2017 Heroes Honorees
Individual Hero: Sergio Morales-Garcia Sergio Morales has overcome stigma, discrimination, homelessness, and isolation. Despite these struggles, his resilience and belief in himself propelled him into a life of giving back to others who reflect his lived experience. Once a client at The Attic Youth Center, Sergio quickly demonstrated his leadership potential and was hired to work with the LGBT youth participants. His grit and determination led him to GALAEI, where his title was HIV Tester but his role was so much more. He is a HERO because at GALAEI, he is a leader that makes the impossible possible, but all behind closed doors and out of the spotlight. He is described as warm, compassionate, and friendly during his HIV testing sessions. He successfully orchestrated the annual LGBT Youth Prom and went above and beyond to make sure youth would feel special, have fun, and create lifelong memories. He created a community “support” group for gay Latinx men to talk about their lives, relationships, sex, HIV status. He created Cafe Con SEXO, a YouTube “talk show” talking about sex and sexuality through a LGBT Latinx lens.
Youth Hero: Giana Graves Giana is a youth activist and advocate, who started her work in The Bryson Institute, the education and training department of The Attic Youth Center, as a Youth Panelist. In this role, she shared her experience as an a queer, transgender women of color navigating various social service systems. She helped train numerous housing and social services providers across Philadelphia on how to best work with the LGBTQ youth in their care. In her work, Giana has educated over 500 youth and adults on LGBTQ identity, systems of oppression, and intersecting barriers faced by LGBTQ youth of color. Time and time again, Giana has put the needs of her community over herself demanding justice not just for herself but for those who haven’t been given a platform.
Business Hero: PHL Diversity
PHL Diversity (a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau) – PHL Diversity, formerly the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (MAC), was founded in 1987 as a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau to help attract more multicultural visitors to the city. Now, PHL Diversity continues to work to increase Philadelphia’s share of the multicultural meetings and tourism markets. PHL Diversity maximizes opportunities for the region by promoting Philadelphia as an ethnically diverse visitor destination. By encouraging multicultural business and social responsibility, PHL Diversity helps the city’s varying multicultural communities benefit from the hospitality and tourism industries. In the past year, PHL Diversity has shown a commitment to the LGBT community and has brought the National LGBTQ Task Force; Out and Equal; the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association; and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association all to Philadelphia.
Non Profit Hero: Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus
The Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus (PGMC) traces its history to 1981, when Gerald Davis and three other singers brought the growing LGBT movement to Philadelphia with singing Christmas carols at holiday time. From that modest start, PGMC has grown into the largest choral group in the Greater Philadelphia region, with more than 120 members spreading its musical message of hope and inclusion to local gay and straight audiences. The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus is committed to performing pieces that address social issues relevant to the LGBT community. In 2014, they initiated a program, in partnership with the counselors of the Attic Youth Center, to improve social acceptance of LGBT youth within the school setting. This program delivers a series of concerts performed by PGMC chorus members to Philadelphia public high schools that promotes, through music, the understanding that all students are equal, despite differences in their personal characteristics and, in this case, their sexual orientation.
Lifetime Hero: Heshie Zinman
Heshie Zinman has a long history of activism on both the local and national levels. He has a passionate commitment for the health and well-being of LGBT and HIV communities and helped shape Philadelphia’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He was a driving force behind the start-up of ActionAIDS, AIDS Fund, SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project, and DVLF. He co-founded the AIDS Library of Philadelphia (which today resides at Philadelphia FIGHT) and went on to become the Executive Director of the AIDS Information Network. Heshie has worked as HIV Community Relations Manager for Dupont Pharmaceuticals Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical. He has served on the boards of DVLF, ActionAIDS, Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia FIGHT, Congregation Beth Ahavah and the Philadelphia Conference of Christians and Jews. In 2010, continuing to live his philosophy of “taking care of our own,” Heshie co-founded, the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI). The LGBTEI fosters and advocates for competent, culturally sensitive, welcoming resources, services, and institutions for LGBT older adults in the Delaware Valley and beyond.