Queers4Palestine PHL mobilizes for Gaza

Queers4Palestine protest, Philadelphia, March 16, 2024.


A march led by Queers4Palestine PHL started at Philadelphia City Hall on March 16, with militant chants, including,  “When Palestine is under attack, get up gays, its time to fight back!” and “Hell no, we won’t be quiet, Stonewall was a riot!” 

Q4P organizer Indigo explained that this was the group’s first action noting: “We cannot advocate for queer autonomy while remaining silent about Palestine, which is a queer struggle.  There is no liberation without Palestinian resistance.”

Gabe Bryant with the Black Philly Radical Collective spoke on meeting LGBTQ+ people when he visited Palestine. “Historically it has always been our queer family who have shown us how to be more militant, more uncompromising, and in the streets to shut it down. Their message for us was ‘Join us.’” 

Many of the over 200 attendees carried noise makers, from pots and pans to whistles and drums. They marched around City Hall, down South Broad Street to Locust Street, ending near 12th and Locust outside Tabu, a gay sports bar that regularly hosts drag and burlesque performances. Tabu had advertised burlesque dancer Leila Delicious, a Palestinian performer currently based in Philadelphia, as one of the featured acts for Dec. 8, 2023, but abruptly canceled the performance just prior to her show.

Our generation will free Palestine!’

Delicious, who began performing burlesque in Philadelphia over a year ago, often used the stage to express Palestinian queerness. She planned to include a sign in her act that read: “Our generation will free Palestine!” Tabu told her that the bar did not want political commentary or performances about events in Gaza. They then compounded the problem by issuing a social media post, later deleted, that said the bar “strongly condemns all forms of hate speech, including the display of a sign promoting genocide against Jews.”

After receiving broad condemnation from other performers, including a Jewish drag queen, who all expressed solidarity with Delicious and said they would boycott Tabu, the bar issued a weak apology that they “may have misinterpreted the intention” of the sign.  However, criticism towards Tabu has continued, resulting in several performers canceling scheduled acts. Last night’s action was one of many demonstrations against the bar since then.

Outside the bar, queer Palestinian burlesque performer Mewikki addressed the crowd. Angel, from Q4P, commenting on Tabu’s false claim about Leila’s sign, noted: “You cannot conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Out here on the streets it will always be anti-Zionism.” They ended by reading a statement from Leila Delicious thanking the protesters.

The demonstration marched to Rittenhouse Square where they concluded the rally with a speaker who read Queers4Palestine’s principles of unity. More on Q4P can be found on Instagram: @Queers4PalPHL.  

Throughout the entire march, protesters received applause from hundreds of young people outside Center City restaurants and bars celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. There was no open hostility.

Simple Share Buttons

Share this
Simple Share Buttons