Gloria Casarez Mural in Philadelphia's Gayborhood Will Be Saved from Demolition, State Rep. Sims Says

The mural honors Philadelphia's first director of LGBT affairs who was a driving force for equal treatment of LGBT people in the city

What to Know

  • The mural honors Gloria Casarez, a gay rights advocate and Philadelphia's first director of LGBT Affairs, who died in 2014.
  • Investors plan to redevelop the building on which the mural is currently painted. The mural's fate was unclear until today.

A mural honoring the late inaugural director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs will be spared from the wrecking ball amid a plan to redevelop the property emblazoned with the painting.

Pa. State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) said Monday that a deal has been reached to save the Gloria Casarez mural on the former 12th Street Gym building.

The mural at 12th and St. James streets in the Gayborhood covers a large portion of the now-defunct gym's red brick facade. It was completed by artist Michelle Angela Ortiz in October 2015, a year after Casarez's death.

The mural's fate had been lingering in limbo since January when the 12th Street Gym closed. The landmark fitness center was shuttered after the owners couldn't come up with more than $500,000 to bring the facility up to fire code. The property was sold to Midwood Investment and Development in late 2017.

In a statement through Sims' office on Monday, Midwood Investment and Development CEO John Usdan said the mural will be relocated and that the developer will provide the funding to make it happen.

Details on where it may wind up and what will be developed on the property remain unclear.

Casarez was Philadelphia's first director of the Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs. Under her tenure, the city enacted broad protections for the LGBTQ community. She also led GALAEI, a nonprofit serving the city's queer Latinx residents, and was a founding member of the Philly Dyke March.

Casarez died in October 2014 following a battle with breast cancer. She was 42.

"Gloria worked tirelessly for not only the LGBT community, but also the city of Philadelphia as a whole. It is important to memorialize the steadfast work Gloria dedicated to establishing our city's policies that made us one of the most LGBT inclusive cities in the nation," Sims said.

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