GALAEI welcomes new executive director, mission, and program updates

This is an image of galaei's Executive Director Ashley L. Coleman

By Michelle Zipkin

Philly’s QTBIPOC radical social justice organization GALAEI has undergone some personnel, program and mission changes. The organization recently welcomed Ashley L. Coleman as permanent executive director and longtime volunteer Olga Ramos as the newest member of the board of directors.

“I knew a strong person with marginalized intersectional identities was needed to best support galaei,” Operations Manager Mikah Thomas said in a press release. “Someone deeply rooted in striving to break down barriers for QTBIPOC, who would continue fighting for our community both behind the scenes and on the frontline.”

Coleman’s excitement mirrors that of GALAEI staff members.

“I am in month three here at GALAEI, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “I am so proud of this incredible staff and all the hard work they’ve been doing. Since the moment I got here they’ve been running at breakneck speed, and they just don’t stop.”

Ramos joined the board around the time that Coleman began her new position. “It’s exciting to have someone that was there in the beginning and really knows what the foundation was of GALAEI,” Coleman said.

The GALAEI team is planning a virtual reintroduction day on Saturday, May 15 consisting of a day of workshops via Zoom, with more info coming soon. They plan to reopen their doors to the public the following Monday, May 17. “We have workshops that will be covering all of our programs, and then we have specific workshops that each individual [program] we’ll be doing in partnership with [the biopharmaceutical company] Gilead,” Thomas said.

GALAEI’s new programs are Prioritizing Our People (POP), Student Power Leadership and Activism Together (SPLAT) and Transgender Intersex Nonbinary Gender-nonconforming Services (TINGS), which is a new iteration of Trans Equity Project. At this point, all programs are a mix of virtual and in-person based on individual comfort level and vaccination status.

“I’m most excited about our new initiatives because throughout the pandemic we’ve had to navigate so much change,” SPLAT Program Lead Corem Coreano said in an email. “We’ve dealt with social separation from our community and the thing I’m most excited about is being able to safely hold space for folks in our community again. Galaei has truly shown it’s resilience.”

The GALAEI leadership team takes a collaborative approach to their work.

“Everything we do, we talk about,” Coleman said. “It takes a little bit longer, but that’s Okay. It’s absolutely worth it to have everyone’s voices in the space and make sure we’re really taking care of each other and the community.”

STI/HIV screening and queer sex education are the two main components of the POP program, said POP Program Lead Jorian Veintidos Rivera. He also plans to roll out four workshops: “We are Living,” where QTBIPOC will discuss the truths about living with HIV; “Riding the Elephant,” which will manifest in typically off-limits conversations in safe spaces; “Raw Talk,” which consists of “talking about the birds and the bees at the dinner table – what does penetration look like in same-sex couples, HIV and non-HIV people having sex together,” Rivera said; and a breakdown of what is involved in HIV testing called “B.A.G.”

SPLAT, formerly known as Supporting Our Youth, rides on the same mission of sexual health education for youth ages 14-24. This manifests in healthy sexuality classes with the local partner school El Centro De Estudiantes, one-on-one youth coaching sessions and art and music as means of healing.

“Through the transition, I’m really trying to integrate the arts through a trauma-informed lens at GALAEI,” Coreano said. “I think it’s important especially after this whole pandemic — I think COVID hit a lot of youth, everyone. I just believe through art and music people have the power to heal and live better lives through that.”

GALAEI also recently partnered with Students Run Philly Style, an organization that “transforms students’ lives through running and mentorship,” by participating in its LGBTQ-centric OUTpace program. “They want to highlight QTBIPOC organizations in Philly and create a safe space for queer youth to engage in running activies,” Coreano added.

The TINGS program serves as a one-stop shop for trans, intersex, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming folks, providing one-on-one and group coaching; needle exchange; an essentials closest that staff hope to stock more with newer items than used; trans competency training for external organizations and schools; and community town halls.

It’s tough questions, responsible answers, said TINGS Program Lead Valentina Rosario. “We’re pulling in community members and holding them accountable for things that are going on in the community. For example, the bar scene — how can we be more inclusive of QTBIPOC individuals, creating a less violent space for [them].”

Rosario also spoke of Tea and Roses, GALAEI’s annual recognition of trans folks who are still alive. “We give 12 beautiful individuals their roses and acknowledge them in their everyday life,” she said. “As a trans person, just walking outside your door is a form of advocacy, is a form of resilience.”

Another part of the GALAEI team’s organizational makeover is the expansion of their mission to embrace all of their queer and trans BIPOC Philadelphia community members.

“We are not letting go of our Latinx history,” Coleman said. “Instead we are extending to all of the folks of color. For all of us in this generation, we’ve really come to realize that white supremacy is the reason why our movement has been segregated. It is important that we come together and strengthen each other so we can move forward and make active change.”

As part of efforts to provide vaccines to QTBIPOC Philadelphians, GALAEI will be part of the Office of LGBT Affairs’ plans to host vaccination clinics by holding its own pop-up vaccination site. Coleman and the GALAEI program leads have already been vaccinated, so they hope to assuage community members’ reservations about getting the vaccine.

“We had trepidations, we talked about it as a team,” Coleman said. “We want to be a resource to folks who might be scared and be able to have that one-on-one conversation and say, ‘I went through it.’ I think it’s really special for us to be able to hold each other in community and make sure that we’re taking care of our people because that’s what we’re here for. We’re QTBIPOC for QTBIPOC.”

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PHILADELPHIA IS SET TO MAKE HISTORY WITH DEBUT OF OURFEST: AMERICA’S FIRST PARADE (AND FESTIVAL) DEDICATED TO NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY * Pride 365: A Program of Galaei announces new OURfest National Coming Out Parade and Festival/Resource Fair on National Coming Out Day Weekend October 6-8, 2023 * Philadelphia, PA - Pride 365: A Program of Galaei presents the inaugural Philadelphia OURfest: National Coming Out Parade and Festival/Resource Fair, the first National Coming Out Parade in the United States. OURfest stands for Our Uniting Resilience and these new events are being created to amplify the resilience of our people, our individual journeys in coming out, and how we hold and take up space everyday. OURfest: National Coming Out Parade will take place on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, from 5th and Market to Broad and Locust. OURfest: National Coming Out Festival will take place on Sunday, October 8, 2023, from 12:00pm to 7:00pm, with resource fair and family zone from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, and last call for mobile bars/food trucks at 6:30pm. OURfest looks to make history as the only parade in the country dedicated and inspired by National Coming Out Day. Come to Philly for the parade and festival, but stay for the weekend. LGBTQIA+ community members across the United States are invited to make their travel plans now for three days of events - with a kick-event being planned for Friday and many other events to be announced. Philadelphia region organizations and businesses are invited to be part of this historic weekend by hosting their own events all weekend long - before and after the parade and festival. Sign-ups are now open for the parade, festival and the weekend. For more about OURfest and how to sign up for the parade and festival, visit For a full list of all LGBTQIA+ events in the Greater Philadelphia region on that weekend, make sure to visit Philadelphia is a city of historic firsts - and the organization that broke records in June for “largest Gay Pride march and festival in Philadelphia history” and “largest Gay Pride Flag in Pennsylvania history” is ready to do it all over again. And yes, that 200 foot beautiful all-inclusive rainbow flag will be out and proud once again in the streets of Philadelphia. After a few years of pride programming being in flux, Galaei, a historic organization serving queer, trans, black, brown, indigenous, and people of color, has taken up the mantle for programming under the banner of Pride 365. This new program provided the Philadelphia Gay Pride March and Festival with new leadership, new stability and a renewed sense of community and purpose. Now, after the pandemic and a three year absence, Galaei’s Pride 365 Initiative will bring new life back to National Coming Out Day/Weekend in October - and present a new line-up of events with the new OURfest parade and resource fair/festival. “We developed Galaei’s Pride 365 Initiative to redefine and elevate Pride Month Month in June - and we are excited to do the same thing in October for National Coming Out Day/Weekend,” said Galaei Executive Director and Community Organizer Tyrell Brown (they/them). “Gay Pride and National Coming Out are crucial opportunities for our communities to join together in celebration and reflection, to find family and togetherness, to have access to resources, and to share the love, art and joy that are hallmarks of our community.” “Pride in June has roots that were in protest and a stand for justice and equality for our larger LGBTQ+ community. We created a march where the entire LGBTQ+ community could participate, march together and raise up our voices. For National Coming Out, we see this is a key opportunity to share and celebrate our collective and individual stories of coming out. The parade allows for our community to experience and enjoy a visual display of how far we’ve come, to watch a moving and powerful show together, and to take a moment to enjoy the story of our coming out.” They added, “While there are similarities in that both are unifying, joyous, and celebratory, the distinction exist between them in that one is for enjoyment, while the former (“Love Light and Liberation” Pride March) was a public stand for all that we need and deserve from an advocacy standpoint that extends beyond visibility.” “Galaei is proud to be at the forefront of bringing both Pride and National Coming Out back from the pandemic, but even more so we are honored to help redefine what each of these means to our community now and moving forward.” OURFEST: NATIONAL COMING OUT PARADE OURfest: National Coming Out Parade will take place on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, from 5th and Market to Broad and Locust. The parade will feature a mix of curated and designed floats, community organizations and live performances that spotlight the vibrancy of the LGBTQIA+ community in Philadelphia, the suburbs and across America. Look for themed sections to showcase youth and families, sports and recreation, professional leaders, pioneers and grand marshals, arts and culture, drag artists, and other groups. The community cheer section features the record-breaking 200 foot rainbow flag that debuted in June during Pride Month. The final route for the parade is being finalized and will be shared in a future update. Also, look for a parade line-up to be shared closer to the event! OURFEST: NATIONAL COMING OUT RESOURCE FAIR AND FESTIVAL Pride 365 and Galaei bring together the city's top LGBTQ+ organizers to produce a dynamic festival - and one of the single largest outdoor festivals of the year in Philadelphia. After a three year absence, the Gayborhood will come to life again in honor of National Coming Out Day/Weekend. OURfest: National Coming Out Festival will take place on Sunday, October 8, 2023, from 12:00pm to 7:00pm, with resource fair and family zone from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, and last call for mobile bars/food trucks at 6:30pm. The festival will spread out across the Gayborhood from 13th and Walnut down to 13th and Locust, across Locust to 12th, then from there to 12th and Spruce, with other select roads closed around the festival footprint. This new resource fair and street festival will feature art and music from the community, in a celebration that combines the uniqueness of Philadelphia and showcases the diverse talents of Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA family, friends, and neighbors. The vibrant location of the Gayborhood, the stronghold of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community, provides a historic backdrop for 200+ grassroots organizations, CBO’s, nonprofits, artists and makers, entertainers, restaurants and bars, food trucks, vendors and small businesses to provide innovative programming, dynamic structure, community resources, education, food and drink and family fun. The full lineup will include performances, speeches and the awarding of our first annual Mx, Ms, Mr, OURfest 2023. Within the larger festival, Galaei has worked with community partners to build a variety of fun and vibrant places for everyone. Youth and Family Programming will be an expansive space curated by several local organizations, including The Attic Youth Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, Galaei’s SPLAT program, Philly Family Pride, and the William Way LGBT Community Center. This space is alcohol and smoke free and will feature age-appropriate and safe youth and family programming to celebrate all generations of Philadelphia Pride. Brown said, “As one of the most forgotten parts of our community our festival places intention around how we care for and make space for queer youth and families.” Look for bounce houses, game trucks, resources, chest feeding and changing stations, and more. This year’s festival continues with unique food and beverage experiences. Sober Vibes will be hosted at Writer's Block Rehab and co-facilitated by Galaei’s POP program with a dedicated space for sober folks. This bar will have a menu of mocktails and alcohol free beverages. This is a space that centers around adults who do not drink alcohol, and simultaneously is not geared towards family and children, however, they will be welcome in the space. Food Truck Market, in partnership with The Food Truck Lady, will bring together some of the East Coast’s best and tastiest food trucks and mobile vendors to keep everyone happy and fed while they enjoy the day’s celebration. This area will create a buffer between the party goers and youth/sober areas - and offer food and drink at a variety of price points. In keeping with Galaei’s dedication to highlighting Queer and Trans Black and Brown traditions and forms of expression, Galaei is proud to present “Bailar con amor,” an ode to Afro-Latinx heritage art, dance and expression. Kiki Alley will return with a celebration space highlighting the rich culture and history of the Philadelphia ballroom community. This dedicated dance space will be a love letter to everything that is vogue. The Philadelphia Muses Stage will feature a diverse lineup of local performers and producers, including DJ sets by Sway Philly and BOS Philly, plus the presentation of the first Ms, Mx, Mr OURfest 2023, with additional bands, choirs and other entertainers. This will be a stage festival goers will not want to miss! OURstage will debut with a collaboration of producers and acts that do not have a traditional brick and mortar. This stage will celebrate OUR diverse artistic expressions. VICE (*18+) will be an ode to Galaei’s dearly departed sibling Maso, with a co-produced and curated space for exploration. There will be workshops for kink and consent, resource tabling, and shops to purchase leather and giveaways of safe sex items. The Decompression Zone, in conjunction with Disability Pride PA, is a space for attendees seeking an accessible, low-sensory respite from festivities. This area will feature comfortable seating, tables, accessible bathrooms, a cooling station, a wheelchair charging station, adult changing station and low-level music. This provides a space for elders, those living with disabilities, and others seeking rest and relaxation during the event. Community services will include medical tents for onsite medical needs such as dehydration and minor injuries. These medical services are provided by doctors and nurses from Bebashi and Mazzoni Center. Therapists for folks who are in mental health crisis or may be over stimulated, individuals trained to administer narcan, security managers, staff to answer all day of questions, Sign language and Spanish interpreters, and de-escalation specialists that will move to any point in the festival grounds or at the bars that they are needed. POP Wellness will feature local cbo’s to offer a one stop pop up wellness and resource station, linkage to testing, linkage to care and resources via case management opportunities. Attendees will be able to stop by to set an appointment, and speak to a case worker about linkages to resources, such as housing, healthcare, education, and employment. Corporate Way will be a space for selected vetted businesses that have supported the parade, festival and weekend. This space offers room for tabling, but ensures that the core festival beyond this area is centered around the larger OURfest community. Please stay tuned for a full list of vendors, food trucks, entertainment times, stage line-ups and more coming the week of the event. For more information on volunteering, participating, or sponsoring the festival, please visit our website, or email ABOUT GALAEI Galaei is comprised of a talented staff of black and brown, nonbinary, and trans organizers, who at our building and in the lgbtq+ community are committed to getting resources, providing empowerment, volunteer opportunities, and assistance to all while prioritizing the most marginalized in our QTBIPOC community. Galaei believes in celebrating pride year-round as queer and trans people because celebrations of our joy and love are implicitly an act of defiance against those who seek to oppress us. We are committed to using our events to educate, provide resources, and facilitate spaces of empowerment and love. ABOUT PRIDE 365 Every PRIDE festival is a crucial opportunity for our communities to join together in celebration, find family, get resources and share the love, art, and joy that are hallmarks of our community. Pride 365 is a new program of Galaei that seeks to elevate the experience of every Pride every year. By combining the unique and vibrant location of our Gayborhood, the stronghold of our queer businesses, supporting small queer and trans business owners, providing innovative programming, dynamic structure, and intention around how the space is curated, we endeavor to have a space for everyone.