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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 45
Loss of a true leader
Section One
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Loss of a true leader

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

If you're like me, you hate to go to funerals. In fact, many of us in the LGBT community have gone to far too many due to our friends and family who passed from AIDS. But this is not a column about AIDS.

Gloria Casarez, the mayor's LGBT liaison, passed away this week, and I'll be at her funeral to celebrate her life.

About a year ago, Gloria, Rue Landau and Franny Price were scheduled to take a tour of the John C. Anderson LGBT-friendly senior apartments. Construction on the building was almost complete and residents would be moving in in a few weeks, but I wanted them to see what they had a hand in building. It was a cold, rainy, windy day as I stood there waiting for them to arrive to give them a tour of the almost-finished building.

The first one to show up was Gloria. I looked at her and she noted that I saw what was evident. Her face was not quite right. Without me saying a word, she said, 'It's Bells Palsy, and I also have the flu and a cough so don't hug me.' I suggested that she didn't have to be there and that I'd take her on a personal tour any other time that she was feeling better. She put her hands on her hips and said, 'When am I ever going to feel better?' We both smiled and she looked at her watch and uttered, 'Where is the mayor?'

That line shows what an incredible person she was. She knew life would be short for her and, no matter what, she was going to go about doing the work she believed in. And she'd do it with joy. If she was able to get out of the bed in the morning or afternoon, she'd work on projects close to her heart.

Those are the two aspects about Gloria that I'll remember, her sense of work and her sense of humor. Both brought a joy to a job that can be difficult at times, as it requires maneuvering the political minefields of both City Hall and the LGBT community. She did that well, and we are a better community for her efforts.

By the way, the mayor finally made it and, as he was coming out of the car, she walked over to him, soaked from the rain, more rain dripping down her face, and said, 'You're late.' She said it with a smile. I'll always remember that and think of her and smile myself.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews. www.epgn.com

Courtesy of Philadelphia Gay News

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