Posted October 8, 2021

Klein on the GO excursions: learning about Philadelphia’s Gayborhood

Klein GO hosted a series of COVID-19-safe excursions in Philadelphia, including one in the Gayborhood.

photo collage of Philadelphia landmarks in Pride colors

During the spring 2021 semester, few students were studying abroad or even in person on Temple’s Main Campus. Most students and faculty had been using Zoom to connect, with minimal in-person meetings being conducted. In response, the Klein College of Media and Communication Global Opportunities (GO) office created Klein on the GO excursions to provide students with opportunities to get out of their rooms and connect with others briefly and safely.

The excursions took the form of personalized tours led by Klein College faculty and staff that explored media, entertainment, activism, food, music, culture, history and more in Philadelphia. 

One of these tours explored Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, the center of gay culture, which is located on the blocks between 11th and Broad streets and Pine and Chestnut streets. The tour was led by Adrienne Shaw, associate professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production, and Bob Skiba, the lead curator of the William Way LGBTQ+ Community Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archive and vice president of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides. 

Leeannah McNew, KLN ’21, a peer advisor with Klein GO, worked alongside her colleagues to put together the Klein on the GO excursions for students. As a student herself, she knew that getting an opportunity to learn about Philadelphia in person with other people was something students missed. 

“With Zoom, it’s harder to interact with people, so this definitely gave us the opportunity to learn in a way that we used to in a classroom,” McNew explained. “It was also very immersive. Being able to walk around in person and then visualize what Philadelphia used to be like made learning the history more interesting than just sitting on a Zoom call.”

Students had the opportunity to learn about the adversities that the LGBTQIA+ community faced and what the Gayborhood was like in the 1950s and 1960s, through hearing about Philadelphia’s red light district, early protests and sit-ins.

“We walked down Locust Street, and Bob talked about buildings that used to be sex clubs and bars,” McNew said. “He also took us along Camac Street, which also used to have secret gay bars and was known as Philadelphia’s Greenwich Village.”

This tour showed students that Philadelphia’s history isn’t just about the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. “Philadelphia is very well-known for its history, specifically for its involvement in the creation of our country, but I think its more interesting and impactful history is often overlooked and underappreciated,” McNew shared. “This tour broadened my perspective of Philadelphia’s history and the history of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Klein GO is coordinating similar types of excursions around Philadelphia this semester, too. Stay up to date about the next events you can attend and keep checking back as more trips are added. And follow them on Instagram @kleinglobal.

—Hannah Church