Women’s History Month

All-Star #5: Gloria Casarez

Women’s History Month

All-Star #5: Gloria Casarez

A governor. The world’s first computer programmers. Lawyers, doctors, writers, artists and activists. Philadelphia’s history is full of incredible, history-making women whose stories, unfortunately, are often all but missing from the history books.

It shouldn’t take a dedicated month—Women’s History Month—to recognize the contributions of these heroines. But in honor of the occasion, we scoured history to find several badass Philly women to celebrate for our Women’s History Month All-Stars.

RELATED: A cadre of visionary women are behind Guild House Hotel—a newly opened boutique hotel that celebrates the history residing in our buildings by giving props to the early feminists who initially occupied the property.


Gloria Casarez

LGBTQ community organizer

Gloria Casarez

LGBTQ community organizer


Philly native Gloria Caserez was the first director of LGBT affairs in the City of Philadelphia, appointed by Mayor Michael Nutter in 2008.

Under her leadership, Philly instituted the broadest LGBTQ protections in the country, which led to our being ranked the number one city in the U.S. for LGBTQ equality.

That was the culmination of a lifetime of community organizing that included leading GALAEI (Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Initiative), where she launched Philly’s first mobile HIV testing centers, and co-chairing the board of Prevention Point, as well as housing and economic justice activism.

Casarez was recognized here and across the country for her work, including by Out Magazine, which named her one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders of the New Millennium in 1999; the NAACP; and the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Five years after she died of breast cancer in 2014, Project HOME named a new residence for homeless LGBTQ youth in her name.


  • West Chester University, 1993


  • Founding member of the national housing rights and economic justice organization Empty the Shelters
  • Served as Philadelphia’s first director of LGBTQ affairs
  • Served as executive director of GALAEI
  • Played a critical role in bringing the LGBT Equality Bill to Philadelphia
  • Founding member of the Philly Dyke March

: At the time of her death, LGBTQ health organization Philly FIGHT said in a statement: “Gloria wasn’t just a policymaker and activist. She was a kind, generous, and fun person. She bravely fought her cancer for many years and even as a cancer patient she remained an activist, often refusing to cover her head, or cover over her diagnosis. Everybody loved Gloria, and we will all miss her very much.”


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