Thom Nickels

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Thom Nickels is a conservative commentator and Philadelphia-based author of nine literary works and previous recipient of the 2005 Philadelphia AIA Lewis Mumford Architecture Journalism Award, and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and a Hugo Award for his book, Two Novellas.[1]


Born in Darby, Pennsylvania, Thom Nickels grew up in Chester County where he went to a local high school in Malvern. He enrolled in Philadelphia's Charles Morris Price School of Journalism where he co-edited the school's magazine, The New Price Review. Nickels then enrolled in Baltimore's Eastern College on Mt. Vernon Square where he majored in Liberal Arts.

He wrote a number of articles as a Contributing Writer for the Gay and Lesbian Review from 2004 to 2011 and he currently is the Spiritual Editor for the Lambda Literary, formerly the Lambda Book Review.[2][3]

In 1998, he co-founded The Arts Defense League and helped to spearhead a citywide movement to keep the Maxfield Parrish mural, "Dream Garden," in Philadelphia. He was interviewed by People magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News, and NPR.


Nickels currently works as a journalist and opinion writer for Philadelphia (magazine), where he criticizes "PC culture" and liberal politics, often through inflammatory means. In an article published after the London terrorist attack in March 2017, he writes, "I don't hate Muslims - I hate the ideology of Islam."[4] In response to Philadelphia's theatre scene and the practice of gender- and race-conscious casting, Nickels writes, "it's repetitive brainwashing minus the art."[5] In an article published on HuffPost in 2013, Nickels defends a widely-criticized skit in the Philadelphia Mummers Parade in which white participants dressed up in stereotypical Native American costumes, writing, "Welcome once again to our super-hypersensitive world."[6] Nickels' article fueled a great deal of anger, especially from Native American advocacy and human rights organizations. One piece confronted Nickels, claiming, "'The First Amendment protects (to an extent) your right to be culturally tone deaf and offensive. But if you're going to deliberately provoke offense, have the guts to own it. Don't go parading your ignorance in other people's faces and then deride them as overly-sensitive when they are offended by your deliberate offensiveness.'"[7]

In 2001, while Nickels worked as a freelance reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, he came under fire for writing an article that was based on fabrication.[8] The story, "Painful silence makes the slaying of a gay man a double tragedy," details the senseless murder of a gay man in Philadelphia's Washington Square. Furthermore, Nickels claimed that "there was no news -- no mention -- of the killing in the daily press or on any of Philadelphia's TV stations," suggesting the man's sexuality to be the reason for the silence.[9] It soon came out that no such murder actually occurred. According to Nickels, his informant, "Steve Lev," had made up the story, but Nickels never verified any of the facts. The Inquirer published a five-paragraph retraction after the incident came to light, and Nickels was fired for negligence. Nickels later defended himself, saying:

It's pretty distressing to me. I feel kind of caught in the middle. I really saw an injustice here and the injustice outraged me... I guess I expected the paper to work with me if they saw glitches and holes. The Inquirer erred, too... [Inquirer Opinion and Editorial Editor Chris Satullo] said he felt I had been victimized, but could not get past that dogmatic, technical point that I did not call the police. This was an unforgivable sin and I should be excommunicated. A lifetime of excommunication seemed very unfair to me.[9]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Cliffs of Aries (1988)
  • Two Novellas: Walking Water & After All This (1989)
  • The Boy on the Bicycle (1991-1994)
  • Manayunk (1997)
  • Philadelphia Architecture
  • SPORE. STARbooks Press. 2010. ASIN B003UBTM5K. ISBN 978-1934187715.
  • Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia (2000)
  • Tropic of Libra (2002)
  • Out in History and Philadelphia Architecture (2005)
  • Legendary Locals of Center City Philadelphia (Arcadia, 2014)
  • Literary Philadelphia: A History of Prose and Poetry in the City of Brotherly Love

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Thom Nickels: Reading and Champagne/Wine Reception for his new novel Spore at AxD Gallery, 265 South 10th Street, Saturday, July 24, 2010". University City Review. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  2. ^ "The Gay and Lesbian Review". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Lambda Literary". Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  4. ^ Nickels, Thom (March 29, 2017). "OPINION: The Painfully Obvious Lesson of the Latest London Terror Attack". Philadelphia Magazine.
  5. ^ Nickels, Thom (June 22, 2017). "OPINION: The Artless Radicalization of Philly Theater". Philadelphia Magazine.
  6. ^ Nickels, Thom (March 16, 2013). ""Thou Shalt Not Wear a Native American Headdress"". HuffPost.
  7. ^ ICMN Staff (January 16, 2013). "Philadelphia Writer Defends Racist Parade Skit on Huffington Post". Indian Country Today.
  8. ^ Brook, Daniel (September 6–13, 2001). "Untruths and Consequences". My City Paper.
  9. ^ a b Kurtz, Howard (April 20, 2001). "Made Up Murder Has Philly Editors Chagrined". The Washington Post.