Gloria Casarez

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Gloria Casarez (December 13, 1971 – October 19, 2014) was an American civil rights leader and LGBT activist in Philadelphia.

Gloria Casarez delivering her "Dykes First" speech in Kahn Park for Philly Dyke March 2012.

Life and career[edit]

Casarez was born in Philadelphia and raised Catholic.[1] She grew up in the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia and Westmont, New Jersey; graduating from Haddon Township High School in 1989.[1] Casarez came out as a lesbian at the age of 17.[1]

At West Chester University, she was active in student government and political activism, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a second Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1993. Casarez was President of the Latino Student Union and a representative to the Commission on the Status of Women, a network of students from state universities examining women's issues on campus.[2] From 1991-1996, Casarez was a founding member and community organizer for Empty the Shelters, a national student and youth led housing rights and economic justice organization. At the time, Empty the Shelters worked with existing Philadelphia movements including the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Union of the Homeless.[3] Casarez worked in North Philadelphia, leading grassroots campaigns and advocating for legislation supporting anti-poverty, economic justice and welfare rights for poor people. She also developed and organized student engagement projects including the Summer of Social Action and Spring Break for a Change on campuses across the country.[4]

From 1995-1998, Casarez was the Program Coordinator for the LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the oldest and most active centers of its kind in the United States.[5] She developed innovative student-mentorship and programming for LGBT students of color, transgender and queer students on campus.[6]

Out Magazine named Casarez one of the "100 Most Influential Leaders of the New Millennium" in 1999.[7] She received the Philadelphia Out Proud Award and was the 2001 Philadelphia LGBT Pride Grand Marshal.[8]

At the age of 27, Casarez became the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI) in Philadelphia.[6] Casarez led GALAEI from 1999-2008, tripling the organization's funding and developing nationally recognized programs serving men of color and transgender communities, including Philadelphia's first mobile HIV testing centers and the Trans-health information project – the first multi-serve transgender health program in the city of Philadelphia.[9][10]

Her work has shown a continuing interest in constituent led and community organizing efforts, starting with her early participation in social justice and political action movements. An early advocate of harm reduction,[11] Casarez co-chaired the board of directors for Prevention Point Philadelphia from 1999-2003.[12] She is a longtime board member and leader of the Bread and Roses Community Fund, a public foundation that supports grassroots organizations working for racial and economic justice.[13] She is a founder of the Philadelphia DKYE March, Drag King,[14] and the House of (Manolo) Blahnik Board of Directors. Casarez's work supporting LGBT ballroom communities was recognized with her receiving the Humanitarian Award at the House of Prestige's 20th Anniversary Renaissance Ball[15] and the Community Service Award at the House of Blahnik Ball.[16]

In 2008, she was appointed to a public sector position as Director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia,[17] leading the efforts of the Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs and the Mayor's Advisory Board on LGBT Affairs.[18] The Director of LGBT Affairs develops priorities for the city of Philadelphia on issues including public safety, education, economic development, health and city services and civil rights.[19] In 2012, Philadelphia ranked number two nationwide for LGBT equality in the First Edition of the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.[18] Philadelphia was the highest scoring city in the nation (of the ten largest cities) and the highest scoring city without statewide legal protections for LGBT people.[20] During Casarez's tenure, Philadelphia adopted the broadest LGBT rights protections in the nation.,[21] when Mayor Nutter signed Bill No. 130224 into law.[22]

Honors and awards[edit]

In recognition of her social and political justice activism, she was honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with the Annual Community Service Award.[23] She also received the Kiyoshi Kuromiya Award for Justice from Philadelphia FIGHT,[24] and the Cheryl Ingram Advocate for Justice Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association.[25] Casarez received the Hero Award from the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund; past honorees include gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings, philanthropist Mel Heifetz, and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.[26] She was honored with the David Acosta Revolutionary Leader Award in 2013 by the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative.[27]

Local and national news outlets recognized Casarez's contributions. Go Magazine named her "100 Women We Love"[14] and a "Women at the Helm."[12] Philadelphia Magazine included her in a "Who's Who of Philly's Gay Community."[28] Philly Gay Calendar selected Casarez the 2009 "Person of the Year"[16] and she received the Philadelphia Leadership Award from Women's eNews.[29]

Metropolitan Community Church presented Casarez with the Patron of Humanity Award at their 40th Anniversary Convocation Service held in Philadelphia.[30] Dignity USA honored Casarez with a Community Service Award in 2010.[2]

Casarez threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia before a Phillies game against the Astros on August 23, 2010.[31]

Personal life[edit]

After being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2009, the Philadelphia Gay News published excerpts of Casarez's blog, chronicling her early experiences as a person living and working with cancer.[32] Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation honored her with their 2012 Survivor Award.[33]

On August 12, 2011, Casarez legally married her longtime partner, Tricia Dressel, in a private civil ceremony at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau,[34] three weeks after New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act. City of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter performed his first ever same-sex commitment ceremony for the couple at their ten-year anniversary party held on September 3, 2011 at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia.[34] In April 2013, Casarez engaged in Latino community organizing efforts to save La Milagrosa,[35] Philadelphia's first Spanish-speaking church. Casarez's great-grandparents helped establish the church in the early 1900s.[36]

After living with cancer for five years, Casarez died on October 19, 2014.[37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Suzi Nash. "Gloria Casarez". PGN - The Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b https://web.archive.org/web/20141023134340/http://www.wcupa.edu/_SERVICES/stu/Ms.GloriaCasarez93.asp. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "The Daily Pennsylvanian :: Panelists discuss plight of city's homeless". Dpnthesn.net. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Daily Pennsylvanian :: Panelists discuss plight of city's homeless". Dpn.thesn.net. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Queer-Sighted - Arts and Culture - Philadelphia Weekly". Philadelphiaweekly.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Queer-Sighted - Arts and Culture - Philadelphia Weekly". Philadelphiaweekly.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Out. Books.google.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  8. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20141020122518/http://www.alesforum.net/our-interview-with-gloria-casarez/. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Staff, PGN. "GALAEI celebrates 25 years of revolutionary ideas". PGN | The Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  10. ^ "Queer-Sighted - Arts and Culture - Philadelphia Weekly". Philadelpiaweekly.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "PGN - Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "GO Magazine - Women At The Helm". Gomag.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "GO Magazine - Women At The Helm". Goamg.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "GO Magazine - 100 Women We Love: Class of 2009 (in no particular order, cause we love em' all!)". Gomag.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "PGN - Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "PhillyGayCalendar: Person of the Year 2010: Gloria Casarez". PhillyGayCalendar.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Nutter appoints city gay liaison Gloria A. Casarez will be the city's first in that post to work out of the mayor's office". Philly.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Philly's Leaders Discuss the State of LGBT Affairs - News and Opinion - Philadelphia Weekly". Philadelphiaweekly.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  19. ^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20140206150755/http://www.phila.gov/executive_orders/pdfs/EO_1308_LGBT_Advisory_Board.PDF. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 6, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "HRC Releases List of Most Gay Friendly Cities". Advocate.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Google News". Google.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  22. ^ http://www.phillesbian.com/2013/06/28/timeline-lesbianqueer-history-philly/
  23. ^ "NAACP's Philadelphia chapter honors RHD's One Step Away with 2010 Community Service Award". Rhd.org. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  24. ^ "PGN - Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "ISSUU - PGN June 3 - 9, 2011 edition by The Philadelphia Gay News". Issuu. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  26. ^ "DVLF to honor community 'heroes'". PGN - The Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  27. ^ "City leader honored for community work". PGN - The Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  28. ^ "The New Who's Who of Philly's Gay Community". Phillymag.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  29. ^ "Event – Philadelphia Leadership Awards 2010 Wendy Beetlestone Gloria Casarez Alice (Tish) Emerson JoAnne Fischer Patricia Giorgio-Fox – Women's eNews". Womensenews.org. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "PGN - Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "PGN – Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  32. ^ "PGN - Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  33. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20130121021245/http://www.komenphiladelphia.org/2012-survivors-celebration-gallery-2. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^ a b "PGN - Philadelphia Gay News". Epgn.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  36. ^ "Chapel Losing Parishioners". Philly.com. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  37. ^ Philadelphia's First LGBT Liaison, Gloria Casarez, Dead at 42 | Advocate.com