It’s no secret that Beyond the Bell co-founders Rebecca and Joey love being queer in Philadelphia. Joey designed an LGBTQ History Tour, which is basically a love letter to Philadelphia’s queer ancestors, and Rebecca designed a Badass Women's History Tour. Nobody is asking why Rebecca loves women so much. We hear you, Rebecca, and we feel you.
I sat down with them to hear what makes Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community so great. Joey showed us a Tommy Pico poem on Youtube, and Rebecca said "Maison 208 becoming a Lesbian bar". Joking aside, here are Joey and Rebecca’s picks for queer Philadelphia.
1. The Art at William Way LGBTQ Center
When you walk into the William Way Center, it feels like a home. That feeling resonates with us deeply. Queer organizing and celebrating has historically happened in the home, since it is a private space.
Would I live there? Absolutely. I love the wide open staircase in the back, and I love the artwork that decorates the family room. The art in the large family room is curated bi-monthly. There are always openings celebrating the queer local artists who make the work, and the gallery space is open for viewing (and purchasing) whenever the center is open. Which piece would you hang in your home?? I know which is mine, but I'm not telling.
2. Evan Thornburg
Evan Thornburg is the deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. Before turning her attention toward policies and practices created in City Hall, she spent years shaping programs for queer folks at the Attic Youth Center and the Trans* Wellness Conference. A Philly native, she has grown up doing the work, making her life possible, and making Philadelphia’s queer community more inclusive. We love her. Secretly, we also really love her instagram.
Here’s a piece of wisdom from Evan: “Ally is a verb. It’s not a noun. Being an accomplice [is] knowing the nuances of when to use your privilege or use your body to protect somebody; know when to pull yourself back and to put somebody’s voice forward, and to know when you have to go with them on the journey, that requires that you see them struggling with something and you are buttressed against them and you are not going to let go.”
3. Sunday Teas & Sway
Amber Hikes was our LGBTQ liaison to the mayor’s office at City Hall until recently. We miss her every single day. She is doing amazing work now as the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at the ACLU. She leaves behind a legacy of creating city programming and grass-roots programming for QTPOC Philadelphians. She hosted Sunday Teas: Philly's Hottest Day party for LGBTQ folx and Sway Philly: the Biggest Queerest monthly party in Philadelphia.
4. Tommy Pico’s Poetry
5. The Secret Gay Mural in the Back Stairwell of Maison 208 (rip)
The mural is an enlarged image from the William Way Archives. The image shows the 13th street Dewey’s Famous Foods, a 24/7 notably queer-friendly dining spot. Dewey’s 17th street location was the site of the first LGBTQ Sit-in in Philadelphia history in1965.
When I spoke to curator Bob Skiba, he said he chose to preserve this specific historic image because there is a cute fireperson in it, and that is good enough for us!
6. Dinner at Bud & Marilyn’s
Is it restaurant week yet? Add this queer woman owned restaurant on the women’s corner to your list. They serve cleverly crafted American comfort food staples in a way only a queer couple could. You should check out any of Bud & Marilyn’s “seven sisters”: Barbuzzo, Jamonera, Lolita, Little Nonna’s, Verde, Open House, and Grocery.
Never heard 13th and Locust referred to as “women’s corner” -- come on our Badass Women’s History Tour to find out why our social media manager, blogger, SEO consultant, and CEO Rebecca calls it that.