July 25, 2016 at 10:56 am EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Dispatches from Philly: The parties begin

Philadelphia, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands of delegates, journalists and politicos are arriving in Philadelphia for a historic week.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am finally on my way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. It’s Amtrak from Union Station in D.C. to 30th Street Station in Philly. Many on the train were headed to the same place.

I have been a Hillary supporter since first meeting her in Little Rock in 1990 so this is exciting. I was a delegate for her in 2008. Having been a supporter of women’s rights all my life and working for one of the icons of the movement, Bella S. Abzug, the historic event that will occur at this convention is mind-boggling. For the first time in 240 years, a woman will be named the nominee for president of a major political party. I can only think fondly of the incredible women I was honored to have met besides Bella, they included: Shirley Chisholm, Ann Richards, Geraldine Ferraro and Barbara Jordan who all fought for this day and sadly aren’t here to see it. I hope their sons and daughters understand how important this is and what it means to our nation as we strive to achieve a more perfect union.

Arriving in Philly, I met my friend Brad Luna of Luna/Eisenla Media, who arranged through his friend for me to have an apartment just off Rittenhouse Square, which will be my home for the week. Brad’s firm is doing the PR for the Equality Forum events during the convention and they have some exciting things coming up later in the week including a panel on the “Future of the LGBT Movement” and the presentation of an award to Nancy Pelosi.

After dropping off my luggage we went out in the 100-degree heat and headed to an LGBT delegate happy hour at Woody’s where I bumped into Todd Dickinson and his partner Robert up for the convention from D.C. Also had the chance to meet and chat with Woody’s owner Michael Weiss and Nellie Fitzpatrick, the dynamic director of LGBT affairs for the City of Philadelphia. Michael proudly shared with me information on the recent successful event held on July 21 by the gay bars, clubs and restaurants in Philly that raised more than $70,000 for the victims of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The place was packed to the rafters and many D.C. denizens could be seen in the crowd, including Daniel Penchina, Aaron Tax and Matt Nosanchuk, among others. Vincent Ryan, a Delawarean now living in Philadelphia, was also there hobnobbing with the crowd.

We then head to Brad’s place to meet our friend Kris who has arrived from D.C. He is the Eisenla in Luna/Eisenla Media. Together we go to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association event being held at iCandy Nightclub. There is a big crowd there, both journalists and media consultant types and their friends, who just like a good happy hour and good conversation comparing their schedules for the week.

I first meet up with Michael Lavers from the Washington Blade who just arrived in town from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He has some great behind-the-scenes stories that he shares. Then Chris Johnson and Michael Key, the other intrepid and hardworking folks from the Blade, arrive.

We hear from the executive director of NLGJA and board member Steve Rosen. Then we hear from Arturo Varela who is the media relations manager for Visit Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Tourist Bureau. I get the chance to chat with Arturo who is a great guy and knows how to promote Philly. As we are heading out to dinner I bump into Fred Schneider, the associate director of finance at CBS News in D.C.

Dinner is at Parc Restaurant known by reviewers in Philly as “Stephen Starr’s stylish addition to Rittenhouse Square.” The restaurant happens to be just a couple of blocks from where I am staying for the week so it might just be a great place for breakfast as well. Brad managed to snag an 8:15 reservation for us and his boyfriend Adam and another friend Jim Myers, a reporter with Gateway News, joins us. The food is just as great as Starr’s restaurant in D.C., Le Diplomate, just up the block from where I live. The menu is the same and a personal note of thanks to Stephen Starr for locating your restaurants so conveniently.

After dinner I leave the guys and head back to the apartment and find the email I have been waiting for with information on how to pick up my credentials for the convention on Monday morning.

This has been a busy and long day and the convention hasn’t even officially started. That happens tomorrow and I am sure the discussion will be all about Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning and Donna Brazile becoming interim director of the DNC. What a way to begin the week.

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