hard to express it.” We at The Rainbow Experience know all too well this feeling, and we commend Nellie for sharing that piece of information. This was significant for us because as queer youth, expression can be one of the hardest parts of life.

All in all, the interview with Nellie was one unlike any other. Consisting of thought provoking questions and comedic remarks by both the interviewee and W.E.R.Q. interns, it was one of the most interesting experiences for us. We gained valuable insight on what our voice means and how we should use it, as well as what specific ideas we want to communicate to people with said voices. Meeting Nellie was truly an honor and something invaluable to us all. Without a doubt, we would love to interview with her again; consume more of her insight and views as one of the few LGBTQ Philadelphia politicians who is currently working to help the community. She is truly one of the most unique advocates and politicians we have seen!

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