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PA Rep. Brian Sims Joins Hundreds Rallying in Philly Urging Lawmakers to Pass LGBT Hate Crimes Bill: VIDEO

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At a rally in LOVE Park, Philadelphia today, over 300 people showed up to voice their support for a legislation working its way through the Pennsylvania Legislature that would add LGBT protections to the state's hate crimes laws. 

Joined by openly gay Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, supporters carried various signs, including those reading "Bash One of Us, Bash All of Us" and "Dear Hate, This Is #Knottyourcity" (in reference to Katheryn Knott - one of the alleged perpetrators in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in Philly)

Said Sims:

"There are some in Harrisburg who object to restoring sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the hate-crime law. But they haven't been calling for repeal of the law's remaining protections, for victims targeted because of their race, color, religion or national origin -- they know they would take a political hit for that. Unfortunately, they think there's no political penalty or constituent outrage to face for leaving out women, LGBT people, or people targeted because of their ancestry or mental or physical disability. Pennsylvanians who don't like this injustice need to let their state representative and senator know now."

Check out video from today's rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Intelligencer adds:

KunkleAttendees also gained a few insights about the gay men who were allegedly assaulted, after a friend spoke to the crowd on their behalf. Caryn Kunkle, a volunteer for the Roslyn Fire Co. who wore her uniform at the rally, referred to the victims as “Friend A” and “Friend B” and said the two are a couple.

“They are adorable together, and I love them for who they are,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle added that the first victim was an IT professional who was also once a volunteer firefighter in Abington, and that the second was a culinary artist. She told the crowd that the Sept. 11 incident occurred when “a group of young people came to my city,” and “initiated a conversation with my friends by asking 'Is that your f-ing boyfriend?'

“That conversation quickly devolved into a nationally broadcast incident,” Kunkle said.

In a statement read by Kunkle, the alleged victims said they had been called homophobic slurs by their assailants and were still recovering from the attack, but that they had appreciated the outpouring of support from the Philadelphia community.

Rep. Sims is also organizing a public hearing of the state House Democratic Policy Committee next Thursday on the issue of LGBT hate crimes.

And as expected, Philadelphia City Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Jim Kenney introduced a city-wide hate crimes bill protecting LGBT citizens earlier today, with Brown saying the bill had "unanimous" support from council. 

(Photo via Twitter)

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Brian Sims Blasts PA Lawmakers for Not Protecting LGBT Citizens: 'That's B.S.!' — VIDEO

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Here is additional footage of Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims at today's press conference and rally for hate crimes legislation at the state capitol in response to a mob attack on a gay couple last week.

Our earlier clip offered a bit of Sims' fiery speech (as well as the coming out of fellow lawmaker Jim Ferlo) but here's more.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Said Sims, slamming his fist on the podium:

"This state doesn't offer a single statewide LGBT civil right to people like me other than marriage and that's ridiculous. And what happens is attacks like this on people like me in my neighborhood. Don't let people tell you that we only have six or seven days left in session. That's B.S.!

Continue reading "Brian Sims Blasts PA Lawmakers for Not Protecting LGBT Citizens: 'That's B.S.!' — VIDEO" »


PA State Senator Jim Ferlo Comes Out: 'I'm Gay, Get Over It' - VIDEO

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Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo came out as gay today at a press conference in Harrisburg in which lawmakers called for hate crimes legislation that would protect LGBT citizens in the Quaker State. From ABC 6:

"Hundreds of people know I'm gay. I just never made an official declaration. I never felt I had to wear a billboard on my forehead. But I'm gay. Get over it. I love it. It's a great life," Ferlo said.

The proposed hate crimes legislation was drafted by Ferlo and was created in response to a recent attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia's city center. Out state representative Brian Sims was also present for the press conference to lend his support to Ferlo and the legislation. 

Watch a video of Ferlo's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

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PA Rep. Brian Sims Says He'll Bring Philly Gay Bash Victims to Capitol to Pass Hate Crime Law

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As we reported earlier, the group charged with assaulting a gay couple in Center City, Philadelphia last Thursday won't be charged with a hate crime because sexual orientation is not included in the state's hate crime statutes.

SimsBut Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims tellsVictor Fiorillo at Philly Mag that he'll bring the victims to the state legislature to try and get a hate crime bill passed that was introduced during the 2013 session.

Sims says that he hasn't yet spoken with the victims of last week's Center City attack of two gay men, simply because he's been told that they need time to heal. "I want them speaking with victims' advocates right now, not with me over policy," he explains. "But we'll find the time. I have to make sure that something comes of this, not just that I'm pissed off."

The bill would add gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disability to the state's hate crime law.

Hopefully this incident has awakened the public and lawmakers of the need for such additions.


Out PA Lawmaker Brian Sims Rappels Down Building In Philadelphia: VIDEO

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Brian Sims, the out Pennsylvania lawmaker who has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community, looked more like an adrenaline junkie than a state representative today as he was seen rappelling down the side of Philadelphia's Commerce Center Building in City Center. As Philly Magazine reports, Sims was practicing for an upcoming charity event on October 24 where he will rappel down Brandywine Realty Trust’s One Logan Square: "He, along with a team of local LGBTers lead by Angela Giampolo, are taking on the task to raise money for The Philadelphia Outward Bound School."

Watch a video of Sims' adventure, AFTER THE JUMP...

And ICYMI, be sure to peep Sims striking a pose (in a Towleroad tee no less!) in Emil Cohen's Provincetown portraits

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47 Portraits of People in Provincetown and a Chat with Photographer Emil Cohen: PHOTOS

BY ANDY TOWLE

Towleroad spent several months this summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 'P-town', in addition to being the nation's historic LGBT resort destination, has also served as an enclave for writers and artists since the late 1800s and continues to attract creative types from all over the world who are drawn by the area's dramatic physical beauty, its numerous arts venues, and its colorful collection of tourists and townies.

EDC_PortraitsOfProvincetown_Towleroad_002One project we've had our eye on all summer is a photographic documentary series by Emil Cohen, who stationed himself each evening outside the Boatslip (where a daily and long-running 'Tea Dance' is held) and found hundreds of willing subjects to stand in front of his lens.

Emil (pictured, right, in self-portrait) sat down with me this week to share 47 of the portraits with Towleroad and discuss the process and inspiration behind his impressive project.

Who are you and how would you describe yourself as an artist?

My name is Emil Cohen and I'm a professional photographer. I received my MFA this past spring from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. As an artist, I find myself drawn to portraiture’s ability to capture the human experience.

What inspired you to start photographing people in Provincetown?

This past summer, my fiancé and I had a seasonal rental lined up for the summer, so I knew that the next project that I took upon myself would be shot in Provincetown and more specifically, be about Provincetown. The inspiration behind this particular project was mainly Richard Avedon's In The American West series. I proudly own an original copy of the book (a gem I discovered at Tim's Used Books on Commercial St.) and became inspired to create my own portrait series. I like to believe that people captured in Avedon’s work represent real, live individuals, not staged personas. That skill, to embody each person’s essence, is something that I strive to achieve in my own work every day. 

Is portraiture your specialty?

Portraiture is indeed my specialty. I have always found myself drawn to photographing people, though sometimes photographing their environments provides further light on the subjects. Studying the work of Alec Soth, Claire Beckett, Matt Williams and Brian Schutmaat, has enhanced my understanding that a portrait can be more than just a photograph of a person. 

EDC_PortraitsOfProvincetown_Towleroad_035Where did you find your subjects for this project and who are they?

My subjects are all volunteers. I set up my camera on the corner of Atlantic St and Commercial St and ask people if they'd like to participate in a photo series. 

How many people did you photograph? Was it over the course of an entire summer, a few days?

I began shooting this project right after July 4th and have been photographing nearly every day so far. Without realizing it, doing this every day, I’ve captured over 200 people. What’s so unique is that each photograph represents a different person’s background, perspective, experience, life. What I’ve realized about this series is that it’s not only a portrait series, but also a chronology of a P-Town summer: From Bear week to Family week to Carnival and more.

How did you choose the setting?

The critical aspect of the setting was the continuous backdrop, akin to Avedon’s work In The American West. Having people stand in front of the same backdrop forces the viewer to concentrate solely on the person. To me, the storm shingles beautifully represent Provincetown and Cape Cod. Having each person stand in front of the same shingles helped identify the location of this project but also helps create a catalog of people, which as a whole, becomes a portrait of Provincetown itself. 

Which are your three favorite portraits and why?

As each person approached the storm shingles in front of my camera, I provided the same simple instruction: "Be yourself." The three portraits I'm particularly drawn to are ones who fully understood my guidance. Specifically, Super Judge Judy, the two men in black singlets, and the young black man in the black tank top named Richard (all this page, click to enlarge). Super Judge Judy and Richard look directly into the viewers’ eyes and exude a level of self-confidence that strengthens the photo overall. With the Two Wrestlers, I particularly love how the gentleman on the right got lost in the moment and forgot that I was watching them. For these individuals, a mix of the P-Town atmosphere, and perhaps a few Tea Dance cocktails, helped lower their guards and elevate their presence in the photos.

EDC_PortraitsInProvincetown_RichardStGermain_001What is it about Provincetown that makes it especially suitable for this type of project?

I love Provincetown’s ability to draw out the child from within. Each person, regardless of background, can be who they want, dress how they want, and act how they want. This level of curiosity, openness, and fun was more than a gift for me in this series. By beginning to capture the essence of this small town and its visitors, I’m excited to see this work develop into a portrait of the town itself.

Is there a Provincetown photographic tradition that you admire? Any other photographers?

While I don’t have a specific Provincetown photographic tradition in mind, the costumes and theme weeks certainly are a photographer’s dream. There are many photographers whose work I admire and turn to for influence. Irving Penn and Avedon are particularly strong inspirations. As are, Bruce Davidson, Gregory Crewdson, Renika Dykstra, Jess Dugan, and Collier Shore. 

Did you give your subjects special instructions before photographing them?

Stand in front of the shingles and be yourself.

Do you plan to make this a tradition?

To me tradition isn’t something planned, but something that grows organically. Looking back on the project, Portraits in Provincetown is a chronology of portraits, encapsulating the summer of 2014 through a series of photos. Moving forward with the project, returning to the series would expand the idea that this project is an archive which continues to grow every summer. I would love to do such an ambitious project and in five, ten years, have this enormous volume of portraits taken throughout the years to archive Provincetown’s history, continuity, and change. We'll see. I do know one thing’s for sure: I’ll be coming back next summer with my fiancé! (wedding in P-Town anyone?)

Enjoy 44 photos from Cohen's 'Portraits in Provincetown', AFTER THE JUMP...

(you may recognize a few faces, especially near the end)

Visit Cohen's website here and his blog, A Minute for Minute here.

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