Gloria Casarez

The Cardinal honors LGBTQ+ PRIDE Month!


Kimberly Flores, Staff Writer

Gloria Casarez was born on December 13, 1971. She was an American civil rights leader and LGBT activist in Philadelphia. Casarez was born in Philadelphia and raised Catholic. She grew up in the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Casarez came out as a lesbian at the age of 17, graduating from Haddon Township High School in 1989. Casarez attended West Chester University, where she was active in student government and political activism, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1993. She was President of the Latino Student Union and a representative to the Commission on the Status of Women, a network of students from state universities examining women’s issues on campus. She developed innovative student-mentorship and programming for LGBT students of color, transgender and queer students on campus. At the age of 27, Casarez became the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI) in Philadelphia. Casarez led GALAEI from 1999 to 2008, tripling the organization’s funding and developing nationally recognized programs serving men of color and transgender communities, including Philadelphia’s first mobile HIV testing centers and the Trans-health information project, the first transgender health program in the city of Philadelphia. She is an inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community because she has done so much for her people. At first Gloria found it difficult to express herself growing up but that never stopped her from trying to help others feel safe and proud expressing themselves. She wants to build an environment where other members of the LGTBQ+ community can feel accepted and loved for who they are, not for who they aren’t. Two weeks before her death, Casarez led the LGBT flag raising ceremony at the Philadelphia City Hall for LGBT History Month.  After living with metastatic breast cancer for over five years, Casarez died on October 19, 2014 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.