PGN: Philadelphia Gay News

Lots of articles but the end of Lenny’s front page streak

Right after the March 29 issue went to press, we learned Google’s Play Store had stopped offering a Texas religious organization’s app that contained anti-LGBT messages that targeted 11- and 12-year-old kids. I spent the day working on all angles and we put the story online almost a week before it appeared in PGN’s print edition.

I had first done that story when I happened to run into my old South Beach neighbor Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, for a Street Talk segment on Feb. 22.

Besen — who made his life’s work targeting anti-gay religious extremism, especially the ex-gay movement which preaches the discredited conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation — was actually the first person to tell me about the app. He said Apple, Microsoft and Amazon removed it after learning of its hateful contents, but Google still offered it and the company repeatedly refused to comment about it.

He also swore he was going to win his fight against giant, powerful tech company, and he did!

It took just over a month later, with credit going to Besen’s petition that got more than 142,000 signatures and the Human Rights Campaign warning Google its score on HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index would be suspended if the app wasn’t taken down.

The Index was released March 28. The app hadn’t been removed, and Google’s score was suspended. But that same day, Google removed the app, HRC verified, and lifted both the suspension and references to it.

A shorter version of the story ran April 5, but not on the front page.

In fact, those of you really good at noticing things may have realized April 5 was the first time ever I didn’t make PGN’s cover! I did, however, make up for that in quantity.

I had also pushed for and wrote this original story about the Chicago woman who would become the nation’s first black lesbian mayor, which ran back on March 1, despite hearing how it wasn’t local. Turns out, it became good enough for a front page!

President Trump’s ban on transgender people entering the military was about to take effect, so I went over the latest details on where things stood.

The Victory Fund, which helps LGBTQ political candidates and had already endorsed the three running to be judges in the Court of Common Pleas (one has since dropped out), turned its attention to City Council, which has never had an LGBTQ member.

A story I’d been working on, but took time to get information and write, was finally published. I’d never heard of Valley Youth House, but it has been helping vulnerable young people and families in southeastern Pennsylvania for more than 45 years. This year, the organization is getting almost $3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is a whopping half-million over last year’s grant.

Upper Moreland, in neighboring Montgomery County, became the latest municipality to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance. It’s important because it’s necessary. Since the statewide Fairness Act hasn’t passed, Pennsylvania needs dozens and dozens of cities and towns to create a patchwork of fairness, so LGBTQ people are protected in things like employment, housing, commercial property and public accommodations.

You may remember my first PGN story, in the Jan. 11 issue, was about high hopes for the Fairness Act. That was because State Rep. Darryl Metcalfe — anti-gay and anti-everything Democrat — was moved from the House State Government Committee to the Environment and Energy Committee.

The latest is that State Rep. Dan Frankel of Pittsburgh — who has sponsored the bill that Chairman Metcalfe refused to hear — has been gathering co-sponsors and will reintroduce it at the best time. (Pennsylvania legislative sessions last two years, and the current 2019-20 one started in January.)

More recently, Rep. Frankel was the prime sponsor of Concurrent Resolution HR 214, designating April 10 as “Stronger Than Hate Day” in Pennsylvania, and Resolution HR 274, designating April 28 through May 5 as “Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust” and recognizing May 2 as “Holocaust Remembrance Day” in Pennsylvania.

Of similar interest is an LGBTQ seder I found out about that was supposed to take place on the third night of Passover at a local church, and explore themes like queerness, trans identities, activism, liberation and freedom.

Finally, there was the News Briefing that the departing art director and photographer Scott compiled, and I wrote.

You’ll notice I didn’t do Street Talk, nor research any of the stories you just saw outside of either my home office or the newsroom, as I recovered from my fall in late March — just like I said I would.

And as the person who insisted on working on PGN’s Facebook page, replacing nobody, the company reported growth in reach and likes but especially engagement. I hope everyone took time to click links to the stories on the paper’s website before engaging and otherwise reacting.

Click here to return to the PGN, 2019: Reporter, Copy Editor, Social Media Specialist page.

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